EPA and Department of the Army announce intent to redefine WOTUS rule

Salt marsh near Pescadero, California

On December 11, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army proposed a revised definition of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule to clarify the scope of waters federally regulated under the Clean Water Act. The proposed revision would limit where federal regulations apply, clearly outlining what would be considered “waters of the United States” in addition to specific exclusions from the definition.

Nominations for energy and environmental agency positions move forward in lame duck

The White House

A series of nomination processes moved forward in December as Congress wrapped up their lame duck session following the November 6 midterm elections. On December 6, the Senate confirmed Bernard McNamee to be a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The nominations of Rita Baranwal to be assistant secretary for nuclear energy at the Department of Energy (DOE) and Raymond Vela to be director of the National Park Service (NPS) were still awaiting a final confirmation vote by the Senate at the end of December 2018.

Forrest Lewis

Forrest is a 2017 graduate of Harvard College with a joint degree in Earth and Planetary Sciences and Environmental Science and Public Policy. As an undergraduate, his research focused on tree leaf respiration as it pertained to the global carbon cycle. He also worked for the Harvard University Office for Sustainability for three years in the Resource Efficiency Program. After graduation, Forrest spent a year teaching in The Gambia as a Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Traveling Fellow.

During his 2018 Geoscience Policy fall internship, Forrest published news briefs for the AGI Monthly Review. He also represented AGI at coalition meetings, attended Congressional hearings and briefings, managed AGI’s website and social media content, and wrote an article on early volcano warning systems for EARTH magazine.

Senate subcommittee field hearing addresses effects of PFAS chemicals in Michigan

Atlean Lake in British Columbia

Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), ranking member of the Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management Subcommittee, convened a field hearing titled “Local, State and Federal Response to PFAS Contamination in Michigan” in his home state on November 13. The hearing focused on the emerging health and environmental impacts of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Congress reauthorizes national earthquake hazards program

Cracked road from earthquake

A bill to reauthorize the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) through fiscal year 2023 passed the House on November 27 and now awaits final approval by the President. The National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program Reauthorization Act of 2018 (S. 1768) serves as a follow-up to the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977, which established NEHRP as the nation’s interagency platform for seismic hazards.


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