Actions on Federal Level To Watch

We are keeping an eye on the Energy Savings through Public-Private Partnerships Act and President Trump’s Scrutiny of the Clean Water Act.

S. 239, the Energy Savings through Public-Private Partnerships Act of 2017, was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Chris Coons (D), Cory Gardner (R), Jeanne Shaheen (D) and Rob Portman (R). This bill aims to encourage increased use of performance contracting in Federal facilities.

In what could be a controversial measure within the bill, it proposes changing “may” to “shall” in the statute to require Federal agencies to implement the recommendations found during required energy audits. The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

Click here to read Sen. Coons’ press release on S. 239. Over in the House, Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R) and Welch (D) introduced a companion bill, H.R. 723. We view this bi-partisan action as a positive step towards passage of the legislation.

At the end of February, President Trump signed an executive order directing the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reconsider the Clean Water Act. Their reconsideration could lead to anything from a rewritten law to a repeal of the law. The entire process is expected to take quite some time. Also known as the Waters of the United States rule, it was signed into law by President Obama in May 2015 and went into effect in August 2015.

According to NBC News, “The rule intended to clarify what bodies of water were protected, according to the EPA, citing that 60% of the country’s waterways and streams were vulnerable. Regulations would only become effective if one of those vulnerable areas was at risk of being polluted.”

The law has been mired in lawsuits and was put on hold last year. According to Michael Kelly, director of communications at Clean Water Action, the U.S. determines what waters are protected under a Bush-era law.

Trump’s executive order shouldn’t be a surprise. Scott Pruitt, the new Director of the EPA, sued the EPA when he was Oklahoma’s attorney general in order to block to Clean Water rule. Also, while on the campaign trail in August, Trump promised the NAHB Board, “We’ll cancel all illegal and overreaching executive orders  signed by President Obama. We will eliminate all regulations that kill jobs. We will remove the bureaucrats that only know how to kill jobs and replace them with experts who know how to create jobs without regulations.”