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Daily News

February 23, 2021

Democratic leaders of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (T&I) are planning to reintroduce water infrastructure legislation to reauthorize a key EPA funding program at “ambitious” levels, pushing back on Republican concerns that increased federal funding is unrealistic.

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Environmentalists are urging EPA to quickly craft new standards for “legacy” ash disposal sites setting strict requirements for monitoring, financial assurance and disaster prevention, while industry groups are pressing the agency to first build a new rulemaking record and then tailor any rule to the specific conditions it finds.

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EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) is urging the agency’s new political leadership to reconsider the Trump administration’s decision that rejected an OIG recommendation for EPA to communicate the adverse health risks of ethylene oxide (EtO) exposure to communities living near facilities emitting the solvent.

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Michael Regan is suggesting that, if the Senate confirms him as EPA administrator, he might consider an approach for defining Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction that takes elements of both the Obama and Trump administration’s competing policies in order to resolve legal uncertainty and address concerns from multiple stakeholders.

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The hack of a Florida water utility’s computer system – and attempted poisoning of the municipal water supply – offered a painful demonstration of cybersecurity resource strains facing all kinds of critical infrastructure operators, according to Kevin Morley, a cyber policy leader and manager of federal relations for the American Water Works Association.

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February 22, 2021

EPA is announcing that it now supports a federal appeals court ruling that largely bars the agency from granting small refiners’ requests for renewable fuel standard (RFS) compliance waivers, signaling that the Biden administration is likely to place a major limit on the exemptions compared to the Trump EPA that issued dozens of RFS waivers.

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The Biden EPA is moving forward with decisions to develop drinking water standards for two of the most well-studied per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and to propose monitoring for dozens of PFAS in drinking water to determine if other rules are needed, backing decisions the agency made at the end of the Trump administration.

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Environmentalists and other non-governmental groups are poised to push federal energy regulators to broadly review the greenhouse gas (GHG) and other impacts associated with natural gas infrastructure projects as officials begin reconsidering their years-old policy for approving such projects.

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has granted a request from EPA and biofuels groups to halt litigation filed by renewable fuel producers over three Trump-era renewable fuel standard (RFS) compliance waivers issued to refineries, shifting focus to a related 10th Circuit legal battle over RFS exemptions.

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Key California lawmakers appear poised to largely maintain rules for the state’s greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program in 2021, despite calls by environmental justice (EJ) groups and others for higher credit prices and fewer free allocations to industry sectors to help the state reach its 2030 and longer-term emissions targets.

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The Biden administration’s withdrawal of the Trump administration’s 11th-hour proposal to substantially expand areas in the California desert for large-scale renewable power development is irking the solar and wind industries.

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February 19, 2021

Senators could approve a carbon tax under streamlined budget reconciliation procedures, but it is not clear it can do so with language that would limit EPA’s regulatory authority for greenhouse gases, a condition that many industry supporters have attached to any carbon tax plan, according to a new paper from a free-market think tank.

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The Department of Justice (DOJ) is formally asking a federal court to suspend a consolidated suit challenging the Trump administration’s rollback of vehicle greenhouse gas standards, a move that had been expected after the Biden administration in a Jan. 20 executive order formally signaled plans to revise the standards.

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Refiners are clashing with each other and biofuels groups over requests from states and some small refiners for “severe economic harm” waivers from renewable fuel standard (RFS) biofuel blending obligations, in a dispute similar a fight over hardship waivers for small refiners that biofuels advocates fiercely oppose.

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A federal appeals court has rejected an attempt by third parties to invalidate a settlement between the federal government and two companies at a Rhode Island Superfund site, rejecting their claim that the pact was a rubber stamp of an earlier EPA order that a lower court’s landmark ruling partially rejected as “arbitrary and capricious.”

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The Biden EPA has formally published a Clean Water Act (CWA) general permit for industrial stormwater that appears unchanged from a version that the Trump administration finalized earlier this year as a result of a 2016 settlement agreement with environmentalists and industry but did not have time to publish.

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Oil sector and biofuels industry groups are opposing EPA’s bid to pause litigation over the 2020 renewable fuel standard (RFS), saying the Supreme Court’s eventual ruling over related questions on small refiners’ waivers from RFS compliance will not moot broader arguments and does not justify abeyance in the litigation as the agency claims.

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Preliminary data from a fast-tracked EPA research project examining four innovative destruction technologies as well as incineration for treating persistent chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) all showed promise in destroying the initial compounds, but it is unclear what potential byproducts the methods created.

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February 18, 2021

The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) is revoking draft Trump-era guidance for how federal agencies should incorporate greenhouse gas impacts in their National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews, reviving a broader Obama administration NEPA GHG policy while also planning a review of that document.

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Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), the top Republican on the environment committee, is urging the White House to release from review the Trump EPA’s final regulatory determination to begin the process to regulate two per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

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