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Daily News

September 19, 2019

EPA and the Transportation Department (DOT) are defending the legal basis for their just-issued rule revoking California’s power to set its own vehicle greenhouse gas limits, asserting the state is preempted by fuel economy law and lacks “compelling and extraordinary” conditions needed to receive such authority under the Clean Air Act.

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EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler told the House science committee Sept. 19 that the agency’s schedule for issuing its controversial rule barring regulators from relying on scientific research that is not published has slipped as the agency is preparing to issue a supplemental proposal in early 2020.

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A bipartisan group of 15 governors is pressing leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services committees to back measures in pending defense authorization legislation that would require EPA and the Defense Department (DOD) to set policies to regulate the chemicals, curb releases and clean up contamination from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

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California Air Resources Board (CARB) officials say they will continue to enforce the state’s strict vehicle greenhouse gas standards during litigation over the Trump administration’s just-issued revocation of the state’s Clean Air Act preemption waiver allowing it to set its own requirements.

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Environmental and ratepayer groups are raising fears about the potential pollution and climate impacts of California energy regulators’ grid-reliability plan to allow several natural gas-fired power plants that use once-through-cooling (OTC) systems to operate for three years longer than the current 2020 retirement deadline for such plants.

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EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have released the text of their final regulation revoking California’s authority to enforce auto greenhouse gas and zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) standards, with administration officials arguing the step is necessary to preserve a single set of national requirements.

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A top official with California’s South Coast air district is making a late-hour push against the Trump administration’s draft final rollback of vehicle greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards, arguing the rule would bring a host of negative air quality, transportation funding and consumer cost impacts.

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San Jose has become the latest California city to ban natural gas hookups in new housing construction, in favor of electricity, marking a major milestone in the state’s efforts to phase out gas from buildings to help lower greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on fossil fuels.

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September 18, 2019

EPA is currently unable to finalize its pending rule revising the reach of the Clean Water Act (CWA) as it is grappling with major legal, scientific and policy questions raised by stakeholders, including the standard to use for defining the law’s reach over sources that contribute to waters in a “typical year,” water chief David Ross told House lawmakers at a Sept. 18 oversight hearing.

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California and its allies are floating multiple legal and political attacks against EPA and the Transportation Department’s (DOT) imminent final rule to preempt the state’s authority to regulate vehicle greenhouse gases, a policy that threatens to spark a furious court battle and major uncertainty over emission rules.

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The auto sector sought to strike a careful balance in responding to news that the Trump administration is poised to repeal California’s unique waiver of federal preemption for vehicle greenhouse gas rules, a move that even some of their supporters say will create significant legal uncertainty.

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Faced with a recent ruling upending its Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) power plant emissions trading program, EPA is asking a federal appellate court to postpone oral argument slated for Sept. 20 in a related case brought by East Coast states seeking tougher federal regulation of interstate ozone pollution.

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Updated at 6:10pm EST: A federal appellate court panel has granted EPA’s request to postpone oral argument over the agency’s “close-out” of the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) emissions trading program, previously scheduled for Sept. 20, after a three-judge panel ruled in a separate case to require the program ensure timely attainment of air quality standards.

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A federal judge is asking EPA and environmentalists to respond to a set of questions in a potentially precedent-setting Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) case after an agency lawyer sought to clarify statements she made during recent oral arguments but instead raised new doubts about the agency’s stances on key issues and the suit’s procedural posture.

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States and environmentalists challenging the Trump EPA’s effort to slow implementation of an Obama-era landfill methane rule are blasting the agency’s long-running “crusade” against the policy and calling EPA’s request for a court to drop a looming deadline to issue a federal compliance plan just the most recent delay tactic.

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September 17, 2019

EPA is poised to formally announce that it will scrap California’s Clean Air Act authority to enforce vehicle greenhouse gas standards that are tougher than the federal government, a move that will likely spark a fierce political and legal backlash from the Golden State and others that have adopted its vehicle climate rules.

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A top Justice Department (DOJ) antitrust official is defending his office against claims that it has launched a politically motivated inquiry into four automakers that voluntarily agreed to follow stricter California vehicle greenhouse gas rules than those planned by the Trump administration.

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The Defense Department (DOD) is outlining in just-released operating principles the scope and purpose of its high-level task force on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), making clear that it wants to take a “whole of government approach” in collaboration with EPA to respond to the pollutants believed to be at hundreds of military sites.

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Citing a series of provisions in the Superfund law, the Air Force is seeking to dismiss New Mexico’s suit aimed at winning a more rigorous response to its per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) pollution, an effort that highlights the hurdles states face getting federal agencies to clean up their contamination.

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has reversed a lower court’s dismissal of litigation seeking to require Clean Water Act (CWA) discharge permits for contaminants that flow through agricultural tile drains in California, finding the district court misinterpreted a key word in the law and made other errors in judgment.

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