President Donald Trump signed two spending bill packages into law this month, allocating funding for parts of the federal government through fiscal year (FY) 2019 and providing short-term funding for other agencies at FY 2018 levels until December 7, giving Congress more time to agree upon the final FY 2019 appropriations for those remaining agencies while avoiding a government shutdown before the start of the fiscal year on October 1.
On September 12, 2018, the House passed the Every Kid Outdoors Act (H.R. 3186) to provide fourth grade students and accompanying individuals with free access to federally managed public lands and waters, including historic sites such as national parks. Introduced by Representative Niki Tsongas (D-MA-3), H.R. 3186 codifies the already-existing “Every Kid in a Park” initiative launched in 2015 by President Barack Obama under the Department of the Interior.
The House passed the Strategic Petroleum Reserve Reform Act (H.R. 6511) on September 25, which would create a pilot program to lease underutilized storage facilities in the reserve to private entities. Under current policy, the Department of Energy (DOE) may only lease those facilities to foreign governments.
The House Committee on Natural Resources held a field hearing, entitled “Energy and Education: What’s the Connection,” on August 29, 2018, in Roosevelt, Utah. Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT-1) led the hearing, which considered testimony from two panels of local stakeholders and aimed to explore energy development on federal lands as a potential revenue source for public education.
A summary of notices posted to the Federal Register by geoscience-related federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, Department of the Interior, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Science Foundation, and more.
On September 28, President Donald Trump signed NEICA, the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act (S. 97), into law after the House passed the bill by voice vote on September 13. The bill, sponsored by Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID), encourages partnerships between the Department of Energy (DOE) and private companies to develop new nuclear energy technologies.
On September 28, President Donald Trump signed the Department of Energy Research and Innovation Act (H.R. 589) into law after the House passed the bill by voice vote on September 13. Originally sponsored by Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, H.R. 589 establishes the Department of Energy’s policies for science and energy research and development programs.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released draft management plans on August 17 for the revised Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments that aim to provide more flexibility for the use and management of these public lands. Developed following President Donald Trump's removal of more than 2 million acres from the two Utah monuments in December 2017, the draft plans generally focus on maximizing resource development, recreation, and other uses, while still providing for resource protection. BLM is accepting public comments on the Bears Ears plans through November 15 and the Grand Staircase-Escalante plans through November 30.
On August 29, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke released a revised reorganization proposal to establish twelve unified regional boundaries for agencies and bureaus in the Department of the Interior (DOI). Discussed at a round table with Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT-1) in Utah on August 28, the plan is modified from the original restructuring proposal released in February, which was based solely on watershed boundaries.
On August 21, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a new rule to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing coal-fired electric utility generating units and power plants across the country. The Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule would replace the 2015 Clean Power Plan (CPP) Rule. On August 24, the EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to amend Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) and tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions standards for passenger cars and light trucks and establish new standards for model years 2021 through 2026.