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Daily News

June 10, 2021

EPA Administrator Michael Regan’s pledge to craft a new “middle ground” policy defining “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) is facing significant doubts as supporters of the Trump-era definition threaten legal action over Biden administration overhaul plans while environmentalists slam the officials over the pace of any changes.

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EPA is scrapping its controversial Trump-era guidance that environmentalists said unlawfully narrowed a significant new use rule (SNUR) for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), alongside issuing a legally-mandated TSCA proposal setting new reporting requirements for PFAS manufactured or imported since 2011.

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Oil company Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) has dropped its request for the Supreme Court to review and reverse a Superfund ruling that forced it to face contribution claims at a Montana site, in a case that was linked to the high court’s recent holding that non-Superfund settlements do not trigger the law’s contribution claims and its three-year statute of limitations.

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Oil company Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) has dropped its request for the Supreme Court to review and reverse a Superfund ruling that forced it to face contribution claims at a Montana site, in a case that was linked to the high court’s recent holding that non-Superfund settlements do not trigger the law’s contribution claims and its three-year statute of limitations.

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EPA Administrator Michael Regan says he is aiming for an “electric future” for road transportation, though he sees a useful role for near-term measures to reduce diesel exhaust, greenhouse gases and other air emissions from vehicles, statements that may heighten tensions with the oil and biofuels industries who compete over liquid fuels markets.

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Environmental justice (EJ) groups are urging California officials to prioritize direct air pollution cuts from major industrial sources in disadvantaged communities as part of an updated “scoping plan” to achieve the state’s lofty greenhouse gas-reduction goal for 2030 and its 2045 “carbon neutrality” target, signaling future debate over the use of “market-based” mechanisms that EJ groups generally oppose.

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New Mexico’s environment secretary is urging senators to back calls for EPA to designate certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as a “hazardous waste” under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) a possible alternative to long-running calls for the agency to take a similar action under the Superfund law.

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The path for Washington state’s newly enacted greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program to eventually link to the larger California-Quebec trading system faces a number of hurdles, including ensuring that any connection complies with a number of environmental justice (EJ) and equity-related provisions in the Washington law, according to officials.

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June 09, 2021

General Motors says it now supports the “emission reduction goals” California negotiated with a five other auto companies, while urging that EPA in its forthcoming update to near-term greenhouse gas standards adopt an electric vehicle (EV) “compliance pathway” that would recognize “early” investments in such technology.

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Biden administration officials and congressional Democrats are continuing to press for major climate-related elements to be included in an infrastructure package being negotiated on Capitol Hill, even as one set of bipartisan talks on the issue broke down in part over climate-related differences.

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Environmental groups are decrying the Biden administration’s decision to leave the Trump-era definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) in place while EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers craft a new definition and are calling on the administration to repeal the 2020 rule as soon as possible to protect vulnerable communities.

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EPA has rescinded nearly all provisions in a controversial Trump-era rule that curbed the authorities of its Environmental Appeals Board (EAB), the body that adjudicates challenges to permits and administrative penalties, with the Biden administration saying the reversal restores the board’s impartiality and independence.

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House Democrats are optimistic they will reach agreement with the Senate on clean water infrastructure investments for EPA even while pushing a bill that authorizes higher funding levels than the Senate approved, pointing to offers from Senate Republicans during failed talks with President Joe Biden.

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Industry groups are urging EPA to amend rather than rescind a Trump-era cost-benefit rule to require consistent analysis throughout Clean Air Act rulemaking, rather than return to prior practice they say can be manipulated to overstate benefits.

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EPA is asking a federal appellate court to remand the Trump-era TSCA evaluation of 1,4-dioxane in part to consider whether to study risks from additional uses of the solvent, including controversial questions about general population exposures through drinking water and a broader look at its presence as a byproduct in consumer and commercial goods.

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Early data from a joint EPA-Canadian monitoring network shows widespread deposition of both legacy and replacement short-chain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in precipitation in the Great Lakes, driving new calls from environmentalists for officials to adopt a “whole-of-government” approach to address the issue.

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June 08, 2021

A federal judge is expected to soon stay for 120 days a lawsuit filed in 2019 by the Trump administration challenging the California water board’s adoption of new water quality and flow standards for the San Joaquin portion of the Bay-Delta watershed, to allow Biden administration lawyers to hold settlement talks with state officials.

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The House transportation committee is poised to mark up a $51 billion EPA clean water infrastructure bill June 9 that authorizes significantly more funding than a companion bill that cleared the Senate, following the breakdown in negotiations between President Joe Biden and Senate Republicans over an additional, broader infrastructure package.

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Free-market and other EPA critics are unlikely to challenge directly the agency’s plan to revoke a Trump-era rule significantly narrowing how it calculates the costs and benefits of Clean Air Act regulations but instead will wait to bring an applied challenge when the agency issues a rule that revives the broader analytical approach that had been used for decades.

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With backing from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Democrats are pushing new legislation that aims to speed the cleanup of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) at Defense Department (DOD) locations by setting deadlines for testing and remediating sites and authorizing a one-time $10 billion investment to fund the effort.

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