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Daily News

May 22, 2020

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has begun a phased reopening of the agency’s offices to staff, beginning with three regional offices, while pledging a “measured and deliberate approach” that includes significant voluntary and suggested telework through multiple steps of the process.

616 words

An industry lawyer is backing environmentalists’ charges that EPA's “scope” documents that will guide the next 20 risk evaluations of high-priority chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) are vulnerable to legal challenge and must be revised, intensifying the battle over the documents ahead of a looming June deadline.

847 words

EPA has approved a novel request from a cleaning products group to add eight chemicals to its voluntary safer chemicals program list, opening the door to the substances eventually being added to any new list of chemicals deemed low-priority for assessment and possible regulation under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

828 words

Environmentalists, public health advocates and former EPA scientists are clashing with major industry groups over EPA’s plan to retain its suite of particulate matter (PM) ambient air limits, with critics of the proposal saying it fails to protect public health from PM pollution while industry supporters of the plan say it is scientifically sound.

1318 words

A coal mining firm is suing EPA over its just-published final rule scrapping the cost-benefit review underpinning the Obama administration’s landmark mercury and air toxics standards (MATS), a lawsuit that environmentalists and others predicted would be filed and that places the fate of the overall utility emissions regulation in jeopardy.

530 words

A House Republican strategist says the party might be open to backing a carbon tax if the proceeds were used to pay down debt amassed during the COVID-19 pandemic or boost major indebted programs, even though existing proposals have no chance of enactment in the current Congress.

1012 words

May 21, 2020

EPA and one of its major unions have reached a tentative agreement after months of negotiations on a new partial contract that will give employees who work five days a week the option of an additional telework day, expanding the amount of allowed telework beyond a unilateral contract the agency imposed on those union members last summer.

1462 words

Senate Democrats are pressing EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to provide details on cleanup plans and contamination levels at the 180 Superfund sites the agency says are contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), as well as pushing for clarity on the agency’s cleanup authorities for these chemicals.

1075 words

EPA is touting its short-term regulatory flexibility for industry during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide economic relief in line with directives from President Donald Trump while also pushing longer-term deregulatory measures, and the agency is further assessing the long-term implications of a sharp drop in air pollution caused by pandemic shutdowns.

1498 words

A federal judge is asking California and other states challenging the Trump administration’s waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule to explain by May 22 why they would face “irreparable harm” from letting the policy take effect June 22 before he rules on whether to stay it, saying it is unclear that the states would suffer such harm.

700 words

California regulators are advancing a controversial draft guidance for screening and evaluating vapor intrusion as part of property assessment and cleanup, a measure that seeks to impose stricter requirements than EPA and other states have adopted to address the harmful exposure pathway, increasing potential liability for developers.

1628 words

California state appellate judges are questioning San Diego County’s greenhouse gas offset rule allowing developers to mitigate emissions through out-of-county projects, but it remains unclear if they will agree with challengers’ push to require county officials to completely redo their Climate Action Plan (CAP) that includes the offset rule.

1114 words

California air regulators appear likely to ease proposed greenhouse gas and “electric vehicle miles traveled” (eVMT) targets for transportation network companies (TNCs) operating ride-hailing services such as Lyft and Uber, mainly due to difficulties for drivers to “pool” riders as a result of the COVID-19 emergency.

693 words

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has quietly dropped a proposal to ask voters to approve a $4.75 billion climate resilience bond, with administration officials arguing it would be too costly to take on such high levels of debt in light of the economic devastation being caused by the COVID-19 emergency.

785 words

May 20, 2020

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is defending the agency’s enforcement discretion policy and deregulatory actions against Democrats’ charges that the agency is exploiting the coronavirus crisis to continue environmental rollbacks with particularly damaging consequences during the pandemic.

1359 words

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler told the Senate environment committee the agency will miss its June statutory deadline for issuing all of the first 10 risk evaluations for high-priority chemicals under the 2016 amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act, saying getting “them right” was more important.

812 words

The Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) support for “mitigation projects” to offset pollution as part of legal settlements is inherently inconsistent with its hard-line prohibition on the use of “supplemental environmental projects” (SEPs) to offset penalties in such pacts, several environmental attorneys say.

1732 words

EPA is considering changing its position that Endangered Species Act (ESA) consultations are not required before allowing states to assume Clean Water Act (CWA) wetlands permitting after Florida -- one of several states eyeing such permitting authority -- wrote a white paper contending that the consultations are necessary.

1120 words

A federal court in Pennsylvania has backed a potentially precedent-setting industry defense in an environmental citizen suit, agreeing with the defendant steel mill that it is exempt from Superfund reporting requirements if it holds Clean Air Act (CAA) permits even if its emissions violate those permits.

1285 words

The Science Advisory Board’s (SAB) ongoing review of proposed changes to EPA’s guidelines for cost-benefit analysis is showcasing early calls for greater focus on “countervailing risks” of regulations, an effort that might make it harder to justify strict new rules or easier to advance deregulation.

770 words

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