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Daily News

November 21, 2019

California air regulators and other state officials for the first time in 50 years say they are not attending the Los Angeles Auto Show to “send a message” to automakers siding with the Trump administration in litigation over the state’s authority to set greenhouse gas standards that they are “not buying” the companies’ claims of being “green."

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The auto industry is criticizing California air regulators’ decision to set a Dec. 3 deadline for zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) buyers to apply for rebates before new program changes take effect, setting up the potential for many customers to not receive rebates or to receive lower amounts than they were expecting when they purchased the vehicles.

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November 20, 2019

Defense Department (DOD) officials say the military will “adapt” to any policy EPA might issue that adopts stricter groundwater cleanup limits on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) than what DOD recently set, a concession after DOD was criticized for preempting EPA’s plan to apply more stringent screening levels if the chemicals are not comingled.

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Defense Department (DOD) officials say the military will “adapt” to any policy EPA might issue that adopts stricter groundwater cleanup limits on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) than what DOD recently set, a concession after DOD was criticized for preempting EPA’s plan to apply more stringent screening levels if the chemicals are not comingled.

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A bipartisan group of 18 senators is urging EPA to include a range of agricultural feedstocks in the agency’s long-awaited rule declaring biomass sourced from sustainably managed forests as carbon neutral, a step that effectively exempts the material from greenhouse gas requirements, though it is unclear if the agency is planning to expand the rule.

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Drinking water utilities are recommending EPA conduct a formal rulemaking to outline how the agency will make determinations that harmful algal blooms (HABs) and hypoxia events are of “national significance” for which the agency should provide state and local help and are asking EPA to clarify how it will assist communities affected by HABs.

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Environmentalists are urging EPA to take an aggressive approach as it crafts a congressionally mandated policy for assessing risks and assisting states dealing with harmful algal blooms (HABs), arguing that HABs are chronic events that are likely to increase as a result of climate change.

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EPA is hoping to release a host of major deregulatory measures and other policies this year, including high-profile proposals governing perfluorinated chemicals, power plant air toxics and waste releases, stormwater requirements and more, according to the agency’s latest regulatory agenda, though many of the measures have yet to begin White House review.

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The Trump EPA is vowing to take a series of major actions to scale back Obama-era climate and air rules before the end of the year, including multiple self-imposed deadlines this month or next for high-profile deregulatory actions, such as power plant rule rollbacks, according to its just-released fall regulatory agenda.

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November 19, 2019

Environmentalists are raising concerns that a bipartisan compromise the House Energy and Commerce Committee struck on Superfund legislation addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) will weaken Democrats’ push for a more aggressive measure now pending in defense authorization legislation.

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Supporters of legislation banning the use and importation of asbestos under EPA’s toxics authority are gearing up to advance the bill in the Senate after the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted overwhelmingly Nov. 19 to approve a bipartisan compromise, which gives the chlor-alkali industry as much as 10 years to phase-in the ban.

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Senate environment committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) is continuing to tout the need to reform the Clean Water Act (CWA) section 401 certification process, holding a second hearing in as many years on the issue, but has yet to plan a markup of his bill to narrow the scope of impacts to water quality from federal permits states may consider.

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Major industry groups are opposing EPA staff’s recommendation that the agency tighten its annual fine particulate matter (PM2.5) national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS), echoing a majority of EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) in finding that the latest data on PM2.5’s health effects do not justify a stricter limit.

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The Energy Information Administration (EIA) is confirming earlier projections that the country’s energy-related carbon dioxide emissions edged up last year, reflecting stubbornly high emissions from the transportation sector that has become the economy’s largest source of CO2.

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November 18, 2019

The White House Council on Environmental Quality’s (CEQ) forthcoming proposal to streamline how agencies conduct National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews of major federal actions could seek to erase decades of legal precedent concerning how such reviews should be conducted and open the door to rounds of new litigation, critics say.

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The recent appellate ruling requiring EPA to consider risks from existing chemicals’ legacy uses under the revised toxics law may force the agency to re-do several already issued draft risk evaluations and rush to revise upcoming drafts, according to environmentalists and other plaintiffs, potentially forcing the agency to miss statutory deadlines for some of the first 10 substances under review.

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A federal district court judge’s recent endorsement of a controversial judicial doctrine relating to when EPA must develop waterbody cleanup plans under the Clean Water Act (CWA) opens the door to a rare ruling affirmatively finding the doctrine applies to Ohio’s and EPA’s handling of nutrient pollution in western Lake Erie.

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EPA is largely rejecting Government Accountability Office (GAO) calls to make Superfund sites less vulnerable to climate change impacts, including incorporating climate risks into its long-term strategic plan, though officials agreed to improve processes for defining sites’ boundaries and are weighing whether to reinforce existing tools and resources available to local site teams.

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An upcoming meeting of EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) is likely to exacerbate a contentious fight among panel members over the agency’s approach for reviewing its ozone air standard, with deep divisions over the merits of EPA’s “weight of evidence” method for assessing ozone’s health impacts.

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November 15, 2019

House science committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) has followed through on her long-running threat to subpoena EPA for allegedly withholding data on its decision to drop assessments of 10 chemicals, including formaldehyde, that were being conducted by its Influential Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program.

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