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Florida congressional delegation opposes rolling back oil drilling regulations

Twenty members of Florida’s congressional delegation sent a letter Tuesday to the Trump Administration opposing any rollback of safety regulations adopted after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
The letter was released by delegation co-chairmen U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, and Alcee Hastings.
In a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the Florida representatives warned that “an oil spill can devastate a regional economy and inflict long-term environmental damage” and asked the secretary to “reject any proposals to roll back regulations that were specifically adopted to address systemic safety failures that led to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill.”
A division of the Interior Department, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, recently said some of the regulations adopted in response to the tragedy created “potentially unduly burdensome requirements” on oil and gas operators, Buchanan’s office said in a news release. The proposal to roll back safety rules was published in the Federal Register at the end of 2017.

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Chemical contaminant found at sites across Michigan poses health and environmental risk

The more the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality looks for groundwater contaminated with PFAS in the state, the more it finds it
Twenty-eight locations across Michigan, and rising, have been found contaminated with potentially health-harming chemicals once used in nonstick surfaces and firefighting foam.
Gov. Rick Snyder last month launched a coordinated, statewide effort to find and begin addressing polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, which includes a group of man-made chemicals that were commonly used since the 1950s in stain-resistant carpeting, nonstick pots and pans, waterproof shoes and other household products. PFAS was also used in firefighting foam, particularly at military bases. Use of the chemicals was largely phased out by 2015.

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House Bill Extends Payments for Clean Ups of Contaminated Industrial Sites

The Trump administration may not be a fan of the US Environmental Protection Agency but it is supporting a House bill to extend until 2022 the payments to help clean up so-called “brownfields” sites. Such sites are industrial properties that have been contaminated and that would otherwise not have any future commercial or recreational use unless they are able to get restored.
To that end, the House voted last week 409 to 8 to authorize the funding to pay for those projects, which advocates say would lead to jobs and economic development — as opposed to having permanent blights in communities across the country. However, critics say that the $200 million annual allocations are a pittance of what is needed to make a real mark.
“EPA is committed to working with communities to redevelop Brownfields sites which have plagued their neighborhoods. EPA’s Assessment and Cleanup grants target communities that are economically disadvantaged and include places where environmental cleanup and new jobs are most needed,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

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EPA Will Entertain Full Climate Debate, Including Endangerment Finding

Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt said that his agency will formulate the Clean Power Plan’s future in early 2018. And while Pruitt said that the agency would “replace” the proposal and not “repeal” it altogether, others are questioning his true intent.
That is because Pruitt also told lawmakers last week that he disagrees with the Endangerment Finding, which gets to the heart of EPA’s ability to regulate CO2 as an emission under the Clean Power Plan. The US Supreme Court has affirmed that right under the Endangerment Finding, although Pruitt said he intends to lead a national discussion on the data that the Obama EPA used to arrive at its conclusion that CO2 was a danger human health and the environment.
“They took work from the U.N. IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] … and adopted that as the core of the finding,” Pruitt told the House Energy and Commerce Committe. That, he continued, was a “breach of process.”
“I think one of the most important things we can do for the American people is provide that discussion, and it hasn’t happened,” Pruitt added. “As I indicated, the agency borrowed the work product of a third party. We have to ensure that discussion occurs.”

Businesses Ask EPA to Curb Clean Power Plan at Hearing

At the US Environmental Protection Agency’s only hearing to discuss the Clean Power Plan, the business community turned out and either asked for outright repeal or strict curbs on the proposal’s reach.
It’s an extension of the Trump administration’s outreach to businesses that it has said have been hurt the would-be regulation. The hearing was held in an area of the country loyal to Trump: West Virginia.
President Trump ran for office on a platform that said carbon restrictions are killing the coal industry, which is providing reliable and inexpensive fuel to the rest of the country. As a result, EPA Administrator Scott Pruit said in October that the Trump administration would seek to undo the Clean Power Plan.
“While ERCC believes that absent specific guidance in legislation from the U.S. Congress, market principles are the most sound basis upon which to proceed, we nevertheless support the process advanced by EPA,” Scott Segal, director of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council said at the EPA hearing in Charleston, WV, where this reporter attended.
“Federal guidance of sufficient flexibility, and limited to actions within the fenceline, can provide regulatory certainty, diminish frivolous litigation, and can aide in planning,” he added.

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