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Daily News

February 26, 2021

The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) has filed a lawsuit claiming the Trump EPA’s decision to retain the existing ozone ambient air limits is unlawful because the agency did not conduct an Endangered Species Act (ESA) review of the policy, echoing a similar recent CBD species challenge to EPA’s retention of particulate matter (PM) limits.

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A federal district court is weighing whether to address a hand-wipe maker’s novel claim that EPA overstepped its authority to regulate disinfectants as it scrambled to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic -- a claim the agency says is not ripe for review as it has taken no formal action targeting the manufacturer.

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February 25, 2021

The Supreme Court’s upcoming review of a Superfund statute of limitations case could aid in resolving key cleanup legal issues and affect other sites being reassessed for further remediation, while the high court’s 2020 ruling in another Superfund case has effectively dented the pre-enforcement review bar’s impact on state law claims, legal experts say.

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The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) might quickly decide how to proceed with revising or rescinding the Trump-era National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) overhaul, after the Senate slated a confirmation hearing for President Joe Biden’s CEQ chair nominee and a court granted a delay in a suit over the policy.

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Environmentalists are already firing back at EPA’s claim that it mooted their suit seeking strict limits on commercial use of methylene chloride (MC) in paint-strippers when it began developing a TSCA risk management rule for those products, saying the current process is too slow and that the agency has implicitly admitted its prior delays were unlawful.

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EPA has sent for White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) pre-publication review its final rule that responds to an appellate court ruling forcing it to strengthen the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) emissions trading program, a move required by a legal deadline but that also represents the first Biden EPA air rule to seek OMB approval.

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Former EPA officials say several early actions by the Biden administration illustrate a renewed focus on climate change and environmental justice (EJ) at EPA and all other parts of the government, including selecting personnel who have extensive experience in these areas and taking a multi-pronged approach to implementing policies.

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February 24, 2021

California air regulators are agreeing with state auditors to better track and measure greenhouse gas emission reductions in its numerous transportation programs and to accurately determine any socio-economic and job-creation benefits of its climate programs, though officials say they need more money and time to do so.

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Several California lawmakers are introducing legislation that seeks to strengthen the state’s current voluntary deal with five automakers setting greenhouse gas standards for light-duty vehicles through model year 2026 while also, for the first time, dictating standards for the next round of standards to be developed by the state air board.

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As state lawmakers prepare to review California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) budget proposal, legislative staff are raising questions about his plans to extend vehicle-related fee hikes for 23 years -- to 2046 -- to “securitize” $500 million in the near-term to bolster zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) sales and to accelerate the construction of ZEV charging infrastructure.

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The latest quarterly California-Quebec greenhouse gas allowance auction has sold all current and future credits offered at above the floor price, reflecting a continuing strong market as companies recover from the pandemic and netting the Golden State $650 million to spend on GHG-reduction and air pollution improvement programs.

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After failing to approve a similar measure last year, California Assembly lawmakers have introduced a $6.7 billion bond that if signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and approved by voters in November 2022 would provide funds to address the effects of climate change, bolster vulnerable communities and take other steps.

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EPA met its Feb. 19 administrative deadline for sending the White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) a preliminary list of Trump-era rules that it is targeting for revising or rescinding, confirming that the list includes vehicle greenhouse gas deregulatory actions among other Trump rules environmentalists oppose.

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In a sign of the claims it plans to raise at upcoming oral argument, EPA is asking a court to hold that there is no need to proceed with environmentalists’ suit that aims to force the agency to regulate commercial uses of methylene chloride in paint-strippers, after it determined last year that those uses pose “unreasonable risks” requiring regulation under TSCA.

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Energy Policy Advocates, a conservative-leaning group focused on transparency in federal energy policy, claims that a lawsuit filed by 15 states and 14 environmental organizations over the Trump EPA’s rule retaining Obama-era ozone air standards is a “Trojan Horse” that ultimately aims for tighter regulation of greenhouse gases.

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California environmental officials have released for public review a draft update to their groundbreaking environmental justice mapping tool, CalEnviroScreen, which uses an updated and expanded set of inputs and indicators to identify pollution burdens and vulnerabilities in communities statewide.

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Environmental researchers are warning that exposures to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) could potentially reduce the effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccine, with one analyst saying that even though data on such a link is limited it suggests a need to prioritize vaccine rollout in communities with higher PFAS exposures.

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EPA is asking a National Academy of Science (NAS) panel to review the environmental harms of chemical sunscreens and balance them against the products’ benefits, a process officials say will take the place of a risk assessment EPA lacks authority to conduct because the products are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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The push from environmentalists and some states to regulate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as a single class could get a boost from a new article by California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) staffers that sets out their basis for regulating PFAS as a class under the state’s Safer Consumer Products (SCP) green chemistry program.

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Environmentalists are ramping up their advocacy in support of near-term federal greenhouse gas rules that are stricter than those contained in the deal between California and several automakers, drafting a letter to be sent as soon as Feb. 25 to President Joe Biden urging stronger action as part of efforts to decarbonize the vehicle sector.

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