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Daily News

June 30, 2020

A group of researchers largely funded by environmentalists is urging policymakers to regulate thousands of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as one large group and to bar non-essential uses, arguing such an approach will improve risk assessment and management efficiency while reducing regrettable substitution.

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June 29, 2020

EPA’s final evaluation of the solvent methylene chloride (MC), the first of an existing chemical under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), launches risk management activities for scores of uses found to present unreasonable risk, but environmentalists are expected to challenge the half-dozen uses found not to present risk.

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States and environmental groups are detailing their arguments against EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) rule preempting state vehicle greenhouse gas standards, charging the move exceeds the agencies’ authorities and that their case is bolstered by a pair of recent major Supreme Court rulings.

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The Trump administration has developed new criteria to evaluate the award of loans and loan guarantees under an EPA water infrastructure program, responding to Congress’ mandate to address a budget scoring concern that could limit the use of such funds -- but it remains unclear whether the criteria will make it easier for utilities to obtain the funds.

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State water regulators and utilities are raising concerns about some aspects of EPA’s proposal to create a central repository for all guidance and to develop a formal process for developing or revising guidance, saying it is unclear which documents would be covered by the rule and that a planned 30-day comment period for guides is inadequate.

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A federal district court judge is backing EPA’s long-standing position that it need only conduct “residual” health risk reviews for its existing air toxics regulations once, rejecting environmentalists’ claim that the reviews must occur every eight years alongside related Clean Air Act-mandated reviews of air toxic control technologies.

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Following the lead of the federal government and several other states, California lawmakers are advancing legislation to ban firefighting foam from containing perfluoroalkyl and polyfluroalkyl substances (PFAS) beginning in 2022, as well as requiring notification for the presence of PFAS in the protective equipment of firefighters.

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Environmentalists and oil groups are making their final pitches to EPA and White House officials regarding the agency’s draft final rollback of oil and gas methane standards, including a late-hour battle over the implications of scrapping rules for low-production wells and the legal authority for the rollback.

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June 26, 2020

EPA and its largest employee union are elevating a public fight over the agency’s plans to reopen after coronavirus-caused work-from-home orders, with union officials arguing the agency is not sharing plans for how it will safely reopen while the agency is blaming the union for failed communications with its members.

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Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) is seeking to insert in the fiscal year 2021 defense authorization bill a provision to allow communities near military facilities to recoup cleanup costs for two per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and give the Defense Department (DOD) the ability to pursue recovery of remediation costs from industrial parties.

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Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) is blocking President Donald Trump’s nomination of Doug Benevento to be EPA deputy administrator over concerns that the agency is considering granting dozens of renewable fuel standard (RFS) waivers to biofuel production mandates, making it impossible for the nomination to move forward.

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in a new ruling is blocking the Trump administration’s border wall construction in part because the damage to the environment from the projects rises to the level of “harm” required for plaintiffs to bring their suit, handing a major win to environmentalists and Democratic-led states.

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Updated at 4:50 p.m. EST - House Democrats are calling on EPA to halt its pending rulemaking that would retain the agency’s existing suite of particulate matter (PM) ambient air limits, urging EPA to instead reevaluate the decision following the recommendations of former agency science advisers who support tougher PM limits to adequately protect public health.

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California has approved a landmark rule requiring medium- and heavy-duty truck makers for the first time to sell a minimum number of zero-emission models starting in 2024, with support from Northeastern state officials but continued opposition from major truck manufacturers.

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EPA toxics chief Alex Dunn is defending the agency’s revised model consent order for negotiating agreements with chemical companies under TSCA section 5, saying the “automated” check-the-box approach will speed the process and improve coordination within the agency, including with the enforcement and water offices.

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The federal court ruling permanently blocking California from requiring Proposition 65 cancer warning labels on products containing glyphosate may bolster other First Amendment challenges to the unique toxic warning law, lawyers tracking the issue say, though they expect the state will appeal the decision.

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June 25, 2020

The Justice Department (DOJ) is appealing a federal district court’s stay of the Trump administration’s narrowed definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) in Colorado to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, and is urging a federal court in New Mexico to deny ranchers’ request to stay a small portion of the rule.

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The District of Columbia is launching a climate change fraud suit against major oil companies in D.C. Superior Court, joining a handful of states in filing similar litigation, as well as a series of climate “nuisance” suits brought mostly by local governments.

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EPA and Washington state regulators, along with citizen advocates, are criticizing the Energy Department’s (DOE) decision to withhold fiscal year 2022 budget details during a recent virtual budget meeting on DOE’s largest nuclear waste site, saying the release of such details is necessary to aid stakeholders’ input into the cleanup plan.

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CalEPA Secretary Jared Blumenfeld is signaling an openness to tightening the state’s greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program amid longstanding calls to do so by some state lawmakers and academics, a potentially major shift that could include cutting the number of credits freely allocated to industry and significantly increasing the price of allowances.

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