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Daily News

November 20, 2018

EPA enforcement officials are privately blaming Trump administration policies for a sharp drop in new criminal and civil cases, settlements and other actions despite the agency's public defense of its enforcement record, according to an environmental group's new report that says the officials are weighing options for reversing the decline.

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Peter Grevatt, EPA's top official overseeing cross-agency policy on high-profile perfluorinated chemicals, is retiring from the agency after 30 years, creating uncertainty about who will take over the major task of responding to calls from lawmakers, states and communities to develop a comprehensive plan to address the contaminants.

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Local government policy advisers are urging EPA to grant broad Clean Air Act regulatory exemptions for emissions from “prescribed burning” of land that compromise attainment of federal air quality standards, echoing the view of some regulators in the West where increasingly severe and frequent wildfires are worsening air pollution.

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As firefighters continue to work on extinguishing two devastating wildfires in California, leaders in the Golden State, Washington and British Columbia are preparing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to take steps to make forests more resilient to such fire risks and to pursue carbon sequestration projects across the West Coast.

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Peter Grevatt, EPA's top official overseeing cross-agency policy on high-profile perfluorinated chemicals, is retiring from the agency after 30 years, creating uncertainty about who will take over the major task of responding to calls from lawmakers, states and communities to develop a comprehensive plan to address the contaminants.

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November 19, 2018

A local government advisory panel to EPA is urging the agency to provide leadership to communities on a “coordinated and comprehensive” approach of regulatory actions and other steps to address perfluorinated chemicals, as communities struggle with the emerging unregulated contaminants in drinking water.

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Environmentalists are pushing back against EPA and the power sector's defenses of the Trump administration's two-year delay of Obama-era Clean Water Act (CWA) utility wastewater guidelines, arguing that the agency's justifications for extending the rule are “post-hoc rationalization” that a federal appeals court must reject.

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Environmentalists have grudgingly agreed to EPA's request to extend until April a court-ordered deadline for proposing a health-based drinking water goal for the rocket fuel ingredient perchlorate, acknowledging that EPA has yet to craft such a standard while expressing their frustration with the pace of the agency's efforts.

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Colorado officials are adopting California's greenhouse gas and other emission limits for light-duty vehicles, issuing a formal rebuke to the Trump administration's proposal to freeze Obama-era GHG and fuel economy limits and revoke the Golden State's ability to impose tougher standards.

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November 16, 2018

Democrats' state-level gains are likely to drive new efforts to strengthen climate, water and other rules in the face of the Trump EPA's deregulatory agenda -- potentially easing environmentalists' concerns about the agency's push to shift more responsibility to states and testing the Trump administration's commitment to cooperative federalism, sources say.

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EPA has withdrawn a direct final rule that included significant new use rules (SNURs) on 28 new chemicals, after receiving adverse comments from industry, environmental and animal welfare groups, forcing the agency to conduct a notice-and-comment rulemaking and underscoring broad disagreements over the agency's new chemicals program.

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The Justice Department (DOJ) is defending EPA's decision to abandon a draft rule that would have established first-of-its kind Superfund financial assurance requirements for hardrock mining, arguing the decision deserves judicial deference and that the agency considered environmental and other risks when it reevaluated the record to decide against a rule.

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President Donald Trump says he intends to nominate acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to lead the agency on a permanent basis, and his confirmation could be eased by the midterm election results in which Republicans expanded their majority in the Senate by one or possibly two seats.

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A new federal district court ruling could bolster industry groups who claim there is a court “split” that the Supreme Court must resolve on whether the Clean Water Act (CWA) applies to groundwater pollution that reaches surface waters, because the decision sides with industry claims that a 1994 appellate decision bars liability for such pollution.

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A coalition of states and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) are urging an appellate court to scrap an EPA guidance document that “effectively rescinds” an Obama-era rule limiting refrigerant chemicals that act as potent greenhouse gases, even though the rule at issue was only partially vacated by a prior court ruling.

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November 15, 2018

Former members of EPA's Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) are planning “shadow” reviews of the agency's ozone and particulate matter (PM) air standards, generating data that could help defend the standards against any Trump administration bid to weaken them through its new, truncated CASAC review process.

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A wide variety of interested groups have reached consensus that a group of 11 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states should impose a regional carbon price to cut transportation greenhouse gases, which is similar to how the region limits utility emissions through a cap-and-trade program, though the states have not said they are ready to move on the concept.

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EPA's Office of Water and Office of Inspector General (OIG) are at odds over the agency's position that the land-application of sewage sludge is safe, with OIG in a new report noting the agency has identified 352 pollutants in the treated sludge, 61 of which are designated as acutely hazardous, hazardous or priority pollutants in other programs.

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EPA enforcement chief Susan Bodine is rejecting calls from Maryland environment director Ben Grumbles for the agency to level “enforcement-related consequences” on Pennsylvania if it continues to fall short of its water pollution reduction goals in the multi-state Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan, saying the conflict is not “an enforcement question.”

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Despite Democrats' control of the House next year, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) faces continued uncertainty about its future as its supporters fear the Trump administration may deprive it of a quorum to operate by not nominating new board members to replace those whose terms expire starting at the end of 2019.

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