EPA’s Regulatory Agenda Includes Some Changes for Drinking Water Regulations

This week the Trump Administration released its first Unified Agenda that covers current and anticipated regulatory actions.  The list of drinking water regulatory actions is short.  Only the Long-Term Revisions to Lead and Copper Rule (LT-LCR) is included in this Agenda.  This Agenda now has a planned proposal date of January 2018 and final rule date of July 2019.  Up until now, EPA’s official position has been that the rule would be proposed in 2017.  Considering the complexity of the decisions that must be made for the rule, and that work is still in progress on items like the health-based benchmark for lead, it is not surprising that the schedule has slipped.  Even a January 2018 date for a proposal may be challenging.   Notably absent from the list is the perchlorate rule.  Here again, there is complex development work still underway as EPA evaluates recent peer review panel advice on Biologically Based Dose Response modeling to support the development of the MCLG.  Even though there is nothing in the agenda, EPA is under a court approved settlement that gives them until October 2018 to publish the proposed rule.
On the clean water side, there are proposals to withdraw or postpone some water quality criteria and effluent guidelines and the major action for “recodification” of the definition of Waters of the United States.
Articles in the trade press have pointed out that the agenda doesn’t include a lot of regulation rescissions that would indicate that the “2 for 1” Executive Order (EO) 13771 is being fully implemented.  For drinking water, nothing is indicated that provides an obvious trade-off for the LT-LCR, and identifying potential trade-offs could be a stumbling block for the proposal.  This agenda has traditionally been done every spring and fall but there is no indication whether the administration will continue to offer two agendas per year, or when another issue can be expected.