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Daily News

October 09, 2019

The Trump administration, as part of its final revocation of California’s authority for its vehicle greenhouse gas and zero emissions vehicle (ZEV) programs, is rejecting claims from the programs’ supporters that the ZEV rules in particular improve local air quality, citing the state’s declarations appearing to downplay the rules’ benefits.

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President Donald Trump has issued two executive orders (EOs) to force EPA and other agencies to make guidance documents and other internal policy memos available to the public and bar them from enforcing any policies they have not made publicly known in advance, citing several EPA enforcement efforts as “abuse” of such documents.

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Environmentalists are citing language in EPA’s rule undoing California’s authority to set stricter vehicle greenhouse gas limits to boost their lawsuit over the Trump administration’s 2018 finding calling for weaker federal vehicle GHG rules, claiming the language aids their claim that the finding is a “final” action subject to court review.

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Federal courts are wrestling with the potential impact of EPA’s rule repealing the Obama-era Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction policy on litigation over the 2015 standard, including whether to put the challenges on hold until the repeal takes effect or potentially vacate the existing standard in cases where it has been remanded to the agency.

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States and environmental groups challenging EPA’s Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) power plant greenhouse gas rule as too weak are also seeking to intervene on EPA’s behalf to defend the agency’s underlying authority to regulate power sector GHGs, asking an appellate court to allow them to weigh in on that specific issue.

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October 08, 2019

Environmentalists are stepping up legal pressure on EPA over its failure to conduct a broad review of the potential impacts to endangered species from its renewable fuel standard (RFS), raising the claim in litigation over the 2019 RFS even as the agency grapples with a court remand demanding it address the lack of a review for the 2018 RFS.

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Small refiner Sinclair Wyoming Refining is fighting to keep its challenge to EPA’s denial of a renewable fuel standard (RFS) economic hardship waiver in regional appellate court, as the agency seeks to dismiss the case and hear challenges to RFS waivers as “national” actions in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

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North Carolina regulators are proposing the state adopt EPA’s health advisory for two well-known per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals as a state groundwater standard and are asking the state’s science advisors for advice on the proposal, according to a presentation at the advisors’ most recent meeting.

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The number of citizen suits filed under the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) is rapidly increasing as citizens test novel theories including expanded endangerment claims and related unique arguments, taking the place of federal enforcement, regulation and funding that is declining, according to a private practice attorney.

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EPA is denying that recent appellate rulings faulting its interstate air pollution policy also invalidate its rejection of Eastern states’ petitions asking the agency for stricter ozone rules in upwind states, arguing in new filings that the two court decisions address issues unrelated to EPA’s primary justification for denying the petitions.

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October 07, 2019

Appellate court judges at oral argument appeared split over environmentalists’ suit challenging an EPA guidance that critics say makes it easier to avoid strict Clean Air Act permitting reviews, with two judges doubting it is a “final” action subject to court review while the third judge questioned the agency’s legal basis for the guidance.

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Environmental groups are for the first time outlining the issues they intend to raise in their litigation challenging EPA’s Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule addressing power plant greenhouse gas emissions and its simultaneous repeal of the much more stringent Clean Power Plan (CPP) that ACE replaces.

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Environmentalists will soon file a lawsuit over the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final oil and gas drilling oversight plan for the central coast of California, alleging it violates the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and unwisely allows a huge expansion of fossil fuel production.

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Industry groups are praising EPA’s proposal to forgo setting financial responsibility requirements under the Superfund law for the electric power generator sector, saying a recent court precedent backs the plan, but environmentalists argue EPA’s approach increases the risks of groundwater contamination from coal ash dump sites.

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Offshore wind development companies are urging California policymakers to set major deployment goals for the technology to spur necessary investment in projects that are seen as critical for the state to meet its long-term renewable energy, greenhouse gas and carbon neutrality targets.

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The United States in recent low-level talks within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) stalled in its attempt to gain support for a proposal that would effectively block limits that the group of the world’s wealthiest countries is considering on trade in plastic recyclables, says a source familiar with the talks.

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The Trump administration is continuing to pursue its narrow approach to considering climate change in National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews, defending the strategy in courts even as it has been ordered to consider broader, cumulative climate effects of its fossil fuel lease approvals.

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October 04, 2019

The Trump administration’s plan to boost biofuel blending targets under the renewable fuel standard (RFS) to compensate for small refiner RFS waivers is prompting tough questions about the future of the program, because the hike appears to be a long-term commitment that will constrain RFS policy changes under consideration.

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The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is urging EPA and the Transportation Department (DOT) to conduct an “interim evaluation” of the agencies’ Phase 2 greenhouse gas and fuel economy rules for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (MHDV), while also floating an array of suggestions for a subsequent round of standards.

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EPA and environmentalists have agreed to a six-month extension, from December until June 2020, of the agency’s court-ordered deadline to finalize a long-delayed rule addressing perchlorate in drinking water, which follows EPA’s previously announced six-month delay in issuing the proposed version of the rule.

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