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Daily News

February 06, 2020

San Francisco Baykeeper is suing two California cities in federal district court for alleged violations of their Clean Water Act (CWA) municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) permits by allowing discharges of bacteria pollution into numerous local waterways including South San Francisco Bay.

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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is lauding the clean energy and zero-carbon aspirations in Pacific Gas & Electric Co.’s (PG&E) proposed reorganization plan to come out of bankruptcy, amid continued calls by California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and leading lawmakers for the state to take over control of the utility.

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February 05, 2020

California lawmakers are again pondering whether regulators should raise the price of greenhouse gas allowances to help achieve the state’s ambitious 2030 emissions target, while researchers argue carbon capture and storage (CCS) and other “GHG negative” technologies could help make up a projected shortfall to hit the state’s 2045 climate goal.

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The California Chamber of Commerce is making final arguments in its bid to win a court injunction temporarily blocking the state from enforcing a mandate that businesses post Proposition 65 cancer warnings for the ubiquitous food chemical acrylamide, ahead of oral arguments on the issue in federal district court.

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First-time local California agency groundwater sustainability management plans being submitted to state regulators may eventually lead to actions to restrict pumping by agricultural interests and districts that hold water rights, potentially resulting in a new spate of lawsuits over water supply in the Golden State in the years to come, sources say.

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Road construction groups and California local air regulators are pressing late-hour concerns that the Trump administration’s rollback of vehicle greenhouse gas standards will make it difficult for transportation plans to prove they “conform” to strategies to meet air quality limits, a move that could ultimately jeopardize project funding.

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A three-judge panel with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit is grappling over the scope of issues it should consider in reviewing two conflicting district court decisions on the key issue of whether climate change nuisance cases brought by California municipalities against oil companies belong in state or federal courts.

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Critics of the Trump administration’s controversial proposal scaling back National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) implementing rules could face legal hurdles if they challenge a final version of the rule, as legal experts warn they may lack standing to bring facial challenges and will have to wait to bring as-applied suits.

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EPA has finalized a rule streamlining and standardizing the process for the public to submit petitions to the agency asking it to object to Clean Air Act Title V air permits issued by states, setting new requirements for petitioners on how to craft the requests and for states on collecting written input on permits before EPA reviews them.

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EPA is defending its first-time toxics rule banning consumer uses of paint strippers containing methylene chloride from dual challenges filed by a chemical industry group and a coalition of labor and environmental groups, charging the industry claims fail on the merits while the coalition’s arguments are “unripe” and “unreviewable.”

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February 04, 2020

A Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) attorney is criticizing EPA’s apparent plans to base sweeping changes to cost-benefit analysis for its air program on generic Clean Air Act authority, calling it an “act of desperation” that illustrates the agency’s lack of authority to actually pursue the changes.

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A federal appeals court is denying the Trump administration’s request to expedite litigation over its preemption of California and other states’ vehicle GHG programs, while simultaneously denying dueling requests by environmental groups and others to hold the litigation in abeyance.

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Environmentalists and Democratic state attorneys general (AGs) are detailing plans to sue EPA over its proposed delay of compliance deadlines for its 2015 coal ash disposal rule -- the latest in a series of revisions to the policy -- by arguing in written comments that the plan is unlawful because it “all but ignores” an adverse court ruling.

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Major industry groups are urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit to rule that EPA cannot impose injunctive relief such as forcing emissions reductions from companies for past Clean Air Act new source review (NSR) violations, a position that could severely hamper EPA’s ability to enforce the permitting program.

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Litigation over the now-repealed 2015 Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction rule is continuing in federal courts even as EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers brace for expected new lawsuits over their narrow 2020 policy defining waters of the United States (WOTUS) and tackle litigation over a related 2019 action that repealed the 2015 rule.

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Environmentalists and their supporters are claiming EPA’s final lead dust hazard rule violates the revised Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), administrative law, and a court order because even though the policy strengthens hazard identification standards, it remains unlawfully weak and leaves other lead paint standards unchanged.

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February 03, 2020

EPA has denied environmentalists’ petition asking the agency to tighten various provisions in an Obama-era rule setting maximum achievable control technology (MACT) air toxics standards for oil refineries, rejecting criticism that the rule includes unlawfully weak requirements on flaring of waste gases, air monitoring, and more.

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Pressure is mounting on Congress to put aside partisan differences and reauthorize the Department of Homeland Security’s Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program before it expires in April, pressure that is likely to rise in the wake of EPA’s rollback of its related Risk Management Plan (RMP) program.

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Municipal governments and the oil industry, which are poised to face off in oral argument in two climate nuisance lawsuits targeting the sector, are sparring over the relevance of failed climate litigation brought by youth plaintiffs against the federal government, with industry arguing an appellate decision to dismiss the case should be persuasive.

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EPA’s approval of a novel variance for Denver’s water utility is drawing praise from environmentalists and wastewater utilities, who say its alternative approach to reducing lead levels could be a model for other utilities facing unintended consequences of increased nutrient pollution from the agency’s preferred drinking water treatment in its proposed lead and copper rule (LCR) revisions.

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