Federal Water Tap, January 16: A Busy EPA

Peer Reviewers for Fracking Study
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is accepting nominations for qualified scientists to review its draft study of groundwater contamination in a Wyoming town. The draft, released in December, found compounds that are associated with natural-gas drilling processes in two monitoring wells. To nominate someone, send the person’s name, address and phone number to peerreview@erg.com by Feb. 17.

EPA in Court
In arguments last Monday, U.S. Supreme Court justices appeared to side with Idaho landowners in their case against the EPA’s enforcement of the Clean Water Act, Reuters reports. Justices questioned whether the EPA’s compliance orders should undergo judicial review, and whether the size of the threatened fines was “coercive.” A ruling is expected by June.

U.S. Forest Service in Court
An association made up of ski resort owners is suing the U.S. Forest Service over water rights, the Denver Post reports.

Pipeline Maneuvers
Reuters reports on two items concerning the Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL pipeline. Congressional Republicans are trying to use Congress’s authority over international commerce to control the permitting process for the pipeline. And, the White House spokesman told reporters that an alternative route through Nebraska has not been established and that the expedited timetable is a concern. The Obama administration has a Feb. 21 deadline to decide on a permit.

The president, meanwhile, visited EPA headquarters on Tuesday, telling staffers that a choice between economic growth and a healthy environment was a “false debate,” according to the New York Times.

GHG Data
Last week, the EPA released statistics on greenhouse gas emissions in 2010 from large facilities in nine sectors, including power plants, mining, and manufacturing.

Water Quality Policy Meetings
The EPA will hold a series of workshops in January and February to help the agency develop a policy for meeting the goals of the Clean Water Act without shackling cities to multi-billion dollar clean-up programs for sewer overflows. In October, EPA officials released a memo outlining the new integrated planning policy. Meetings will be held in Atlanta, New York, Seattle, Kansas City, and Chicago. If you want to attend, register here by Jan. 20. You can find the times and dates here.

Infrastructure Security
The National Infrastructure Advisory Council released a report on the role of information-sharing in protecting key national assets, which have been divided into 18 sectors, including energy, water, and transportation. The report concludes that relationships between federal, state and municipal governments have improved, but the private sector is not being adequately integrated into the intelligence-sharing system.

Arctic Defense
As the top of the world melts, the Department of Defense (DOD) is beginning to invest in national security infrastructure there. Last May, the DOD released a report on its Arctic operations. Last week, the Government Accountability Office evaluated the report, arguing the DOD has not prioritized near-term needs, nor has it collaborated with other agencies to maximize long-term investment strategies.

Grant Opportunities
The EPA has a couple millions dollars to dole out for small projects under its Urban Waters program, which seeks to improve water quality and reconnect citizens to their waterways. Proposals are due Jan. 23. Click here for more information.

And the U.S. Department of Agriculture has $10 million available for conservation projects and water quality trading programs in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Proposals are due March 2; more details here.

Federal Water Tap is a weekly digest spotting trends in U.S. government water policy. To get more water news, follow Circle of Blue on Twitter and sign up for our newsletter.

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