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Natural Resources, Energy and Environment Committee Newsletter | May 3, 2024

May 3, 2024

In the below NREE Committee newsletter, you will find some of the latest agriculture, energy and environment policy issues NCSL is following in Washington, D.C. If you have questions about any of the stories below, please contact NCSL using the email icon on the left.

You Are Invited to the NREE Webinar Series 

NCSL’s Natural Resources, Energy and Environment Committee is pleased to invite you to the final webinar in the annual Spring Webinar Series. The webinar will take place Thursday, May 9, at 3 p.m. ET. Register, and please share it with your colleagues and friends. Recordings of webinars that have already taken place are available on the NCSL website. 

Top NREE Stories

Addressing PFAS: Tackling the “Forever Chemical” Across the Nation

For the first time, the Environmental Protection Agency has released a national regulation to limit PFAS contacontaminantsrinking water. PFAS, also known as forever chemicals, are a family of over 15,000 synthetic chemical substances with long chemical chains, making it difficult, if not impossible, for them to break down naturally in the environment. This can result in a harmful buildup of these substances in nature and the human body and has been attributed to illness and death.

This new rule, which is the first new water contaminant limit since 1996, is expected to help reduce illness and deaths in the United States by 30,000 and 10,000 people, respectively. Under the new final rule, water utilities will be required to eliminate all detectable levels of PFOA and PFOS, two specific subsets of PFAS chemicals, and significantly reduce levels of four other PFAS over the next five years by upgrading equipment. Water utilities will also be required to use the rule's hazard index and remove combinations of certain PFAS considered dangerous, even if they are below set EPA limits, and other hazardous chemicals by upgrading treatment systems.

Compliance is expected to be a heavy lift for water utilities and cost an estimated $1.5 billion per year. To help offset costs, the administration is making $1 billion of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds available to states to distribute to entities in need of assistance. Critics of the rule have said it doesn't go far enough to address the harm, while others criticize the cost burden on water systems with some saying the rule will actually cost significantly more to implement.

The EPA then furthered efforts to address PFAS by listing PFOA and PFOS as Superfund hazardous substances. Considered some of the best understood PFAS types, this new rule enables the EPA to directly address PFOA and PFOS contamination. Specifically, the agency will be able to enforce polluter clean up payments and directly conduct clean-up of contaminated sites. The rule also mandates new reporting requirements for PFOA and PFOS releases into the environment and implements new transportation rules for these substances. Industry representatives have called this rule overburdensome and costly. Legal challenges are expected.

In an attempt to address critics' concerns about the impacts and potential litigation to which these new PFAS rules may expose non-polluter entities, also known as “passive receivers”, the EPA's Assistant Administration for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance released the PFAS Enforcement Discretion and Settlement Policy under CERCLA . This memorandum identifies that rule enforcement will be targeted at significant polluters like manufacturers and industrial third parties. However, critics find this measure insufficient as it can be rescinded by a future administration and offers no protection against litigation from third parties.

$2 Billion in Manufacturing Tax Credits

The Inflation Reduction Act contains $10 billion in manufacturing credits, which are a part of the Biden administration's effort to achieve certain climate goals. The first 35 recipients, spread across 20 states, have been announced and will cumulatively receive $1.93 billion under the IRS's 48C program for former industrial sites. Several of the selected projects are targeted at former coal-energy communities. Projects receiving these credits include critical mineral production, renewable energy technologies and electric vehicle battery manufacturing. Ultimately, $4 billion of the total credit allocation is being targeted at “energy communities.” This tranche of tax incentives continues the administration's efforts to provide funds to struggling communities that previously relied on fossil fuel operations to help them move towards operations and technologies that support the renewable energy transition.

The $20 Billion “Green Bank”

Communities across the country will receive $20 billion as a part of federal government efforts to stand up a national green bank. This week the EPA announced the eight recipients of the Inflation Reduction Act funds that will be targeted towards a “Clean Communities Investment Accelerator” and a “National Clean Investment Fund.” The selected organizations will work to invest the capital on climate and clean energy projects in largely low-income and disadvantaged communities.

This federal capital investment is expected to help mobilize up to an additional $150 billion in private capital and lead to the development of new economic opportunities benefiting communities. Project investments are expected to be targeted towards public-private investments, small businesses, schools, farms and single and multi-family homes. Fund administrators will be able to draw down and invest this money over the next seven years. This funding has received significant criticism from Congressional Republicans who have sought to repeal it.

Energy Efficiency Regulations Continue

The Department of Energy has issued a final rule mandating new efficiency standards for common residential and commercial lightbulbs by raising the efficiency level to 120 lumens per watt. The department indicated that most LED bulbs will comply with these standards, but most florescent bulbs currently do not. This rule is expected to save households $3 billion in utility costs annually. This rulemaking builds on two prior lightbulb efficiency standards issued in 2022. The compliance deadline is July 25, 2028. Congressional critics of this rulemaking are considering bills to limit recent energy efficiency regulations. The debate over energy efficiency standards is likely to continue and NCSL will continue to track and monitor the state of play.

New Regulations for the Nation's Coal Power Plants

The EPA has unveiled four major final rules regulating power plants. The first and most anticipated rule, New Source Performance Standards for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from New, Modified, and Reconstructed Fossil Fuel-Fired Electric Generating Units; Emission Guidelines for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Existing Fossil Fuel-Fired Electric Generating Units; and Repeal of the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, oversees greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants.

In a change from the earlier proposed rule, it extends the deadline from 2030 to 2031 for coal-fired power plants to pursue a path toward carbon capture compliance or shuttering. Under this final rule, midterm emission standards may lead to coal plants burning natural gas in addition to coal, while long-term emission standards will require the capture of 90% of greenhouse gas emissions, which can be achieved through technology installations. Any plants that close prior to 2032 will not face regulatory requirements. Compliance costs of $1 billion and 1.38 billion metric tons in emission reduction through 2047 are expected expected.

The other three rules mandate additional coal-fired power plant compliance. The second rule, National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants: Coal- and Oil-Fired Electric Utility Steam Generating Units Review of the Residual Risk and Technology Review, sets new limits on pollutant emissions by increasing standards by 67%. Rule compliance will require most facilities to upgrade equipment and install continuous emissions monitoring systems. Compliance costs are expected to reach $96 million but have an overall public health benefit of $47 million.

The third rule, Steam Electric Power Generating Effluent Guidelines , puts restrictions on wastewater pollution levels from power plants, by mandating a zero-discharge limit of certain waste streams. These new requirements will limit an estimated 660 million pounds of pollution from entering the nation's waterways. Flexibility are available for coal plants that are retiring or converting to natural gas fuel sources.

The fourth rule, Hazardous and Solid Waste Management System: Disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals From Electric Utilities; Legacy CCR Surface Impoundments , mandates the clean-up of coal ash ponds at all closed plants, closing previous regulatory loopholes and ensuring compliance with a 2018 D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Ruling. Specifically, the rule applies similar requirements to currently regulated inactive sites and previously unregulated legacy sites.

The EPA released these four rules simultaneously to help power plant operators to effectively plan and prepare for the future. Additionally, given the timing of publication, it is unlikely that these rules will be subject to the Congressional Review Act, however they could be rescinded under a future administration. Court challenges are expected.

Short but Sweet, More News Below!


  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture is making $1.5 billion available to ranchers, farmers and forest owners to implement and expand conservation practices through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program. The program is accepting proposals through July 2.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced the allocation of $238 million to 700 clean energy projects in rural areas to support domestic agriculture and expand clean energy.


  • The EPA issued a 20-day emergency temporary waiver, effective May 1, allowing for the sale of 15% ethanol-gasoline blends, also known as E15, during the summer when its sales are restricted. Additional waivers to allow the sale of E15 throughout the summer are expected.
  • The DOE released the Transmission Interconnection Roadmap, which is aimed at addressing renewable energy interconnection backlogs and identifies four targets for achieving a zero-carbon grid by 2035. According to the DOE's Future Resources Adequacy Report, addressing interconnection issues and eliminating the backlog could help meet future electricity demand.
  • $7 billion under the Solar for All grant competition will provide selected applicants, including states, with funding to help develop and implement residential solar programs in low-income and disadvantages communities. This funding is expected to create 200,000 jobs and help recipients save more than $350 million annually in electric bills.
  • A new electric transmission program has been finalized by the DOE in an effort to reduce permitting timelines to two years. The new Coordinated Interagency Authorizations and Permits program will achieve this by acting as the main point of contact for the applicant and act as the intermediary to manage an application's progress through several federal agencies.


  • Applications for the next iteration of the EPA's Pollution Prevention Grant Program, funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, is now open. States, territories, and federally recognized tribes can apply for the $13.9 million to help develop and implement pollution source reduction practices.
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development has updated its federal flood risk management standard. The final rule will now require that all single family and multifamily homes funded by HUD that are built or rebuilt comply with new higher elevation standards The final rule also expands this requirement across a larger area to help prevent losses from flood damage.
  • The Bureau of Reclamation has announced $320 million is available to help fund tribal run water infrastructure projects, such as water supply and hydropower facilities, on tribal lands across 17 states. Funding, which is authorized by the Inflation Reduction Act, will be capped at $50 million per award.
  • The Biden administration launched as a part of the America the Beautiful Initiative. This website will serve as a public information hub on conservation efforts across the country, outdoor recreation opportunities, and opportunities for financial assistance for conservation projects.
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission has paused the implementation of its Enhancement and Standardization of Climate-Related Disclosures for Investors final rule that requires public companies to detail information about company specific climate risks. The pause was issued in response to ongoing litigation.

NCSL News and Resources

  • Energy Trends Report: this annual report summarizes state legislative action in 2023, highlighting trends in state energy policy and potential topics states will consider in 2024 and beyond. All legislation referenced in this paper was enacted, unless otherwise noted.
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