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Daily News

February 13, 2020

EPA’s just-released fiscal 2019 enforcement results tout an increase in civil and administrative penalties, criminal prosecutions and industry self-audits compared to FY18, but other key enforcement metrics show a significant decline from prior years including a 99 percent plummet in solid and hazardous waste cleanups from FY18.

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A group largely backed by major industries and former Republican officials is ramping up advocacy for a carbon tax-and-dividend plan by releasing a policy “roadmap” with important new details, such as the design of an emissions backstop tool and elaboration on which EPA rules the plan would preempt.

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In a rare moment of agreement, the chemical industry and environmentalists are generally urging EPA to provide more transparency into the actions of its Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) new chemicals review program, though the two sides are targeting different aspects of the program for increased transparency.

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California officials are urging EPA Region 9 to take aggressive steps to help stem a scourge of pollution from the Tijuana River that runs from Mexico into California and is fouling state beaches, coastal regions and adjacent recreational areas -- including helping to fund new treatment and storage facilities in California.

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The fight in California over phasing down the use of natural gas in homes and buildings is becoming increasingly contentious, as environmentalists are criticizing state power regulators for approving a major gas pipeline improvement project and equity groups urge officials to prioritize disadvantaged communities in the transition to electricity.

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New legislation in California that would provide sweeping regulatory exemptions for unlimited use of large gasoline- and diesel-powered generators by water, wastewater and other “critical” public facilities during utilities’ intentional power shutoffs is sparking concerns from some officials about harms to air quality.

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February 12, 2020

A majority of EPA’s divided Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) is backing agency staff’s draft recommendation to retain the existing suite of ozone ambient air standards, clearing the way for EPA to propose leaving the limits in place despite concerns from one panelist that the existing limit is too weak to protect human health.

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A battle is brewing over a novel measure on San Diego County’s March 3 ballot that aims to limit new sprawl development projects -- and associated greenhouse gas emissions -- by requiring voter approval of proposed changes to the county’s General Plan that would allow new development in rural and semi-rural areas.

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John Busterud, a long-time energy and environmental attorney for Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) and retired U.S. Army colonel, has been appointed as the new administrator of EPA Region 9 only a few days after former administrator Mike Stoker was abruptly fired by EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

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EPA’s waste chief says his office is wrestling with how its Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) program adheres to limits on use of guidance documents imposed by President Donald Trump’s recent orders given the program’s long reliance on guidance, particularly letters responding to industry and other parties explaining policy.

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California and its allies are detailing their legal defense against the Trump administration’s lawsuit charging the state’s greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program link to Quebec is unconstitutional, arguing specifically that the connection is not a treaty and does not violate the Compact Clause.

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The Trump administration’s chronic delays in completing its rollback of Obama-era vehicle greenhouse gas and fuel economy rules are threatening to introduce a new legal risk to the rulemaking, given a looming statutory “lead time” deadline for the Transportation Department to complete its standards.

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A federal district court is handing states and environmental groups a setback in an ongoing jurisdictional dispute with the Trump administration over how courts should review its rule preempting state vehicle greenhouse gas programs, with the court pausing litigation over the Transportation Department’s (DOT) portion of the rule.

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February 11, 2020

The Justice Department’s (DOJ) environment division says it cannot stretch its budget to defend the Trump administration’s current and future rollbacks of EPA and other agencies’ rules, noting the division has no base funding for the effort and is thus seeking a funding increase and new positions in its fiscal year 2021 budget request.

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EPA’s Environmental Financial Advisory Board (EFAB) is poised to finalize this week a series of recommendations calling for increased federal funding and technical assistance for stormwater management that could shape the upcoming congressional debate around water resources legislation that increasingly includes agency programs.

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The power sector is defending EPA’s proposed extension of site-closure deadlines in its coal ash disposal rule despite an appellate ruling that faulted the 2015 policy for not being stringent enough, arguing that the shutdown process is so complex that a shorter timeline would “require the impossible.”

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Nearly three dozen Senate Democrats are introducing new legislation directing EPA to implement a far-reaching plan using its existing Clean Air Act authority to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, while including strong labor and environmental justice protections.

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Nearly three dozen Senate Democrats are introducing new legislation directing EPA to implement a far-reaching plan using its existing Clean Air Act authority to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, while including strong labor and environmental justice protections.

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A federal judge has found the Trump EPA's controversial 2017 directive barring its science advisors from receiving agency research grants “arbitrary and capricious” and in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), a ruling that splits courts on the issue just as two appellate courts weigh arguments in separate challenges to the policy.

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Even as EPA implements statutory mandates to require Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reporting of 160 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a wide range of industry groups is urging the agency to consider easing future PFAS reporting requirements, including less-stringent threshold reporting levels and de minimis exemptions in some cases.

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