October 15, 2018 Share:
**Please note the next edition of APWA’s Washington Report will not be issued until November 12. In the interim, stay updated by following APWA Government Affairs on Twitter @APWAGovAffairs and checking Advocacy News on APWA.net.
Senate Adjourns Until November 13
- Last Thursday night, the Senate recessed (the House recessed in September) and will not return to D.C. until after the November 6 midterm election;
- Before leaving town, the Senate passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which APWA strongly supported, by an overwhelming vote of 99-1;
- WRDA, which includes the Secure Required Funding for Water Infrastructure Now (SRF WIN) Act, the Drinking Water System Improvement Act, and other elements related to water infrastructure, now heads to President Trump’s desk to be signed into law;
- In recent weeks, fiscal year 2019 (FY 2019) appropriations measures were passed, allowing for most federal agencies to be funded through September 30, 2019, however, the remaining FY 2019 appropriations, including Transportation, are on a continuing resolution through December 7, 2018;
- In addition to the FY 2019 Transportation appropriations measure not being passed prior to the midterm election, the Senate, for now, will not be considering S. 1885 ‘A Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies Act’ or AV START;
- Senator John Thune (R-SD), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, and Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) have been working for months on the autonomous vehicle (AV) legislation, trying to garner support, with the last attempt aimed at being attached to the recently signed into law, Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization (H.R. 302);
- Concerns regarding jurisdictional issues, data protection, and maintaining federal safety oversight are still under discussion which led to S. 1885 not yet being considered by the full Senate;
- The House passed H.R. 3388, the Safely Ensuring Lives Future Deployment and Research in Vehicle Evolution Act, or SELF DRIVE, in the fall of 2017.
NHTSA Seeking Input on Autonomous Vehicles
- On October 10, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register;
- The Agency is seeking input from all stakeholders regarding the near and long-term challenges related to automated driving systems;
- Specifically, NHTSA is looking for comments on factors to be considered in designing a pilot program for on-the-road testing of vehicles with high and full driving automation; recommendations on existing statutory provisions and regulations to implement this type of pilot program; suggestions for regulatory relief to facilitate the pilot efforts; and recommendations for the safety analysis and other analyses to be used in assessing implementation of this pilot program;
- Comments are due no later than November 26, and when submitting comments, please refer to docket: NHTSA-2018-0092.
EPA Gives States Authority on PFAS
- Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it will offer more support for states to find, regulate, and clean up poly- and perfluorinated compounds (PFAS);
- PFAS are a toxic group of industrial chemicals used in a wide variety of products, including firefighting foam and nonstick products;
- The EPA Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water Director Peter Grevatt stated that the agency will continue to support states and tribes addressing PFAS;
- In addition to perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOA), the Agency will examine hundreds of related compounds;
- Director Grevatt announced that addressing the compounds as a class, rather than individually, would best protect public health;
- In 2016, EPA issued a lifetime health advisory (LHA) of 70 parts per trillion (PPT) for the PFAS chemicals perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA);
- However, these LHA’s are not enforceable, and have been criticized as being dangerously high.
Senate Votes to Confirm FEMA Deputy Administrator
- Last week, the Senate voted to confirm Peter Gaynor as Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Deputy Administrator;
- Mr. Gaynor, a former Marine, most recently served as the Director of the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency;
- To view a statement on the confirmation from Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, please click here.
FHWA Announces New Executive Director
- On October 12, Acting Administrator for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Brandye Hendrickson, announced Tom Everett will be the Agency’s next Executive Director;
- Mr. Everett’s tenure as Executive Director will officially begin on October 22, and in his new role will be responsible for overseeing the daily operations and management of FHWA;
- The position works directly with FHWA leadership to execute agency policies, strategic initiatives, and performance goals established by U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao;
- Mr. Everett’s current position with FHWA is Associate Administrator for the Agency’s Office of Infrastructure.
DHS Releases Strategy to Protect Against Electromagnetic Incidents
- The Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) strategy is intended to provide an approach for DHS to protect critical infrastructure and prepare to respond and recover from potentially catastrophic electromagnetic incidents;
- The strategy also reflects a consensus Intelligence Community assessment of the EMP threat posed by our nation’s adversaries;
- Electromagnetic incidents caused by an intentional EMP attack, or naturally-occurring geomagnetic disturbances, while unlikely, could cause serious damage to the nation’s critical infrastructure, including the electric grid, communications equipment, and transportation capabilities;
- While the strategy is primarily focused on DHS activities, it recognizes the importance of continued close collaboration with federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial decision-makers, sector-specific agencies, and private sector critical infrastructure owner-operators;
- To view a copy of the report, please click here.
FEMA Releases Revised Flood Insurance Manual
- Last week, FEMA released the new Flood Insurance Manual (FIM) which is retroactively effective as of October 1;
- The revised FIM is intended to streamline the application process, as well as make it easier to understand the flood insurance process;
- This revised version of the FIM does not change flood insurance coverage or supersede the terms and conditions of the Standard Flood Insurance Policy (SFIP);
- To view the manual, as well as for additional information, please click here.
FEMA Webinars on the National Response Framework
- FEMA has four webinars scheduled to share updates to the National Response Framework (NRF);
- The NRF, first released in 2008, provides a guide for how our nation responds to all types of disasters and emergencies;
- This edition of the NRF will include lessons learned from the 2017 hurricane and wildfire season;
- For more details, including registration information, please click here.
DHS OIA Fellows Program Application Period Open
- The DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis (OIA) Fellows Program is now accepting applications from state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) partners;
- Fellows will be expected to collaborate with their federal counterparts and SLTT customers, through participation in a variety of intelligence functions, including, but not limited to, intelligence collection, analysis, and production activities;
- For additional information, including on how to apply, please click here.
ON THE HORIZON
- October 18, at 10:18 am local time, FEMA is scheduled to conduct the 2018 Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drill – for more information, please click here;
- October 18, at 1:00 pm ET, DHS is scheduled to conduct a webinar titled, “Connecting Emergency Management Agencies and Water Utilities” – for more information, please click here.