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EPA Releases Draft Assessment on the Potential Impacts to Drinking Water Resources from Hydraulic Fracturing Activities

June 4, 2015 Comments off

EPA Releases Draft Assessment on the Potential Impacts to Drinking Water Resources from Hydraulic Fracturing Activities
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is releasing a draft assessment today on the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing activities on drinking water resources in the United States. The assessment, done at the request of Congress, shows that while hydraulic fracturing activities in the U.S. are carried out in a way that have not led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources, there are potential vulnerabilities in the water lifecycle that could impact drinking water. The assessment follows the water used for hydraulic fracturing from water acquisition, chemical mixing at the well pad site, well injection of fracking fluids, the collection of hydraulic fracturing wastewater (including flowback and produced water), and wastewater treatment and disposal [http://www2.epa.gov/hfstudy/hydraulic-fracturing-water-cycle].

CRS — EPA and the Army Corps’ Proposed Rule to Define “Waters of the United States” (March 20, 2015)

May 28, 2015 Comments off

EPA and the Army Corps’ Proposed Rule to Define “Waters of the United States” (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

On March 25, 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) jointly announced a proposed rule defining the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The proposal would revise regulations that have been in place for more than 25 years. Revisions are proposed in light of 2001 and 2006 Supreme Court rulings that interpreted the regulatory scope of the CWA more narrowly than previously, but created uncertainty about the precise effect of the Court’s decisions.

According to the agencies, the proposed rule would revise the existing administrative definition of “waters of the United States” consistent with legal rulings and science concerning the interconnectedness of tributaries, wetlands, and other waters and effects of these connections on the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of downstream waters. Waters that are “jurisdictional” are subject to the multiple regulatory requirements of the CWA. Nonjurisdictional waters are not subject to those requirements.

This report describes the proposed rule—which the agencies refer to as the Clean Water Rule— and includes a table comparing the existing regulatory language that defines “waters of the United States” with the proposed revisions. The proposal is particularly focused on clarifying the regulatory status of waters located in isolated places in a landscape. It does not modify some categories of waters that currently are jurisdictional by rule (traditional navigable waters, interstate waters and wetlands, the territorial seas, and impoundments). The proposed rule would replace EPA-Corps guidance that was issued in 2003 and 2008, which has guided agency interpretation of the Court’s rulings but also has caused considerable confusion.

New From the GAO

January 14, 2015 Comments off

New GAO Report
Source: Government Accountability Office

Environmental Litigation: Impact of Deadline Suits on EPA’s Rulemaking Is Limited. GAO-15-34, December 15.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-34
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667532.pdf

EPA — Climate Change Indicators in the United States — New 2014 Edition

November 27, 2014 Comments off

EPA — Climate Change Indicators in the United States — New 2014 Edition
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The Earth’s climate is changing. Temperatures are rising, snow and rainfall patterns are shifting, and more extreme climate events—like heavy rainstorms and record high temperatures—are already taking place. Scientists are highly confident that many of these observed changes can be linked to the climbing levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, which are caused by human activities.

EPA is working with many other organizations to collect and communicate data about climate change. With help from these partners, EPA has compiled the third edition of this report, presenting 30 indicators to help readers understand observed long-term trends related to the causes and effects of climate change. In a manner accessible to all audiences, the report describes the significance of these trends and their possible consequences for people, the environment, and society. Most indicators focus on the United States, but some include global trends to provide context or a basis for comparison, or because they are intrinsically global in nature. All of the indicators presented relate to either the causes or effects of climate change, although some indicators show trends that can be more directly linked to human-induced climate change than others. EPA’s indicators are based on peer-reviewed, publicly-available data from various government agencies, academic institutions, and other organizations. EPA selected these indicators based on the quality of the data and other criteria, using historical records that go back in time as far as possible without sacrificing data quality.

Indicators will be updated periodically on the Web as newer data become available.

EPA, DOE Release 2015 Fuel Economy Guide for Car Buyers

November 10, 2014 Comments off

EPA, DOE Release 2015 Fuel Economy Guide for Car Buyers
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency/U.S. Department of Energy

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) today released the 2015 Fuel Economy Guide, providing consumers with a valuable resource to help them choose the most fuel-efficient and low greenhouse gas emitting vehicles that meet their needs.

In comparison to previous years, the 2015 models include a greater number of fuel efficient and low-emission vehicles in a broader variety of classes and sizes.

U.S. Fuel Economy Reaches All-Time High/Fuel economy gains for new vehicles continue under President Obama’s Clean Car Program

October 9, 2014 Comments off

U.S. Fuel Economy Reaches All-Time High/Fuel economy gains for new vehicles continue under President Obama’s Clean Car Program
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

New vehicles achieved an all-time-high fuel economy in 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency announced today. Model year 2013 vehicles achieved an average of 24.1 miles per gallon (mpg) — a 0.5 mpg increase over the previous year and an increase of nearly 5 mpg since 2004. Fuel economy has now increased in eight of the last nine years. The average carbon dioxide emissions are also at a record low of 369 grams per mile in model year 2013.

EPA’s annual “Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 through 2014” report tracks average fuel economy of new cars and SUVs sold in the United States. The report also ranks automakers’ achievements in model year 2013.

Some additional top-line findings from the report:

·The recent fuel economy improvement is a result of automakers’ rapid adoption of more efficient technologies such as gasoline direct injection engines, turbochargers, and advanced transmissions.
·Mazda vehicles averaged the highest fuel economy and lowest greenhouse gas emissions
·Nissan achieved the greatest improvement in average fuel economy and greenhouse gas reductions
·SUVs achieved the greatest improvement in all classes of new personal vehicles.

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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