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Daily News

March 24, 2020

Despite a statewide shelter-in-place order, California officials are declining to issue blanket water quality regulatory waivers to regulated entities during the COVID-19 emergency, saying they must continue to comply with all state and regional rules or notify relevant boards if they are unable to.

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California water officials are laying out the schedule for considering whether to approve a controversial plan backed by state energy officials to extend closure deadlines for several natural gas-fired power plants with once-through-cooling (OTC) technology, with the closure delays strongly opposed by environmentalists and renewable energy companies.

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March 23, 2020

A federal appellate court has found that EPA’s controversial policy barring agency grant recipients from serving as EPA science advisors is unlawful because it skewed representation on the panels toward state and industry representatives, the second court defeat for the controversial policy in the past few weeks.

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A federal appellate court has found that EPA’s controversial policy barring agency grant recipients from serving as EPA science advisors is unlawful because it skewed representation on the panels toward state and industry representatives, the second court defeat for the controversial policy in the past few weeks.

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Environmental groups and analysts that support more ambitious steps to address climate change are urging the federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic to include a broad shift to clean energy, while noting that the public health crisis is underscoring the importance of preparing for climate-related disasters like extreme weather.

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As science advisors prepare to review EPA’s draft evaluation of the common solvent trichloroethylene (TCE), environmentalists and former officials are urging the agency to take “immediate action” to address any “imminent and serious” acute risks while also calling for the draft to be strengthened so the substance can be banned going forward.

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Environmentalists are trying to convince a federal appeals court that it can consider whether EPA has unlawfully failed to update technology-based effluent limits for meat and poultry slaughterhouses, disputing agency assertions that no final action under the Clean Water Act (CWA) has occurred that the court can review.

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March 20, 2020

In what some agency sources call awkward timing, EPA is continuing its prior push toward less-flexible telework policies for some staff even as the coronavirus pandemic has spurred emergency unscheduled telework across the agency amid talk of unprecedented, months-long disruptions.

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Municipally owned drinking water and wastewater utilities are urging senators to provide financial assistance for their sector in upcoming economic stimulus legislation to offset the effects of the novel coronavirus, citing concerns about expected revenue losses and new sick- and family medical-leave requirements.

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New York, backed by environmental groups, is telling a federal appeals court that EPA has set an “impossibly high barrier” for states to meet in order to successfully petition the agency to regulate interstate air emissions sources, because the agency’s policy in effect requires the unlikely ability of states to develop regional ozone reduction plans.

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State attorneys general (AGs) and employment lawyers are opposing the White House Office of Management & Budget’s (OMB) call for input on potentially tightening due process protections in civil enforcement actions at EPA and elsewhere, arguing that there is no rational or legal basis for any such reforms.

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Manufacturing, oil and other industry groups are asking EPA to broadly apply its draft regulatory waiver for international air pollution and include naturally occurring emissions for the first time, seeking an expansive approach for allowing states to claim attainment with federal air standards by discounting air pollution from overseas.

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Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and other major environmental groups are asking EPA to narrow the application of its draft guidance that will allow states to demonstrate they would have attained national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) but for air pollution emanating from overseas sources they cannot regulate.

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Industry parties are stepping up pressure on EPA to pare back the cleanup remedy at the massive Portland Harbor Superfund site, filing a formal petition, warning of a potential suit and arguing that the agency’s deregulatory gains mean little if it requires businesses at the site to pay more than $1 billion over what they believe is needed.

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March 19, 2020

Waste industry officials say the coronavirus pandemic is creating uncertainty for U.S. disposal and recycling, as business closures and a general economic slowdown are likely to cut the amount of waste created across the country, but limits on international trade will force domestic facilities to process a larger portion of the remaining waste.

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has denied a request by biogas producers to hear lawsuits over its 2019 and 2020 renewable fuel standard (RFS) rules together, which EPA opposed and said would effectively accelerate litigation over the 2020 RFS and limit the agency’s ability to defend that rule.

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The American Chemistry Council (ACC) is faulting a proposal by California’s health hazard office to set drinking water public health goals (PHGs) for five haloacetic acids (HAAs) used in chlorine, charging that the process departs from past practice and sets levels that are too stringent for current treatment technologies.

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The California Chamber of Commerce has amended its complaint seeking to block the state’s mandate for businesses to provide Proposition 65 cancer warnings for food products containing the ubiquitous chemical acrylamide, after a federal district court earlier this month signaled it planned to dismiss the case.

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Trump administration officials are scrambling to rollback EPA’s vehicle greenhouse gas standards despite indications the rule could have little net benefit to society -- or even result in net costs -- with sources saying the administration is still targeting March 31 or shortly thereafter for its release.

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The coronavirus pandemic is raising questions about whether the California air board must delay steps to formally propose, advance or finalize key regulations, with agency officials to date offering only general and inconclusive comments about how the public health crisis will affect their agendas.

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