1. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its plans to repeal the Obama administration’s Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. The EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, along with Douglas Lamont, senior official performing the duties of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, released the proposed rule change this week.
NECA’s Look Ahead: NECA has long supported repeal of the WOTUS rule. In February, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to begin rescinding the WOTUS rule. This recent EPA announcement makes good on that promise to begin the process.
2. Last week President Donald Trump kicked off Energy Week and released his “An America First Energy Plan”. On June 29, 2017, the President held an energy event at the Department of Energy’s headquarters, featuring Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and members of Congress. NECA was invited to participate and CEO John M. Grau attended.
NECA’s Look Ahead: During Energy Week, the President released his six key comments to his energy policy:
- Ease financing restrictions to back overseas coal projects
- Open up new offshore oil and gas leasing program
- Issuing a study on how to revive nuclear energy
- Approve the sale of more American natural gas to South Korea
- Approve applications to export natural gas from a terminal in Lake Charles, Louisiana
- Approve construction of new petroleum pipeline to Mexico
Also during Energy week, the Senate reintroduced a NECA-supported energy bill, S. 1460, The Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017 (ENRA). The legislation was reintroduced by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the committee’s ranking member. The focus on energy by the administration is a great step forward. NECA looks forward to continuing to work with the administration and Members of Congress to develop a new Comprehensive Energy Policy.
3. The debate over healthcare continued in the Senate over the July 4th recess as lawmakers have begun to promote various fixes to the proposed legislation offered by the House. These proposals have shifted the bill further and further away from its initial form, with some saying the bill would not be ready until the week of July 17. Senators have begun to offer creative fixes for identified hurdles, including allowing insurers to offer plans that do not comply with Obamacare regulations, so long as they also sell plans that comply with those rules. In addition to the anxiety over the changing landscape, concern is growing over the Senate’s willingness to allow the ACA surtax on S Corporations to remain in their bill. This surtax imposes an additional 3.8 percent tax on so-called unearned income, including capital gains, dividends, interest, as well as certain S corporation and partnership income for families making as little as $250,000 a year.
NECA’s Look Ahead:
NECA will continue to study the various proposals offered to amend this bill and will continue to examine those proposals from the viewpoint of our industry and our contractors. Our goal is to confirm that all proposals to this legislation do not hamper our growing trade and to eliminate those that do, including the punative Cadillac Tax and 3.8 percent income surtax.