Skip to main content

Natural Resources, Energy & Environment Committee Newsletter | April 5, 2024

April 5, 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 at left.   

You Are Invited to the NREE Webinar Series 

NCSL’s Natural Resources, Energy and Environment Committee is pleased to invite you to its annual Spring Webinar Series. The series consists of five webinars from March 28 through May 9. All webinars will take place on Thursdays at 3 p.m. ET. Please see the webinar dates below. Register for as many webinars as your schedule permits and please share among your colleagues and partners. Recordings of webinars that have already taken place will be available soon on the NCSL website. 

NCSL in DC 

NCSL Urges Support for the Water Resources Development Act 

NCSL, in conjunction with other organizations representing state and local governments, sent a letter to congressional leadership calling for the efficient and bipartisan passage of the Water Resources Development Act of 2024. Joining NCSL in cosigning were the National Governor’s Association, the National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties and the United States Conference of Mayors. The letter also asks Congress to ensure continued meaningful intergovernmental collaboration, further assist state and local governments with flood and storm damage mitigation, and appropriate maximum allowable funding to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to further the nation’s investment in water infrastructure maintenance and to support the American economy.  

Top NREE Stories 

Congress Fully Funds the Government  

Congress has fully funded the government through the end of the 2024 fiscal year. On March 8, Congress passed six of the 12 appropriations bills—Military Construction-Veterans Affairs, Agriculture-FDA, Transportation-Housing and Urban Development, Energy-Water Development, Interior-Environment and Commerce-Justice-Science—to fully fund the relevant federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Energy (DOE). The remaining six appropriation bills, Defense, Legislative Branch, Financial Services-General Government, Homeland Security, Labor-Education-Health & Human Services and State-Foreign Operations, were passed on March 22.  

Post-Sackett Federal Wetlands Approach 

Last year, through the decision in Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency , the U.S. Supreme Court significantly narrowed the federal government’s interpretation of which wetlands and waterways may be considered “waters of the United States” and thus protected by the Clean Water Act. The Waters of the United States, or WOTUS as the rule is known, determines the scope of federal authority to regulate such waters and when states, local governments and others must seek federal permits to develop land because it contains such waters. In response, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is the federal entity tasked with enforcement of the Clean Water Act, has released a memorandum to inform its approach under WOTUS for addressing wetlands moving forward. Planned actions include providing technical assistance and regulation support to states and tribal governments, increasing support for ecosystem restoration projects and the continued use of nature-based solutions and compensatory mitigation. 

Energy Efficiency Regulations Continue  

Energy efficiency regulations for household appliances, ranging from gas stoves to water heaters, have been a congressional point of focus in light of numerous administrative actions that were focused on setting maximum energy consumption standards to help reduce consumer’s electricity and fuel use and costs. As a part of these ongoing regulation efforts, the DOE has issued a final rule mandating new efficiency standards for residential top and front-loading clothing washers and dryers. This new rule is largely in line with the recommendations the DOE received from manufacturers, consumer groups and utilities last year. The compliance deadline is March 1, 2028. Over the next 30 years, this rule is expected to save $39 billion in energy and water costs. The debate over energy efficiency standards is likely to continue and NCSL will continue to track and monitor the state of play.  

New Environmental Corporate Disclosure Requirements 

A 10-state coalition is suing the Securities and Exchange Commission over a final rule that is expected to have significant influence on how investors and corporations approach and consider the climate impacts of business. The rule, titled the Enhancement and Standardization of Climate-Related Disclosures for Investors, will require public companies to detail information about the company’s climate risks, the impacts and costs of severe weather events and, in some cases, a company’s greenhouse gas emissions. This update to American corporate reporting is less stringent than the proposed rule first released in 2022, as it removes one of the most controversial requirements, carbon footprint reporting, known as Scope 3 disclosures. The rule is effective 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register.  

Short but Sweet, More News Below 

Agriculture 

  • The USDA has issued the final Inclusive Competition Market Integrity rule, which is intended to strengthen the Packers and Stockyards Act, increase competition, and help protect agricultural producers from exploitation, discrimination and retaliation by large food processors. This rule goes into effect on May 6, 2024. Read More
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stood up a new office to serve as a liaison with stakeholders in rural communities, continue collaboration with federal, state and local partners and help the EPA support the implementation of science-based agricultural solutions that also protect the environment. The Office of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Is now operational and houses the Farm, Ranch and Rural Communities Federal Advisory Committee. Learn More
  • The U.S. Department of Labor has announced that it is making $90 million in competitive Farmworker Jobs Program grants available to support agricultural labor development training for migrants and seasonal laborers. Read More

Energy 

  • The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has released a new draft proposed rule for licensing advanced reactors. This proposed rule, if enacted, would help streamline and speed up this process and assist the nuclear industry with the scaling and deployment of these reactors. Read More 
  • The Treasury Department has finalized direct pay regulations for use of Inflation Reduction Act clean energy credits by governmental and tax-exempt entities. Learn More
  • $425 million is being invested by the DOE into former coal communities through the Advanced Energy Manufacturing and Recycling Grant Program. This funding is intended to help reduce greenhouse gases of small and medium sized manufacturers by building or upgrading current facilities that produce or recycle clean energy products. Read More
  • The DOE is making $90 million available in competitive grants through the Resilient and Efficient Codes Implementation Program to help communities adopt new building energy codes and support capacity and expertise development in state and local governments. Funding from this program is estimated to help save $182 billion in utility costs through 2040. Learn More
  • The Joint Office of Energy and Transportation has launched a new webpage to provide resources for workforce development activities associated with the ongoing electrification transition of transportation industry. Read More.  

Environment 

  • State, tribal and local governments are now eligible to receive free engineering assistance through the EPA’s Water Technical Assistance program. This assistance was designed to help small disadvantage communities identify water challenges, develop plans and solutions, create application materials to apply for available drinking water, wastewater and storm water federal funds and improve capacity. Learn More
  • The Biden administration has announced $6 billion to help reduce the carbon impact of hard to decarbonize high-emitting sectors such as steel, paper and concrete manufacturing. Estimates indicate that this investment could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 14 million metric tons annually. Read More

NCSL News and Resources 

Loading
  • Contact NCSL

  • For more information on this topic, use this form to reach NCSL staff.