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Daily News

November 16, 2020

President Donald Trump’s ongoing refusal to begin formal transition activities for President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration is beginning to spark concerns of a disorderly transition at EPA and the Justice Department (DOJ) that could thwart Biden’s ability to quickly implement his environmental agenda.

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A group of clean energy backers who supported Joe Biden’s presidential bid is floating a compendium of policy options for the Biden administration and Congress, including specific permit policies and analysis EPA might undertake to spur development of clean energy separately from revisions to power plant greenhouse gas rules.

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EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) is moving closer to supporting the agency’s revised guidelines on counting the costs and benefits of rules with a draft review of the plan that includes caveats on the “discount” rate and other issues, while readying a mildly critical review of a separate report on EPA’s use of “reduced-form” air quality models.

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November 13, 2020

A federal judge appeared to leave the door open to arguments being made by states and environmentalists as they seek to force EPA to require industry groups to report more data on their use of asbestos under TSCA, suggesting the states may have standing to sue while environmentalists may be able to make extra-record arguments.

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A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit is weighing competing arguments on how a landmark Supreme Court Clean Water Act (CWA) ruling on groundwater pollution applies to environmentalists’ suit seeking more stringent regulation of Illinois coal ash ponds, illustrating the challenge courts face interpreting the precedent.

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A federal appeals court has dismissed a lawsuit brought by industry seeking to derail EPA’s listing of a New Jersey industrial site to Superfund’s National Priorities List (NPL), with the responsible party failing to convince the court that the agency violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) when it scored the site for listing.

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A former Clinton EPA official says he expects the incoming Biden administration to consider restoring to the agency’s 10 regions the discretion they previously held through the Obama presidency to oversee a series of environmental enforcement actions, part of an effort to immediately bolster overall enforcement.

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Maryland officials and environmental groups are pressing EPA to toughen its interstate ozone pollution efforts, praising a planned tightening of state nitrogen oxides (NOx) caps under a landmark emissions trading program while also urging the agency to craft daily limits to prevent short-term ozone spikes as well as target vehicles and other industrial sources.

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Environmental policy experts are urging the incoming Biden administration to restructure EPA’s enforcement office to step up actions on conventional pollution violations as a way to help address climate change, while also rescinding Trump-era policies at the Justice Department (DOJ) that limit settlement tools.

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November 12, 2020

EPA officials will face significant challenges in restoring the agency’s mission of solving environmental problems and protecting public health under President-elect Joe Biden’s administration, but lessons learned from correcting previous agency mismanagement could provide guidance, former EPA and other federal officials say.

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EPA is poised to release its final water quality trading policy “soon,” says top water office official who is also warning industry and local officials not to expect the plan to fund pilot programs or establish federal credit-trading “clearinghouse” operations, saying the agency intends to create a “foundation” for states to implement.

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Automakers are accelerating their shift to ramping up production of a growing range of electric vehicles (EVs) in response to state incentives and the incoming Biden administration’s expected push to promote the low or zero-emission cars, but major deployment hurdles remain for the sector to overcome, say industry officials and legal analysts.

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EPA and Missouri are defending the Trump EPA’s approval of the state’s unusual and controversial nutrient water quality standards for lakes, urging a federal district court to reject environmentalists’ challenge to the approval and uphold the agency’s decision.

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November 11, 2020

Attorneys representing California’s Imperial County air district, which borders Mexico, are rebutting environmentalists’ lawsuit arguing that EPA illegally approved the region’s state implementation plan (SIP) for attaining a federal ozone standard, according to a recent amicus brief in the case.

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Midwestern ethanol producers are pressing California air board officials to begin factoring in sustainable farming practices -- including those that sequester significant amounts of carbon in soil -- into how officials calculate the carbon intensity (CI) of ethanol under the state’s low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS).

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The chances that Republicans will retain control of the Senate next year may complicate President-elect Joe Biden’s choice for EPA administrator, especially given concerns from some that the most-discussed potential nominee, California Air Resources Board (CARB) Chairwoman Mary Nichols, could face difficulties winning confirmation.

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The progressive Center for American Progress (CAP) think tank is urging Congress to massively increase funding for EPA and other federal programs targeted at reducing pollution from stormwater runoff that have strong bipartisan support but which face uncertain prospects in a likely divided Congress with competing budget priorities.

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A group of over 150 environmental policy experts, including former government officials, is floating detailed recommendations for the substance and timing of climate change actions the Biden administration should take at EPA and across the federal government, including immediate efforts to launch greenhouse gas regulations.

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Several California state agencies and a coalition of environmental groups are protesting the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) planned sale of seven oil and gas leases in Kern County, renewing prior arguments that federal officials are failing to comply with environmental protection requirements.

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The California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) enforcement chief is warning automakers not to “lie to us” about complying with the state’s vehicle emission standards, while also praising the use of supplemental environmental projects (SEPs) as valuable mitigation measures in settlements -- a sharp contrast to the Trump administration’s policy to end SEPs.

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