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November 14, 2014
After the elections: what will the environmental agenda be in 2015?

We recently sat down with Managing Editor Amanda Czepiel, J.D., to discuss how the changing political landscape will impact environmental issues, including the Keystone Pipeline, U.S. Water Rule, and Obama’s Climate Action Plan.

Here are the Q&A’s from the interview, along with this video excerpt:

Elections and Environmental Issues

Q: Now that the Senate has changed hands, where can we expect Congress to focus?

A: On the environmental front, we can expect to see a big focus on oil and gas production, specifically the approval of the Keystone Pipeline.

Also, we will likely see more incentives to produce oil and gas domestically.

Next, Republicans have been vocal on their opposition to the administration’s climate change plan and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission rules. We will hear about stopping the passage of these historic EPA regulations; however, Congress doesn’t have veto power so it may be all talk, but there will be a lot of it. Congress could cut EPA spending, which would limit resources to enforce such regulations.

We may see action to block the proposed waters of the United States rule. It’s been controversial since its inception, and resistance to its passage is likely.

Lastly, there is a feeling that EPA management is poor and Republicans may increase its public criticism of how EPA manages its own people, as well as the science the agency uses.

Q: Will the administration’s priorities shift or will it stay on course?

A: Odds are the administration will stay on course. President Obama hasn’t come out either way on the Keystone Pipeline, so he may not consider the pipeline as important as getting passage on his climate change agenda.

Because Obama’s greenhouse gas rules are the environmental cornerstone of his administration, the administration’s priorities and tactics probably won’t change. The Climate Action Plan will continue to be the focus since they are stretched for time.

Q: What can the regulated community expect in the next 2 years?

A: The EPA is determined on finalizing the climate rules. If they are finalized, we can expect to see endless litigation on how the rules apply to Title V, PSD, and other air permits. The rules may be revised, but not enough to avoid legal action from industry.

With the waters of the United States proposed rule, the EPA is still saying it will be finalized in early 2015. I can see that getting pushed back.

It should be noted that Republican control in both the House and the Senate doesn’t mean that we should expect to see a complete flip-flop in environmental priorities. Republicans need to focus on what happens in 2016, so they will need to balance action with a display of their ability to regulate and govern.

Stay tuned for updates on these issues, and more, at Enviro.BLR.com®.

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