MCAA Government Affairs Update: The Latest Developments Impacting Our Industry

June 7, 2024

As part of its ongoing commitment to protecting your livelihood and setting the stage for a bright future, MCAA has secured the services of Longbow Public Policy Group to advise our MCAA Government Affairs Committee (GAC). GAC Chair, Jim Gaffney will be passing along information relative to our industry on a regular basis.

On Friday, June 7, 2024 MCAA Lobbying Firm, Longbow Public Policy Group provided the following information:

MCAA Issues and Interests 

Project Labor Agreements

HELP Ranking Member Cassidy Issues Report Accusing Biden Administration of “Aiding Political Backers at the Expense of American Workers” 

As we continue to engage with various congressional committees with jurisdiction over the MCAA’s priority issues, we wanted to be sure the GAC was aware that on May 29th, during the Memorial Day recess week, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Bill Cassidy (R-LA) released a report accusing the Biden Administration of weaponizing its “executive authority over U.S. labor and employment policy to strip workers of opportunity, flexibility, pay, and protection against discrimination, in a bid to court the political backing of large labor unions.” 

In the report, Cassidy cites several examples of this “weaponization,” included FAR Council regulations implementing President Biden’s Executive Order expanding the federal government’s use of project labor agreements and DOL’s final rule modernizing Davis-Bacon prevailing wage. Cassidy characterized the PLA rule and the Davis-Bacon Modernization Rule as favors to unions meant to “ensure that government dollars easily flow to contractors that hire union labor, follow union work rules, and pay into union defined benefit and pension plans. Cassidy’s report also complained about the Department of Labor’s (DOL) final independent contractor rule, which he says “dismantles the gig economy and jeopardizes the ability of 27 million Americans to work as independent contractors.”  The Ranking Member also attacked the National Labor Relations Board’s final joint employer rule and DOL’s new “Worker Walkaround Rule,” which he says “allows outside union officials to inject themselves into workplaces that have not voted to be represented by the union.” Cassidy also decried the Office of Labor-Management Standards’ rescission of Trump-era financial disclosure rules for union-related trusts, which he said “will result in unchecked union corruption.”  The full report is available here. The report is notable because it reflects the view of the Senator likely to chair the Senate HELP committee on many MCAA issues care about should Republicans win control of the Senate in November.

Davis-Bacon Federal Prevailing Wage

This week, in addition continuing our outreach to oppose the Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to rescind the MCAA-supported final Davis-Bacon rule, we were rallying against the amendment Rep. Gosar filed on the NDAA bill when it is considered on the House floor.  We are hopeful we can dissuade he House Rules Committee from considering this amendment, but we are not taking any chances and are preparing for a battle if it is made in order. The strong, bipartisan votes against other anti-Davis-Bacon amendments this Congress gives us good insight into where we need to lobby to achieve a good outcome if Gosar’s amendment does make the cut to be considered.

Registered Apprenticeship

DOL Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship Holds Meeting to Start 2024-2026 Term 

This week, our effort on registered apprenticeship entailed devoting Tuesday and Wednesday to monitoring the full-day deliberations of the Department of Labor Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship’s (ACA) “Kickoff Meeting” for the 2024-2026 ACA Term. The UA is represented on the ACA by UA Training Director Raymond Boyd and the full list of ACA members for the 2024-2026 term is available here. Additionally, the PowerPoint presentation used to guide the two days of meetings is available here

On Tuesday, Office of Apprenticeship Administrator John Ladd said the goal of the ACA is to “expand, diversify, and modernize apprenticeship”—including through DOL’s recent proposed rule on “National Apprenticeship System Enhancements.” To that end, Ladd said DOL is focusing its apprenticeship efforts on equity and diversification by trying to get apprenticeship programs to reflect the communities they serve and expanding them to industries that have not used apprenticeships. Ladd said that DOL is embedding equity through tools such as the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion technical assistance center that will aid apprenticeship programs in meeting their Equal Employment Opportunity obligations. Ladd also noted that DOL’s registered apprenticeship metrics show strong outcomes for employers and workers, such as a 90% retention rate, a $300,000 lifetime income advantage for workers who complete apprenticeships, and a $1.44 return on investment for every dollar employers spend. But he also said that more needs to be done to address completion rates that average 44% and to get women, minorities, and disabled individuals into apprenticeship programs. Ladd expects more attention to the demographic profile of apprenticeship programs since DOL launched a new “Apprenticeship Population Dashboard” showing the racial and ethnic composition of apprentices versus their prevalence in the overall workforce. This data series will be further developed to provide racial and ethnic data of apprentices by occupation to help address what ACA members called “occupational segregation.” 

On Wednesday, representatives from the Commerce Department highlighted that Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo is focused on bringing more women into construction through a “Million Women in Construction Initiative” which seeks to get construction users to adopt principles to expand the number of women in construction. The Commerce representative also highlighted that the Department has identified $190 million to support workforce training in construction, mainly through project labor agreements and registered apprenticeship programs. A representative from the Transportation Department (DOT) explained that DOT is focused on apprenticeship as a means to fulfill the vision of recently enacted infrastructure laws like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the Inflation Reduction Act. During the discussion period of the meeting, attendees stressed the need to provide transportation for people in apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs and the need to ensure people know they will not lose public benefits by participating in apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs. In closing the meeting, Administrator Ladd said that DOL is about to announce a new round of apprenticeship grants and that the ACA will hold its next meeting in September and a notice with details on how to participate in the meeting will be published in advance of the meeting in the Federal Register.

Independent Contractors and Misclassification of Workers 

Senate HELP Ranking Member Cassidy Seeks Feedback on Federal Barriers to Providing Portable Benefits for Independent Contractors 

As we continue fighting the Congressional Review Act Resolution to kill the MCAA-supported independent contractor rule, we wanted to be sure you were aware that on Wednesday June 5th, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Bill Cassidy (R-LA) issued a letter requesting feedback from stakeholders and the public by June 26, 2024 on ways to reformulate federal laws and regulations to facilitate independent the proliferation of independent contractor business models and the elimination of federal legal and regulatory barriers to independent contractors accessing portable workplace benefits, like retirement and healthcare, that have historically been tied to traditional employer-employee relationships. 

In his letter, Cassidy contends that “at least 27 million Americans engage in independent work” including subcontractors, housing contractors, truck drivers, physicians, and participants in the ‘gig economy,’ but federal labor and employment laws discourage and prevent workers from accessing commonplace workplace benefits.” As a result, Cassidy is seeking feedback on several topics to remove what he views as “regulatory barriers to portable benefits for independent contractors” as part of his long-standing effort to proliferate the independent contractor business model. Among the topics on which Cassidy is requesting feedback are: (1) the chief federal legal and regulatory obstacles preventing the provision of benefits to independent contractors; (2) the fringe benefits independent contractors value most; (3) criteria for who should be eligible for portable benefits; (4) how work hours should be measured to assign benefits where a worker is performing work for several clients at the same time; (5) how portable benefits should be funded; (6) current barriers that prevent independent contractors from banding together to have a larger risk pool to reduce insurance expenses; (7) the percentage of independent contractors covered by health insurance; (8) emerging portable benefit models or policies Congress should consider; (9) lessons that can be learned from current state portable benefit experiments; (10) lessons to be learned from previous federal policies, including the 2018 Trump-era Association Health Plans rule; and (11) whether Congress should consider expanding individual health coverage reimbursement arrangements to independent workers. 

Responses to the request for feedback are due by June 26, 2024, and can be submitted to IndependentWorkforce@help.senate.gov. We are currently assessing if there is a desire among CEA member associations to undertake a group response to Cassidy.

Pension Reform

Discussions heat up on Republican Plans for Using the Reconciliation Process

As Republican hopes grow that they will get unified control of the White House and Congress in November, serious talks are underway about what the GOP wants to accomplish through the partisan budget reconciliation process that allows changes in tax policy and other policies with a revenue impact by a simple majority vote free of the threat of a filibuster. You may recall that Democrats used this process to pass the Inflation Reduction Act.  

With the House-passed tax bill stalled in the Senate and no current prospects for it to be revived, we have started feeling out some moderate Republicans on the House and Senate tax writing committees about their willingness to support our two-pool withdrawal liability proposal in a reconciliation bill. These discussions are very preliminary, but we do not sense much interest at this stage. In fact, we are hearing that some anti-union Republicans want to use budget reconciliation to roll back the Special Financial Assistance Program enacted as part of the American Rescue Plan Act and to increase Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) premiums for multiemployer plans.  

Decarbonization

Biden Administration Announces New Principles for High-Integrity Voluntary Carbon Markets 

On May 28th, during the Memorial Day recess, the Biden Administration released a “Joint Statement of Policy and New Principles for Responsible Participation in Voluntary Carbon Markets (VCMs)” and an associated fact sheet detailing the Administration’s approach to advance high-integrity VCMs. VCMs are intended to give individuals, companies, non-profit organizations, governments and others the opportunity to buy and sell carbon offset credits representing the reduction of one metric ton of carbon dioxide of greenhouse gas emissions. The principles seek to ensure the integrity of carbon credits and include confirming: (1) that carbon credits and the activities that generate them meet credible atmospheric integrity standards and represent real decarbonization; (2) credit-generating activities avoid environmental and social harm and, where applicable, produce other “co-benefits”; (3) corporate buyers that use credits prioritize measurable emissions reductions within their own value chains; (4) credit users publicly disclose the nature of purchased and retired credits; (5) public claims by credit users accurately reflect the climate impact of retired credits and only rely on credits that meet high integrity standards; (6) market participants contribute to efforts that improve market integrity; and (7) policymakers and market participants facilitate efficient market participations and seek to lower transaction costs. 

White House Launches Federal-State Initiative to Bolster the U.S. Power Grid 

On May 28th, the White House announced the launch of the “Federal-State Modern Grid Deployment Initiative,” with commitments from Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wisconsin. The Initiative aims to bring together states, federal entities, and power sector stakeholders to help drive grid adaptation quickly and cost-effectively to meet power sector challenges and opportunities. Participating states have committed to prioritize efforts that support the adoption of modern grid solutions to expand grid capacity and build modern grid capabilities on both new and existing transmission and distribution lines. As part of the Initiative, the 21 states signing on as inaugural members will focus on: (1) meeting the shared challenges and opportunities of increased load growth, a rapidly changing energy landscape, aging infrastructure, and new grid-enhancing technologies – while delivering reliable, clean, and affordable energy to consumers; and (2) deploying innovative grid technologies to bolster the capacity of the U.S. electric grid and more effectively meet current and future demand, maximize benefits of new and existing transmission infrastructure, increase grid resilience to the growing impacts of climate change, and better protect consumers from variability in energy prices.

IRS Opens Applications for Low-Income Communities Bonus Credit Program 

On May 28th, the Internal Revenue Service announced that the application for the 2024 Low-Income Communities Bonus Credit Program is now open. Created by the Inflation Reduction Act, the Low-Income Communities Bonus Credit Program provides a 10 or 20 percentage point increase to the energy investment credit for solar and wind facilities under five megawatts that apply for and receive an allocation of environmental justice solar and wind capacity limitation. Taxpayers that receive an allocation and properly place the facility in service may then claim the increased energy investment credit in the year that the facility is placed in service. Applications are being accepted from now until June 27, 2024 at 11:59pm ET. During the application window, all applications will be considered as submitted at the same date and time. Applications submitted after June 27th will then be evaluated on a rolling basis.

IRS Guidance on the Inflation Reduction Act’s Clean Fuel Production Credit 

On May 31st, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Notice 2024-49 to provide guidance on the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) section 45Z “Clean Fuel Production Credit.” The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) implements the section 45Z tax credit for the production of clean transportation fuels beginning on January 1, 2025. Under the section 45Z credit, transportation fuel is divided into two broad categories – sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and non-SAF transportation fuel. The value of the section 45Z credit will be equal to the product of: (1) the applicable amount per gallon (or gallon equivalent) for any transportation fuel that is produced by the taxpayer at a qualified facility during the taxable year; and (2) the emissions factor for such fuel as determined under the IRC. Notice 2024-49 includes an “Appendix A” that identifies primary feedstocks used to make transportation fuels that may be eligible for the section 45Z credit. Per Notice 2024-49, taxpayers must register with the IRS on or before January 1, 2025 to be eligible to claim the section 45Z credit for production beginning on January 1, 2025. As a result, the IRS states that taxpayers should apply for registration as soon as possible to give the agency sufficient time to process registration applications. The IRS also notes that it intends to issue additional guidance on the section 45Z credit “at a later date.” 

House Ways & Means Supply Chain Task Force Seeks Input on Tax Incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act and the 2017 Tax Cut & Jobs Act

This week, Rep. Carol Miller’s Request for Information related to her role on the House Ways and Means supply chain task force. It seeks input on various tax incentives, particularly from the 2017 Tax Cut & Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act tax credits and deductions. The form the Congresswoman is using to gather information expressly states that she is “not looking to be the one” making recommendations on what should be done with individual credits/incentives” and that this “is purely an educational and information gathering exercise.” Thus, we do not think it critical MCAA reply.  Still, the fact that she is gathering this information is interesting, as is the fact that the Congresswoman is committed to keeping all responses private.

Congressional Review Act Resolution of Disapproval Introduced to Kill EPA’s Power Plant Decarbonization Rule

Yesterday, Rep. Troy Balderson (R-OH) and 138 of his House Republican colleagues introduced a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution of disapproval to nullify the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Power Plant Rule” that is intended to impose emissions reduction requirements on existing coal-fired power plants and newly constructed gas-fired power plants. Among the groups supporting the CRA resolution are: (1) the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; (2) the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association; (3) the National Association of Manufacturers; (4) the American Petroleum Institute; (5) the Competitive Enterprise Institute; (6) Americans for Prosperity; (7) the American Energy Institute; (8) the American Consumer Institute; (9) Americans for Tax Reform; (10) the Taxpayers Protection Alliance; and (11) the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council. 

Other Interesting Things Since Our Last Report 

Thursday, June 6th

  • The Department of Energy (DOE) announced a “National Definition of a Zero Emissions Building” to advance public and private sector efforts to decarbonize the buildings sector, which is responsible for more than one-third of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Development of this definition is a key element of DOE’s Decarbonizing the U.S. Economy by 2050: A National Blueprint for the Buildings Sector, which outlines a strategy to reduce U.S. building emissions by 65% by 2035 and by 90% by 2050. Part 1 of the definition of a Zero Emissions Building sets criteria for determining that a building generates zero emissions from energy use in building operations. Under the definition, at a minimum, a zero emissions building must be energy efficient, free of onsite emissions from energy use, and powered solely from clean energy. DOE notes that future parts of this definition may address emissions from embodied carbon (producing, transporting, installing, and disposing of materials) and additional considerations. Alongside the announcement, DOE also said that eight major green building certification programs in the U.S. have pledged to embed, align, or exceed the National Definition of a Zero Emissions Building in their certifications. The federal government will also use this definition in leasing net-zero emissions buildings, which will become the standard for federal leases beginning in 2030.
  • House Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Maxine Waters (D-CA) led 36 lawmakers in a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission urging the agency to “remain focused on the risk that climate change poses to investors” and to enforce its existing climate risk guidance and rules while its final climate risk disclosure rule is stayed. 
  • South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott (R) announced a $14 million campaign in Georgia, North Carolina, Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nevada, and Pennsylvania to win over Black and other nonwhite working class voters to Republicans.  

Wednesday, June 5th

  • The Interior Department announced $725 million through the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for 22 states and the Navajo Nation to reclaim abandoned mine lands to improve water quality by treating acid mine drainage, restore water supplies damaged by mining, reclaim unstable slopes, and close dangerous mine shafts. The funding will also support projects that redevelop hazardous lands, including for advanced manufacturing and renewable energy deployment. States and Tribes are encouraged to prioritize projects that employ current and former coal industry employees and that work with organizations supporting pre-apprenticeship, registered apprenticeship, and youth training programs. For projects totaling more than $1 million, contractors must certify in their application that they use a project labor agreement, and include a project workforce continuity plan detailing apprenticeships, worker training programs, and partnerships with unions in the application. A full list of states and the funding amounts is available here.
  • The Energy Department announced the first proposed projects selected under the Cleanup to Clean Energy initiative, which is an effort to repurpose parts of DOE-owned lands formerly used in the nuclear weapons program to become sites for clean energy generation. DOE will begin lease negotiations with solar energy developers NorthRenew Energy Partners and Spitfire to create electricity generation projects within the 890-square-mile Idaho National Laboratory site with a goal of producing 400 megawatts of solar power, enough to power 400,000 homes. DOE has also issued requests for qualifications to lease land through the initiative in Washington State, New Mexico, Nevada, and South Carolina.
  • House Education and the Workforce Committee Chair Virginia Foxx (R-NC) sent a letter to Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC) Commission Chair Charlotte Burrows requesting the EEOC give the public an opportunity to comment and provide feedback before the Commission finalizes a joint memorandum with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on workplace speech and conduct. In the letter, Foxx asks the EEOC: (1) whether it will post a draft of the EEOC-NLRB memorandum for public comment before a final memorandum is published and, if so, for how long; (2) whether EEOC will take the comments received into consideration and revise the draft memorandum as necessary; and (3) what the EEOC’s justification would be for failing to post the memorandum for public comment. 

Tuesday, June 4th

  • President Joe Biden signed a proclamation to turn away migrants seeking asylum who cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally between ports of entry at times when there is a high volume of daily encounters. The proclamation went into effect at 12:01 AM ET on June 4, 2024, and will continue until the Biden Homeland Security Department determines that there has been a seven-consecutive-calendar-day average of less than 1,500 encounters at the border. The proclamation is to be reinstated each time DHS determines that there has been a seven-consecutive-calendar-day average of 2,500 encounters or more. Whenever the proclamation kicks in, U.S. border officials will stop implementing credible fear interviews for asylum claims and work to quickly expel foreign nationals who have crossed the border between ports of entry. Migrants who are expelled under the proclamation will receive a minimum five-year bar on reentry to the United States and potentially be criminally prosecuted. Under the proclamation, Mexico will receive nationals of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, as well as its own nationals, in expedited deportations. The Biden Administration also said it will enhance its capabilities to return nationals of other countries, including extracontinental migrants from places such as China. The proclamation includes exceptions to ensure that the asylum restrictions do not apply to unaccompanied minors and to allow border officials to conduct credible fear interviews with migrants who manifest a fear of returning to their country because of persecution or potential torture situations.
  • There were swift reactions from across the spectrum to Tuesday’s proclamation on immigration. Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) railed against it, calling it “weak” and “window dressing” and argued that President Biden and Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas took a series of actions that “engineered the open border.” House Democrats—particularly those in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC)—also blasted the proclamation, with CHC Chair Nanette Barragan (D-CA) saying she was “disappointed that this is a direction that the President has decided to take.” The ACLU is promising to sue the Biden Administration over the proclamation, saying the “action takes the same approach as the Trump Administration’s asylum ban.” 
  • The Interior Department and the Biden Agriculture Department announced $2.8 billion in fiscal year 2025 funding from the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) to improve recreation facilities, water and utility infrastructure, Bureau of Indian Affairs-funded schools, historic structures, and other essential infrastructure. The proposal includes 172 GAOA projects in all 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C. that will support an estimated 20,000 jobs in urban, suburban, and rural areas. 
  • GeoMap, a new collaboration that combines the subsurface expertise of dozens of scientists, released a map that shows that the vast fleet of U.S. military bases, coal plants, and industrial facilities sit atop layers of hot rock deep within the Earth that could be used to build out the U.S.’s geothermal capacity. 
  • A June 3-4, 2024 New York Times/Siena College “recontact poll” that re-polled nearly 2,000 registered voters who had previously participated in two presidential surveys in April and May found that following Trump’s conviction in the New York hush money case Trump lost 7 points of support he had before the conviction with 3% now saying they will vote for President Biden and 4% now saying they are undecided. President Biden, meanwhile, lost 4 points of support, with 1.5% of respondents now saying they will back Trump and 2.5% saying they are now undecided. Overall, Trump still leads Biden 47% to 46% (down from the 48%-45% lead Trump held in previous polls).

Monday, June 3rd

Friday, May 31st

  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced the availability of $187 million in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Airport Infrastructure Grants (AIG) program for airport improvements such as terminal expansions, that may create work for MCAA contractors. Funding recipients include: (1) the San Diego International Airport in California, which will receive $23.5 million for the construction of a new 1,210,000-square-foot terminal building; (2) the Pittsburgh International Airport in Pennsylvania, which will receive $20.5 million for the reconstruction of the existing terminal building to allow for more efficient movement of passengers and baggage, increased energy efficiencies and replacement of aging infrastructure; (3) the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Lansing, Michigan, which will receive $4.5 million to expand the existing snow removal equipment building by an additional 37,317 square feet; and (4) the Cedar City Regional Airport in Utah, which will receive $2.8 million to expand the existing terminal by 3,650 square feet. The full list of recipients can be accessed here. 
  • Sen. Joe Manchin (WV) officially filed to change his party affiliation from Democrat to “independent with no party affiliation.” In a statement, Manchin said partisanship on both sides of the political aisle jeopardized democracy and that he made the switch to “continue to fight for America’s sensible majority.” The party switch comes as Manchin has pushed back on rumors that he may run for governor of West Virginia or for the U.S. Senate again.

Thursday, May 30th

  • The Biden Administration released a new “Climate Capital Guidebook” to provide a comprehensive list of capital programs across the federal government that are available to climate-related start-ups, small- and medium-sized businesses, and their investors. The Guidebook includes financial and funding programs created and expanded by the Biden Administration, including those made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Inflation Reduction Act, and annual Congressional appropriations. The Guidebook inventories opportunities across the entire federal government, including the Department of Energy, the Department of Agriculture, the Small Business Administration, and the Export-Import Bank of the United States. Together, these programs comprise billions of dollars in grants, loans, loan guarantees, and other funding tools to spur the financing and deployment of new clean energy and climate projects—while also focusing on delivering cleaner air, good-paying jobs, and affordable clean energy to disadvantaged communities, energy communities, and other communities in need.

Wednesday, May 29th 

  • The White House announced several actions aimed at supporting the domestic nuclear energy industry, recognizing that “decarbonizing our power system, which accounts for a quarter of all the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, represents a pivotal challenge requiring all the expertise and ingenuity our nation can deliver.” To help drive reactor deployment while ensuring ratepayers and project stakeholders are better protected, the Administration announced the creation of a Nuclear Power Project Management and Delivery working group that will draw on leading experts from across the nuclear and megaproject construction industry. The working group will engage a range of stakeholders, including labor organizations, project developers, engineering, procurement and construction firms, utilities, investors and others on how to best help further the Administration’s goal of delivering the efficient and cost-effective deployment of clean, reliable nuclear energy and ensuring that learnings translate to cost savings for future construction and deployment. Additionally, the U.S. Army will soon issue a Request for Information to inform the deployment of advanced reactors to power multiple Army sites in the United States. The White House notes that these efforts will help inform the regulatory and supply chain pathways that will enable additional deployments of advanced nuclear technology to provide clean, reliable energy for federal installations and other critical infrastructure. The Department of Energy released a new primer that highlights the expected enhanced safety of advanced nuclear reactors including passive core cooling capabilities and advanced fuel designs. Finally, the Idaho National Laboratory released a new advanced nuclear reactor capital cost reduction pathway tool that will help developers and stakeholders to assess cost drivers for new nuclear projects.
  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit against 15 employers in 10 states for repeatedly failing to submit mandatory EEO-1 Component 1 data reports in prior years, including for reporting years 2021 and 2022. The 15 employers sued by the EEOC include companies in the construction, manufacturing, logistics, retail, restaurant, and janitorial services industries. Federal law requires employers with 100 or more employees to submit workforce data to the EEOC. The data collected includes workforce information by job category, sex, and race/ethnicity. The EEOC uses the workforce demographic data for a variety of purposes including enforcement, analytics and research, and employer self-assessment. A list of the employers sued for failure to file EEO-1 Component 1 data is available on the EEOC’s website here. Notice of these lawsuits comes as the 2023 EEO-1 Component 1 data collection is underway, with the 2023 reporting cycle having started on April 30, 2024.

Tuesday, May 28th

  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the selection of five recipients that will collectively receive $15 million in funding from the Inflation Reduction Act to reclaim and destroy hydrofluorocarbons. The funding ranges from $1,500,000 to $3,801,100 and will support efforts to effectively manage hydrofluorocarbons. The recipients of these grants are: (1) The University of Washington; (2) Texas A&M University; (3) Drexel University; (4) University of California-Riverside; and (5) the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Technology Institute.

Around the Country 

Northeast 

West

  • On June 5th, environmental groups Earthjustice, GreenLatinos, 350 Colorado, and the Sierra Club took the first step to sue Suncor Energy, the owner of a refinery in Commerce City, Colorado, over concerns about high pollution and heat. The lawsuit accuses the refinery of exceeding pollution standards and limits over 1,000 times between 2019 and 2023.
  • On May 30th, the Interior Department announced $242 million in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to bring clean, reliable drinking water to communities in the Western U.S. The selected projects include: (1) $8.5 million for the Verde Reservoirs Sediment Mitigation Project in Arizona to continue a feasibility study that will identify alternatives to address water storage lost due to sediment accumulation at Horseshoe Reservoir, manage future sediment accumulation in Horseshoe and Bartlett Reservoirs, and investigate the potential for operational flexibilities that could be created with increased storage capacity; (2) $75 million for the B.F. Sisk Dam Raise and Reservoir Expansion Project in California for the enhancement of off-stream storage capability; (3) $67.5 million for the Sites Reservoir Project in California for an off-stream storage project that will develop up to 1.5 million acre-feet of new water storage on the Sacramento River system located west of Maxwell, California; (4) $90 million for the Arkansas Valley Conduit Project in Colorado to continue construction of a safe, long-term water supply to an estimated 50,000 people in 39 rural communities along the Arkansas River; and (5) $1 million for the Cle Elum Pool Raise Project in Washington State to continue to increase the reservoir’s capacity an additional 14,600 acre-feet to be managed for instream flows for fish.
  • On May 29th, the Interior Department announced a $179 million investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’sLarge-Scale Water Recycling Program for four projects in California and Utah to help communities in those states create new sources of water to support water reliability. The projects receiving funding include: (1) $99 million for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California for large-scale water recycling planning and design for the Pure Water Southern California facility; (2) $30 million for the city of Buenaventura’s Ventura Water Pure Program; (3) $30 million for the Los Angeles Groundwater Replenishment Project; and (4) $20.5 million for the Washington County, Utah Water Conservancy District Regional Reuse System. 

Northwest 

Southeast

  • On May 30th, the Department of the Interior (DOI) announced $30 million in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for Louisiana and Arkansas to clean up orphaned oil and gas well sites across the two states. Louisiana will receive $25 million in funding to plug and reclaim approximately 540 orphaned oil and gas wells, while Arkansas will receive $5.59 million to plug and reclaim approximately 274 orphaned oil and gas well sites. As part of these awards, the two states will detect and measure methane emissions from orphaned oil and gas wells, screen for groundwater and surface water impacts, and seek to prioritize cleaning up wells near overburdened and disadvantaged communities.

Southwest

  • On June 6th, Reuters reported that the startup of Golden Pass LNG, the $11 billion liquefied natural gas project in Texas from QatarEnergy and ExxonMobil, has been delayed by at least six months due to construction turmoil. The delay comes after lead contractor Zachry Holdings filed for bankruptcy and quit the project, which is 75% complete. 
  • On June 4th, POLITICO reported that the Permian Basin in Texas, the nation’s most prolific oil-producing region, is now home to bitcoin miners and digital data centers—forcing more electricity demand onto a Texas power grid that is increasingly plagued by blackouts.
  • On May 31st, the White House announced “presidential permits” authorizing: (1) Maverick County, TX to construct, maintain, and operate a vehicular, pedestrian, and rail crossing located on the border with Mexico in Eagle Pass, TX; (2) Laredo, TX to expand and continue to maintain and operate a vehicular and pedestrian crossing at the World Trade Bridge Land Port of Entry; and (3) Cameron County, TX to construct, maintain, and operate a vehicular and pedestrian crossing located on the border with Mexico in Brownsville.
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