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Daily News

September 15, 2020

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit appeared skeptical at Sept. 15 oral argument of EPA’s authority to limit greenhouse gases from long-haul trailers but did not seem to question if the Transportation Department could regulate the equipment’s fuel economy.

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A federal district court has after a long delay approved a modified consent decree between the Justice Department (DOJ) and motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson, ending an EPA Clean Air Act enforcement action against the company and siding with DOJ’s decision to drop a “supplemental” environmental improvement project (SEP) from the decree.

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Top Senate Democrats are pressing appropriators to provide more than $20 million for EPA’s regulatory and research work on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in fiscal year 2021, a significant boost over the funds that House lawmakers have already proposed appropriating for the agency.

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EPA is proposing to revamp its guidance for determining how a customer’s ability to pay for water services impacts the affordability of capital expenditures and operation and maintenance to ensure compliance with Clean Water Act (CWA) standards, adopting calls from municipal entities to better account for residents’ ability to afford rate increases.

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Biofuels industry advocates, refiners and small fuel retailers are sparring over EPA’s approval of year-round sales of 15-percent ethanol fuel (E15), filing new legal briefs in consolidated litigation over the decision while the agency works on additional steps to further bolster sales of E15 long-sought by the biofuels sector.

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September 14, 2020

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit focused questions at Sept. 14 oral argument on the level of knowledge necessary for someone to be criminally liable under the Clean Water Act (CWA) of discharging fill material without a permit and whether the vagueness of key terms in the act affects that knowledge.

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EPA, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and California officials have reached a $1.5 billion settlement with automaker Daimler to address emissions cheating in Mercedes-Benz diesel vehicles in what Trump administration officials are calling one of the largest Clean Air Act settlements in history.

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EPA’s final rule setting up new procedures for issuing, rewriting and rescinding guidance documents largely codifies the proposed version the agency released in May, with the sole major addition being a new right for members of the public to petition for reinstatement of a withdrawn guidance.

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President Donald Trump is signaling support for the biofuels sector over the oil industry after EPA denied dozens of petitions from small refiners seeking renewable fuel standard (RFS) compliance waivers, and the agency is also aiming to remove hurdles to distribution of 15-percent ethanol fuel (E15) blends at retail pumps.

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As a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit prepares for Sept. 15 oral arguments in a challenge to Obama-era trailer greenhouse gas and fuel economy rules, the judges are deferring a ruling on the industry’s late-hour push to block key requirements from taking effect as scheduled Jan. 1.

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EPA is asking its reconstituted Farm, Ranch, and Rural Communities advisory committee (FRRCC) on how to bolster interagency partnerships that can encourage water reuse, cut nutrient pollution and discourage food waste, as well as seeking input on the future if its pesticides program.

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Environmentalists are suing EPA in bid to force the agency to tighten its recently revised air toxics regulations limiting air toxics emissions from the burgeoning ethylene manufacturing sector, dueling with petrochemical industry groups which filed separate litigation that is expected to push for weakening the same standards.

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September 11, 2020

Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), one of the lead sponsors of the 2016 TSCA reform bill and a top EPA appropriator, is expressing skepticism about the adequacy of the agency’s plan to quickly reorganize its Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) in part to bolster its implementation of the new law.

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As a response to the devastation California is experiencing from numerous raging wildfires that have been exacerbated by climate change, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) says the state will accelerate its suite of climate change and clean energy targets, policies and programs.

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Earthjustice, representing Sierra Club and other environmental groups, is petitioning EPA to eliminate an exemption given to site remediation work conducted under federal waste law from the agency’s site remediation air toxics rule, saying requirements in the Clean Air Act and a 2020 appellate ruling justify scrapping the waiver.

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An oil sector attorney at Sept. 11 oral arguments sought to persuade a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit to break with three other circuit courts and find that Rhode Island’s climate change nuisance suit against the industry belongs in federal court, not state court where it was originally filed.

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EPA air staff say they will not ask the agency’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) to validate reduced-form (RF) computer models that could help to speed up the analysis of air rules’ benefits, after members of a special SAB panel pushed back on several aspects of a 2019 report on the issue that found such models to be helpful, if limited.

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EPA is eyeing the expansion of remote video tools for environmental compliance monitoring, signaling it plans to apply the tools that it is piloting in states now due to limits on in-person inspections during the COVID-19 pandemic even after the pandemic ends, according to EPA and state officials.

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The Justice Department (DOJ) is rebutting critics’ claims that EPA and the Transportation Department unlawfully preempted state vehicle greenhouse gas programs, arguing EPA has "implicit” authority to revoke California’s preemption waiver, and that there are not sufficient "reliance interests” to block the move.

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September 10, 2020

A California science panel is preparing to prioritize a list of seven chemicals for potential addition to the state’s Proposition 65 warning law carcinogen list, including several industrial chemicals such as bisphenol-A (BPA), a plasticizer, the flame retardant Decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE), and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS).

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