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Daily News

February 07, 2019

As part of their initial blitz of Capitol Hill hearings on climate change, House Democrats are seeking to spotlight efforts by a bipartisan group of state officials to both fight global warming and adapt to its impacts, contrasting those policies with the Trump administration’s climate rollbacks and its spurning of international commitments.

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February 06, 2019

EPA is moving quickly after the end of the government shutdown to resume its plan for reorganizing the agency's 10 regional officials to more closely mirror headquarters' divisions, an effort aimed at improving EPA's efficiency that has drawn inquiries from Congress and concern from union officials that it might weaken programs like enforcement.

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EPA has issued new guidance for Clean Water Act (CWA) trading programs that significantly simplifies the federal guidelines compared to a 2003 guidance that the agency now says is “too prescriptive,” signaling that it plans to give states, tribes and other local authorities far more freedom to design their own trading regimes.

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EPA officials are cautioning that air monitoring near a high-profile Illinois sterilizing facility that uses ethylene oxide (EtO) -- where agency modeling data have indicated the chemical may pose a higher potential cancer risk to residents -- has detected background levels of EtO that appears to be coming from sources other than the facility.

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The Trump administration has approved Missouri's novel framework for limiting nutrient pollution in lakes and reservoirs, a reversal from the Obama EPA's opposition to the approach, which industry and environmentalists expect will inform other states' standards, and favors assessing the pollutants' effect on waters rather than simply setting limits.

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A new report aimed at increasing the use of water quality trading is recommending a number of steps for EPA, states, the agriculture sector and permitted dischargers to take in order to overcome numerous barriers to the practice, including documenting areas of legal uncertainty and clarifying the agency's position on trading.

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February 05, 2019

House Democrats are rolling out a blitz of hearings on the implications of climate change, seeking to highlight such threats in order to build a case for policy to reduce greenhouse gases, while also creating a contrast with the Trump administration on the issue in advance of more complicated efforts to reach consensus on climate legislation.

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Biofuels groups are ramping up their legal opposition against EPA’s issuance of waivers to small refiners from having to meet renewable fuel standard (RFS) biofuel blending mandates, filing a lawsuit targeting the agency’s 2019 RFS volumes rule and separately detailing legal arguments against EPA’s retroactive issuance of waivers.

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The Senate environment panel in a 11-10 party line vote has approved Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler's nomination to head the agency permanently, but Democrats who were unable to block his nomination proceeding are hoping to win concessions on top EPA policy changes before agreeing not to slow a full Senate floor vote.

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EPA is considering issuing a rule to define biomass feedstocks as the best available control technology (BACT) for controlling greenhouse gas emissions in Clean Air Act permits because the agency would consider the fuel carbon neutral, though environmentalists would likely offer strenuous opposition to such a rule.

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The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) is urging EPA to reconsider its denial of the group's request that the agency amend chemical reporting rules to increase reporting on asbestos importation and use in the United States, a request that comes as state attorneys general are filing their own petition asking EPA to take the same actions.

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February 04, 2019

EPA is proposing new compliance initiatives (NCIs) for fiscal years 2020-2023 that include eliminating the agency’s priority on enforcing the Clean Air Act new source review (NSR) permit program, while adding new priorities on noncompliance with drinking water standards and reducing children’s exposures to lead.

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Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) is urging Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to drop his rollback of the Obama-era power plant air toxics rule as a condition for winning support to be permanent agency chief, but his confirmation appears likely regardless and supporters of the rule are eyeing other options to challenge the rollback.

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The Senate Judiciary Committee's Feb. 5 hearing on White House regulatory chief Neomi Rao's nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit tees up a fight over her work on EPA and other agency rollbacks of Obama-era policies, with environmentalists urging senators to block her confirmation.

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Environmental groups are seeking to persuade a key appellate court to re-confirm its landmark 2017 ruling requiring the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to consider upstream and downstream greenhouse gas impacts of natural gas pipeline projects, though FERC is trying to limit the precedent by arguing such reviews are unnecessary if the end users of the gas are not known.

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California air board officials have adopted a sweeping plan for the San Joaquin Valley to attain four different fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) standards over the next six years, but many environmentalists remain critical and skeptical of the plan in part because it relies on over $4 billion of worth of unidentified "financial incentives."

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February 01, 2019

EPA has not dropped its efforts to ease rules on manufacturers of “glider” trucks that combine a new chassis with a used drivetrain despite having appeared to put the issue on the back burner, with acting chief Andrew Wheeler telling senators that officials are mulling tweaks to its legal justification and its cost-benefit approach to justify some type of softer limits.

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Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is facing bipartisan concerns from 20 senators ahead of an upcoming confirmation vote over the agency's expected decision to refrain from establishing enforceable drinking water standards for two of the most common perfluorinated compounds, putting pressure on the agency to reverse course.

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Acting EPA chief Andrew Wheeler is allowing Obama-era appointees to the Science Advisory Board (SAB) to serve a second term, a change from his predecessor's policy that limited such re-appointments, though Wheeler is continuing to bar scientists who receive agency grants from serving and also named some controversial new SAB picks.

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The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) biofuels advocacy group is suggesting EPA use a pending renewable fuel standard (RFS) “reset” rule to increase its annual goal for production of renewable fuel to help promote ethanol, a move RFA says could address an appellate ruling remanding the 2016 goal that was below a statutory target.

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