Among the report’s key takeaways:
Climate change: The EPA is slated to finalize landmark climate regulations governing carbon emissions from power plants, an issue being closely watched by industry. The prospects for a global UN climate change treaty being signed in Paris this winter are also highlighted. This accord could for the first time commit developed and developing nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Water quality: A final rule clarifying the definition of the “waters of the US” is likely to garner the most attention from Congress and industry. The rule could significantly expand the scope of the Clean Water Act and may be challenged by the Republican-controlled Congress.
Air quality: The EPA will complete several significant air regulations, including a final decision on national ozone standards. This is a priority issue for industry groups, which are concerned that a more stringent standard could be the most costly regulation the EPA has ever issued, and public health and environmental groups, which support a more rigorous standard.
Energy: Interior Department regulations to update standards on oil and gas drilling and production, including fracking, will help keep tensions high among the federal government, industry and state governments on energy regulation in 2015. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline is strongly supported by the Republican-controlled Congress, but getting enough Democratic support in the Senate to override a promised veto from President Obama remains doubtful. And with Republicans in control of the Senate, a proposed repository for radioactive commercial spent nuclear fuel at Yucca Mountain in Nevada might advance.