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Daily News

January 17, 2020

Environmental groups are urging EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) to strengthen its critique of the agency’s plan to undo the cost review underpinning the legal basis for the Obama-era utility air toxics rule, praising SAB’s criticism of flaws in the rule but seeking the board’s push-back on its approach to cost-benefit reviews.

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Environmentalists are seeking to intervene in state court litigation that threatens to stall New Hampshire’s landmark drinking water and groundwater standards for four per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), with the advocates attempting to bolster the state’s case to permit the rules to remain in effect during interlocutory appeal.

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Environmentalists are urging an appellate court to rule quickly in their already expedited case seeking release of an EPA computer model they hope will show that current vehicle greenhouse gas rules are lower than the administration claims, citing the formal start of the White House’s review of rules rolling back the current standards.

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The Sierra Club is urging the Supreme Court to deny a petition from the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service to overturn an appellate ruling ordering the services to release draft documents on the development of EPA’s 2014 cooling water intake rule, rejecting the agencies’ claim that it conflicts with other rulings.

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A divided appellate court panel is “reluctantly” dismissing youth plaintiffs’ litigation seeking to force the federal government to develop a plan significantly limiting carbon emissions that cause climate change, finding that the plaintiffs’ “impressive case for redress must be presented to the political branches of government.”

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January 16, 2020

A federal judge has granted the Navy’s request to dismiss a landmark citizen suit seeking payment for medical monitoring to detect health concerns that may develop after exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), finding that regulators’ failure to designate the chemicals as “hazardous substances” precluded the plaintiffs from filing suit under state law.

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Industry and environmental groups clashed at a Jan. 16 public hearing over EPA’s use of its conservative cancer risk value for ethylene oxide (EtO) and related modifications in its proposal to update its air toxics rule on miscellaneous organic chemical manufacturing (MON) facilities.

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Appellate judges at Jan. 16 oral argument appeared skeptical of EPA’s attempt to downplay the impact of a 2019 ruling faulting its interstate emissions policy in separate litigation two states are pursuing over the agency’s denial of Clean Air Act petitions urging the agency to directly regulate air pollution from sources in upwind states.

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New York and Connecticut are suing EPA in an attempt to force agency-crafted plans for reducing interstate transport of ozone-forming pollutants from sources in upwind states, the latest step in a growing number of lawsuits over EPA’s interstate air policy that includes challenges to denials of petitions seeking upwind air pollution cuts.

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The Trump administration has completed a broad overhaul its “process” for setting appliance energy efficiency standards, significantly raising the bar for officials in future administrations to set new or updated standards that in the past have been a major driver of greenhouse gas emission cuts.

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Lightbulb manufacturers have dropped their suit challenging California’s new lightbulb efficiency standards, which mirrored strict Obama-era mandates, though the groups are still hoping a federal appellate court or the U.S. Supreme Court will uphold a Trump administration rule rolling back the Obama requirements and preempt the state provisions.

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Attorneys representing the California attorney general’s (AG) office and the state air board are citing the negative effects of expected greenhouse gas emissions from a large warehouse complex proposal in southern California in an amicus brief supporting project opponents, underscoring state leaders’ expanding efforts to fight climate change.

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California legislative analysts are warning that high electricity prices in the state may slow efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, suggesting lawmakers consider actions to lower rates such as directing regulators to exclude some of the current fixed costs that go into utility bills.

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January 15, 2020

Community groups are petitioning EPA to list dozens of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as “hazardous wastes” under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the second such effort in the past few months aimed at subjecting materials containing the chemicals to the law’s strict cradle-to-grave regulatory system.

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Extending a broader battle between the agency and California officials over environmental standards, San Francisco is challenging a Clean Water Act (CWA) discharge permit EPA jointly issued with the state for the city’s combined sewer system, charging some of the permit conditions are based on erroneous findings or an abuse of discretion.

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The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board’s (CSB) proposed accidental chemical release rule is drawing competing criticisms, with environmentalists and other advocacy groups saying it weakens reporting mandates to the point of being “useless” while industry entities claim it risks subjecting companies to “inappropriate enforcement.”

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The city of Berkeley is asking a federal district court to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the California Restaurant Association (CRA) challenging its ordinance banning natural gas hookups at new residential and small commercial buildings, arguing the industry group lacks standing to sue and its claims are unripe for court review.

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As the White House begins reviewing EPA and the Transportation Department’s (DOT) draft final rule rolling back Obama-era vehicle greenhouse gas standards, an industry source says the measure might reduce the claimed safety benefits by a factor of 10 after a barrage of criticism that the methodology for asserting the benefits was flawed.

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is poised to hear Jan. 16 oral argument in East Coast states’ suit challenging EPA’s rejection of their petitions seeking direct federal regulation of out-of-state air pollution sources, even as the agency is scrambling to revise its interstate air policy following losses in related D.C. Circuit cases.

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New York and New Jersey, backed by environmental groups, are attacking in new appellate court filings EPA’s basis for rejecting the Empire State’s petition seeking direct federal regulation of out-of-state air pollution sources, echoing claims by Maryland and Delaware in a similar suit that the same court will hear on Jan. 16.

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