October 14, 2015

In This Issue

 

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HOUSE: MCCARTHY DROPS OUT OF SPEAKERSHIP RACE

On Oct. 8, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) dropped his bid to succeed John Boehner (R-OH) as Speaker of the House. With no clear successor in place, Boehner postponed the speakership election until further notice.

McCarthy had undergone criticism for statements that linked the creation of the House Select Committee on Benghazi with an effort to damage 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) also announced his intent to run against McCarthy for speaker. The House Freedom Caucus, which consists of over 40 far-right conservatives, had also endorsed Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) for speaker. Collectively, these alternative candidates raised doubt on whether McCarthy could easily secure the 218 majority votes necessary to win among the 247 member House Republican conference.

Much of the media speculation for alternative candidates for speaker has centered on Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who currently chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, one of the most sought-after committees in the House. To date, Ryan has declined interest in the role. Other House members reportedly mulling a run include Michael Conaway (R-TX), Bill Flores (R-TX), Michael McCaul (R-TX), Pete Sessions (R-TX)  and Lynn Westermoreland (R-CA).

With the House in recess this week, members will be in their home districts visiting their families and meeting with constituents. The House is scheduled to reconvene on Tuesday, Oct. 20.

INVASIVE SPECIES: COURT RULES FOR STRONGER BALLAST WATER REGULATIONS

In a 3-0 ruling, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit sided with environmental groups who contended that  existing  US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations did not go far enough to reduce the spread of invasive species through cargo ship ballast water.

Environmental groups sued EPA in 2008 seeking stronger regulations related to the spread of aquatic invasive species through cargo transport vessels. While EPA eventually finalized ballast water rules in March 2013, the groups argued that the standards did not sufficiently protect waterways from future species invasions.

As a result of the ruling, the agency will reconsider its technology decisions and its exemption for certain older vessels. The existing standards will remain in place until the agency can finalize stricter regulations.

Click here to view the full ruling.

EPA: COURT STAYS OBAMA ADMINISTRATION WATER RULE

On Oct. 9, the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued an order granting the request of eighteen states to place a nationwide stay on the Obama administration’s rule clarifying Clean Water Act jurisdiction over US waterways. The US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Army Corps of Engineers had finalized the rule in May.

In a 2-1 ruling the court decided that the rule, which specifies that streams and wetlands qualify for federal protection, is far-reaching enough to warrant stay, which the judges argue will help deter confusion as the judges decide whether or not they have adequate jurisdiction to review the EPA rule.

A preliminary injunction had already been issued against the federal rule by a US District Court in North Dakota in August, which applied only to 13 states. Until the court issues a final determination on the constitutionality of the rule, smaller waterways will not enjoy federal protection.

Petitioners opposing the rule included the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin. The lone dissenting judge argued it was “not prudent” for the court to act to block the rule before making a final determination over whether it has jurisdiction over the rule.

Click here to view the full ruling. Click here for more information on the Clean Water Rule.

CLIMATE: IPCC SELECTS CLIMATE ECONOMIST AS NEW CHAIR

South Korean climate economist Hoesung Lee has been selected as the new leader of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He succeeds Rajendra Pachauri, an Indian engineer and economist who served as IPCC chair from April 2002 until Feb. 2015.

As chair, Lee stated he will strive to make the IPCC’s work more policy relevant. His career includes past service as president of the International Association for Energy Economics, Council member of the Global Green Growth Institute and board member of the Korean Academy of Environmental Sciences. He has also led research studies focusing on the economic consequences of climate change.

CLIMATE: CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR SIGNS LANDMARK ENERGY BILL

On Oct. 7, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a comprehensive bill that will address climate change by making investments in renewable energy and improve building energy efficiency.

The Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015 will require California to get half its energy from renewable energy sources by 2030. State buildings must become twice as energy-efficient by the same year under the new law.

A requirement to reduce petroleum consumption 50 percent by 2030 was dropped from the final bill to move the bill out of the state legislature.

Click here to view the law.

WHITE HOUSE: STEM EDUCATION ACT SIGNED INTO LAW

President Obama signed the STEM Education Act of 2015 (P.L. 114-59) into law on Oct. 7, 2015. 

House Science, Space and Technology Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) introduced the bipartisan bill that strengthens National Science Foundation efforts to award competitive, merit-reviewed grants that promote Science, Technology, Mathematics and Engineering (STEM) education programs and activities. It expands the types of STEM programs that can be run and funded by federal government agencies to include computer science. The bill also instructs the National Science Foundation to continue to fund out-of-school and informal education programs in STEM subjects, which is beneficial to museums and other organizations that conduct informal science education.

For more information, follow this link.

WHITE HOUSE: OSTP OPENS INTERNSHIP APPLICATIONS FOR SPRING 2016

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy announced it is accepting internship applications for Spring 2016. The application deadline is 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 30, 2015. Eligibility is open to students who are US citizens and will be actively enrolled during the spring semester.

Click here for additional information.

FEDERAL REGISTER PUBLIC COMMENTS

Department of Interior

Request for nominations: Nominations due Nov. 30, 2015

Request for Nominations for the Invasive Species Advisory Committee

https://federalregister.gov/a/2015-24818

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Notice: Solicitation of nominations is open ended.

Notice of Solicitation for Nominations for The National Sea Grant Advisory Board and Notice Of Nov. 4 Public Meeting

https://federalregister.gov/a/2015-25681

National Science Foundation

Notice: Public comments due Dec. 14, 2015

Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards

https://federalregister.gov/a/2015-26090

US Fish and Wildlife Service

Proposed Rule: Public comments due Nov. 30, 2015

Threatened Species Status for the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake

https://federalregister.gov/a/2015-24780

Proposed Rule: Public comments due Nov. 30, 2015

Threatened Species Status for the Elfin-woods Warbler

https://federalregister.gov/a/2015-24775

Proposed Rule: Public comments due Dec. 7, 2015

Proposed Threatened Species Status for the Suwannee Moccasinshell

https://federalregister.gov/a/2015-25280

Proposed Rule: Public comments due Dec. 7, 2015

Threatened Species Status for Kentucky Arrow Darter With 4(d) Rule

https://federalregister.gov/a/2015-25278

Proposed Rule: Public comments due Dec. 12, 2015

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed Endangered Status for Five Species From American Samoa

https://federalregister.gov/a/2015-25298

Notice: Public comments due Dec. 14, 2015

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Initiation of a 5-Year Review of the Polar Bear

https://federalregister.gov/a/2015-25977

CURRENT POLICY

Approved by House Committee

H.R. 3293, the Scientific Research in the National Interest Act –  Introduced by House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX), the bill would require the National Science Foundation to specify how its grant awards are “in the national interest.” The language is similar to Section 106 of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act (H.R. 1806), which passed earlier this year. The House Science, Space and Technology Committee approved the bill Oct. 8 by voice vote.

Passed House

H.R. 538, the Native American Energy Act – Introduced by Rep. Don Young (R-AK), the bill would seek to streamline federal review of energy development projects on tribal lands. The bill would limit National Environmental Policy Act-mandated reviews and weaken environmental justice protections that make it more difficult for the general public to challenge energy projects. It would also exempt tribal lands from Department of Interior regulations on hydraulic fracturing. The bill passed the House Oct. 8 by a vote of 254-173 with 11 Democrats joining all but one Republican (Rep. Frank LoBiondo (NJ)) in supporting the measure.

The White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy on H.R. 538, stating the bill would “undermine public participation and transparency of review of projects on Indian lands under the National Environmental Policy Act, set unrealistic deadlines and remove oversight for appraisals of Indian lands or trust assets, and prohibit awards under the Equal Access to Justice Act or payment of fees or expenses to a plaintiff from the Judgment Fund in energy-related actions.” Click here to read the full statement.

H.R. 702, To Adapt to Changing Crude Oil Market Conditions – Introduced by Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), the bill would lift restrictions on the export of crude oil from the United States. The bill passed the House Oct. 9 by a vote of 261-159 with 26 Democrats joining all but six Republicans in support of the measure. The six Republicans opposing the measure were Reps. Mike Fitzpatrick (PA), Walter Jones (NC), Frank LoBiondo (NJ), Pat Meehan (PA), Tom Rice (SC) and Chris Smith (NJ).

The White House issued a Statement of Administration policy declaring the president would veto the bill. Click here to read the full statement.

Introduced in Senate

S. 2113, the Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Act – Introduced Sept. 30 by Sens. Chris Coons (D-DE) and Steve Daines (R-MT), the bill would seek to increase the use of crowdsourcing and citizen science in the federal government. Specifically, the bill would clarify that federal government entities and all military branches have the explicit authority to make use of crowdsourcing and citizen science projects and provide guidelines for how to carry out these projects. The bill has been referred to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

S. 2155, the West Coast Ocean Protection Act – Introduced Oct. 7 by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), the bill would permanently prohibit the conduct of offshore drilling on the outer Continental Shelf off the coast of California, Oregon, and Washington. The bill has been referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

 


Sources: The White House, Energy and Environment Daily, E&E News PM, ClimateWire, Greenwire, National Journal, the Hill, Roll Call