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Daily News

May 13, 2021

Updated at 10:58 a.m. EST -- EPA is issuing an interim final rule rescinding the controversial 11th-hour Trump-era regulation that limits the scope of benefits that can be considered in Clean Air Act (CAA) rulemakings, a policy environmentalists warned would make it harder to justify stricter agency air rules and which that Biden administration now says was “unnecessary.”

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Nine months after approving their landmark heavy-duty truck low-nitrogen oxide (NOx) regulation, California air board officials are proposing a lengthy set of testing, crediting and other regulatory modifications to the measure -- which takes effect with model year 2024 engines -- though they don’t change the core emissions standards.

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May 12, 2021

EPA water office nominee Radhika Fox reiterated her pledge to work with states and industry groups on a new “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule at her Senate confirmation hearing, drawing praise from Republicans who raised no objection to her confirmation even as they warned her against reviving the Obama-era water policy.

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Michal Freedhoff, the Biden administration nominee to lead EPA’s chemical safety office, vowed during her May 12 confirmation hearing to quickly craft “protective” TSCA rules for existing chemicals, and promised lawmakers that her plan to step up consideration of worker safety will not produce burdensome mandates.

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EPA is re-launching its climate change “indicators” website to provide the public with dozens of datasets showing ongoing effects of global warming, with Administrator Michael Regan pitching the move as another example of the agency re-focusing on climate science following the Trump administration.

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Critics of the Trump administration’s overhaul of EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) procedures are urging Biden officials to repeal the changes, highlighting what they see as “bad” provisions, including measures that remove the board’s discretionary power to hear cases.

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An environmental whistleblower group claims Katherine Lemos, chair and sole current member of the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) rewrote the panel’s governing rules to “consolidate” her power at the expense of three pending nominees, and claims she has improperly spent CSB funds during her tenure.

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May 11, 2021

Oakland and San Francisco are urging the Supreme Court to reject an oil industry request to overturn an appellate ruling finding that their climate change nuisance case can proceed in state court under state common law rather than federal court where the industry sought to remove it.

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is citing climate change and its impacts in significantly expanding his drought emergency proclamation to 39 more counties, an move aimed at accelerating a variety of actions mainly aimed at prioritizing where water supplies are distributed in the coming months.

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Research scientists dominate EPA’s list of candidates to form the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) that offers input on ambient air standards, including several epidemiologists, which may signal the panel’s upcoming shift from the Trump-era membership that relied heavily on state regulators and consultants.

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EPA plans to finalize in 2022 a screening tool and probabilistic risk assessment framework that will help assess risks from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and hundreds of other substances that have been detected in biosolids that are used as fertilizer, after a still-pending peer review by the agency’s Science Advisory Board (SAB).

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The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s (ATSDR) decision to finalize risk levels for key per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) much more stringent than EPA’s figures shows the difficulty of finding consensus on safe exposure levels to even a few of the thousands of perfluorinated chemicals, a scientist says.

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The White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) has completed its mandatory pre-publication review of a final rule to rescind the Trump EPA’s rewrite of Clean Air Act cost-benefit procedures, clearing the path for the Biden administration to revoke the policy that critics said would make it harder to issue strict air regulations.

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Environmentalists are urging EPA to drop its reluctance to pursue new health risk reviews that could spur the agency to tighten its existing air toxics rules for the solvent ethylene oxide (EtO) and synthetic rubber component chloroprene, backing calls from EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) for tougher action on emissions.

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May 10, 2021

EPA has taken the rare step of asking Chicago officials to suspend review of a permit application to expand a metal recycling plant on the city’s Southeast side and conduct a cumulative impact analysis to assess its effects on nearby residents -- one of the first affirmative steps the agency has taken to reflect administration environmental justice (EJ) priorities.

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Opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) are urging a federal appeals court to reject a request from the pipeline company to stay the mandate from the court's ruling ordering a new National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) assessment of the pipeline, saying DAPL’s potential high court appeal of the decision does not justify the request.

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The Biden White House is soliciting public comment on its “interim” estimates of the social cost of carbon (SCC) and other greenhouse gases, a move that could help the administration shore up the foundation of the metric, used to calculate the benefits of policies that reduce emissions, in the face of pressure from critics.

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A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit pressed an attorney for a Washington state dairy why the company should be able to challenge an EPA Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) enforcement action years after the fact, including asking whether the suit should fail on jurisdictional grounds.

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Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), a leader of Capitol Hill efforts to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), is urging regulators and other federal officials to quickly adopt stricter limits on the chemicals after the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s (ATSDR) formally adopted risk values more conservative than EPA’s.

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May 07, 2021

A former EPA chemicals chief says Michal Freedhoff is widely expected to win confirmation to lead EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) following her Senate hearing May 12, as stakeholders continue to line up behind her despite industry opposition to many of her TSCA policies.

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