Subcommittee Unveils Group of Bills to Modernize Federal Environmental Law and Increase State Authority, Announces Hearing for Next FRIDAY

May 10, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC – The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, chaired by Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), will hold a legislative hearing next Friday, May 17, 2013, at 10:00 a.m. in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing will examine three legislative proposals: the Reducing Excessive Deadline Obligations Act, the Federal and State Partnership for Environmental Protection Act, and the Federal Facility Accountability Act.

These three bills seek to modernize existing federal law and increase state authority for certain environmental regulations. The legislative proposals incorporate ideas learned from past subcommittee hearings, including the February 15, 2013, hearing on “The Role of the States in Protecting the Environment.”  

“Federal laws play an important role in protecting the environment, but in many cases, these laws are outdated, inflexible, and do not give states the proper authority they need to best protect the public health and environment of their citizens. We have heard testimony from a number of state regulators and have found that, in many cases, the states are better equipped to carry out these laws because they have greater flexibility and state specific knowledge and expertise,” said Chairman Shimkus. “We know that Washington’s top-down approach is not always best, and this group of bills seeks to modernize and improve these environmental protections and give the states greater regulatory authority."

The Reducing Excessive Deadline Obligations Act of 2013 would remove two outmoded deadlines, one under the Solid Waste Disposal Act and one under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). The legislation would eliminate an arbitrary statutory deadline for EPA to review and, if necessary, revise regulations under the Solid Waste Disposal Act and similarly removes an expired deadline from CERCLA.  Current law requires EPA to review or promulgate regulations within timeframes that have proven unworkable and only led to lawsuits for failure to meet these deadlines. The Reducing Excessive Deadline Obligations Act would authorize EPA to act on these regulations as the agency deems necessary, and in the case of financial assurance regulations under CERCLA 108(b), the bill would preserve existing state financial assurance laws from preemption.

The Federal and State Partnership for Environmental Protection Act of 2013 would provide states a greater role in the CERCLA process. The bill requires consultation with the affected state regarding removal or remedial actions and provides credit to states toward the state cost-share for in-kind contributions that are provided for the removal or remedial action. The Federal and State Partnership for Environmental Protection Act would also allow states a greater voice in placing sites on the National Priorities List and would allow for judicial review of the selection of a remedy that is made over the written objection of the affected state.

The Federal Facility Accountability Act of 2013 would require currently or formerly owned federal facilities to comply with relevant state and local laws, as would any non-governmental entity, in doing a CERCLA cleanup. The legislation would also provide for a process by which EPA can review, or a state can request a review by EPA, of actions taken pursuant to delegated CERCLA authority.

The discussion drafts, the Majority Memorandum, a witness list, and witness testimony will be available here as they are posted.