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Daily News

December 02, 2020

The Senate environment committee has cleared a bill to promote carbon-free nuclear energy with bipartisan support, but Democratic climate stalwarts opposed the measure, arguing it undercuts expanded use of renewable energy such as wind and solar, likely previewing challenges facing the Biden administration’s climate strategy which embraces nuclear.

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EPA’s Office of Enforcement & Compliance Assurance (OECA) has completed a major update to its decades-old guidance documents that address its approach to enforcing the Clean Air Act ban on engine tampering and installation of aftermarket parts, adding detail to the policy and updating it to reflect new technology.

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Mustafa Santiago Ali, a former EPA environmental justice (EJ) official reportedly under consideration to lead President-elect Joe Biden’s White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), is citing EPA’s 50th anniversary as a time to focus on community-level EJ across the federal government and not just at the agency.

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Environmental groups are ramping up pressure on major auto manufacturers to withdraw their support for the Trump administration’s preemption of state vehicle greenhouse gas standards, following General Motors’ decision to depart as an intervenor on Trump’s behalf in litigation over that policy.

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Environmentalists, one major investor-owned utility and the wind power industry are urging California air officials to tighten an aggregate 2030 greenhouse gas target range for utilities, arguing that if the goal is not lowered the state is unlikely to meet its broader climate and clean power goals for 2030 and 2045.

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House and Senate negotiators are debating whether the Pentagon should update its “roadmap” for assessing, and responding to, climate change effects, as the incoming Biden administration’s initial personnel announcements are stressing the connection between national security and combating climate change.

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A federal district court has dismissed a Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) citizen suit filed by New Orleans residents aiming to require the city to bolster cleanup actions related to a city landfill beyond what has been prescribed under an EPA-sanctioned cleanup plan, with the court saying the suit has no merit under RCRA.

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December 01, 2020

Former EPA Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) Chairman Chris Frey is urging the incoming Biden administration to quickly tighten ambient air limits for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and reverse an imminent Trump EPA rule to retain existing PM2.5 standards using the same scientific data underpinning that decision.

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Treasury Secretary-designate Janet Yellen and other top Biden economic picks say they will be working with the incoming administration’s National Security Council to re-establish U.S. leadership in addressing climate change, with the department leveraging such tools as sanctioning bad actors and encouraging foreign clean-energy investments.

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Top Hill Democrats, former White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) officials and over four dozen law professors are backing environmentalists’ challenge to the Trump CEQ’s rewrite of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) implementing rules, filing rare amicus briefs in a federal district court challenge to the rule.

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit stayed the use of a Clean Water Act (CWA) general permit for the Mountain Valley Pipeline last month because the Army Corps of Engineers likely erred in approving the use of the permit for the pipeline, although environmentalists’ broader challenges to the permit are unlikely to succeed.

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Ford Motor Co. is reportedly lobbying its fellow automakers to drop their legal support for the Trump administration’s preemption of state vehicle greenhouse gas rules and embrace California’s existing “framework” agreement for auto GHG standards with Ford and four other auto companies.

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The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is urging a federal district to vacate a pair of Trump administration rules that narrowed an Obama-era Clean Water Act (CWA) approach to determining the law’s scope, arguing the rules unlawfully “misapplied controlling Supreme Court precedent and ignored available science.”

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Groups representing major industries have dropped their long-running suit against EPA over an Obama-era rule governing hazardous waste generators, even as companies continue to harbor concerns over potential penalties that could result if generators fail to comply with conditions for exemption from storage permitting requirements.

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November 30, 2020

EPA is recommending that Clean Water Act (CWA) discharge permits for wastewater and stormwater that are likely to contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) include phased-in mandates for monitoring the chemicals and best management practices to control them as an interim step while the agency weighs whether to set technology-based limits.

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President-elect Joe Biden has announced an economic team that favors the use of market forces to address climate change, a top priority for the incoming administration, though a key member of Biden’s economic team is stressing the need for a major political solution to “override” any underestimate of climate costs in fossil fuels and other goods.

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A new report by EPA’s enforcement office estimates that 550,000 diesel trucks have been tampered with over the past decade in violation of the Clean Air Act, and the emissions from those vehicles are equal to the lawful emissions from roughly 9 million trucks, signaling the area is ripe for additional enforcement.

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A prominent California environmental justice (EJ) group and Friends of the Earth (FOE) are actively opposing the potential nomination of California air board chief Mary Nichols as EPA administrator under the incoming Biden administration, charging she has backed cap-and-trade and other programs that hurt disadvantaged communities.

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A divided federal appeals court panel is backing North Dakota’s right to interpret EPA’s Clean Air Act permitting policies in a dispute over the state’s issuance of a “minor source” permit for a coal mine and processing facility, but a dissenting judge warns the court is creating a new test for deference to states’ interpretation of federal laws.

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Environmental and legal experts are urging the incoming Biden administration to tighten regulatory measures and policies under federal environmental laws to better manage or prevent toxic flooding stemming from chemical plants after major storm events, amid evidence that global warming is intensifying these weather events.

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