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Daily News

September 08, 2020

EPA is arguing that an Obama-era Clean Air Act (CAA) preemption waiver allowing California to implement stricter emissions rules for “non-road” diesel engines was “well-reasoned” and should be upheld, rebutting industry claims that the agency’s withdrawal of the state’s vehicle greenhouse gas rule waiver supports rescinding the off-road waiver.

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A recent federal appeals court ruling faulting Pennsylvania’s plan for cutting power plant ozone-forming emissions as too weak adds to pressure on the state to impose stricter air pollution limits on utilities and for EPA to grant a petition by Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states to also mandate the tougher emission controls, state air officials say.

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Environmental groups are grappling with the extent to which they should support using the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to overturn Trump administration environmental rollbacks, despite multiple recent calls to deploy the law to undo such deregulatory actions if Democrats sweep the Nov. 3 elections.

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EPA has formally begun its process for evaluating the next 20 chemicals under the revised TSCA, significantly expanding the universe of chemicals -- as well as the products and companies that rely on them -- subject to review and possible regulation.

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September 04, 2020

A California company is suing EPA charging the agency unlawfully designated one its cleaning products as a “pesticide” and unfairly barred it from entering the United States, a novel challenge to the agency’s aggressive enforcement efforts targeting products that falsely claim to be effective against the coronavirus.

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A federal district judge chided Justice Department (DOJ) environment chief Jeff Clark for downplaying the significance of the Trump administration’s overhaul of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), in a lawsuit where environmentalists are urging the judge to block the revisions from taking effect as scheduled for Sept. 14.

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EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is drawing criticism from environmentalists, a former top EPA official and others for mostly sidestepping the issue of climate change risks in his major speech on the agency’s 50th anniversary and his vision for its future, instead using climate to attack Democrats’ energy policies.

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The Trump administration is reviewing dozens of major infrastructure projects as candidates for winning waivers from key environmental reviews, in response to a controversial executive order from President Donald Trump urging agencies to use their emergency powers to spur economic growth due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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A federal district court judge pressed attorneys for environmentalists and EPA at a Sept. 3 hearing to identify appellate or Supreme Court rulings that support their opposing positions on whether the agency properly excluded 1,365 acres of salt ponds adjacent to San Francisco Bay from Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction.

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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is arguing against any immediate remedy after a federal district judge found that it violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in approving a waterway crossing for the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), a decision that the agency is appealing.

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September 03, 2020

EPA has forwarded to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) its final TSCA rule regulating the widely used flame retardant decabromodiphenyl ethers (DecaBDE) -- the third of five rules the agency is slated to finalize in December that will regulate persistent, bioaccumulative toxics (PBTs).

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EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler called for “community driven environmentalism” in a speech at the Nixon presidential library that was billed as an effort to detail a vision for the agency for the next 50 years but also served to lay out Wheeler’s agenda at EPA should President Trump win a second term.

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EPA is poised to formally begin evaluating the next 20 chemicals under TSCA, preparing Sept. 4 to release final “scope” documents that will guide the evaluations as well as a final list of companies responsible for paying fees to help fund those assessments, with officials indicating some flexibilities in fee-payment schedules given the pandemic.

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EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is setting out an agenda for a second Trump term that would restructure the agency’s operations to break down barriers between program offices, target emerging pollution concerns, and focus on “community-driven environmentalism” that would promote environmental justice.

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EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is denying petitions by environmental groups, states and a major industrial union that asked the agency to reconsider a final rule rolling back Obama-era facility chemical disaster safety mandates, shifting focus to litigation over the rollback that had been on hold pending a final EPA reconsideration decision.

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EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) has rejected a novel appeal from a Utah gas services company against its agency-imposed air permit, in a potentially precedent-setting dispute testing the boundaries of when an earlier consent decree between EPA and the company might shield some of its equipment from Clean Air Act regulation.

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As EPA and local authorities continue to assess the scope of damage from Hurricane Laura, environmentalists expect a long cleanup and recovery period that poses risks to human health and the environment as a result of air emissions spikes from shuttered industrial facilities restarting as well as hazards associated with cleanups.

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EPA’s long-awaited proposal expected to declare biomass as a carbon neutral fuel under Clean Air Act permits will not be issued until after the Nov. 3 election in part to avoid undercutting the agency’s defense of its Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule power plant climate rule, sources say.

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Ending their compressed 2020 legislative session due to the COVID-19 emergency, California lawmakers have rejected what would have been a landmark plastic container reduction and recycling mandate, but approved a bill creating a new oversight board for the embattled state toxics department.

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September 02, 2020

EPA assumes chemical industry workers are being required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) which reduces the likelihood of an unreasonable risk, the agency says, clarifying the agency’s approach to assessing industry requests to use new chemicals.

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