Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Daily News

D.C. Circuit Upholds EPA's Utility MACT, Easing Path For Continued Adoption

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in a 2-1 order has upheld EPA's utility maximum achievable control technology (MACT) air toxics rule, rejecting a slew of legal challenges filed by environmentalists, industry, states and others, after finding EPA's justification for the rule is reasonable.

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In Key Legal Test, Court Urged To Require EPA Response To Nutrient Petition

Environmentalists are urging an appeals court to broadly apply the landmark, but rarely considered, administrative provisions in the Supreme Court's landmark ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA that required agencies to formally respond to Clean Air Act and other regulatory petitions, arguing that the high court's logic applies equally to petitions under the Clean Water Act (CWA) despite EPA's claims to the contrary.

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Weighing Industry Data, EPA Wins Lengthy Extension For Power Plant ELG

EPA and environmentalists have agreed to extend to September 2015 the deadline for the agency to revise its decades-old discharge standards for the coal- and steam-electric power sector, though advocates say they will ask for a speedier deadline if the agency misses a December target for a related waste rule governing coal ash.

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EPA Agrees With GAO Call For Plan To End Annual Delays In Issuing RFS

EPA is agreeing with the Government Accountability Office's (GAO) call to develop a plan for ending annual delays in issuing renewable fuel standard (RFS) production targets, with GAO noting that some refiners are warning that a late RFS creates industry uncertainty and increases costs because refiners cannot plan fuel production effectively.

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EPA's E-Manifest Budget Diverts Funds From Key Combustion Policies

EPA's fiscal year 2015 budget request seeks to bolster funding for the creation of a congressionally authorized hazardous waste electronic manifest (e-Manifest) system but the move will divert funds from several rulemakings, forcing the agency to delay efforts to revise emissions rules for hazardous waste combustors and respond to industry requests to ease emissions rules for combustion of treated wood and paper recycling residuals.

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Texas Ruling Shows Limits For Advocates' Air Enforcement In Lieu Of EPA

A federal district court's rejection of environmentalists' suit against a Texas utility over alleged Clean Air Act violations highlights the hurdles advocates face in their bid to fill what they claim is a gap in air law enforcement by EPA and state officials, sources say, as it shows the high legal burden of proof advocates must satisfy.

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Plaintiffs' Attorney, Environmentalists Fault EPA's Draft PFC Risk Estimates

Early comments from environmentalists and a law firm representing plaintiffs exposed to perfluorochemicals (PFCs) are critical of EPA's first-time draft risk estimates for chronic drinking water exposures to two ubiquitous PFCs, contending the agency omitted some of the most significant human health data and appears to have "cherry-picked" what data it relied on.

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EPA Plans Aggressive Sediment Dredging For Passaic, Angering Industry

EPA is proposing one of the largest ever dredging remedies for part of the Passaic River Superfund site in New Jersey, underscoring the agency's preference for such costly removals at complex contaminated sediment sites, though industry says the plan is too costly, will take too long and conflicts with EPA policy calling for "adaptive" approaches.

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Facing Suit, EPA Weighs Health Effect Of Broad Wastewater 'Blending' Policy

Faced with threatened suits from some wastewater plant operators, EPA is poised to convene a group of public health experts to consider the effects of broadly applying an appellate ruling that allowed the plants to blend partially and fully treated wastewater in wet weather events, even though EPA says it is not required to extend the ruling nationwide.

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D.C. Circuit Rejects Suit Seeking Stricter EPA Carbon Monoxide NAAQS

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has rejected environmentalists' lawsuit challenging EPA's decision to retain and not strengthen its carbon monoxide (CO) national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS), deferring to the agency's conclusion that scientific evidence did not justify setting the stricter limits.

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EPA Review Of Low Number Of GHG Permit Applications May Inform Rule

EPA is evaluating why the actual number of facilities that have applied for greenhouse gas (GHG) permits is far below the estimates the agency used to justify elevating GHG permitting thresholds, and the results of the review could inform the agency's pending rulemaking that could lower the thresholds to require permits at more facilities.

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EPA Plans Pilots To Expand CompTox Data's Use In Regulatory Programs

Leaders of EPA's computational toxicology program, known as CompTox, are looking for new regulatory programs that may be able to use its data to help prioritize actions and make other decisions, expanding its use in the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (EDSP) and considering piloting its use possibly in the Superfund program.

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EPA Includes Railroad Ties In Plan To Expand List Of 'Non-Waste' Fuels

EPA has granted requests by the wood and paper sectors to add creosote-treated railroad ties to a categorical list of materials that can be burned for fuel in lightly regulated boilers rather than more strictly regulated incinerators, in addition to several other types of debris and other residuals it is adding to the list of "non-waste" fuels.

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In Ozone Case, Utilities Ask High Court To Reinstate Test For Setting NAAQS

Despite a series of failed attempts by industry groups to reverse EPA's national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS), power plant operators are urging the Supreme Court to reverse an appellate ruling that upheld the agency's Bush-era decision to strengthen its ozone standard, alleging the ruling is at odds with a years-old high court test for how to set NAAQS.

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States Seek To Limit EPA's FY15 Earmarks For GHG, Nutrient Programs

State regulators are generally supporting EPA requests to increase grant funding for states to implement federal environmental programs in fiscal year 2015 but in testimony to House appropriators they urged lawmakers to limit agency requests to earmark some of the funds for high-priority greenhouse gas (GHG) and nutrient reduction programs.

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EPA Scientists Fault Agency Plan For Cumulative Risk Policy Absent Guide

EPA scientists are faulting plans by Science Advisor Glenn Paulson to issue a policy statement reiterating officials' commitment to conduct cumulative risk assessments (CRAs), a key approach for assessing potential environmental justice impacts, saying the plan is premature because they still lack guidance for how to conduct such assessments.

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House Hearing Highlights Point-Nonpoint Fight Over Water Trading Policies

A recent House hearing on the benefits of trading as a means of addressing water quality threats highlighted widespread disputes between point and nonpoint sources, with the nonpoint sector saying that the regulatory burdens are often too steep for it to easily enter markets while point source officials say without strict rules, they are unable to easily verify credits from nonpoint sources.

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Senate Spill Bill Faces No 'Easy Path Forward' Amid Continued State Doubts

Despite a recent bipartisan deal, Senate legislation creating a new EPA drinking water program to prevent chemical releases from above-ground tanks has no "easy path forward" for passage, according to a key staffer, who is nevertheless "optimistic" about the bill's eventual fate given significant interest in the issue.

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EPA Hints At Voluntary 'Downstream' Methane Controls, Irking Advocates

SAUSALITO, CA -- EPA appears to be considering voluntary approaches for reducing the greenhouse gas (GHG) methane from "downstream" oil and gas industry sources and new mandatory approaches for upstream sources, irking environmentalists who say voluntary approaches for pipelines and other downstream sources may not be adequate.

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EPA Readies Rules Weighing Options To Cut Landfills' Methane Emissions

EPA will publish rulemakings this summer floating options for reducing new and existing landfills' emissions of the greenhouse gas (GHG) methane with a focus on capturing the gas and using it as a clean energy source, part of President Obama's recent strategy to cut methane that also includes potential GHG rules for the oil and gas sector.

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