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NRI Standing Committee Newsletter | November 3, 2023

November 3, 2023

Top Stories

Reversal of Federal Water Utility Cybersecurity Mandate

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently withdrew an Interpretive Rule: Addressing Public Water System Cybersecurity in Sanitary Surveys or an Alternate Process memorandum. The policy was withdrawn after the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay on the memorandum. The suit was brought by the states of Missouri, Iowa and Arkansas who consider the rule, which would require an annual review of and maintenance for the cybersecurity systems of water utilities, to be duplicative of current standard practices. The states also argue that using a memorandum as a vehicle for implementing policy is illegal. Despite the retraction, the EPA and the Biden administration continue to focus on the importance of cybersecurity for critical public infrastructure systems and, in the interim, continue to encourage voluntary reviews of cybersecurity systems. 

Future International Energy Insights

The U.S. Energy Information Administration recently released the 2023 International Energy Outlook. This annual report had three main findings:

  • Growing populations and rising incomes are leading to increases in energy consumption and these increased energy demands will most likely be met using non-renewable energy sources. Ultimately this is projected to offset the effects of increased use of renewable energy elsewhere around the globe. Notably, China and India are expected to become the largest global pollution emitters.
  • By 2050 renewable and nuclear energy is expected to represent 67% of the global energy supply, which is indicative of renewable power generation’s inability to keep up with increasing demand.
  • Fossil fuel consumption is expected to rise through 2050, as gas powered vehicle sales are expected to peak between 2027 and 2033. Increased fossil fuel consumption is driven by ongoing safety concerns in some countries, while these same concerns are driving other countries to rapidly transition away from fossil fuels.

Finally, the report notes that electric vehicles (EVs) sales are expected to continue to rise with approximately 58-77% of global market sales taking place in China or the European Union.

Environmental Permitting Updates

The Biden administration recently began the implementation of two major permitting reforms with the White House Council on Environmental Quality’s release of the second phase of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reforms and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s announcement of the Improvements to Generator Interconnection Procedures and Agreements final rule. The Biden administration recently furthered these efforts by releasing $155 million from the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to help speed environmental permitting processes at certain federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, by enabling them to undertake permitting streamlining activities, such as hiring permitting experts and other specialists, purchasing workflow efficiency projects, developing programmatic approaches to national environmental permitting rules, and developing adaptive management plans. This funding is part of the administration’s larger effort to rapidly develop and construct clean energy projects. This funding represents a small fraction of the $1 billion appropriated in the IRA for permitting process improvement over the next decade.

Short but Sweet, More News Below!


  • The Department of Energy recently released an update to the resident furnace efficiency final rule which was last updated in 2007 under the George W. Bush administration. The new final rule goes into full effect in 2028 and requires an increase in efficiency standards to 95%. Learn More.
  • The Department of Energy has released a notice of proposed rulemaking for new electric transmission permitting requirements, which if implemented would mandate a transmission developer’s submission of 13 unique reports before commencing the official permitting process. Read More.
  • $3.5 billion of funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has been released by the Grid Resilience and innovation Partnership Program to help make resilience and reliability improvements to the electric grid across 44 states. These funds are expected to facilitate bringing more than 35 gigawatts of renewable energy online. Read More.


  • The EPA has proposed a rulemaking to reduce the production of Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which would incentivize a transition from HFCs to more environmentally friendly options. An enacted rule is expected to lead to an 85% decrease of HFCs by 2036. The rule’s authority was granted under the bipartisan 2020 American Innovation and Manufacturing Act, which mandates the EPA to meet the requirements outlined in the Kigali Amendment to the ratified Montreal Protocol Treaty. Read More.
  • The Biden administration has released new guidelines, to enforce new water management requirements that help increase water conservation, prevent critical water level declines, improve water efficiency, and protect the natural resources of the Colorado River. This protocol, if implemented would take effect in 2027 and replace the 2007 Interim Guidelines that are set to expire in 2026. Learn More.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case Missouri v. Biden which sought to halt the Biden administration from calculating the social cost and financial impact of greenhouse gas emissions using interim formulas while evaluating project permitting decisions or in regulatory and non-regulatory activities. The metric currently prices the cost of a metric ton of carbon at $51, though the EPA has proposed an increase to $190 per metric ton. Read More.
  • A notice of proposed rulemaking has been released by FEMA, which if implemented, would increase overall resilience by mandating that the repair and rebuilding of structures destroyed or damaged by flooding meet new improved construction standards. FEMA also recently announced $2 million in available funding for each state to improve building codes, which would increase community resiliency. Learn More.
  • The White House has released the National Climate Resilience Framework, which details steps to increase the nation’s climate resilience by sharing ideas that have been successfully implemented in some local communities. This framework, along with the release of $500 million, is intended to help mobilize funding towards climate resilience to make it a key element of infrastructure. Read More.
  • A new U.S. Forest Service program will use $1 billion of available funding to help develop green space in disadvantaged urban communities. Activities include planting trees which are expected to also help mitigate the effects of extreme weather. Learn More.


  • $6.4 billion of allocated Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding for the five-year federal Carbon Reduction Program has been released to implement transportation alternatives and small-scale infrastructure projects in states to encourage the reduction of car emissions. A state is eligible for this funding after submitting a carbon reduction strategy containing specific examples for how the state plans to reduce emissions. Learn More.
  • The U.S. Department of Treasury has released the new instant rebate program for EVs that will take effect in January 2024. The instant rebate program will allow customers to save up to $7,500 on an EV at the time of purchase, rather than having to wait until they file federal taxes as required under the current system. Funding for the rebate program was authorized under the IRA. Read More.


  • Two new reports, one quantifying methane emissions from landfill food waste and the second updating recommendations for managing food waste, were released by the EPA. It is anticipated that the EPA will release an updated food recovery hierarchy tool based on these findings to help address the significant amounts of food waste in the U.S. Learn More.

NCSL News and Resources

  • Groundwater is heavily relied upon in the United States for drinking water, industry and agriculture. To shore-up groundwater supplies and protect this valuable resource, state legislatures have considered hundreds of bills related to groundwater policy over the last several sessions, enacting more than 100 since 2019. Check out NCSL’s Groundwater 101: The Basics on the Earth’s Most Precious Resource
  • As temperatures drop, safe heating options may be top of mind. Carbon monoxide can be emitted by common heating sources and exposure to elevated concentrations can lead to illness or death. Learn more about Carbon Monoxide Detector Statutes.
  • Protecting consumers from foodborne illness and ensuring that food systems and supply chains are safe and reliable is a top concern for states. The newest version of the FDA Food Code addresses issues such as allergen training, pets in dining establishments and food donation by creating a research-driven protocol reflecting the evolving retail food industry and can help states navigate food-related issues that might be top of mind for consumers. Learn more by listening to NCSL’s Food Code Adoption Town Hall.
  • Explore how legislators are strengthening handheld phone and texting bans to make roadways safer.  Check out NCSL’s Text You Later: Keeping Drivers’ Eyes on the Road
  • Freight rail plays a vital role in the US transportation and trade system, but recent high-profile train derailments have raised safety concerns. Full Steam Ahead as States Back Federal Efforts to Boost Rail Safety highlights recent federal and state actions to improve rail safety.
  • Learn about the latest notable state legislative actions aimed at enhancing move-over laws for safer roadsides. Check out NCSL’s State Toughen ‘Move Over’ Laws to Protect First Responders, Roadside Workers


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