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Daily News

February 01, 2019

Industry, states, local governments and others are invoking EPA's changes to its readings of Clean Air Act permit rules, Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction tests and other policies in briefs urging the Supreme Court to scrap deference to agencies on such regulatory interpretations, saying these changes should require notice-and-comment rulemaking.

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A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit appeared skeptical of a West Virginia wastewater treatment plant's push to revive a challenge to EPA's denial of a change to the state's copper water quality standard, with one of the judges saying the treatment plant's attorney was “tilting at windmills.”

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January 31, 2019

EPA appears to be reconsidering whether to continue using a strict Obama-era risk value for ethylene oxide (EtO) for regulatory purposes, a step that appears to bolster a request from the chemical industry but one that is drawing sharp criticism from congressional Democrats, who are urging the agency to “preserve” the value.

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A retired EPA water attorney has filed a complaint with the agency’s inspector general (IG) alleging that Region 5 Administrator Cathy Stepp suppressed critical staff comments on a water permit for a controversial Minnesota mine, clearing the way for a permit that environmentalists and a member of Congress say is inadequate.

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The Justice Department (DOJ) has reached a proposed settlement with the two remaining potentially responsible parties (PRPs) at the massive Lower Fox River and Green Bay Superfund site, moving toward ending years-long litigation among PRPs and the government over a sediment cleanup expected to exceed $1 billion in costs.

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Environmentalists are seeking to block military efforts to dispose of material containing perfluorinated compounds before EPA advances a plan to regulate the compounds under Superfund law, calling for a halt in the incineration of firefighting foam containing the chemicals and successfully objecting to disposal of contaminated soil in a New Jersey landfill.

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The recent EPA shutdown has further delayed issuance of guidance documents to help states account for foreign air pollution in their plans for complying with the agency’s regional haze emissions reduction program, forcing states to craft plans without federal input and risk future disagreements with EPA that could hinder approval of the plans.

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Pesticides department officials and county agricultural regulators are defending new restrictions on the use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos from attacks by environmental and public health groups, which charge the rules fail to provide adequate protections and argue the state must immediately move to ban the organophosphate insecticide.

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January 30, 2019

EPA is facing pressure from states and water utilities to tighten its assessment of the risks posed by a pair of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) substances, known as GenX and PFBS, intensifying pressure on the agency to step up its oversight of the broad class of chemicals in part as a way to harmonize state standards.

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Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler's answers to environment panel senators' questions ahead of his confirmation vote adopt a minimal approach offering few hints on EPA's pending regulatory agenda, evading specific responses or commitments on a host of major policies including rollbacks of Obama-era rules.

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A key appellate judge says environmentalists may have “forfeited” their ability to challenge the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) greenhouse gas analysis of a major natural gas pipeline in the Mid-Atlantic, undermining their efforts to strengthen court mandates that the commission assess downstream emissions impacts.

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Environmentalists and EPA are making competing arguments for an appellate court's path forward on revisions to Obama-era coal ash disposal standards the agency has pledged to reconsider, with the challengers now suggesting the court could scrap the new rule but stay that mandate to avoid making regulatory compliance “impossible.”

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Environmentalists are opposing EPA's plan to ease strict sediment cleanup levels at the high-profile Portland Harbor Superfund site in Portland, OR, charging the agency lacks the scientific basis to extrapolate eased risk values from a recent risk review for the chemical benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) to other chemicals in the same class at the site.

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January 29, 2019

Trump administration plans to narrow the Obama-era standard for determining Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction might undercut some states’ plans to assume CWA section 404 dredge-and-fill permitting authority, a top state water official says, because it would limit the waters subject to the law and reduce the incentive for new state permit programs

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EPA has withdrawn from White House review rollbacks of Obama-era pesticide farmworker protection rules, part of a deal with Democratic senators to win confirmation for the Trump administration’s new toxics chief and clear the way for Congress to renew EPA’s authority to collect industry fees to support timely pesticide reviews.

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The Energy Department's (DOE) liability for cleaning up the remaining 16 contaminated sites in its nuclear weapons complex jumped $109 billion over the past year, to $377 billion, largely due to updated estimates for addressing high-level radioactive waste at the Hanford reservation in Richland, WA, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) says in a just-released report.

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EPA is urging the Supreme Court to deny a Michigan road commission's petition seeking judicial review of federal “objections” to state-crafted Clean Water Act (CWA) section 404 permit proposals, arguing even when the agency uses its power to move authority over a permit away from state regulators it is not “final agency action” subject to litigation.

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EPA's chemical office staff are returning to work following the weeks-long government shutdown facing a new backlog of applications for new chemical approvals and limited time to meet statutory deadlines for assessing risks of existing chemicals, sources say.

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Environmentalists and former EPA staff are raising multiple concerns that the agency's recently released draft assessment of pigment violet 29 (PV29), the first such assessment released since Congress reformed the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), violates that statute, signaling they plan to sue if the agency does not change it.

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January 28, 2019

EPA's just-released “year in review” report for fiscal year 2018 pledges an ambitious policy agenda that includes major efforts to undo or overhaul Obama-era regulations, but current and former agency staffers say the recent government shutdown creates significant doubts over whether EPA can keep its agenda on track.

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