Washington Waves
Washington Waves

New ‘Subcabinet’ Agency To Map CWA-Regulated Waters

Washington, D.C.—A new subcabinet agency formed in part to recommend actions to maintain and modernize transportation on the nation’s inland waterways will lead an effort to map the waters of the United States (WOTUS).

In announcing the cross-agency effort led by the agency known as the Water Subcabinet, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said fully developed maps of Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction will promote greater regulatory certainty and relieve some of the regulatory burdens associated with determining the need for a CWA permit.

“After nearly 50 years of implementing the Clean Water Act, it is disappointing that the federal government lacks the ability to point to a map and tell our stakeholders which waters are subject to federal jurisdiction, and which are exclusively reserved to the capable management of our state and tribal partners,” said David Ross, EPA’s assistant administrator for water.

EPA said the Water Subcabinet will engage with stakeholders such as the Western States Water Council to make progress on these mapping goals.

During the effort to develop a new WOTUS definition under the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Ryan Fisher said stakeholders provided comments about such maps.

President Donald Trump formed the Water Subcabinet by executive order.

Trump’s order states that within 150 days, the new agency shall recommend actions to support maintaining and modernizing the nation’s water infrastructure, specifically listing flood control and transportation “on our rivers and inland waterways.”

Relief Package

While a deal on another coronavirus relief package remained elusive, comments about ongoing negotiations from both the White House and the Capitol clearly turned more positive.

“I want people to know, help is on the way,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on MSNBC.

“We’re in a better place than we have been.”

White House Director of Strategic Communications Alyssa Farah also struck an upbeat note.

“We can see some movement,” she said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters if a deal can be reached with President Donald Trump’s support and it passes the House, he would put it on the Senate floor.

McConnell did not say whether that action would occur before or after the November elections.

If delayed until after the elections, the package’s fate could depend on who wins the race for the White House and how each party does in the battle for control of both houses of Congress.

Questions also remain on exactly how many Republican senators would support a package with a price tag closing in on $2 trillion.

Republicans control the Senate by a narrow margin, and that chamber’s rules usually require 60 votes to pass bills of such importance.

McConnell said Senate Republicans support spending only another $500 billion, a figure that is definitely a non-starter for Pelosi and perhaps Trump as well.

In addition to the dollar figure, both sides concede key sticking points remain such as the amount for local and state governments.

Talks between Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were expected to continue.

 Centers Of Excellence

The Maritime Administration (MarAd) announced it is accepting applications from eligible institutions for a Centers of Excellence (CoE) designation to recognize and support community or technical colleges and maritime training centers that prepare Americans for careers in the maritime industry.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said the educational institutions benefit America’s national security and economy by growing and strengthening the maritime workforce.

“Exciting career opportunities lie ahead for those entering the maritime field, and many of those new entrants will serve our nation directly, advancing both our national security as well as our nation’s continued economic recovery,” MarAd Administrator Mark Buzby said.

For additional information, contact Nuns Jain at 757-322-5801.

LNG Regulations

The Coast Guard has proposed amending its regulations on waterfront facilities handling liquefied natural gas (LNG) and liquefied hazardous gas (LHG).

Proposed changes would allow waterfront facilities handling LNG as fuel to conduct an operational risk assessment instead of a waterway suitability assessment (WSA) without first obtaining Captain of the Port approval; update incorporated technical standards to reflect the most recent published editions; and require  waterfront facilities handling LNG that must comply with the WSA requirements to provide information to the Coast Guard regarding the nation of registry for vessels transporting natural gas that are reasonably anticipated to be servicing the facilities, and the nationality or citizenship of officers and crew serving on board those vessels.

Comments and related material must be received by the Coast Guard by December 4 and may be submitted by using the federal portal at www.regulations.gov.

For additional information, contact Ken Smith at 202-372-1413.

Reducing Marine Litter

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler released a strategy to reduce marine litter in waterways and oceans.

“Internationally, up to 28 billion pounds of waste make it into our oceans every year, harming marine life and coastal economies,” Wheeler said.

The U.S. Federal Strategy for Addressing the Global Issues of Marine Litter identified the four pillars for tackling the issue as building capacity, incentivizing the global recycling market, promoting research and development and promoting marine litter removal.

Great Lakes Advisory Board

The Great Lakes Advisory Board (GLAB) is scheduled to meet October 29 in a remote/virtual session.

Open to the public, the meeting is set to begin at 9 a.m. CDT.

Those seeking to view the meeting without speaking must register by 3 p.m. CDT October 28. The deadline for those wishing to speak was 3 p.m. CDT October 22. Register by contacting Designated Federal Officer Edlynzia Barnes at 312-886-6249.

GLAB provides advice on matters related to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.