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Daily News

March 19, 2020

California’s Kern County and the oil industry are urging a state appellate court to reconsider its decision to set aside the county’s sweeping oil and gas drilling ordinance after finding it violates the state’s overarching environmental protection statute, and the parties may eventually petition the California Supreme Court to review the case.

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While lawmakers and industry search for new ways to cut carbon emissions, one firm says it has found a way to easily capture carbon dioxide (CO2) in concrete and is touting the process as a new and cheaper approach to sequestering the greenhouse gases emitted by fossil fuel power plants.

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March 18, 2020

The Defense Department (DOD) is weighing whether to develop policy that would manage cleanup and disposal of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) across a range of media, including contaminated soil, stormwater runoff, biosolids and sludge, a potentially significant widening of its current focus on contaminated drinking water.

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Senators are looking to a third coronavirus relief bill to attach a three-month extension of the Department of Homeland Security’s facility safety program that is set to expire April 18, aiming to buy more negotiating time on separate legislation that would reauthorize the program but potentially also make substantive changes to it.

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Environmental groups have made good on their threat to sue EPA over inadequate transparency in its new chemicals review program, charging it’s a “black box” that violates requirements in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) as well as the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

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The Defense Department (DOD) is weighing whether to develop policy that would manage cleanup and disposal of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) across a range of media, including contaminated soil, stormwater runoff, biosolids and sludge, a potentially significant widening of its current focus on contaminated drinking water.

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The clean power industry and environmentalists are urging the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to substantially tighten a proposed 2030 greenhouse gas target for the electric sector, charging that the current plan fails to meet state law and will undermine the state’s broader strategy to fight climate change.

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California air board officials and key stakeholder groups are weighing potentially controversial changes to the state’s electric vehicle (EV) rebate program, which faces a funding cut in the coming fiscal year and projections that it is not on track to help meet the state’s goals.

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The Justice Department’s (DOJ) top environment official, Jeff Clark, is leaving the door open for Congress to specifically authorize the use of popular supplemental environmental projects (SEPs) in enforcement settlements, after he banned their use earlier this month, though supporters of the projects doubt lawmakers will act soon.

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Several Democratic House lawmakers and environmentalists are calling on Congress to include provisions in developing coronavirus relief legislation that would ban water utilities from turning off water to homes during the health crisis, though one utility source says it is unclear how the government could implement a national ban.

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March 17, 2020

EPA has issued its updated Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) rule for data collection that is set to begin this June, with a number of changes from the prior version intended to ease reporting for companies and better align data with changes in EPA’s toxics program following Congress’ 2016 reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

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EPA is facing a growing number of requests to a extend a series of rulemaking and consent decree deadlines due to the ongoing effect of the coronavirus pandemic that is halting activity across the country, highlighting the potential for delays to a host of deregulatory actions even as industry eyes waiving certain environmental requirements.

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The coronavirus pandemic is prompting fresh questions about EPA’s ability to advance the Trump administration’s sweeping deregulatory agenda, at a time when the agency was already scrambling to complete a host of rollbacks to prevent the policies from being scrapped if Democrats sweep the November elections.

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The Trump administration is taking the rare step of rejecting an industry call to ease EPA emissions standards by issuing a final rule that denies retailers of wood-burning heaters a two-year “sell-through” period that would have extended a looming deadline to stop selling devices that fail to meet strict Obama-era standards.

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March 16, 2020

EPA is poised to unveil revisions to its Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Chemical Data Reporting Rule (CDR) governing chemical use and other data industry must submit beginning in June but a related measure defining “small manufacturers” who qualify for eased reporting requirements was only recently sent for White House review.

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EPA is urging a federal appeals court not to fast-track hearing of a suit seeking renewable fuel standard (RFS) credit for electricity used for transportation under the 2020 RFS, as it seeks to keep suits over the 2019 and 2020 RFS separate while weighing an appeal of a ruling strictly limiting its RFS waiver policy.

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EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is authorizing voluntary telework for all agency employees across the nation for the next four weeks, “consistent with operational needs of departments and agencies,” in response to the coronavirus pandemic, a move agency staff are greeting as welcome and overdue.

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March 13, 2020

Despite strong public support from EPA and industry groups, the Justice Department (DOJ) is eliminating all uses of popular supplemental environmental projects (SEPs) that have long been a popular way to offset civil penalties in enforcement settlements and allowed settling parties to win community good will.

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Capitol Hill Democrats and some environmentalists are pushing for multiple low-carbon or climate change-related measures to be included in any economic stimulus package Congress adopts to respond to the growing pandemic caused by the new coronavirus.

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is directing EPA to reconsider environmentalists’ petition challenging provisions in the Obama-era mercury and air toxics standards (MATS) that exempted utility boilers from tough emissions limits during startup and shutdown, saying EPA unreasonably denied the petition.

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