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September 8, 2009
     
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Government Relations

Will Fall Congressional Agenda Include Water Issues?

Congress returned from its summer recess to an agenda dominated – for now – by health-care reform and appropriations. While the regular appropriations process will no doubt continue, less clear is the fate of the broad health-care reform the Administration and Democrats are championing. The fate and timetable of that debate could affect issues of particular interest to the water industry.

For example, pending before the Senate is consideration of S. 1005, the Water Infrastructure Financing Act, which would reauthorize the drinking water and wastewater State Revolving Funds. Whether that bill’s sponsors get time before the full Senate to debate and vote on the bill depends largely on the fate of larger, higher priority bills – such as health-care reform – and their pace through the process.

Separate from a timetable for consideration of S. 1005, there are other unknowns and controversies related to the bill. One includes the formula for allocation of the State Revolving Loan Funds to the states, a perennial issue with this bill that likely won’t get settled until late in the process. Also, unknown is the fate DW-SRF reauthorization since the House has only passed a CW-SRF reauthorization thus far.

One factor working in favor of final action on SRF reauthorization in 2009 is the long legislative calendar; it is generally agreed that, except for a few occasional short breaks, Congress will be in session through the fall and well into December.




Introduction of Senate Cap-and-Trade Bill Postponed

Chairman Barbara Boxer of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee announced on Aug. 31 that she will not introduce Senate climate-change legislation that would cap and create a trading market for greenhouse gas emissions during the week of Sept. 7 as originally intended. A new goal for producing a bill by late September was set. With a bill expected in late September, committees with jurisdiction over the measure would not be able to take up the bill until October.

The House of Representatives passed legislation (HR 2454) in June that would cap greenhouse gas emissions and establish a market-based trading program to meet the cap. The Senate is hoping to produce a companion bill and conduct the necessary negotiations to pass a bill into law in advance of the U.N. climate conference to be held in Copenhagen in December 2009.

The Senate faces a major controversy for how to distribute significant revenues from greenhouse gas allowance sales. Of note is a stated proposal by Senator Baucus (D-MT) and Senator Whitehouse (D-RI) that would set aside some of the revenue generated by the cap-and-trade for climate change adaptation programs. These two Senators want the legislation to include a plan to help agencies monitor and prepare for the effects of climate change on natural resource management.

Some are predicting that the Senate may be unwilling and unable to pass controversial cap-and-trade legislation this year but that Senators may instead try to pass an energy-only bill to subsidize green energies in lieu of a cap on greenhouse gas emissions, and to establish a renewable electricity standard, energy efficiency standards for buildings, and various provisions to increase efficiency of the manufacturing process and motor vehicles.



Water Sector to Launch Second Round of Security Metrics Initiative

The Water Sector is poised to become the first critical infrastructure group to launch a second round of sector-specific security metrics later this month. Last year’s responses indicated that drinking water and wastewater utilities had made significant progress in many areas of security. To measure additional progress and gain an even better understanding of the sector’s overall security posture, the metrics collection effort is being conducted again.

The 2009 metrics survey, set to launch on Sept. 22, will be available online via the WaterISAC public website. All utilities, regardless of ISAC affiliation, are encouraged to participate in this voluntary effort. The measures consist of a short series of questions expected to take approximately 20–30 minutes to complete. All responses will be 100 percent anonymous; participants will NOT be asked to list utility names or contact information.

These measures, developed by the Water Sector Coordinating Council, in partnership with EPA and the Department of Homeland Security, are an important means to determining the extent to which the sector is progressing in the areas of security, preparedness and resiliency.

A final report of aggregated sector-wide data will be made available in January 2010. In addition to serving as a benchmarking resource for systems to compare themselves to one another, the report will be used to inform sector security partners regarding the proactive posture of the nation’s drinking water and wastewater utilities.

For questions or additional information, please contact Vance Taylor.

 


WaterISAC Offers Webinar on Insider Threats

As the world becomes a virtual community of competitors and predators, an organization's assets are at greater risk than in the past, when the world was more localized and compartmentalized. The dilemma that leaders face today is managing an evolving networked organization that is virtually connected but secure. As the continued growth of technology forces the world into a more networked work environment, it is important to sustain an integrated risk-managed posture that assures that a compromise of critical assets does not result in a breach of national security, the loss of lives or lapse of public confidence. Developing strategies to mitigate the risk of asset loss may very well be the critical success factor that defines and prioritizes an organization's goals for success, whether the mission is national security, public safety, supply-chain integrity or just sustaining market share.

This webinar for WaterISAC Pro subscribers will define the risks associated with asset loss and an approach to mitigate an "insider" threat through the development and management of a secure workforce. A secure workforce should be a key strategy and primary objective of any organization, but addressing physical and information security are only two-thirds of the necessary equation for protecting against asset loss. Managing a secure workforce and mitigating the threat posed by the vetted employee or the "insider" is in many cases the most critical variable in the equation. The webinar incorporates an understanding and a set of solutions for consideration to help mitigate the insider threat and minimize asset loss through an integrated approach with physical and information security.

Join Dr. Michael Gelles of Deloitte Consulting LLP as he briefs WaterISAC Pro subscribers on insider threats and mitigation options on Sept. 15 at 1:30 p.m. EST.

To register for this webinar, please visit the WaterISAC News and Events page.

 

 

EPA Announces Water Laboratory Alliance Security Summit

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Water, in collaboration with its partners in the Water Sector, is sponsoring a Water Laboratory Alliance (WLA) Security Summit in October 2009.

The Summit will actively engage a vast array of technical and leadership staff from the water, laboratory and emergency-response communities to learn about WLA Program elements, practice the WLA Response Plan (WLA-RP) for incident response, and provide hands-on experience with EPA security-related tools and resources. WLA Liaisons from participating states will also be established and trained in preparation for state-level outreach efforts.

The WLA Security Summit will take place Oct. 22-23, 2009, at the Crowne Plaza City Center in Philadelphia, Penn.

The number of attendees for the summit is limited. Preference may be given to those who can attend both days of the event, from the beginning of the summit on the morning of Oct. 22 through the closing session on Friday afternoon, Oct. 23. Also, EPA will give priority to registrants from the Eastern half of the U.S. (A West Coast WLA Summit is planned for 2010).

For more information, please click here.