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Daily News

July 18, 2018

House science committee Republicans were forced to drop their planned markup of legislation redirecting the work of EPA's influential but controversial Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program after the House Energy and Commerce Committee won jurisdiction over the just-introduced measure, raising doubts about the legislation's future.

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EPA has finalized its first round of revisions to its 2014 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) coal ash disposal rule, including new groundwater monitoring mandates and a delay of closure deadlines for some leaking facilities, but putting off decisions on a host of other proposed changes until a “subsequent” rulemaking.

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Environmentalists are urging judges in three federal courts to rule against EPA’s efforts to dismiss before trial their separate but related lawsuits over former Administrator Scott Pruitt’s October 2017 policy barring agency grant recipients from serving on EPA advisory panels.

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July 17, 2018

EPA is refusing to take sides in court on the merits of its 2015 Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction rule, urging a federal judge to put challenges to the regulation on hold as it weighs a repeal but adding that if the suit does continue it will defend only the procedure the Obama administration used to craft its signature clean water policy.

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Petrochemical and other industry representatives are reiterating their support for EPA's proposed rule barring the use of science where the underlying data and models are not publicly available but they are also calling for clarifications that would expand the rule's scope, limit EPA's ability to grant waivers, better protect trade secrets and more.

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A federal health agency's recently released draft report recommending stricter risk values than EPA had adopted for two perfluorinated chemicals is already driving calls for tougher regulatory requirements, with a bipartisan group of House lawmakers urging EPA to reconsider its health advisory levels once the draft is finalized.

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EPA is planning to consider workers' exposures to existing chemicals when it assesses substances' risks for possible regulation under the revised toxics law, noting that Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has acknowledged that its exposure limits for many chemicals are “outdated and inadequate.”

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Environmentalists' rare win on a mandamus petition earlier this year that forced EPA to quickly update to its lead-dust health standards is paying dividends for other groups pressing the agency to take actions they say are long overdue, starting with its renewal of a years-expired Clean Water Act (CWA) permit shortly after another court petition was filed.

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Three environmental groups have filed a petition in federal court seeking an emergency stay of EPA's enforcement waiver allowing production of high-emitting glider trucks, citing the need for “urgent relief in order to avert” substantial and irreparable public-health consequences while also urging that the court consider immediately vacating the policy.

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July 16, 2018

Echoing an approach advocated by former EPA toxics nominee Michael Dourson, House Republicans are preparing to mark up draft legislation that seeks to return both ongoing and new work of EPA's influential but often controversial risk analysis program to the agency's program offices -- similar to how the work was done in the program's early days.

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EPA is facing a new wave of criticism over its controversial proposal to require the use of publicly available data to justify its major rules, posing an early test for the agency's new acting administrator, Andrew Wheeler, and the extent to which he may be willing to drop or soften a plan developed by his predecessor, Scott Pruitt.

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Environmentalists and other supporters of Obama-era vehicle greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards are bracing for the Trump administration's upcoming rollback of the rules to significantly rely on minimizing the rules' benefits, including by assuming a large “rebound effect” from fuel economy gains and asserting the rules harm safety.

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The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is urging a federal court to reject environmentalists' suit seeking to require a rule mandating facilities report their accidental releases, charging, among other things, that the plaintiffs lack standing, though CSB says that if the court requires such a rule it may be “difficult” given administration plans to kill the agency.

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Concerned that EPA is not adequately assessing and remediating lead in dust in homes at an Indiana Superfund site, lawyers for the site’s residents are suggesting they will urge the agency to clarify that its recently proposed rule strengthening lead paint dust standards extends to indoor lead dust at hazardous waste sites.

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July 13, 2018

Environmentalists are urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to reinstate 2018 compliance dates in the Clean Water Act (CWA) effluent rule for power plants that EPA delayed to 2020, signaling that they will drop their nearly year-long push to litigate the delay in district court instead.

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EPA has denied environmentalists' petition seeking to revise and strengthen its 2017 air toxics rule limiting emissions from the kraft pulp mills sector, opening the door to a new suit just as the advocates face an “uphill battle” to get a federal judge in California to require the agency to overhaul the rule.

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New York Attorney General (AG) Barbara Underwood (D) is raising concerns that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) may be seeking to bypass judicial scrutiny of its decisions not to analyze upstream and downstream greenhouse gas impacts for most natural gas infrastructure approvals, despite a court ruling requiring such reviews.

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A growing number of states are expanding what natural resource damages (NRD) recovery funds can be used for, giving incentives to states short on funds to pursue such claims in order to pay for general fund state needs -- as they had previously done in litigation against tobacco companies, says a legal expert on the issue.

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Andrew Wheeler, EPA's new acting administrator, is winning early praise from the biofuels sector which hopes his political savvy and credibility with both the biofuels and oil industries will help advance a compromise approach on the complex issue of EPA's renewable fuels standard (RFS), which contributed to the ousting of his predecessor, Scott Pruitt.

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July 12, 2018

California officials are touting the state's greenhouse gas regulatory programs and policies, including the cap-and-trade program, as the driver for complying with a mandate to cut emissions below 1990 levels by 2020, four years ahead of schedule, though observers say the milestone was expected and meeting the state's 2030 goal will be much tougher.

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