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Daily News

January 22, 2019

The Supreme Court took no action in its Jan. 22 orders on a pair of closely-watched Clean Water Act (CWA) suits testing liability for pollution that travels through groundwater to protected surface waters, deepening the uncertainty surrounding EPA’s planned change in its policies governing such discharges.

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January 18, 2019

The Department of Justice's (DOJ) environment division is in the midst of an exodus of experienced and high-profile attorneys who are leaving the Trump administration for work in the private sector and on Capitol Hill, creating a “brain drain” just before EPA is set to finalize major regulatory rollbacks that the division must defend in court.

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The nearly month-long shutdown of EPA and other agencies is hampering the agency's ability to comply with a host of looming statutory deadlines that Congress set in the revised Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), raising the stakes that officials will miss targets to assess chemicals, complete rulemakings or approve new chemical uses.

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EPA's rule setting user fees for chemical manufacturers and processors to fund agency actions under the revised Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) has taken effect without a challenge from environmentalists or other parties, marking the only one of the agency's four TSCA framework rules to take effect without facing a lawsuit.

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A national organization of municipal wastewater utilities is urging California to drop its plan to adopt a new method for assessing toxicity of effluent discharged to surface waters, arguing it “will set a troubling national precedent” if California adopts the controversial, EPA-backed method.

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Utah and groups representing major industries are backing EPA's revised policy limiting the scope of review for objections to Clean Air Act Title V operating permits by excluding analysis of other air permits contained within a Title V permit, saying a broader approach would unlawfully allow the agency to “second guess” state permitting decisions.

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January 17, 2019

Concerns over EPA and other agencies almost one-month shutdown are growing as the EPA-administered federal online regulatory docket shuttered -- apparently due to the shutdown -- while federal courts that review EPA and other agency actions appear close to running out of funds.

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A coalition of state groups is urging EPA's top water official to drop plans to narrow states' authority for reviewing federally permitted pipelines and other projects under the Clean Water Act (CWA) section 401 authority, arguing changes are unnecessary and would contradict the Trump administration's commitment to cooperative federalism.

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Environmentalists are asking the Supreme Court to resolve a set of splits between and among federal appellate courts on when states' Clean Water Act (CWA) section 401 certifications for natural gas pipelines are final and subject to judicial review, creating new legal uncertainty for the authority just as EPA and GOP lawmakers weigh possible reforms.

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The oil and trucking industries as well as large energy consumers are urging the Supreme Court to review a split panel ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upholding Oregon's low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS), arguing that previous appellate and high court rulings prove that the program unconstitutionally regulates out-of-state conduct.

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January 16, 2019

EPA is weighing its rarely used emergency powers under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) to address perfluorinated compounds, a potential alternative authority the agency could use to quickly require cleanups of the chemicals at local hot spots given its reticence to craft national cleanup standards.

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New Hampshire's recently proposed safe drinking water standards for several perfluorinated compounds at levels somewhat less stringent than other recent state proposals underscore the continuing patchwork of safety levels states are creating for the emerging contaminants in the absence of federal drinking water standards.

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EPA and the Transportation Department are planning to finalize rules requiring a 0.5 percent annual improvement in vehicle fuel economy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), the top Democrat on the environment committee, a move only marginally tougher than the agencies' plan to fully freeze Obama-era rules through 2026.

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Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is acknowledging that the government shutdown is slowing or threatening to slow a number of major EPA rules or policies, including publication of a proposed mercury rule and issuance of plans to manage perflourinated compounds, authorize summertime ethanol blends and address a toxic paint stripper chemical.

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Forced into a public discussion with Senate Democrats about the risks posed by climate change, acting EPA chief Andrew Wheeler struggled to justify the Trump administration's planned regulatory rollbacks, underscoring the broader policy challenge the administration has faced on the issue.

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Groups representing major industries are defending EPA's move to scrap a long-running “once in, always in” policy forcing facilities to retain air toxics controls permanently even if the plants reduce emissions to below regulated levels, arguing in new legal briefs nothing in the Clean Air Act requires toxic emissions controls to be retained forever.

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January 15, 2019

Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is expected to face tough questions from Senate Democrats on the agency's regulatory rollback agenda at his Jan. 16 confirmation hearing to head EPA permanently, with the senators aiming to elevate public scrutiny of the deregualtory effort even as they lack the votes to block Wheeler.

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A new peer-reviewed study of the greenhouse gas and other emission effects of EPA's Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) proposal finds the policy would have the perverse outcome of boosting GHGs in 19 states by causing almost one-third of existing coal plants to run more often.

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A new peer-reviewed study of the greenhouse gas and other emission effects of EPA's Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) proposal finds the policy would have the perverse outcome of boosting GHGs in 18 states and the District of Columbia by causing almost one-third of existing coal plants to run more often.

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As Congress gears up to craft infrastructure funding legislation, dozens of industry, state, water and environmental groups are urging lawmakers to ensure that any bill funds a range of water and wastewater projects along with the transportation infrastructure it is widely expected to fund.

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