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Daily News

January 28, 2019

New Hampshire's top environment official is rejecting a request by environmentalists to set enforceable “treatment technique” standards for drinking water utilities to address the thousands of chemicals in the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) class, claiming it would contradict the state's statutory authority.

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A federal bankruptcy judge is hinting that he may preserve a massive case against the parent companies of the bankrupt oil and gas company Maxus Energy Corporation that seeks to fulfill claims by a liquidating trust representing EPA and other creditors for $14 billion in cleanup costs at hazardous waste sites in various states.

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Illinois, local governments in Colorado and New Mexico, and environmentalists in a new legal filing are attacking EPA’s abrupt reversal designating areas of Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin as attaining the 2015 ozone standard after previously proposing to find them in nonattainment, claiming EPA lacked justification for the change.

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EPA and other just-reopened agencies face a chaotic litigation landscape as they return from the weeks-long government shutdown in part because courts took an uneven approach in responding to government requests to delay lawsuits, including some that issued stays that will remain in effect for two weeks after the shutdown ended.

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January 25, 2019

EPA is poised to reopen after lawmakers and President Donald Trump agreed to a stopgap measure funding the agency at existing levels through Feb. 15, but there is no guarantee against another shutdown once that funding expires and environmentalists warn the existing shutdown has already caused significant environmental damage.

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A federal appeals court in a new ruling says two states violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) by delaying review of a dam decommissioning far beyond the law's one-year deadline to “certify” that a federal permit meets state requirements, a decision limiting states' future bids to “indefinitely delay federal licensing proceedings” for energy projects.

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House Democrats are contemplating bipartisan deals on power grid modernization, fixing pipeline leaks and energy efficiency as initial steps to address climate change, according to a top staffer on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, who adds such efforts would come before more ambitious steps to tackle the growing threat.

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The Supreme Court is facing calls to end its long-standing precedent deferring to EPA and other agencies' interpretations of their own rules, with a critic's opening legal brief urging the justices to scrap the “egregiously wrong” precedent because it allows regulators to change rules on a whim without notice-and-comment rulemaking.

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A federal appeals court is poised to consider next week whether the Clean Water Act (CWA) requires EPA to approve changes to a state's water quality standards after the agency indicates support for state efforts while the standards are being developed -- a position urged by a West Virginia wastewater utility but which a lower court rejected.

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The California water board is delaying a vote scheduled for next month to approve a controversial new "wetlands" definition and new rules for discharging dredge and fill materials to state "waters" after agreeing with key stakeholder groups that many of the provisions are "confusing" and need additional clarity or even some changes in policy direction.

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January 24, 2019

The Trump administration's delay in issuing recommended groundwater cleanup levels for two of the most common per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) is hampering state and local efforts to address contamination stemming from military bases as the Defense Department (DOD) resists compliance with state standards.

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The Air Force is suing New Mexico’s environmental regulators over its recently renewed 10-year Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) permit for Cannon Air Force Base, a case that appears to mark one of the first formal disputes between a state and the military over efforts to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

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The extended EPA shutdown has spawned efforts by former agency staff to aid current employees, though these efforts are being complicated by federal ethics restrictions including on receipt of gifts.

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White House officials are considering crafting an executive order that would narrow states’ authority to review federally permitted pipelines and other projects under Clean Water Act (CWA) section 401 in an effort to boost energy development, despite widespread state opposition to any limits on their authority.

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EPA appears poised to miss a Jan. 28 consent decree deadline for signing a final rule on whether to revise the “primary” health-based sulfur dioxide national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) due to the government shutdown, potentially signaling delays for looming decisions on revising other criteria pollutant NAAQS.

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Lawmakers are probing the toxics department's Safer Consumer Products (SCP) green chemistry program over concerns it takes too long to evaluate chemicals for potential bans or phaseouts, and they could introduce legislation to accelerate the program's review of certain compounds deemed as high priorities, sources say.

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January 23, 2019

A group of House lawmakers Jan. 23 announced the formation of a bipartisan task force to push legislative, funding and other measures to pressure EPA and other agencies to clean up growing contamination from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), though the group is likely to face pushback from industry and some Republicans.

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Mayors who were instrumental in the push for the newly enacted law allowing municipal water utilities to address their Clean Water Act (CWA) wastewater and stormwater requirements on a pollution-reduction priority basis are cautioning their fight is not over and that cities must be vigilant to ensure EPA and states implement the law as intended.

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Democratic states and environmental groups that are challenging EPA’s failure to implement an Obama-era rule to limit emissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane at landfills are asking a federal district judge to impose tight timelines for the agency to take a series of steps required by the rule.

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As the Democratic presidential primary field begins to take shape, environmentalists are hoping that a new administration will usher in aggressive climate mitigation policies early in the next decade, arguing that action by the United States to get “back on track” toward achieving long-term emissions goals can help meet the objectives of the Paris climate deal.

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