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CRS — Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Appropriations for FY2014 in P.L. 113-76 (August 15, 2014)

September 15, 2014 Comments off

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Appropriations for FY2014 in P.L. 113-76 (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Enacted on January 17, 2014, Title II of Division G of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 (P.L. 113-76, H.R. 3547) provided $8.20 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for FY2014. The act appropriated funding for the full fiscal year through September 30, 2014, for all of the 12 regular appropriations acts, including EPA within Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. Total discretionary appropriations available in FY2014 for all federal departments and agencies were based on a cap of $1.012 trillion set in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (P.L. 113-67). The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) determined that this spending level in FY2014 would not trigger sequestration under the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA; P.L. 112-25), as amended by the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA; P.L. 112-240). Unlike FY2013, the FY2014 appropriations therefore were not reduced through sequestration.

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EPA’s Proposed CO2 Rule for Existing Power Plants: How Would It Affect Nuclear Energy? — CRS Insights (August 4, 2014)

August 15, 2014 Comments off

EPA’s Proposed CO2 Rule for Existing Power Plants: How Would It Affect Nuclear Energy? — CRS Insights (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a proposed rule on June 18, 2014, to address CO2 emissions from existing power plants. Because nuclear power plants directly emit little or no CO2, a significant policy question is whether EPA’s proposed regulations would encourage the growth of nuclear energy or at least the continued operation of existing reactors. The formula in the proposed rule for setting CO2 goals explicitly accounts for some existing nuclear capacity and reactors under construction, providing a potential incentive for states to try to keep those plants operating. However, EPA’s proposed rule allows states to develop their own plans for meeting the CO2 emission rate goals, making it difficult to predict how nuclear energy might ultimately fare.

The proposed EPA standards would set state-specific goals for the amount of CO2 that could be emitted in 2030 for each megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity generated. EPA projects that, under those proposed emissions rates, U.S. power plants would produce 30% less CO2 by 2030 than they did in 2005 (the base year in President Obama’s Climate Action Plan).

New From the GAO

August 12, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Report
Source: Government Accountability Office

Environmental Regulation: EPA Should Improve Adherence to Guidance for Selected Elements of Regulatory Impact Analyses. GAO-14-519, July 18.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-519
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664873.pdf

CRS — EPA’s Proposed Greenhouse Gas Regulations for Existing Power Plants: Frequently Asked Questions

June 16, 2014 Comments off

EPA’s Proposed Greenhouse Gas Regulations for Existing Power Plants: Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Taking action to address climate change by reducing U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) is among President Obama’s major goals. At an international conference in Copenhagen in 2009, he committed the United States to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases 17% by 2020, as compared to 2005 levels. At the time, 85 other nations also committed to reductions.

Since U.S. GHG emissions peaked in 2007, a variety of factors—some economic, some the effect of government policies at all levels—have brought the United States more than halfway to reaching the 2020 goal. Getting the rest of the way would likely depend, to some degree, on continued GHG emission reductions from electric power plants, which are the largest source of U.S. emissions.

In June 2013, the President released a Climate Action Plan that addressed this and other climate issues. At the same time, he directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to propose standards for “carbon pollution” (i.e., carbon dioxide, the principal GHG) from existing power plants by June of this year and to finalize them in June 2015. Under the President’s timetable, by June 2016, states would be required to submit to EPA plans to implement the standards.

On June 2, 2014, EPA responded to the first of these directives by releasing the proposed standards.

FDA and EPA issue draft updated advice for fish consumption

June 10, 2014 Comments off

FDA and EPA issue draft updated advice for fish consumption
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today issued draft updated advice on fish consumption. The two agencies have concluded pregnant and breastfeeding women, those who might become pregnant, and young children should eat more fish that is lower in mercury in order to gain important developmental and health benefits. The draft updated advice is consistent with recommendations in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Previously, the FDA and the EPA recommended maximum amounts of fish that these population groups should consume, but did not promote a minimum amount. Over the past decade, however, emerging science has underscored the importance of appropriate amounts of fish in the diets of pregnant and breastfeeding women, and young children.

“For years many women have limited or avoided eating fish during pregnancy or feeding fish to their young children,” said Stephen Ostroff, M.D., the FDA’s acting chief scientist. “But emerging science now tells us that limiting or avoiding fish during pregnancy and early childhood can mean missing out on important nutrients that can have a positive impact on growth and development as well as on general health.”

An FDA analysis of seafood consumption data from over 1,000 pregnant women in the United States found that 21 percent of them ate no fish in the previous month, and those who ate fish ate far less than the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends—with 50 percent eating fewer than 2 ounces a week, and 75 percent eating fewer than 4 ounces a week. The draft updated advice recommends pregnant women eat at least 8 ounces and up to 12 ounces (2-3 servings) per week of a variety of fish that are lower in mercury to support fetal growth and development.

EPA Proposes First Guidelines to Cut Carbon Pollution from Existing Power Plants/Clean Power Plan is flexible proposal to ensure a healthier environment, spur innovation and strengthen the economy

June 3, 2014 Comments off

EPA Proposes First Guidelines to Cut Carbon Pollution from Existing Power Plants/Clean Power Plan is flexible proposal to ensure a healthier environment, spur innovation and strengthen the economy
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

At the direction of President Obama and after an unprecedented outreach effort, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is today releasing the Clean Power Plan proposal, which for the first time cuts carbon pollution from existing power plants, the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. Today’s proposal will protect public health, move the United States toward a cleaner environment and fight climate change while supplying Americans with reliable and affordable power.

Power plants account for roughly one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. While there are limits in place for the level of arsenic, mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particle pollution that power plants can emit, there are currently no national limits on carbon pollution levels.

With the Clean Power Plan, EPA is proposing guidelines that build on trends already underway in states and the power sector to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants, making them more efficient and less polluting. This proposal follows through on the common-sense steps laid out in President Obama’s Climate Action Plan and the June 2013 Presidential Memorandum.

EPA OIG — EPA Compliance With Retention Incentive Regulations and Policies

May 30, 2014 Comments off

EPA Compliance With Retention Incentive Regulations and Policies (PDF)
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA did not comply with Office of Personnel Management regulations or agency policies on retention incentive pay. From 2006 through 2013, retention incentives were paid to 13 EPA employees totaling $667,376. Eleven employees received retention incentive pay totaling $481,819. For 10 of the employees, no documentation of the required annual recertification was available. One employee received retention incentive pay for 4 years beyond the date of a promotion.

EPA employees received unauthorized retention pay due to:
Agency and management confusion over the requirement for annual recertification of retention incentive pay.
The agency’s human resource system lacking internal controls to track, notify and automatically discontinue retention incentive pay if not properly authorized. Lack of follow-up by the EPA’s Office of Human Resources regarding coding errors for terminated retention incentives.
Lack of follow-up by EPA managers and employees regarding the status of outstanding actions being processed by the EPA’s Office of Human Resources.

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