Category Archives: Laws&Regs

Reducing Carbon Emissions from Power Plants in Virginia – Public Hearings in March 2018 on Proposed Carbon-trading Regulation; Proposal Follows Gov. Executive Directive Issued May 16, 2017

Following is information on Virginia’s process in 2017-18 to develop regulations to reduce carbon emissions from electric power plants.  The latest update to this post is February 21, 2018.

As of February 2018, the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board and Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) were planning a series of public hearings on proposed carbon dioxide (CO2)-trading regulation.  The planned public hearings are as follows (dates are hyperlinked to Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notices):
3/7/18, 5 p.m., at the DEQ Southwest Regional Office, 355 Deadmore Street in Abingdon.  Other public hearings will be as follows:
3/12/18, 5 p.m., at the DEQ Tidewater Regional Office, 5636 Southern Boulevard in Virginia Beach;
3/14/18, 5 p.m., at the DEQ Valley Regional Office, 4411 Early Road in Harrisonburg;
3/15/18, 5 p.m., at the DEQ Northern Regional Office, 13901 Crown Court in Woodbridge (Prince William County);
3/19/18, 1:30 p.m., at the DEQ Central Office, 1111 East Main Street in Richmond.

The pertinent section of the Virginia Administrative Code is 9 VAC 5-140.   More information on this regulatory action is available online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/viewaction.cfm?actionid=4818.  According to the “Action Summary” at that Web site, “[t]he purpose of the proposed action is to develop a regulation, in accordance with Executive Directive 11 (2017), ‘Reducing Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Electric Power Facilities and Growing Virginia’s Clean Energy Economy,’ that (i) ensures that Virginia is trading-ready to allow for the use of market-based mechanisms and the trading of carbon dioxide (CO2) allowances through a multi-state trading program, and (ii) establishes abatement mechanisms that provide for a corresponding level of stringency to CO2 limits imposed in other states with such limits.”

On May 16, 2017, then-Va. Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed and announced Executive Directive 11, which instructed the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to begin a process of developing regulations to reduce carbon emissions from electric power plants.  The directive is available online (as a PDF) at http://governor.virginia.gov/media/9155/ed-11-reducing-carbon-dioxide-emissions-from-electric-power-facilities-and-growing-virginias-clean-energy-economy.pdf.  Following is an excerpt from the directive: “I hereby direct the Director of the Department of Environmental Quality, in coordination with the Secretary of Natural Resources, to take the following actions…
1. Develop a proposed regulation for the State Air Pollution Control Board’s consideration to abate, control, or limit carbon dioxide emissions from electric power facilities that: a. Includes provisions to ensure that Virginia’s regulation is “trading-ready” to allow for the use of market-based mechanisms and the trading of carbon dioxide allowances through a multi-state trading program; and b. Establishes abatement mechanisms providing for a corresponding level of stringency to limits on carbon dioxide emissions imposed in other states with such limits.
2. By no later than December 31, 2017, present the proposed regulation to the State Air Pollution Control Board for consideration for approval for public comment….”

The May 16, 2017, directive followed the report on May 12, 2017, of the Executive Order 57 Work Group, which Mr. McAuliffe established in June 2016 to study and make recommendations about reducing carbon emissions from the Commonwealth’s power plants.  The group’s final report, along with more information about Executive Order 57, is available online at https://naturalresources.virginia.gov/initiatives/eo-57/.  Please see this link for a previous Water Central News Grouper post on the Work Group.

On June 26, 2017, a Notice of Intended Regulatory Action was published in the Virginia Register of Regulations.  In August 2017, a Regulatory Advisory Committee was formed to provide advice to the DEQ on development of the CO2 regulations.  The committee held its first meeting on August 3, 2017; information on that meeting is available online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/ViewMeeting.cfm?MeetingID=26367.

Additional Source: Governor McAuliffe Takes Executive Action to Reduce Carbon Emissions Across Virginia; “Clean Energy Virginia” initiative will cap greenhouse gases and grow Virginia’s clean energy economy, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 5/16/17.

Following are some news media accounts on Executive Directive 11, listed from newest to oldest.
Virginia Begins Development of Cap-and-Trade Program for Electric Power Sector, National Law Review, 5/19/17.
Wagner takes aim at McAuliffe carbon order; critics say he’s seeking attention, Daily Press, 5/19/17.
Amid longshot run for governor, Wagner says he’ll call emergency hearing to fight McAuliffe’s climate change plan, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 5/19/17.
Virginia Governor Orders Power Plant Carbon Regulations, POWER Magazine, 5/18/17.
Bucking D.C. and Republican legislature, Virginia governor moves to limit carbon emissions, ThinkProgress (Center for American Progress Action Fund), 5/17/17.
McAuliffe Moves to Cap Utility Carbon Emissions, Bacon’s Rebellion, 5/17/17.
McAuliffe moves to curb carbon emissions blamed for sea level rise, [Newport News] Daily Press, 5/16/17.
McAuliffe: Virginia will regulate carbon emissions; ‘the threat of climate change is real’, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 5/16/17.
McAuliffe proposes statewide carbon cap, Washington Post, 5/16/17.
Virginia AG: State board can regulate carbon pollution, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 5/12/17.
Will Virginia forge its own path on carbon regulation?, Richmond Times-Dispatch,

Virginia Water-related Government Meetings for Feb. 22-Mar. 7, 2018

For more information, click on underlined meeting dates. Click here for the Commonwealth Calendar listing of all government meetings open to the public, and here for the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall listing of all government meetings of a regulatory nature.

For other, non-governmental, events, please see the Water Central News Grouper post, Quick Guide to Virginia Water-related Events.

REGULAR MEETINGS OF STATEWIDE BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS

2/24/18, 11 a.m.: Cave Board.  At the Staunton Public Library, 1 Churchville Avenue in Staunton.

2/27/18, 9:30 a.m.: Marine Resources Commission.  At 2600 Washington Avenue in Newport News.

3/2/18, 9:30 a.m.: Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers, and Landscape Architects/Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors section meeting with Virginia Department of Transportation.  At the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, 9960 Mayland Drive in Richmond.

*          *          *

VIRGINIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY WATER-RELATED MEETINGS

For meetings of legislative committees and commissions, see http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?181+oth+MTG.  Links to information about General Assembly commissions, councils, and special interim committees coordinated by the Division of Legislative Services are available online at http://dls.virginia.gov/commissions.html.

Jan. 10-Mar. 10, 2018: Virginia General Assembly, Richmond.  The 2018 General Assembly convenes on January 10 and is scheduled for 60 days; this is a so-called “long session,” which is held in all even-numbered years.  The reconvened (“veto”) session will be held in April.  During long sessions, the Commonwealth’s budget for the upcoming two years is set; amendments to the current biennial budget may be considered both in long and short sessions.  In some years, sessions are extended beyond the scheduled length, particularly for budget discussions (any session may be extended for up to 30 days).  The General Assembly’s Web site, http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/index.php, offers several useful features, including member lists, session calendars, live video of floor sessions, and information on legislative processes.  The Legislative Information System (LIS) Web site, http://lis.virginia.gov/lis.htm, provides lists and summaries of all bills, searchable by topic, member, committee, etc.  Live video streams of floor sessions are available at http://virginia-house.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3 for the House and http://virginia-senate.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3 for the Senate.  Committees are key parts of the General Assembly process. Legislation about water or about activities that can affect water may be assigned to any of several standing committees, most of which meet weekly during the General Assembly session.  As of 2018, live streaming of committee meetings is available.  Information on live streaming of House committee meetings is online at https://publications.virginiageneralassembly.gov/display_publication/209;  for Senate committee meetings, online at http://virginia-senate.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3.

Two committees that receive many (but not all) of the water-related bills are the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee, which meets weekly on Wednesdays, 8:30 a.m. (2018 location to be determined, as of 1/10/18); and the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee, which meets weekly on Thursdays, one-half hour after adjournment of the day’s floor session, in the Senate Committee Room on the ground floor of the Pocahontas Building, 900 East Main Street in Richmond.  Information about all standing committees as of the 2018 session—including membership, meeting times, and legislation being considered—is available online at http://lis.virginia.gov/181/com/COM.HTM.

Relevant subcommittee meetings for this period:

2/26/18, 4 p.m.: House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources/Subcommittee #1.  Room E400-B, Pocahontas Building, 900 East Main Street in Richmond.

Natural resource-related caucus meetings for this period:

2/22/18, 7 a.m.: Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus.  House Subcommittee Room 2, Room E200-B, Pocahontas Building, 900 East Main Street in Richmond.

2/26/18, 4:30 p.m.: Virginia Environment and Renewable Energy Caucus.  Room E200-B, Pocahontas Building, 900 East Main Street in Richmond.

*          *          *

MEETINGS ABOUT TOTAL MAXIMUM DAILY LOADS (or TMDLs) for IMPAIRED WATERS

For more information about TMDLs in Virginia, click here for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality TMDL Web site; click on “Public Notices” in the menu to the left to access upcoming meetings and public-comment periods.  A search tool to find approved TMDL reports is available at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterQualityInformationTMDLs/TMDL/TMDLDevelopment/ApprovedTMDLReports.aspx.

3/6/18, 5:30 p.m., on the watershed plan to address aquatic life (benthic) impairment in Cunningham Creek and its tributaries plus bacterial impairment in Middle Ford Cunningham Creek, all located in the James River basin in Fluvanna County.  At the Fluvanna County Public Library, 214 Comons Boulevard in Palmyra.  According to a Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notice for a meeting on 8/1/17, these waterways were the subject of a TMDL study that began in February 2016, but in May 2017 the TMDL study was suspended and a watershed plan will be developed instead.

*          *          *

MEETINGS ON OTHER SPECIFIC TOPICS
(topics listed alphabetically)

Air-Water Connections
3/7/18, 5 p.m.: Air Pollution Control Board/Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) public hearing on Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Trading Regulation.  At the DEQ Southwest Regional Office, 355 Deadmore Street in Abingdon.  Other public hearings will be as follows:
3/12/18, 5 p.m., at the DEQ Tidewater Regional Office, 5636 Southern Boulevard in Virginia Beach;
3/14/18, 5 p.m., at the DEQ Valley Regional Office, 4411 Early Road in Harrisonburg;
3/15/18, 5 p.m., at the DEQ Northern Regional Office, 13901 Crown Court in Woodbridge (Prince William County);
3/19/18, 1:30 p.m., at the DEQ Central Office, 1111 East Main Street in Richmond.
The pertinent section of the Virginia Administrative Code is 9 VAC 5-140.   The proposed amendments were published in the Virginia Register of Regulations on 1/8/18; the public comment period runs through 4/9/18.  The proposed amendments follow then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s Executive Directive 11 in May 2017 that instructed the DEQ to begin a process of developing regulations to reduce carbon emissions from electric power plants.  Executive Directive 11 is available online (as a PDF) at http://governor.virginia.gov/media/9155/ed-11-reducing-carbon-dioxide-emissions-from-electric-power-facilities-and-growing-virginias-clean-energy-economy.pdf].  A Notice of Intended Regulatory Action was published in the Virginia Register of Regulations on June 26, 2017.  More information on this regulatory action is available online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/viewaction.cfm?actionid=4818.  According to the “Action Summary” at that Web site, “[t]he purpose of the proposed action is to develop a regulation, in accordance with Executive Directive 11 (2017), ‘Reducing Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Electric Power Facilities and Growing Virginia’s Clean Energy Economy,’ that (i) ensures that Virginia is trading-ready to allow for the use of market-based mechanisms and the trading of carbon dioxide (CO2) allowances through a multi-state trading program, and (ii) establishes abatement mechanisms that provide for a corresponding level of stringency to CO2 limits imposed in other states with such limits.”

Energy – Wind
2/28/18, 10 a.m.: Offshore Wind Development Authority.  According to the Authority’s Web site, http://wind.jmu.edu/offshore/vowda/index.html, the 2010 Virginia General Assembly (companion bills HB 389 and SB 577) created this Authority to “facilitate, coordinate, and support development of the offshore wind energy industry, offshore wind energy projects, and supply chain vendors….”

Land and Watershed Management
2/26/18, 6 p.m.: Spearhead Trails Board of Directors.  At Dungannon Depot, 344 Phoenix Street in Dungannon (Scott County).  This meeting is sponsored by the Heart of Appalachia Tourism Authority, online at https://heartofappalachia.com/.  Spearhead Trials is an initiative of the Southwest Regional Recreation Area; more information is available online at https://spearheadtrails.com/about-us/.

2/27/18, 1 p.m.: Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Interstate Commission for the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB) public meeting (Jan. 17)/Stakeholder Advisory Committee meeting (Feb. 27) on the development of a Salt Management Strategy (SaMS) for the Northern Virginia region (first meeting of this advisory committee).  At the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, Suite 200,
3040 Williams Drive in Fairfax.  According to the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notice for the meeting: “This is a notice for the first meeting of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) for development of the Salt Management Strategy (SaMS).  Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for chloride associated with salt application from snow and ice management have been developed for the Accotink Creek watershed, located in Fairfax County and the City of Fairfax.  These TMDLs are currently in the approval process.  The SaMS is intended to assist in the implementation of the Accotink Creek chloride TMDLs.  The SaMS aims to prepare a strategy that is capable of achieving the target chloride (salt) loads identified in the Accotink Creek TMDLs and that proactively addresses salt application in the broader surrounding region.  The project area for the SaMS includes Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William counties and the cities of Alexandria, Manassas, Manassas Park, Falls Church, and Fairfax.  For more information on the SaMS visit http://www.deq.virginia.gov/SaMS.aspx.  …All meeting materials related to this project will be posted on the DEQ website at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/SaMS/MeetingMaterials.aspx.

Waste Management/Hazardous Waste
3/6/18, 7 p.m.: Waste Management Board/Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) public hearing on a draft permit for the NASA Goddard Space Flight Facility Center’s Wallops Flight Facility to manage hazardous waste in Wallops Island (Accomack County).  At the Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center, Building J20, Route 175, on Chincoteague Road in Wallops Island.  According to the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notice for the March 6 meeting, “NASA Wallops applied for a reissued permit on May 19, 2015, for thermal treatment of propellant by open burning.  The draft permit will allow the facility to thermally treat rocket motors and loose propellant grains by open burning.”  The public comment period on the draft permit runs 2/2/18 to 4/3/18.

Water Quality Regulations and Standards
2/26/18: 10 a.m.: Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) Regulatory Advisory Panel on the James River Chlorophyll Study.  At the DEQ’s Central Office 1111 East Main Street in Richmond.  The panel is assisting the DEQ on possible amendments to the existing chlorophyll-a criteria.  Part of the group’s work is to review the James River chlorophyll Science Advisory Panel’s information resulting from a five-year study.  The pertinent section in the Virginia Administrative Code is VAC 25-260-310 bb.

Virginia Water-related Government Meetings for Feb. 15-Feb. 28, 2018, Including Virginia General Assembly Information

For more information, click on underlined meeting dates. Click here for the Commonwealth Calendar listing of all government meetings open to the public, and here for the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall listing of all government meetings of a regulatory nature.

For other, non-governmental, events, please see the Water Central News Grouper post, Quick Guide to Virginia Water-related Events.

REGULAR MEETINGS OF STATEWIDE BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS

2/15/18, 10 a.m.: Outdoors Foundation.  At the Department of Forestry, 900 Natural Resources Drive in Charlottesville.  The Foundation’s Preservation Trust Fund Committee meets that day at 9 a.m. at the same location.

2/20/18, 9 a.m.: Gas and Oil Board.  At the Russell County Office Building, 139 Highland Drive in Lebanon.

2/24/18, 11 a.m.: Cave Board.  At the Staunton Public Library, 1 Churchville Avenue in Staunton.

2/27/18, 9:30 a.m.: Marine Resources Commission.  At 2600 Washington Avenue in Newport News.

*          *          *

VIRGINIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY WATER-RELATED MEETINGS

For meetings of legislative committees and commissions, see http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?181+oth+MTG.  Links to information about General Assembly commissions, councils, and special interim committees coordinated by the Division of Legislative Services are available online at http://dls.virginia.gov/commissions.html.

Jan. 10-Mar. 2018: Virginia General Assembly, Richmond.  The 2018 General Assembly convenes on January 10 and is scheduled for 60 days; this is a so-called “long session,” which is held in all even-numbered years.  The reconvened (“veto”) session will be held in April.  During long sessions, the Commonwealth’s budget for the upcoming two years is set; amendments to the current biennial budget may be considered both in long and short sessions.  In some years, sessions are extended beyond the scheduled length, particularly for budget discussions (any session may be extended for up to 30 days).  The General Assembly’s Web site, http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/index.php, offers several useful features, including member lists, session calendars, live video of floor sessions, and information on legislative processes.  The Legislative Information System (LIS) Web site, http://lis.virginia.gov/lis.htm, provides lists and summaries of all bills, searchable by topic, member, committee, etc.  Live video streams of floor sessions are available at http://virginia-house.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3 for the House and http://virginia-senate.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3 for the Senate.  Committees are key parts of the General Assembly process. Legislation about water or about activities that can affect water may be assigned to any of several standing committees, most of which meet weekly during the General Assembly session.  As of 2018, live streaming of committee meetings is available.  Information on live streaming of House committee meetings is online at https://publications.virginiageneralassembly.gov/display_publication/209;  for Senate committee meetings, online at http://virginia-senate.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3.

Two committees that receive many (but not all) of the water-related bills are the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee, which meets weekly on Wednesdays, 8:30 a.m. (2018 location to be determined, as of 1/10/18); and the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee, which meets weekly on Thursdays, one-half hour after adjournment of the day’s floor session, in the Senate Committee Room on the ground floor of the Pocahontas Building, 900 East Main Street in Richmond.  Information about all standing committees as of the 2018 session—including membership, meeting times, and legislation being considered—is available online at http://lis.virginia.gov/181/com/COM.HTM.

Relevant subcommittee meetings for this period:

2/19/18, 4 p.m.: House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources/Subcommittee #1.  Room E400-B, Pocahontas Building, 900 East Main Street in Richmond.

2/21/18, 3 p.m.: House Appropriations Committee/Commerce, Agriculture, Natural Resources and Technology Subcommittee.  Room E007, Pocahontas Building, 900 East Main Street in Richmond.

Natural resource-related caucus meetings for this period:

2/15/18, 7 a.m.: Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus.  House Subcommittee Room 2, Room E200-B, Pocahontas Building, 900 East Main Street in Richmond.

2/19/18, 4:30 p.m.: Virginia Environment and Renewable Energy Caucus.  Room E200-B, Pocahontas Building, 900 East Main Street in Richmond.

*          *          *

MEETINGS ABOUT TOTAL MAXIMUM DAILY LOADS (or TMDLs) for IMPAIRED WATERS

For more information about TMDLs in Virginia, click here for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality TMDL Web site; click on “Public Notices” in the menu to the left to access upcoming meetings and public-comment periods.  A search tool to find approved TMDL reports is available at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterQualityInformationTMDLs/TMDL/TMDLDevelopment/ApprovedTMDLReports.aspx.

None during this period.

*          *          *

MEETINGS ON OTHER SPECIFIC TOPICS
(topics listed alphabetically)

Energy – Wind
2/28/18, 10 a.m.: Offshore Wind Development Authority.  According to the Authority’s Web site, http://wind.jmu.edu/offshore/vowda/index.html, the 2010 Virginia General Assembly (companion bills HB 389 and SB 577) created this Authority to “facilitate, coordinate, and support development of the offshore wind energy industry, offshore wind energy projects, and supply chain vendors….”

Land and Watershed Management
2/26/18, 6 p.m.: Spearhead Trails Board of Directors.  At Dungannon Depot, 344 Phoenix Street in Dungannon (Scott County).  This meeting is sponsored by the Heart of Appalachia Tourism Authority, online at https://heartofappalachia.com/.  Spearhead Trials is an initiative of the Southwest Regional Recreation Area; more information is available online at https://spearheadtrails.com/about-us/.

Scenic Rivers
2/15/18, 12 p.m.: Historic Falls of the James Scenic River Advisory Board.  At Richmond City Hall.

Water Quality Regulations and Standards
2/16/18, 10 a.m.: Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) technical advisory committee on proposed amendments to the Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (VPDES) general permit for discharges of stormwater from construction activities.  At the Virginia Department of Fire Programs, 1005 Technology Park Drive in Glen Allen (Henrico County).  The relevant section of the Virginia Administrative Code is 9 VAC 25-880.  The notice of intended regulatory action was published in the Virginia Register of Regulations on October 16, 2017.  More information on this regulatory action is available online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/viewchapter.cfm?chapterid=2869.

2/21/18, 1 p.m.: Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) regulatory advisory panel meeting on the triennial review of water-quality standards for bacteria, ammonia, cadmium and human health criteria) (9 VAC 25-260 in the Virginia Administrative Code).  At the DEQ Central Office, 1111 East Main Street in Richmond.  As of February 2018, this panel is focusing on the bacteria element of the review and proposed amendments, responding to comments received during the public comment period in fall 2017.  According to DEQ information online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterQualityInformationTMDLs/WaterQualityStandards/LawsMandates.aspx, Virginia Code section 62.1-44.15 (3a), part of Virginia’s State Water Control Law, requires the State Water Control Board to review and update the Commonwealth’s water-quality standards at least every three years.  The Board conducted a triennial review in 2015, but the Board deferred to a separate rulemaking updates to freshwater aquatic life criteria for ammonia, amendments to the 94 human health criteria, and new EPA recommendations for recreation waters criteria (bacteria) and aquatic life (potentially for cadmium and selenium) (Board action taken at January 14, 2016, meeting).  The proposed amendments on these itmes were published in the Virginia Register of Regulations on September 18, 2017.  The public comment period runs 9/19/17 to 11/17/17.  More information on these proposed amendments is available online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/viewaction.cfm?actionid=3171&display=stages.  More information on the triennial review overall is available online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/ViewAction.cfm?actionid=4017.

2/26/18: 10 a.m.: Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) Regulatory Advisory Panel on the James River Chlorophyll Study.  At the DEQ’s Central Office 1111 East Main Street in Richmond.  The panel is assisting the DEQ on possible amendments to the existing chlorophyll-a criteria.  Part of the group’s work is to review the James River chlorophyll Science Advisory Panel’s information resulting from a five-year study.  The pertinent section in the Virginia Administrative Code is VAC 25-260-310 bb.

Virginia Small MS4s General Permit Under Review in Early 2018; Dept. Env. Quality Public Hearings in February

In early 2018, the Virginia State Water Control Board and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) are considering amendments to the general permit for stormwater discharges from Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s).

Public hearings on the proposed amendments will be held Feb. 9, 2018, 9:30 a.m., at the DEQ Northern Regional Office, 13901 Crown Court in Woodbridge (Prince William County); Feb. 12, 2018, 2 p.m., at the DEQ Central Office, 1111 East Main Street in Richmond; and Feb. 14, 2018, 1 p.m., at the DEQ Blue Ridge Regional Office, 3019 Peters Creek Road Roanoke (the dates are hyperlinked to Virginia Regulatory Town Hall information about the meetings).  The public comment period runs 1/8/18 to 3/9/18.

The pertinent part of the Virginia Administrative Code is Section 9 VAC 25-890 (formerly Part XV, Sect. 4 VAC 50-60).  The proposed amendments were published in the Virginia Register of Regulations on January 8, 2018.  More information about this regulatory action is available online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/viewaction.cfm?actionid=4583&display=stages.  According to the DEQ’s Action Summary at that site, ‘the general permit governs local governments and state and federal agencies that discharge stormwater from municipally owned separate storm sewer systems located within the Census Urbanized Area as determined by the Bureau of Census.  In addition, a periodic/small business impact review of this regulation will be conducted as part of this regulatory action.”

The DEQ’s Web site for the Virginia Stormwater Management Program is http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/StormwaterManagement.aspx.

Water in the 2018 Virginia General Assembly: Inventory of Water-related Legislation, as of January 25, 2018

The Virginia Water Resources Research Center annually compiles an inventory of water-related legislation in the Virginia General Assembly.   We update the inventory during the session, then publish a final version after the end of the regular session and reconvened “veto” session.

The inventory for 2018 is now available (as a PDF) at http://www.vwrrc.vt.edu/virginia-water-legislation/.  The current version lists 167 measures and identifies their legislative status as of January 25, 2018.  Each bill listed is linked to the Virginia Legislative Information System, where you can follow the course of the bill.

The Water Center’s legislation page also offers inventories from previous General Assembly sessions back to 1998, information on how to follow legislation and how to contact your local General Assembly members, and links to other natural-resource legislation-tracking services.

On Virginia Water Radio for 1-8-18: Previewing the 2018 Virginia General Assembly

Virginia Water Radio’s episode for the week of January 8, 2018, is “The Virginia Legislature Begins its 400th Year in 2018.”  The 4 min./54 sec. episode, available online at http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/2018/01/episode-402-1-8-18-virginia-legislature.html, is the podcast’s annual preview of the Virginia General Assembly session, which this year begins January 10.  The show notes include information to help citizens follow the General Assembly and voice their opinions to legislators.

General Assembly House ACNR Nat Res Subcomm Jan18 2017 USED Radio 359 NEWSL Aug2017
The Virginia General Assembly at work: meeting of a subcommittee of the House Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources, January 18, 2017.

Virginia Water Radio’s is a weekly broadcast/podcast produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center.  The home page is http://www.virginiawaterradio.org.  Have a listen or two!

Offshore Oil/Gas Leasing Program for 2019-2024 Proposed by Interior Department on January 4, 2018; Public Hearing in Virginia was Feb. 21, 2018, in Virginia

On January 4, 2018, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced a Draft Program Proposal for the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (National OCS Program) for 2019-2024.  According to the Interior Department’s news release on the proposal (Secretary Zinke Announces Plan For Unleashing America’s Offshore Oil and Gas Potential, 1/4/18), the draft program would “make over 90 percent of the total OCS acreage and more than 98 percent of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources in federal offshore areas available to consider for future exploration and development. By comparison, the current program puts 94 percent of the OCS off limits. In addition, the program proposes the largest number of lease sales in U.S. history.”  The proposed program would allow three lease sales in the Mid-Atlantic Region, which includes waters off the coast of Virginia.

Following is an additional excerpt from the Interior Department news release:

“The Draft Proposed Program (DPP) includes 47 potential lease sales in 25 of the 26 planning areas – 19 sales off the coast of Alaska, 7 in the Pacific Region, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico, and 9 in the Atlantic Region. This is the largest number of lease sales ever proposed for the National OCS Program’s 5-year lease schedule.…

“Release of the DPP is an early step in a multi-year process to develop a final National OCS Program for 2019-2024.  Today’s draft proposal was informed by approximately 816,000 comments from a wide variety of stakeholders, including state governments, federal agencies, public interest groups, industry, and the public.  Before the program is finalized, the public will have additional opportunities to provide input. The 2017-2022 Five Year Program will continue to be implemented until the new National OCS Program is approved.…

“Inclusion of an area in the DPP is not a final indication that it will be included in the approved Program or offered in a lease sale, because many decision points still remain….

“The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act requires the Secretary of the Interior, through BOEM, to prepare and maintain a schedule of proposed oil and gas lease sales in federal waters, indicating the size, timing, and location of leasing activity that would best meet national energy needs for the five-year period following Program approval.  In developing the National OCS Program, the Secretary is required to achieve an appropriate balance among the potential for environmental impacts, for discovery of oil and gas, and for adverse effects on the coastal zone.  BOEM currently manages about 2,900 active OCS leases, covering almost 15.3 million acres – the vast majority in the Gulf of Mexico.  In fiscal year 2016, oil and gas leases on the OCS accounted for approximately 18 percent of domestic oil production and 4 percent of domestic natural gas production….

“The DPP proposes 9 lease sales in the Atlantic Region (3 sales each for the Mid- and South Atlantic, 2 for the North Atlantic, and 1 for the Straits of Florida).  There have been no sales in the Atlantic since 1983 and there are no existing leases.

NEXT STEPS: In conjunction with the announcement of the DPP, the Department is also publishing a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare a Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act.  Public meetings will be held around the country starting on January 16, 2018, to receive comments on the DPP and to inform the Draft Programmatic EIS. Specific dates, times, and venues will be posted on BOEM’s website at https://www.boem.gov/National-Program/.  Using the information received from these public meetings, BOEM will prepare a Proposed Program (PP), which will be published for public comment, to be followed by a Proposed Final Program (PFP). In addition, the Department will prepare a Draft Programmatic EIS to be published concurrently with the PP, and a Final EIS with the PFP.  The DPP and the NOI will be available for public comment for 60 days following the publication of the documents in the Federal Register.”

More information from the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on the 2019-2024 Outer Continental Shelf Leasing Program, including maps, is available online at https://www.boem.gov/National-Program/.  The schedule of public meetings (Jan. 16-Mar. 8, 2018) on the 2019-2024 proposal is online at https://www.boem.gov/National-Program-Participate/.

Additional source for this post:
Virginia, North Carolina are back in play for offshore oil and gas drilling, Virginian-Pilot, 1/4/18.

Additional News Media Items on the 2019-2024 Proposed Program
Governor Northam Statement on Single Public Meeting in Virginia to Discuss Offshore Drilling Plan, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 2/21/18.

Feds reset 5-year plan, but oil recovery is a “15-year story,” Energywire, 1/5/18 (subscription required for access; trial subscription may be available).

Trump admin intends to roll back ban on offshore drilling
, CNN, 1/4/18.

How Trump could vastly expand offshore drilling
, PBS NewsHour, 1/4/18.

Previous Water Central News Grouper items on offshore oil and gas leasing are available at this link: https://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/?s=offshore+oil+and+gas.

For historical information on the issue of offshore oil and gas in Virginia, going back at least to the 1970s, please see the following two articles in 2006 in the Virginia Water Central Newsletter, from the Virginia Water Resources Research Center:
“Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration Report,” February 2006, pp. 14-17, online at https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/handle/10919/49344 (includes excerpts from Virginia’s 2006 “Study of the Possibility of Exploring for Natural Gas in the Coastal Areas of the Commonwealth”); and
“Eyes and Ayes on Off-shore Energy Exploration,” September 2006, pp. 1-4, online at https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/handle/10919/49346.