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Daily News

September 24, 2018

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in two new decisions is rejecting Clean Water Act (CWA) liability for pollution that travels through groundwater to surface waters, breaking with two other circuits that have allowed CWA penalties for groundwater-borne pollution and boosting the odds the Supreme Court might have to resolve the split.

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Auto industry groups are urging the Trump administration to preserve the credit system developed under the vehicle greenhouse gas and fuel economy program for technologies that can help cut emissions, such as those for air conditioner improvements and “off cycle” technologies, underscoring fears the officials' proposed rollback could backfire.

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A public interest group is calling for stepped up enforcement of EPA administered industrial facility safety rules that require disclosure of facilities' data after a federal court expedited compliance with an Obama-era rule strengthening the agency's accident prevention program, even as the Trump administration seeks to roll the rule back.

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A power sector attorney is suggesting EPA use its imminent reconsideration of the Obama-era utility air toxics rule to replace it with state-led programs for curbing power plant emissions using air trading or other more-flexible controls, but that could trigger a fight over whether the programs will have a “co-benefit” of reducing other air pollution.

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EPA and Maine officials are at odds over how a federal court should proceed in closely watched litigation over the agency's 2015 rejection of some of the state's water quality standards (WQS), adding to the debate over how or whether regulators should set standards that protect water uses, including “sustenance” or “subsistence” fishing.

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September 21, 2018

A federal appeals court has ruled that a decades-old appropriations rider does not bar the Army Corps of Engineers' use of regional supplements to its nationwide manual for identifying wetlands subject to the Clean Water Act (CWA), avoiding a precedent that could have greatly expanded the limits that funding riders place on EPA and other agencies.

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Appellate court judges have again granted environmentalists' request to force quick implementation of an Obama-era rule tightening facility safety requirements, expediting its ruling that struck down a Trump administration effort to delay the rule's effectiveness by almost two years while the agency considers whether to undo the stricter mandates.

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Environmentalists are pushing for stricter EPA and state controls on power plants' coal ash ponds after a North Carolina plant's cooling water dam breached Sept. 21 due to flooding from Hurricane Florence, submerging a nearby coal ash pond and raising prospects for further spills after an earlier ash pond breach at the same facility.

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States and environmental groups that support the Obama EPA's Clean Power Plan (CPP) are aggressively urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to rule on the merits of the power plant greenhouse gas rule in the long-pending lawsuit, strongly pushing back against EPA and other opponents' arguments that the case is moot.

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California Gov. Jerry Brown's (D) Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) last week spurred a variety of pledges by countries, states and local governments to reduce greenhouse gases, though a report released at the summit shows the pledges are not likely to counter the impact of the Trump administration's inaction on climate issues.

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Environmentalists' new lawsuit seeking to force EPA's release of documents related to its policy on air emissions reporting by animal feeding operations (AFOs) revives a battle over whether the facilities need to report emissions under emergency release and community right-to-know law, hinting at future litigation over that fight.

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EPA is backing former Administrator Scott Pruitt's decision that let stand an Obama-era Clean Water Act (CWA) proposal to limit the scope of the planned Pebble Mine near Bristol Bay, AK, while confirming that acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler has recused himself from reviewing the mine project for undisclosed reasons.

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September 20, 2018

EPA's waste office has sent an interim final rule on managing recalled airbags to the White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) for review, a measure that is expected to ease waste handling and disposal requirements for the millions of defective Takata vehicle airbags that have been recalled.

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As floodwaters from Hurricane Florence threaten industrial facilities in the Carolinas, the City of Houston, House Democrats, and former EPA staff are strongly opposing the Trump administration's rollback of an Obama-era rule strengthening EPA's facility accident prevention program, arguing it would make facilities more vulnerable to flooding.

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EPA air chief William Wehrum held a briefing on the status of various air regulations at his former law firm with former clients late last year, less than a month after he was confirmed to the position, according to a new document, a move that could be in violation of his pledge to recuse himself from such meetings due to ethics restrictions.

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California regulators are slated to meet next week to consider a rule that would allow them to continue enforcing strict vehicle greenhouse gas standards that the Trump administration is seeking to roll back, though the meeting is being closely watched for signs of whether or how they may be seeking to avert a clash as the two sides continue talks on the issue.

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EPA and the Sierra Club are sparring over the legality of an agency rule outlining air monitoring mandates for states, at odds over whether states must supply the agency with detailed air quality monitoring plans, subject to public notice and comment, as part of their formal Clean Air Act programs for attaining federal air quality standards.

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September 19, 2018

California and New Mexico are renewing their efforts to challenge the Trump administration's use of drastically lower climate damage estimates to justify climate rule rollbacks, citing the issue as one of numerous flaws in litigation over the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) rule largely rescinding Obama-era methane controls on federal lands.

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A federal appeals court has halted environmentalists' suit that aimed to challenge the Trump EPA's multiple efforts to delay an Obama-era Clean Water Act (CWA) effluent rule for power plants, averting any potential conflict between the case and a separate appeals court suit over both the delays and the merits of the utility water regulation.

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Environmental groups are contending EPA acted arbitrarily and illegally when it abandoned a draft rule that would have set first-of-its-kind Superfund financial assurance requirements for hardrock mining, arguing the agency ignored health and environmental risks posed by current mining practices, among other deficiencies.

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