The Case for David Ross for EPA Assistant Administrator for Office of Water

by Andrew C. Coook


Last week the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a confirmation hearing on the following presidential nominees for top level positions at the Environmental Protection Agency:

  • David Ross, Assistant Administrator for Office of Water
  • Dr. Michael Dourson, Assistant Administrator for Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention
  • Bill Wehrum, Assistant Administrator for Office of Air and Radiation
  • Matthew Leopold, General Counsel.

With the typical Midwestern work ethic and friendliness, Ross is a sharp attorney who will be an outstanding asset to the EPA. This is evidenced by the praise he has received from attorneys and state officials throughout the country.

Ross graduated from the University of Wisconsin and then started his own environmental engineering firm in California. Four years later, Ross attended Vermont Law School where he graduated magna cum laude and was editor of the law review. Ross began his legal career at Foley & Lardner LLP in Milwaukee before moving to Washington, D.C. to practice environmental and land use law for over a decade at Cromwell & Moring LLP and Sedgwick LLP.

Ross then headed west where he was hired as Senior Associate Attorney General for the state of Wyoming and continued to practice environmental and land use law. In Wyoming, Ross helped lead a legal challenge brought by a number of states against the EPA’s regulation redefining the Waters of the United States. The rule was ultimately struck down and currently is being reevaluated by the EPA.

In 2016, Ross headed back home to direct the Environmental Protection Unit at the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

Everyone who has known and worked with Ross say he is very intelligent, reasonable, and easy to work with on complex issues. The few environmental groups that have opposed Ross’s nomination have done so based on policy grounds, but none of those groups has questioned his integrity or legal acumen.

Ross is an expert in the area of water law and will bring a unique perspective with his background and experience in western water law, as well as his connections to the Midwest and the myriad legal and policy issues surrounding water in the Great Lakes region.

Pending his confirmation by the Senate EPW Committee and the full Senate, Ross will be an excellent Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water.











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                  FROM THE CHART ROOM

                  Lower Petroleum Prices Has U.S. Federal Government Energy Costs At Lowest Point Since 2004


                  According to the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP), the total real energy cost for the U.S. federal government to operate its facilities, vehicles, and equipment in fiscal year (FY) 2016 fell to $16.1 billion, the lowest level since FY 2004. Total site-delivered energy consumption by the U.S. federal government fell slightly in FY 2016 to 0.92 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu), the lowest on record since data collection began in FY 1975.  The main contributor to lower total energy costs is the sharp decline in per-unit energy costs. In FY 2016, real per-unit energy costs were $17.56 per million Btu, down 23% from the prior year and at their lowest level since FY 2007.

                  Petroleum accounted for 63% of the U.S. government’s total energy consumption in FY 2016, and it has generally remained between 63% and 69% for more than two decades. As a result, low crude oil prices over the past three years were a significant contributor to lower energy costs for the U.S. federal government.  Jet fuel was the most consumed fuel, accounting for 44% of total U.S. government energy use in FY 2016. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is the primary U.S. government consumer of jet fuel, while the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is the main civilian agency using jet fuel. Overall, the DoD accounted for 77% of total site-delivered energy use in the U.S. federal government in FY 2016, which was a slight decrease from the previous year and is the lowest percentage for that agency on record.  With one main exception, the DoD is the primary consumer of most energy types used by the U.S. federal government. The exception is the U.S. Postal Service’s consumption of gasoline, as the postal service accounted for 40% of the government’s total gasoline consumption in FY 2016.


                  Since FY 2014, when crude oil prices began declining, total U.S. government vehicle and equipment energy costs have declined by about 40%. Energy costs for petroleum fuels such as jet fuel, gasoline, and diesel also decreased by about 40%. Government facilities’ energy costs declined 17% since FY 2014. The cost of electricity, the most-consumed energy type in facilities, declined by 8%, and the cost of natural gas declined by 30%. Because crude oil prices in FY 2017 averaged $9 per barrel more, or about 21% higher, than in FY 2016 and with estimates of DoD operational energy consumption in FY 2017 slightly higher than in FY 2016, EIA expects total energy costs for the U.S. federal government to increase in FY 2017.



                  Michael Best Strategies’ Energy Team

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