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Daily News

June 20, 2019

The retail industry is urging EPA to withdraw its plan to codify a policy exclusion for liquid waste from the definition of “ignitable” hazardous waste, calling the proposal “unlawfully ambiguous” and saying that parts of it would effectively repeal or are inconsistent with existing agency waste regulations.

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Disagreements over potential water supply impacts are heating up in debate over pending California legislation that would lock-in Obama-era Endangered Species Act (ESA) and other rules under state law, with Newsom administration officials planning meetings between water agencies, environmentalists and others to try to reach a compromise.

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The California state Senate is poised to approve a fiscal year 2019-20 omnibus budget “trailer” bill that includes a provision lifting a cap on fees the state air board can assess for certifying vehicles and engines, prompting criticism from automakers and Republicans who say the Legislature is ceding too much authority to the board.

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A California environmental justice group’s appeal of a superior court ruling upholding a South Coast air district environmental review for a refinery expansion expands on a claim that the district inflated the emissions baseline of the existing facility, which undercounts hikes in various pollutants from the expansion, among other arguments.

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California Attorney General (AG) Xavier Becerra (D) is outlining several legal arguments against the Trump EPA’s replacement of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan (CPP) utility greenhouse gas rule with a weaker regulation, previewing a lawsuit California and a coalition of other states plan to file against the rule.

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June 19, 2019

EPA’s just-issued Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, which seeks to replace the Obama-era Clean Power Plan (CPP), adopts a risky legal interpretation arguing that the agency is prohibited from issuing the types of broad greenhouse gas standards that were included in the CPP in a bid to block a future administration from re-imposing similarly expansive requirements.

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House Energy & Commerce Committee Democrats are launching an investigation into the oil sector’s role in backing the Trump administration’s proposal to weaken vehicle fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards, likely building on an upcoming hearing that will allow lawmakers to press federal officials on the plan.

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The Trump EPA has finalized its Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, a narrow policy intended to address greenhouse gases from existing power plants, while also formally repealing the Obama-era Clean Power Plan (CPP) in the agency’s first high-profile climate rule rollback to be completed.

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A bipartisan group of senators say they remain hopeful that legislative language requiring EPA to designate perfluorinated compounds as “hazardous substances” subject to liability under the Superfund law will eventually be included in the fiscal year 2020 defense authorization bill, which is slated for consideration later this week.

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Even as they face a veto threat from the White House, House Democratic leaders have teed up debate on EPA’s fiscal year 2020 spending bill, allowing for floor consideration of amendments that would block several Trump EPA priorities, including measures that roll back climate rules for new power plants and attack the basis for mercury limits.

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June 18, 2019

Drinking water utilities are declining to take a position on bipartisan Senate legislation addressing contamination from perfluorinated chemicals through a variety of environmental laws, though they are concerned that the measure, slated for markup June 19, could set an adverse precedent by preempting EPA’s statutory process for setting standards.

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The House Energy & Commerce Committee’s upcoming hearing on the Trump administration’s vehicle greenhouse gas and fuel economy rule rollback is poised to highlight the rule’s potential harm to the economy, consumers and the climate, adding to a barrage of prior criticism of the plan’s claimed safety and other benefits.

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Oregon’s landmark legislation to establish an economy-wide greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program that would link to the California-Quebec carbon market is facing an uncertain vote in the state Senate after being approved by the House, according to media reports.

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A regional clean air agency in Washington state is developing a low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS) proposal that would apply to the greater Seattle metropolitan area, or roughly half of the state’s population -- a move that experts say may heighten pressure on state lawmakers to set up an overriding statewide LCFS.

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A new ruling from EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) sets a high bar for litigants to overcome deference to a state’s interpretation of ambiguities in its own Clean Water Act (CWA) permitting rules, holding that Idaho environmentalists fell far short of the standard in their challenge to a CWA discharge permit.

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EPA says it may provide guidance to its regions on facilitating the use of what has been a little-used “look first” approach -- where regulators first pursue third parties, such as environmental remediation contractors or real estate investors, after potentially responsible parties (PRPs) transfer their cleanup obligations to them in settlements.

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Environmentalists and other critics of the Trump EPA’s deregulatory agenda are citing plans to roll back vehicle greenhouse gas and power plant mercury rules as high-profile examples of a double standard in which officials ignore “co-benefits” that strengthen rules but embrace them when they help justify weaker standards.

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June 17, 2019

State air regulators are warning that EPA’s imminent Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) power plant greenhouse gas rule will, if finalized as proposed, leave them vulnerable to suits from regulated utilities, their competitors and environmentalists because it does not set an GHG reduction target against which their plans would be assessed.

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Environmentalists say EPA’s issuance of state-specific waivers for industry emissions spikes during startup, shutdown and malfunction (SSM) events in lieu of issuing a final national rule approving such waivers appears to be a bid to evade a U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit case that could block such a policy.

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Environmentalists are urging EPA science advisors ahead of their upcoming meeting to examine whether the agency provided adequate data for its draft conclusion that pigment violet 29 (PV29) does not pose unreasonable risk, stepping up their long-running effort to challenge EPA’s first assessment of an existing chemical under the revised toxics law.

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