New Water, Air Rules and Regulations Top State Legislators’ Concern List in 2015
LEXINGTON, Ky., Jan. 14, 2015—New environmental rules and regulations are likely to be a top concern for state legislators during the new legislative session.
In June 2014, the EPA proposed the 111(d) Rule to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Each state has a different target, with some required to reduce carbon emissions by more than 30 percent. States also will keep busy analyzing EPA’s new proposal to lower the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone from the current level of 75 parts per billion to a range of 65-70 parts per billion.
In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency, along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, proposed a new rule in April 2014 to clarify and define what waters are protected under the Clean Water Act. The rule clarifies that most seasonal and rain-dependent streams are protected, as well as wetlands near rivers and streams. The proposed rule acknowledges other waters may have a connection and would be determined on a case-by-case basis. Agriculture and business groups have been outspoken that the language in the proposal is too broad, encompassing things like ditches and runoff.
“Proposed EPA rules will continue to dominate conversation in both the environment and energy sector for state policymakers in the coming year,” said Rebekah Fitzgerald, program manager for energy and environmental policy at The Council of State Governments. “From multiple air quality regulations to water quality, the proposed rules are ushering in landscape-scale changes, particularly for the energy industry.”
The Council of State Governments this week released its annual listing of top 5 issues legislators will face this year in education, energy and the environment, federal affairs, fiscal and economic development, health, international affairs, interstate compacts, transportation and workforce development.
Other items likely to be high on the list of energy and environmental concerns for state policymakers are grid reliability and using science to make decisions. The Endangered Species Act also is likely to be a topic of conversation, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreeing to make a listing determination for 757 species by 2018. One of the species to be considered in 2015 is the greater sage grouse, which could impact 174 counties in 11 Western states.
“The Endangered Species Act continues to be a lesson in federal-state communication and partnership when it comes to wildlife in a state’s boundaries,” Fitzgerald said. “Eleven Western states have been working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to improve the greater sage grouse population. In 2015, these states will find out if their efforts have been successful when the listing determination is released.”