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Daily News

May 26, 2017

EPA's recent proposal to approve North Dakota as the first state to permit carbon capture and storage (CCS) injection wells is putting renewed pressure on California to “align” its pending rules for how CCS projects can earn lucrative carbon credits with the agency's permitting program, supporters of the technology say.

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EPA has sent for White House pre-publication review a draft guidance for how states should craft permit programs for coal ash disposal, signaling the Trump administration's first major efforts to implement the 2016 law that revised an Obama-era ash rule by overhauling the enforcement provisions to give states delegated permit powers.

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Environmentalists are sparring with petroleum and chemical manufacturers over how broadly EPA should apply confidential business information (CBI) restrictions preventing disclosure of data on substances that companies submit to the agency in order to comply with the revised Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

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May 25, 2017

EPA is moving toward settlements and other judicially enforceable rulemaking mandates in a host of cases over Obama-era rules that could result in weaker policies sought by industry, despite Administrator Scott Pruitt decrying the “rulemaking by litigation” practice and issuing a verbal “directive” to stop such pacts.

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Former top environmental officials in the Obama administration say President Donald Trump's proposed fiscal year 2018 budget for EPA is so draconian that it suggests the new administration does not understand the agency's obligations under environmental laws because it will not be able to meet those obligations.

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A bipartisan group of senators has introduced legislation to harmonize aspects of the Department of Transportation's fuel economy program with EPA's vehicle greenhouse gas program, a bill that reflects efforts automakers have long sought but which is already sparking fierce blowback from environmental and consumer advocates.

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Former EPA toxics chief Jim Jones says he doubts the Trump administration will be able to adopt “sustainable” long-term changes to the agency's Obama-era framework for reviewing the impact of pesticides on endangered species, putting a damper on chemical industry calls to scrap the program.

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Even as lawmakers remain strongly divided on environmental policy, members of a House Natural Resources subcommittee plan to pursue bipartisan legislation that would pave the way for so-called Good Samaritan entities to fund cleanups at abandoned coal mines in part by limiting environmental liability risks that currently deter such efforts.

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Environmentalists fear that Susan Bodine -- President Donald Trump's nominee to head EPA's enforcement office -- would use the position to soften the Obama-era coal ash disposal rule by weakening enforcement of the policy, citing her testimony to Congress in 2013 that called for placing major limits on EPA's oversight of ash disposal.

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Biofuels makers and retailers in recent meetings with EPA and White House officials pitched their policy goals for the agency's pending 2018 renewable fuel standard (RFS) targets, including boosting advanced biofuels blending and opposing calls to shift the "point of obligation" compliance burden under the program.

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EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is continuing to hedge about whether and how precisely the agency plans to address greenhouse gases (GHG) from existing power plants after it rescinds the Clean Power Plan (CPP), even as reports indicate the agency is poised to float a plan for repealing the Obama-era rule.

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May 24, 2017

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt says he has signed a “directive” curtailing so-called sue and settle tactics that produce consent decrees including court-enforced deadlines for rulemaking even as observers have warned it will be difficult for the administrator to adopt such limits and as administration allies move to use the process for their own deregulatory goals.

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EPA's proposed budget for fiscal year 2018 seeks to preserve a smaller version of the agency's influential but often controversial Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS), which had been slated for elimination in an early budget memo, signaling the program will be devoted in part to assessing substances under the revised toxics law and other mandatory regulatory programs.

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EPA has quietly put into effect an Obama-era rule that opens the door to listing Superfund sites based solely on vapor or water intrusion, after twice delaying the effective dates of the rule along with several others that were signed late in the last administration but which were slated to take effect under the new regime.

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The Trump EPA in a new Supreme Court brief is defending an Obama-era policy under which the agency sets Clean Air Act limits without allowing any exceedances of those standards due to emissions spikes associated with facility malfunctions, even as the administration reconsiders a rule that barred states from granting such waivers.

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The Trump EPA has sent for White House pre-publication review its first final rule to implement the revised Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), advancing a measure establishing how to prioritize chemicals for risk evaluation that the Obama EPA proposed but the new administration will finalize based on its own approach to TSCA.

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Almost 100 economists and lawyers are criticizing President Donald Trump's executive order that requires EPA and other agencies to repeal two rules for every new measure promulgated, charging it retreats from the long-standing principle of maximizing rules' “net benefits” and opens the door to “haphazard regulation” that could harm the public.

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As EPA is gathering input on which regulations it should scrap or significantly revise, a major commercial appliance industry group is urging the agency to maintain its rules limiting hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants, requesting only targeted changes to some of the deadlines.

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May 23, 2017

State officials are signaling openness to cutting or significantly scaling back their environmental programs in order to absorb EPA's proposed massive fiscal year 2018 cut to grants that help states implement federal environmental laws and rules, with some states even weighing returning delegated EPA programs back to the agency.

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The Trump administration's proposed budget for EPA is sparking push back from environmentalists and state officials who say the steep proposed cuts would actually impose significant costs on industries, communities and the broader economy, in contrast to administration promises that scaling back EPA rules would boost prosperity.

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