Category Archives: Laws&Regs

Virginia Water-related Government Meetings for July 20-August 2, 2017

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

7/25/17, 9:30 a.m.: Marine Resources Commission.  At 2600 Washington Avenue in Newport News.

7/21/17, 3 p.m.: Outdoors Foundation Finance, Audit, and Compliance Committee.  At 39 Garrett Street in Warrenton.

7/26/17, 1 p.m.: Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services.  At the Hilton Alexandria Old Town, 1767 King Street in Alexandria.

7/27/17, 9:30 a.m.: Board for Waterworks and Wastewater Works Operators and Onsite Sewage System Professionals.  At the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, 9960 Mayland Drive in Richmond.  The board’s Education and Training Committee meets at 9 a.m. that day at the same location.

7/29/17, 11 a.m.: Cave Board.  At the Staunton Public Library, 1 Churchville Avenue in Staunton.

7/31/17, 10 a.m.: Board for Waste Management Facility Operators. At the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, 9960 Mayland Drive in Richmond .

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VIRGINIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY WATER-RELATED MEETINGS

For meetings of legislative committees and commissions, see http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?171+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.

8/2/17, 10 a.m.: Commission on Electric Utility Regulation.  Senate Room 3, Capitol Building, 1000 Bank Street in Richmond.  More information on the commission is available online at http://dls.virginia.gov/commissions/eur.htm.

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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.

7/21/17, 9:30 a.m.: Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Chesapeake Bay Stakeholder Advisory Committee.  At the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, 7870 Villa Park Drive #400 in Henrico.  According to the Virginia Commonwealth Calendar notice for this meeting, the “focus will be to examine to intensive work related to the 2017 midpoint assessment of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL and solicit [committee] views on key issues that are currently under consideration by the Chesapeake Bay Program partnership.  Those issues include the fate of loads from the Conowingo Dam, any accommodation for climate change in the Phase III Watershed Implementation plan and other issues that will influence the level of effort required by Virginia, the other states, and the District of Columbia.  [The meeting will also bring the committee] up to date of the revisions to the Chesapeake Bay model [and on] upcoming 2018-2019 milestones and seek [committee] input on strategies for ongoing stakeholder engagement in the WIP [Watershed Implementation Plan] development process.”  More information about the Chesapeake Bay Stakeholder Advisory Committee is available online at https://naturalresources.virginia.gov/chesapeake-bay-restoration/.

8/1/17, 2 p.m., on the development of a watershed plan for 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 Commons Boulevard in Palmyra.  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.

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MEETINGS ON OTHER SPECIFIC TOPICS
(topics listed alphabetically)

Energy – Fossil Fuels/Groundwater
7/21/17, 10 a.m.: Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) listening session  on the Virginia Petroleum Storage Tank Fund (VPSTF) Reimbursement Guidance Manual and Usual and Customary Rate (UCR) Schedule.  At the DEQ Main Office, 629 East Main Street in Richmond.  According to the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notice for this meeting, the DEQ is updating the Reimbursement Guidance Manual and the Usual and Customary Rate schedule.   Some preliminary goals of the guidance manual update are to adjust individual time and material codes to better reflect the actual expenses incurred; apply appropriate cost adjustments to the UCR schedule; and add and remove time and material codes from the UCR schedule as needed.

Energy – Solar
7/20/17, 10 a.m: Virginia Solar Energy Development and Energy Storage Authority.  At Main Street Center Meeting Room 1, 600 East Main Street in Richmond.  The 2015 General Assembly (SB 1099) created this Authority to facilitate, coordinate, and support the development of the solar energy industry and solar-powered electric energy facilities in the Commonwealth.  The 2017 General Assembly (SB 1258) changed its name to add “energy storage” and added to its purposes to position the Commonwealth as a leader in energy-storage technology.

Infrastructure Construction Funding
7/27/17, 9 a.m.: Virginia Department of Health (VDH) public comment session on Fiscal Year 2018 Intended Use Plan for the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund Program.  At the VDH Office of Drinking Water, 109 Governor Street, 6th Floor, in Richmond.  The program provides assistance to public water systems for capital improvement projects to help meet public health protection objectives of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.  According to the VDH’s Web site on the Intended Use Plan for 2018 (online at http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/drinking-water/office-of-drinking-water/financial-construction/drinking-water-state-revolving-fund-program/): “Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, Congress authorizes capitalization grants to the states through the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund Program (DWSRF).  As part of the annual DWSRF grant application process Virginia seeks meaningful public involvement through input, review, and comments.  The VDH’s Office of Drinking Water (ODW) has prepared a draft Intended Use Plan (IUP) that explains the goals of the program, funding priorities, how VDH intends to use the grant funds, and other important information submitted from the funding requests and set-aside suggestions.”  More information about drinking water funding programs is available online at http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/drinking-water/financial-construction-assistance-programs/.

Land and Watershed Management
7/25/17, 7 p.m.: Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) public hearing on proposed runway extension and development project at Stafford Regional Airport.  At Stafford Regional Airport, 95 Aviation Way in Fredericksburg.  According to the DEQ’s notice for this public comment opportunity (online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/ViewNotice.cfm?gnid=724), the “DEQ is reviewing an Environmental Assessment for a proposed runway extension and other improvements as a component of the airport’s License Modification Application.  The purpose of the Environmental Assessment is to determine if a runway extension and additional development at the Airport would significantly impact socioeconomic and environmental resources within the proposed project area.”  The public comment period on the proposal runs 6/16/17 through 8/4/17.

Ports
7/24/17 and 7/25/17 – Virginia Port Authority meetings: 7/24/17, 1:30 p.m., Nominating Committee7/24/17, 2 p.m., Growth and Operations Committee, 7/24/17, 3:35 p.m., Finance and Audit Committee; 7/24/17, 5 p.m., Executive Committee; 7/25/17, 9 a.m., Board of Commissioners and annual meeting.  All at 600 World Trade Center, 101 West Main Street in Norfolk.

Scenic Rivers
7/20/17, 12 p.m.: Historic Falls of the James Scenic River Advisory Board.  At City Hall in Richmond.

7/20/17, 4 p.m.: Catoctin Creek Scenic River Advisory Committee.  At Lovettsville Library, 12 North Light Street in Lovettsville (Loudoun County).

Waste Management – Solid Waste
7/27/17, 7 p.m.: Waste Management Board/Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) public hearing on a draft permit modification for Old Dominion Sanitary Landfill in Henrico County, regarding increasing the landfill’s capacity.  At Dorey Park Recreation Center, 2999 Darbytown Road in Henrico.  The public comment period runs 6/22/17 to 8/11/17.

Va. Supreme Court on July 13, 2017, Upholds State Law on Surveying for Natural Gas Pipeline Routes Without Landowner Permission

On July 14, 2017, the Virginia Supreme Court unanimously upheld the Commonwealth’s law that allows surveying for potential natural gas pipelines without landowner permission, so long as specified notification procedures are followed.  The ruling was in a case brought by Hazel Palmer, a landowner in Augusta County, whose property is on the path of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  Ms. Palmer was appealing a ruling by the Augusta County Circuit Court, which also upheld the state law.  The Va. Supreme Court court also ruled that surveying companies must be more specific in their notification to landowners of the date for survey activities than is provided by the wording of “on or after” a certain date.  The case is Hazel F. Palmer v. Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC; the ruling is available online (as a PDF) at http://www.courts.state.va.us/opinions/opnscvwp/1160630.pdf.

As of July 2017, another lawsuit on the state’s gas pipeline surveying law–asserting that gas pipeline surveying activity without landowner permission is an unconstitutional “taking” of personal property–is on appeal at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (in Richmond).

Sources:
Pipelines: Va. Supreme Court upholds gas survey law on entering private property, but requires specific notice to landowners, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 7/13/17.
Virginia Supreme Court ruling upholds pipeline surveying law; challenges still possible, Roanoke Times, 7/13/17.
Supreme Court of Virginia hands pipeline foes small victory, but project rolls on, Washington Post, 7/13/17.

For more details on developments about natural gas in Virginia, please see this Water Central News Grouper post.

Virginia Water-related Government Meetings for July 13-July 26, 2017

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

7/18/17, 9 a.m.: Gas and Oil Board.  At the Russell County Office Building, 139 Highland Drive in Lebanon.

7/19/17, 9:30 a.m.: State Water Control Board.  At the Department of Environmental Quality, Piedmont Regional Office, 4949-A Cox Road in Glen Allen (Henrico County).

7/19/17, 4 p.m.: Marine Resources Commission’s Shellfish Management Advisory Committee.  At 2600 Washington Avenue in Newport News.

7/25/17, 9:30 a.m.: Marine Resources Commission.  At 2600 Washington Avenue in Newport News.

7/26/17, 1 p.m.: Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services.  At the Hilton Alexandria Old Town, 1767 King Street in Alexandria.

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VIRGINIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY WATER-RELATED MEETINGS

For meetings of legislative committees and commissions, see http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?171+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.

None during this period.

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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.

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MEETINGS ON OTHER SPECIFIC TOPICS
(topics listed alphabetically)

Coastal Zone Management
7/18/17, 1 p.m.: Virginia Coastal Zone Management Policies Advisory Group.  At the Department of Environmental Quality Main Office, 629 East Main Street in Richmond.  This group is advising the DEQ on the development by the Virginia Coastal Policy Center (located at the College of William and Mary; online at http://law.wm.edu/academics/programs/jd/electives/clinics/vacoastal/index.php) of documents for potential coastal zone management program change submissions.

Energy – Fossil Fuels/Groundwater
7/21/17, 10 a.m.: Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) listening session  on the Virginia Petroleum Storage Tank Fund (VPSTF) Reimbursement Guidance Manual and Usual and Customary Rate (UCR) Schedule.  At the DEQ Main Office, 629 East Main Street in Richmond.  According to the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notice for this meeting, the DEQ is updating the Reimbursement Guidance Manual and the Usual and Customary Rate schedule.   Some preliminary goals of the guidance manual update are to adjust individual time and material codes to better reflect the actual expenses incurred; apply appropriate cost adjustments to the UCR schedule; and add and remove time and material codes from the UCR schedule as needed.

Land and Watershed Management
7/25/17, 7 p.m.: Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) public hearing on proposed runway extension and development project at Stafford Regional Airport.  At Stafford Regional Airport, 95 Aviation Way in Fredericksburg.  According to the DEQ’s notice for this public comment opportunity (online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/ViewNotice.cfm?gnid=724), the “DEQ is reviewing an Environmental Assessment for a proposed runway extension and other improvements as a component of the airport’s License Modification Application.  The purpose of the Environmental Assessment is to determine if a runway extension and additional development at the Airport would significantly impact socioeconomic and environmental resources within the proposed project area.”  The public comment period on the proposal runs 6/16/17 through 8/4/17.

7/13/17, 2 p.m.: GO Virginia Region 3 Agriculture and Natural Resources Group Roundtable.  The July 13 meeting is at the Institute for Advanced Learning, 150 Slayton Avenue in Danville; the July 14 meeting is at Longwood University’s Environmental Education Center, 1000 Cormier Drive in Farmville (Prince Edward  County).  Several GO Virginia other meetings will be held in July; a list is available online at http://www.govirginia.org/news/.  GO Virginia, online at http://www.govirginia.org/, is the Virginia Initiative for Growth and Oppportunity in Each Region.  It’s a coalition of businesses, higher education, and community leaders seeking to stimulate economic growth and jobs across Virginia.  The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development’s (Va. DHCD) GO Virginia Web page is http://www.dhcd.virginia.gov/index.php/go-virginia.html.  An introduction to the program is available in the DHCD’s introductory packet for the 2017 GO Virginia Orientation Conference, available online (as a PDF) at http://www.dhcd.virginia.gov/images/GoVA/20170414-GOVA-SummitProgram(PROOF).pdf.  According to that document, “The Virginia Initiative for Growth and Opportunity in Each Region (GO Virginia) was initiated in 2015 by Virginia’s senior business leadership to foster private-sector growth and job creation through state incentives for regional collaboration by business, education, and government.”

Ports
7/24/17 and 7/25/17 – Virginia Port Authority meetings: 7/24/17, 1:30 p.m.-Nominating Committee7/24/17, 2 p.m.Growth and Operations Committee; 7/24/17, 3:35 p.m.Finance and Audit Committee; 7/24/17, 5 p.m.Executive Committee; 7/25/17, 9 a.m.Board of Commissioners and annual meeting.  All at 600 World Trade Center, 101 West Main Street in Norfolk.

Scenic Rivers
7/20/17, 12 p.m.: Historic Falls of the James Scenic River Advisory Board.  At City Hall in Richmond.

Clean Water Act Jurisdiction and the “Waters of the United States” is Focus of “Clean Water Rule” Announced May 27, 2015, by U.S. EPA and Army Corps of Engineers, and Proposed for Repeal by Trump Administration in June 2017

Originally posted April 2014 following release of proposed rule in March 2014.

Updated and reposted 6/30/17 following announcement on June 27, 2017, by Trump Administration to repeal and replace the rule.

For an audio take on the Clean Water Rule, have a listen to Virginia Water Radio Episode 269 (6-8-15), available at http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/2015/06/episode-269-6-8-15-what-are-waters-of.html.

This post summarizes developments regarding the “Clean Water Rule” published by the Obama Administration in May 2015, including subsequent litigation and the proposal announced in June 2017 by the Trump Administration to repeal and replace the rule.

Overview of Legal Developments

On May 27, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced a final “Clean Water Rule,” by which the agencies seek to clarify what water bodies are considered “waters of the United States” and therefore fall under the jurisdiction of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA).  The proposed rule had been published in the Federal Register on April 21, 2014 (link here).   The agencies received over one million comments on the proposed rule.

The May 27 final rule went through a 60-day public-comment period following its publication in the Federal Register, and it went into effect on August 28, 2015. On that day, however, the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota (Southeastern Division) stayed the regulation, pending the outcome of a lawsuit by challenging the regulation that was filed on June 29, 2015, by the states of Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming, along with the New Mexico Environment Department and the New Mexico State Engineer.  Then, on October 9, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (located in Cincinnati, Ohio; Web site: http://www.ca6.uscourts.gov/internet/default.html) extended the stay nationwide, as part of a lawsuit against the regulation filed by 18 other states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.  The Appeals Court majority wrote that they granted the stay because the petitioners (those filing lawsuit) had “demonstrated a substantial possibility of success on their claims.”  The petitioners claim that the new regulation’s distance limitations applied to tributary waters are at odds with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2006 Rapanos decision, and that the Corps of Engineers and U.S. EPA did not include those distance limitations in its proposed rule, so that the public was not given an adequate opportunity to comment on that aspect of the regulation prior to publication of the final rule in May 2015.  The Circuit Court majority also found that “the sheer breadth of the ripple effects caused by the [new regulation’s] definitional changes” called for maintaining the status quo while litigation runs its course.

Altogether, as of October 2015 nine cases filed against the Clean Water Rule were pending in seven federal districts.

In January 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of National Association of Manufacturers v. Department of Defense.  This case doesn’t involve the merits of the Clean Water Rule but rather questions the proper federal court venue for challenging the rule.

On June 27, 2017, the Trump Administration announced a proposed repeal of the rule, with a potential revised rule to follow at a future date.  The proposal, which will have a 30-day public comment period following its publication in the Federal Register, would reinstate the jurisdictional rule in place in 1986 and a guidance issued in 2008, following the Supreme Court’s Rapanos decision (see below).

Overview of the Content of the Rule

The approximately 300-page rule follows U.S. Supreme Court decisions in 2001 (in Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County [Illinois] v. United States Army Corps of Engineers et al.; click here for PDF of decision) that eliminated migratory-bird use as a sufficient stand-alone factor for isolated waters to fall under CWA jurisdiction; and in 2006 (Rapanos v. U.S. and Carabell v. U.S.; click here for PDF of decision), in which the High Court issued three different interpretations of how to determine CWA jurisdiction.  The March 2014 proposed rule (p. 2) had stated that those decisions “resulted in the agencies evaluating the jurisdiction of waters on a case-specific basis are more frequently than is best for clear and efficient implementation of the CWA.”

The main goal of the CWA, first passed in 1972, is “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters.” It established programs to regulate discharge of pollutants, filling of wetlands, oil spills, and other activities.  The Act states that it applies to “navigable waters,” defined as “waters of the United States, including the territorial seas”; Section 404 of the Act includes wetlands in the waters where dredging and filling activities are to be regulated.  In 1986, the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. EPA published regulations that applied the Act to several kinds of waters that may affect traditional navigable waters, including tributaries and adjacent wetlands, and that concept has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.  But many questions and legal challenges have been raised over implementation of that 1986 definition, and the U.S. Supreme Court rulings in 2001 and 2006 generated even more questions and inconsistency of implementation.

Here are some major elements of the rule, from the Executive Summary, pp. 7-27, of the document as published online on May 27, 2015, at http://www2.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-06/documents/preamble_rule_web_version.pdf.

The rule identifies categories of jurisdictional waters, grouped within “waters that are jurisdictional in all instances, waters that are excluded from jurisdiction, and a narrow category of waters subject to case-specific analysis to determine whether they are jurisdictional.” [p. 16, “Major Rule Provisions]

Jurisdictional waters in all instances (“jurisdictional by rule”)
1. Traditional navigable waters
2. Interstate waters
3. Territorial seas
4. Impoundments of jurisdictional waters
5. Tributaries
6. Adjacent waters.
The rule defines “tributaries” and “adjacent waters” [see pp. 18-19], categories which have been subject of much debate and litigation in the past.  The rule identifies certain waters that are excluded from the definition of “tributaries,” including ditches or gullies that flow only after precipitation and “ephemeral features that do not have a bed and banks and ordinary high water mark” [pp. 19-20].  The rule defines “adjacent waters” “based on their hydrological and ecological connections to, and interactions with,” traditional navigable waters [p. 20]. The rule aims to establish a “bright line” for where waters cease to be “adjacent,” although states may still include such waters in state protections.

Case-specific jurisdictional waters (subject to a specific analysis to determine if a “specific nexus” to a by-rule jurisdictional water exists):
7. Five specific categories of waters in specific regions (prairie potholes, pocosins, California vernal pools, Carolina and Delmarva bays, and Texas coastal prairie wetlands) [p. 22];
8. Waters within the 100-year floodplain of a traditional navigable water, interstate water, or territorial sea; c) waters within 4000 feet of the high-tide line or the ordinary high-water mark of a traditional navigable water, interstate water, seas, impoundments, or covered tributary [p. 23].

Identified exclusions [pp. 24-25; “existing” means the exclusion was already in existing regulations; “new” means the exclusion has been added in the new Clean Water Rule as “by rule” exclusions]
1. Prior-converted cropland (existing);
2. Waste-treatment systems (existing);
3. Waters and features previously identified as generally exempt, such as certain ditches not in or draining wetlands, and ditches with ephemeral flow that are not a relocated tributary, excavated in a tributary, or drain wetlands (new); 4. Groundwater (new);
5. Erosional features (new);
6. Waters that the agencies state  they did not intend to cover but which public comments about the proposed rule said might end up being included unless explicitly identified, including stormwater-control features (specifically constructed for stormwater conveyance), cooling ponds created in dry land [p. 25].

The rule notes that states and tribes may establish protections for waters not covered by the CWA, such as groundwater and certain wetlands [p. 26]. “Nothing in this rule limits or impedes any existing or future state or tribal efforts to further protect their waters.”

SOURCES FOR THIS POST AND FOR MORE INFORMATION

News Items (listed in chronological order, with most recent listed first)

Trump admin moves to repeal WOTUS, E&E News PM, 6/27/17.  (E&E News PM is a product of E&E Publishing, http://www.eenews.net/; a subscription is required for online access to E&E products; trial subscriptions may be available.)

Supreme Court to hear case concerning Obama water rule, The Hill, 1/13/17.  [“The Supreme Court agreed Friday [1/13/17] to hear a case over a specific issue arising from President Obama’s Clean Water Rule — the fight over the proper federal court venue for challenging the rule.  The case, National Association of Manufacturers v. Department of Defense, does not concern the merits of the 2015 regulation, under which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers asserted jurisdiction over small waterways like ponds and streams. It is also known as the Waters of the United States rule.  The dispute may soon become moot, since President-elect Donald Trump, who takes office in a week, has pledged to repeal the regulation at issue.”]

Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc. (Gainesville, Va.), Waters of the U.S.: Back to Basics (for now), Field Notes, 10/14/15.

Greenwire, Panel rules against consolidating challenges to WOTUS, 10/13/15. (Greenwire is a product of E&E Publishing, http://www.eenews.net/; a subscription is required for online access to E&E products; trial subscriptions may be available.)

Jonathan Adler, Sixth Circuit puts controversial ‘waters of the United States’ (WOTUS) rule on hold, Washington Post, 10/9/15.

Greenwire, Appeals court halts WOTUS rule nationwide, 10/9/15.

Jonathan Adler, North Dakota district court blocks controversial ‘Waters of the United States’ rule (UPDATED), Washington Post, 8/28/15.

Richmond Times-Dispatch, Water rule’s impact on Virginia may be minimal, 8/28/15

Capital Press [Salem, Ore.], Army Corps memos disparage EPA over WOTUS, 8/3/15.

Greenwire, Obama admin OK’d controversial rule over experts’ objections, 7/27/15.

Greenwire, Industry, enviros alike wary of WOTUS’s mining provisions, 6/2/15.

Wetland Studies and Solutions (Gainesville, Va.,) “EPA & COE Redefine Which Wetlands and Streams are Federally Regulated,” Field Notes, 6/2/15.

PBS NewsHour, “Why farmers are concerned about EPA’s new rules on protected water,” 5/29/15, 7 min./4 sec. video, online at http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/farmers-concerned-epas-new-rules-protected-water/.

New York Times, Obama Announces New Rule Limiting Water Pollution, 5/27/15.

U.S. EPA, Clean Water Rule Protects Streams and Wetlands Critical to Public Health, Communities, and Economy, News Release, 5/27/15.  (Direct link no longer functoinal as of 6/30/17.)

U.S. EPA, EPA and Army Corps of Engineers Clarify Protection for Nation’s Streams and Wetlands: Agriculture’s Exemptions and Exclusions from Clean Water Act Expanded by Proposal, News Release, 3/25/14.  (Direct link no longer functional as of 6/30/17.)

Agency Web Sites
U.S. EPA, “Clean Water Rule” Web site, https://www.epa.gov/wotus-rule.
U.S. EPA, “Summary of the Clean Water Act,” online at http://www2.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-clean-water-act.

Other Sources
Zygmunt J. B. Platter et al., Environmental Law and Policy: Nature, Law, and Society, 2nd ed., West Publishing Co., St. Paul, Minn., 1998.

Wills cartoon Rapanos

Cartoon by George Wills of Blacksburg, Va. (https://www.etsy.com/people/BlacksburgArt), that accompanied an article in the January 2007 issue of Virginia Water Central Newsletter (the newsletter of the Virginia Water Resources Research Center) on the 2006 Rapanos decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.  Virginia Water Central Newsletter is available online at http://www.vwrrc.vt.edu/water-central-news/.

Public Comment Period and Hearings by Va. DEQ for 401 Certification Process Related to Proposed Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Natural Gas Pipelines: Comment Period July 3-August 22, 2017; Hearings in August 2017

On June 30, 2017, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced the public comment period and a series of public hearings on the 401 certification process for water-resources impacts of the proposed Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines.  “401” refers to the relevant section of the federal Clean Water Act.

According to the DEQ’s news release on the public comment period,  “The documents on which DEQ is seeking comments…referred to as 401 certifications…will place conditions on activities in upland areas that are near state waters and that may indirectly affect state water along the pipeline routes.  These certifications are in addition to the requirements imposed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, by the Commonwealth of Virginia for stormwater, erosion and sediment control, and by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for wetlands and streams.  The conditions address, among other matters, impacts to public water supplies; engineering and best management practices for steep slopes and slide-prone areas; environmental monitoring and inspections; and development and implementation of plans and procedures for karst mitigation, spill prevention control, water quality monitoring, and protection of riparian buffers.”

The public comment period will run July 3-August 22, 2017.

The public hearing schedule is as follows:
Atlantic Coast Pipeline
— August 7, 2017, from 6 to 10 p.m. — James Madison University, Festival Conference and Student Center, Grand Ballroom, 1301 Carrier Drive, Harrisonburg, VA 22807.  Parking is in Lots C11, C12, and D3.

— August 10, 2017, from 6 to 10 p.m. — Longwood University, Jarman Auditorium, 201 High St., Farmville, VA 23901.  Parking is in Wheeler Lot, Crafts Lot, High Street Lot, Randolph Lot or other university-owned lots.

— August 14, 2017, from 6 to 10 p.m. — Dinwiddie High School Auditorium, 11501 Boisseau Road, Dinwiddie, VA 23841.  Parking is only in designated areas on school property.

Mountain Valley Pipeline
— August 8, 2017, from 6 to 10 p.m. — Radford University, Preston/Bondurant Auditorium, 801 East Main St., Radford, VA 24142.  Parking is only in Lot A, or Lots E and U.

— August 9, 2017, from 6 to 10 p.m. — Chatham High School Auditorium, 100 Cavalier Circle, Chatham, VA 24531.  Parking is only in designated areas on school property.

Also, on August 10, 2017, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., the DEQ will attend an informal public meeting at the Newport Community Center in Giles County.  This meeting is being organized by Virginia House of Delegates members Greg Habeeb and Joseph Yost.

Sources:
Public comment period and public hearings scheduled on draft water quality certifications for proposed natural gas pipelines, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality News Release, 6/30/17).
DEQ agrees to add informal meetings on Mountain Valley Pipeline, Roanoke Times, 7/18/17.

For more details on developments around the DEQ’s 401 certification process for the proposed pipelines, please see this Water Central News Grouper post.

Virginia Campground Regulations Undergoing Periodic Review in 2016-17; Public Hearing to be Held June 20, 2017, in Richmond

In summer 2017, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Board of Health are considering revisions to the Commonwealth’s regulations governing campgrounds, including regulations for water supplies, wastewater facilities, solid-waste disposal, swimming facilities, pest control, and other environmental health aspects.  A public hearing on the proposed regulations will be held June 20, 1 p.m.,  at the Perimeter Center, 9960 Mayland Drive in Richmond; the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notice for that meeting is online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/ViewMeeting.cfm?MeetingID=26040.

The proposed regulatory changes are part of a periodic review begun in 2016.  According to the VDH “Action Summary” (online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/viewaction.cfm?actionid=4554&display=stages), “The intent of this regulatory action is to amend the regulations, to address current camping practices, update terminology, and remove or replace outdated requirements.”  The regulations are at Section 12 VAC 5‑450 in the Virginia Administrative Code.  The proposed changes were published in the Virginia Register of Regulations on May 29, 2017.  The public comment period ends July 28, 2017.  More information on this regulatory process is available online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/ViewStage.cfm?stageid=7790.

Virginia to Join Alliance of States to Promote Principles of Paris Climate Accord, following President’s June 1, 2017, Announcement of U.S. Withdrawal

On June 5, 2017, Va. Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced that Virginia would join with other states plus Puerto Rico in the U.S. Climate Alliance, which aims to promote the goals of the Paris Climate Accord of 2015, specifically to reduce carbon emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels, and to meet or exceed the carbon-reduction goals in the federal Clean Power Plan (published by the U.S. EPA in 2015, but the subject of a review and expected withdrawal by the Trump Administration).  This followed President Trump’s announcement on June 1, 2017, that he intends to withdraw the United States from the Paris Accord.  The other states in the alliance as of June 5 were California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

Sources:
Virginia Joins Alliance of States Committed to Upholding Paris Climate Agreement, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 6/5/17.
Rejecting Trump, Virginia leaders say they will join other states and cities in climate change fight, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 6/5/17.
New York Governor Cuomo, California Governor Brown, and Washington Governor Inslee Announce Formation of United States Climate Alliance, New York Governor’s Office News Release, 6/1/7.

The president’s June 1 statement on withdrawing from the Paris Accord is at this link: Statement by President Trump on the Paris Climate Accord, White House Office of the Press Secretary, 6/1/7.

History and details about the agreement are available from the United Nations online at http://unfccc.int/paris_agreement/items/9485.php.