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Daily News

July 02, 2020

The House Armed Services Committee has passed legislation that would set several new requirements for how the Defense Department (DOD) addresses per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including a measure to force it to comply with state drinking water and groundwater requirements unless they are weaker than any federal level.

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EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler says the agency is preparing to swiftly roll out a slate of international work to cut ozone-depleting emissions, wastewater pollution and ocean debris under the newly implemented U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), including release of $300 million in one-time funds for high-impact projects.

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The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in a sweeping decision is curbing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) use of “tolling orders” that it has long used to delay administrative reconsideration of natural gas infrastructure approvals and subsequent lawsuits over those projects.

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Air pollution experts fear EPA’s proposed rule outlining changes to cost-benefit reviews for air policies would preclude counting a variety of important health-related benefits from emissions cuts, while exacerbating prior critiques of the agency’s recent scientific review for ozone that downplayed the certainty of such health harms.

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Environmentalists and California-aligned states in fresh legal and administrative filings are detailing a host of new and existing critiques of the Trump administration’s rollback of vehicle greenhouse gas standards, including a new argument that the rule’s already meager claimed benefits evaporate due to flawed assessments of traffic congestion.

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July 01, 2020

California regulators are rejecting for now an industry coalition’s chemical “alternatives analysis” for spray polyurethane foam (SPF) products containing unreacted methylene diphenyl diisocyanates (MDI), which have been listed as “priority products” for review under the state’s Safer Consumer Products (SCP) green chemistry program.

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Intensifying their strong opposition to draft California air rules to significantly tighten emission standards for a variety of lawn, garden and other outdoor equipment, industry groups argue the rule would fail to meet criteria to obtain a Clean Air Act preemption waiver from EPA, which the state needs to adopt and enforce new standards.

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EPA Region 2 employees in New York and New Jersey are raising major concerns about the Trump administration’s plan to “reopen” the agency’s Manhattan office, fearing COVID-19 risks, and are pushing back on EPA chief Andrew Wheeler’s justification that reopening is vital to return the agency to normal operations.

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EPA Region 2 employees in New York and New Jersey are raising major concerns about the Trump administration’s plan to “reopen” the agency’s Manhattan office, fearing COVID-19 risks, and are pushing back on EPA chief Andrew Wheeler’s justification that reopening is vital to return the agency to normal operations.

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Environmentalists, primarily Democratic-led states and lawmakers are clashing with major industry groups over EPA’s proposal to retain its suite of particulate matter (PM) ambient air standards, as critics of the plan say it will damage public health while supporters counter that the existing limits adequately curb PM health risks.

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California air officials are advancing a revised proposal to cut emissions from a variety of “at-berth” ocean-going vessels that relaxes certain provisions due to the COVID-19 economic downturn, but both environmentalists and industry stakeholders are maintaining objections to specific elements of the plan.

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The Los Angeles-area air district and a major oil company are urging the California Supreme Court not to review an appellate court ruling that upheld a permit and environmental review for a refinery expansion project, arguing there is no “lack of uniformity or unsettled question” regarding the baseline used to determine facility emission controls under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

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The top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee are urging other Senate committees to help advance EPW’s sweeping transportation infrastructure funding bill that includes first-time major resilience provisions to combat climate change.

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EPA advisors reviewing the agency’s draft model for predicting lead concentrations across all ages are generally praising the agency’s effort as a major technical and public policy step forward, although some are cautioning there are significant weaknesses in the model’s software and structure and are calling for other improvements to the model.

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A long-dormant lawsuit filed by wood heater manufacturers in a bid to weaken Obama EPA air standards for the devices is resuming in federal appeals court, weeks after the agency issued a proposal to delay enforcement of the stricter limits because of the economic harm stove makers are facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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June 30, 2020

EPA is floating an ambitious agenda for its Office of Air & Radiation (OAR) in its just-updated schedule of pending rules that includes steps to ease industry permitting and potentially remove some toxic substances from regulation, hinting at OAR’s plans for future years if President Donald Trump wins his reelection bid in November.

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Several major EPA water and waste office rulemakings face fresh delays according to the agency’s updated Spring Unified Agenda of pending regulations, punting some controversial policies until next year and making it possible that former Vice President Joe Biden’s EPA could reverse the rules if he wins the 2020 presidential election.

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House Democrats have unveiled a long-awaited series of climate policy proposals that combine long-term decarbonization goals with hundreds of specific measures to enable them, including a key focus on environmental justice (EJ), investments in infrastructure and climate resilience, and a range of new EPA responsibilities.

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EPA is suggesting it might reconsider the stringency of later-year greenhouse gas standards for heavy-duty trucks issued by the Obama administration in the 2016, a notable new item in its newly updated regulatory agenda that outlines the agency’s goals for this year and a potential second term for the Trump administration.

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EPA enforcement chief Susan Bodine has set an Aug. 31 “termination date” for the agency’s controversial enforcement discretion policy issued for the COVID-19 pandemic, adding a hard deadline to a previous agency statement that only said the policy would wind down “soon” even as Bodine seeks to defend it.

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