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Legislative Corner

23 July 2021

Federal and State Legislative Activity Continues on PFAS

Federal and state lawmakers continue to advance legislative efforts to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS have been used in a variety of consumer products and industrial processes and are often recognized for use in nonstick cookware, waterproof apparel, and fire-fighting foam. The U.S. House of Representatives voted this week to pass legislation that would further regulate PFAS. In a bipartisan vote of 241 to 183, lawmakers advanced HR 2467, the PFAS Action Act of 2021, which would impose federal requirements to address PFAS under many environmental statutes, including the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Clean Air Act (CAA), the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Toxic Substances Control Act.

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01 July 2021

Congress Rescinds Trump-Era Methane “Policy Rule”

On June 25, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to rescind a Trump-era methane rule using its Congressional Review Act (CRA) authority, which includes special procedures that allow Congress and the President to rescind certain rules promulgated during a prior administration, within defined time limits. The Senate passed the CRA resolution disapproving the rule on April 28, 2021. The measure garnered bipartisan support in both chambers. Congress presented the resolution to President Biden, who signed it on June 30, 2021.

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15 June 2021

Environmental Justice Pollution Cleanup Act to Be Reintroduced

On June 11, 2021, U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Representative A. Donald McEachin (D-VA) announced the reintroduction of the Environmental Justice Pollution Cleanup Act of 2021 – a bill first introduced in 2020, which would provide for significant investment in environmental justice communities to address the health and environmental effects of pollution. This marks the latest of a series of proposed legislation addressing environmental justice. In March 2021, we reported on the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which allocated $100 million in funding to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, for programs, including the retrofitting or replacement of diesel engines or equipment, cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields sites, and technical assistance for small community water systems.

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01 June 2021

SEC Climate Disclosure Bill Clears U.S. House Committee Vote

The U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee advanced another piece of legislation related to disclosures of environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) metrics on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. Introduced by Rep. Sean Casten, D-Ill., HR 2570, the Climate Risk Disclosure Act, cleared the committee with the full support of the majority members in a vote of 28 to 24. (more…)

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26 May 2021

Texas Legislature Passes Anti-ESG Bill

Earlier in May, the Texas Legislature passed a bill (SB 13) that would prevent Texas from investing in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) financial products that boycott Texas energy companies. If signed into law by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, SB 13 would require Texas’ public pension funds to “sell, redeem, divest, or withdraw all publicly traded securities of [any] financial company …” that “boycott[s] energy companies.” (more…)

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28 April 2021

U.S. House Advances Environmental, Social, Governance Disclosure Bill

Last week the U.S. House of Representatives advanced the first piece of legislation of the year regarding environmental, social, and governance (ESG). On Wednesday, April 21, the House Financial Services Committee passed H.R. 1187, the ESG Disclosure Simplification Act of 2021, by a party-line vote of 28-22.

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22 April 2021

House Introduces PFAS Action Act of 2021

On Tuesday, April 13, Reps. Debbie Dingell and Fred Upton, both D-Mich., introduced the PFAS Action Act of 2021, seeking further regulation of per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS). Most notably, the bill would require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take action to address two PFAS chemicals — PFOA and PFOS — through a number of regulatory provisions: designating PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, designating PFOA and PFOS as hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act, and requiring EPA to establish national drinking water standards for PFOA and PFOS. (more…)

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14 April 2021

President Biden’s Budget Proposal Includes Unprecedented Funding for All-of-Government Approach to Climate

On Friday, April 9, President Joe Biden released a $1.52 trillion fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget proposal. Referred to as the “skinny budget,” the document includes top-line figures and high-level summaries the White House will supplant with the full budget proposal later this spring. The release of the skinny budget starts the often-challenging process for Congress to pass an appropriations bill by the end of September, when the FY21 appropriations expire. (more…)

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06 April 2021

White House Unveils Expansive Infrastructure Proposal

President Joe Biden unveiled the first of his two-part infrastructure proposal on Wednesday, March 31. Referred to as the American Jobs Plan, the package would provide $2.3 trillion in spending to support traditional infrastructure upgrades and activities within a new, more expansive definition of infrastructure. The plan provides $621 billion for transportation infrastructure and resiliency activities, $115 billion of which would fund repairs to roads and bridges. This also includes $174 billion in electric vehicle (EV) investments to create a national network of 500,000 EV chargers by 2030, electrify at least 20% of school buses, and electrify the federal fleet, including the U.S. Postal Service. In addition, the proposal provides $111 billion in water infrastructure funding, which includes $45 billion to replace 100% of the nation’s lead service lines and $10 billion to monitor and remediate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water.

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26 March 2021

Congress Moves to Repeal First Trump-Era Rule

Yesterday, the U.S. Congress started a process that could repeal its first Trump-era regulation pursuant to the Congressional Review Act (CRA). Enacted in 1996, the CRA provides Congress an important oversight tool over federal agencies to rescind certain rules. Majority members in both the House of Representatives and the Senate introduced resolutions disapproving the Environmental Protection Agency’s September 2020 final rule on policy amendments to new source performance standards for the oil and natural gas sector. The 2020 rule, which amended 2012 and 2016 standards, rescinded methane-specific emissions limits and removed two segments (natural gas transmission and storage) that were subject to the prior standards. While EPA was directed by President Biden’s Executive Order 13990 to review the 2020 rule and propose a new rule by September 2021, members of Congress are seeking to accelerate this effort by using the CRA.

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