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November 3, 2009

     
  State Regulatory Relations  
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Government Relations

EPA 2010 Funding To Increase 36%

The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives moved toward a final FY 2010 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill which funds the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), among other departments and agencies. The bill includes $10.3 billion for the EPA, $2.7 billion more than the 2009 appropriation. A large share of that increase goes to clean and safe drinking water infrastructure ($2 billion), restoration of the Great Lakes ($415 million) and climate change ($155 million). The total funding level is slightly less than President Obama requested.

Specifically, $2.1 billion will go to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and $1.38 billion to the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. In addition, $157 million will go toward direct grants to communities for water infrastructure. The bill has $385 million for programs that address global climate change, $155 million above 2009. Language is also included that applies Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements to the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds.

This final bill must now pass both the full House and Senate, then be signed by the president; however, the bill will likely be merged with other appropriations bills for final consideration.

 

Report Estimates Climate Change Adaptation Costs, Impacts to Utilities

A new report prepared by CH2M Hill details the impacts climate change can have on water utilities. The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) and the Association of the Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) issued the report, which estimates the adaptation costs for these facilities to be between $448 billion and $944 billion through 2050. The associations also urged Congress and the Obama Administration to implement policies that will help utilities take timely actions to adapt.

"Now is the time to establish policies, invest in research, and provide support so that water and wastewater utilities can begin to plan the necessary adaptation strategies needed to confront the inevitable impacts of climate change. Timely action is critical — water and wastewater infrastructure planning and implementation operates within a 20 to 40 year timeline,” the report said. “Failure to provide a timely response to needed climate change adaptation will have serious consequences for the nation.”

Climate change impacts to wastewater and drinking water utilities, which provide critical economic, public health and environmental benefits, include sea-level rise and extreme flooding that can inundate and incapacitate treatment facilities; water quality degradation and increased treatment requirements; water scarcity and the need to develop new drinking water supplies; and lower flows in drought conditions that can affect the operation of treatment facilities.

Adaptation strategies involve integrating aspects of the constructed and natural water cycle through “water portfolio management” that provides utilities flexibility to craft sustainable approaches to suit their specific needs. Water conservation, new water conveyance and storage, desalination, and wastewater reuse are options to help utilities adapt. In addition, green infrastructure solutions that mimic the natural environment can be used to address stormwater flows at a lower cost while providing the ancillary benefits of providing habitat, recharging aquifers and enhancing water quality.

 

 

Secretary Napolitano Announces New Proposed Standards for Private Sector Preparedness

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano recently announced new proposed standards for a 9/11 Commission–recommended program for the private sector to improve preparedness for disasters and emergencies.

“Preparedness is a shared responsibility and everyone — including businesses, universities and nonprofit organizations — has a role to play,” said Secretary Napolitano. “Ensuring our private sector partners have the information and training they need to respond to disasters will strengthen our efforts to build a culture of preparedness nationwide.”

DHS published a notice in the Federal Register seeking public comment on three new standards identified for adoption under the Voluntary Private Sector Preparedness Accreditation and Certification Program (PS-Prep). PS-Prep is a partnership between DHS and the private sector that enables private entities — including businesses, nonprofit organizations and universities — to receive emergency preparedness certification from a DHS accreditation system created in coordination with the private sector.

The notice proposes new PS-Prep standards to enhance operational resilience, business continuity management, and disaster and emergency management among participating private sector partners.

The proposed standards, developed by the National Fire Protection Association, the British Standards Institution and the ASIS International, were selected based on their scalability, balance of interest and relevance to PS-Prep from a group of 25 standards proposed for consideration following the publication of a Federal Register notice in December 2008, which announced the program.

In addition to the standards in the posted notice, DHS is establishing classifications and methods of certifications that recognize the unique needs and characteristics of small businesses.

Individuals wishing to submit comments on the proposed standards, recommend additional standards for consideration or comment on other programmatic aspects of PS-Prep may obtain a comment form and instructions for submission online, in Docket ID: FEMA-2008-0017. DHS requests comments by Nov. 15, though it will accept submissions at any time thereafter.

For more information, click here.

 

Senate Begins Work on Climate Change Bill

The Senate action on a climate change bill continues to pick up speed with Environment and Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) holding three days of hearings on the Democrats' climate bill. Also, Boxer released a new, nearly 1000-page version of the bill, similar to the House-passed climate legislation. She also released an EPA analysis that shows the new bill would cost the average U.S. household about $100 per year.

The hearings featured several members of the Obama Administration, including Energy Secretary Steven Chu, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. In total, the hearings covered three days, eight panels and some 50 witnesses.

Boxer wants to start formal committee consideration of the bill in November, but so far no firm dates have been set, and it is expected that consideration by the full Senate will have to wait until next year.