Front and center in environmental oversight this year were the Obama administration’s efforts to push through measures to address climate change through regulatory, rather than legislative means.
President Obama announced his Climate Action plan in 2013, and federal agencies unrolled several initiatives beginning in 2013 and into 2014 to take steps to implement that plan.
The latest climate assessment showed that sea level rise, wildfires, droughts, and turbulent weather are not some far-off possibility, but a reality now.
The engineering and construction community, as well as water utilities and political leaders, are doing their part to address water supply issues, including ensuring a reliable source of water in times of drought.
But perhaps the most headlines were generated over the administration’s Clean Power Plan, which would regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing powerplants, and the New Source Performance Standards for new powerplants.
Congressional Republicans, a number of industry groups, and even some state regulators, blasted the proposals as unworkable and an example of executive overreach.
Republican lawmakers also pushed back against EPA’s efforts to clarify which waters in the U.S. require a permit for dredging under the Clean Water Act. Industry groups contend that the EPA's latest guidance expands the scope of the Clean Water Act and could increase delays on construction projects that require a permit under the CWA.
Some industry groups as well as a number of states have challenged EPA regulations in court. But the nation’s highest court has tended to give the agency a fair amount of latitude in terms of regulatory authority.
With Republicans controlling both chambers in the new Congress, political observers can expect more political theater and continued attempts to negate the administration’s efforts to address climate change.