Monday, July 28, 2014
Daily News

Perciasepe's Departure Opens New EPA Vacancy Amid Confirmation Delays

EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe, who served as acting administrator in 2013 after Lisa Jackson left the agency and who has played a key role in defending controversial agency policies, will depart in early August, EPA announced July 17 -- adding to the list of vacancies requiring Senate confirmation despite Democrats' inability to advance environmental nominees.

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Judges Doubt 'Burden' Of State's Novel Pharmaceutical Take-Back Mandate

Appellate judges appeared skeptical at recent oral arguments over the pharmaceutical sector's claim that a California county's novel industry-funded take-back program for unwanted drugs creates a major burden for the sector, though the judges also raised questions over whether the mandate unlawfully amounts to an unconstitutional tax.

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Court Urged To Hold Novel Full Hearing On Bid For Stricter EPA Air MACTs

Environmentalists are urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to bypass a three-judge panel review and hold a novel full en banc hearing by the entire court on their legal push for it to overturn D.C. Circuit precedent backing what advocates say is EPA's insufficiently strict method for setting air toxics rules.

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Doubting EPA Risk Values, States Conduct Independent Perc Assessments

A handful of states are conducting their own assessments of the risks posed by the drycleaning solvent perchloroethylene (perc), a ubiquitous contaminant at hazardous waste sites, in part because of uncertainties stemming from EPA's two-year-old assessment, which contains two different inhalation cancer risk estimates.

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EPA Loan Funds Eyed As 'Guarantees' For Public-Private Water Projects

EPA, water utility groups and private investment firms are boosting calls for municipalities to enter into public-private partnerships (P3s) as a new means of financing water infrastructure projects, with the agency's increasingly limited state revolving funds (SRFs) often being used as critical loan guarantees -- rather than direct loans -- to help limit project borrowing costs.

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Senate Panel Again Rejects Push To Raise PAB Cap For Water Infrastructure

The Senate Finance Committee has again rejected an amendment that would raise the cap on tax-exempt private activity bonds (PABs) for water infrastructure projects, a plan that supporters say would help offset dwindling EPA funds, declining to include it in pending legislation funding highway transportation projects.

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EPA Defends Legality Of Novel Method For Calculating Air Toxics Rules

EPA is defending the legality of a novel contested "upper prediction limit" (UPL) method it used to calculate a host of major air toxics rules for boilers, incinerators and other units, saying the UPL -- which environmentalists and industry groups both criticize, but for competing reasons -- is a reasonable approach for developing the rules.

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House Panel Backs EPA's FY15 Funding Bill, Setting Up Fight Over Riders

House appropriators have advanced their legislation funding EPA in fiscal year 2015 with a series of controversial riders aimed at blocking key agency policies intact, setting up a battle with Senate Democrats and the White House over the agency's climate, water and other programs that the lawmakers are seeking to block.

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In High Court Appeal, Industry Faults EPA's Utility MACT Acid Gas Limits

Mining and power sector groups are urging the Supreme Court to take up their appeal of a divided ruling upholding EPA's utility maximum achievable control technology (MACT) air toxics rule, saying the agency's inclusion of acid gas limits in the rule shows the policy is unreasonable as the emissions pose no risk to public health.

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Industry Challenges Short-Term Limits For TCE As Region IX Refines Plan

Several companies are challenging EPA Region IX's strict action levels and strengthened sampling strategies that California regulators have implemented at some Superfund sites to address vapor intrusion from trichloroethylene (TCE), arguing that neither the Region nor EPA headquarters has formally adopted the novel approach.

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White House Weighs Higher EPA 2014 RFS Targets To Help Climate Efforts

The White House is examining options for reversing EPA's proposed cuts to several renewable fuel standard (RFS) production targets in order to promote biofuels that create fewer greenhouse gases (GHGs) than conventional fuels, informed sources say, as part of the Obama administration's broader efforts to combat climate change.

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Pending Appeal Of FERC Suit Could Mark Key Test For EPA's GHG Deference

DALLAS -- Environmentalists' efforts to appeal a ruling that vacated energy regulators' push to encourage demand response programs could provide judges with the first opportunity to apply a key high court ruling on when EPA and other agencies have deference in determining their own jurisdiction, one environmentalist says, a key legal question the agency faces as it crafts its greenhouse gas (GHG) rules for power plants.

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EPA Withdraws Delayed CAFO Water Permitting Guide As New Suits Loom

EPA has withdrawn a long-pending draft guidance that was aimed at clarifying when concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) must apply for Clean Water Act (CWA) discharge permits, after more than two years of White House review, underscoring widespread uncertainty over permit requirements for the facilities amid ongoing litigation.

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States Urge Supreme Court To Reverse Ruling Upholding EPA Utility MACT

A coalition of 23 states is urging the Supreme Court to reverse a divided appellate ruling that upheld EPA's utility air toxics rule, citing the dissenting judge's opinion to bolster their claims that the agency violated the Clean Air Act by failing to consider costs when deciding whether it was "appropriate and necessary" to develop the rule.

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McCarthy Seeks Early State Input To Address Possible Revisions To ESPS

DALLAS -- Speaking to state utility regulators here, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy pledged to consider changes and new data regarding the agency's proposed landmark greenhouse gas (GHG) standards for the existing power fleet, while also encouraging states to submit comments and potential compliance options early so EPA can address those comments in the final rule.

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EPA Encourages States To Form Regional Climate ESPS Compliance Plans

DALLAS -- EPA is encouraging the formation of multi-state partnerships to work on greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction plans for complying with the agency's existing source performance standards (ESPS) for power plants, offering states more time to craft the plans and saying they could be more cost-effective and accurate than state-specific compliance plans.

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House GOP's FY15 Report Language Aims To Block Slew Of EPA Programs

House Republican lawmakers are floating fiscal year 2015 budget bill report language that recommends blocking funding for a slew of EPA programs ranging from a ballast water rule to using controversial social cost of carbon (SCC) estimates in its rulemakings, while also directing the agency on how to spend major waste and water funds.

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EPA Update To Grain Elevator NSPS Falls Short Of Industry Bid For Repeal

EPA is updating its new source performance standards (NSPS) air rule for grain elevators -- used for storing massive amounts of corn produced to make ethanol fuel -- to clarify emissions control requirements for permanent and temporary facilities, but the revisions fall far short of the agriculture industry's push for repeal of the NSPS.

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New Report Finds States Have Tools To Limit ESPS Compliance Costs

DALLAS – States have a wide range of tools to constrain compliance costs under EPA's proposed greenhouse gas (GHG) standards for existing power plants, according to a new report from a group of energy consultants, who cite long-held state energy regulatory mechanisms, low-income assistance programs and the experience of Northeast states' cap-and-trade program.

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Appeals Court Narrows CWA Permit Shield To Prevent 'Hole' In Water Law

A federal appeals court has ruled to narrow the "shield" that protects holders of Clean Water Act (CWA) permits from liability for their discharges, finding that mining industry arguments that the shield extend to selenium discharges not disclosed or discussed in its permit application would "tear a large hole" in the water law.

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