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Daily News

September 26, 2019

California hazardous waste regulators are attempting to address a few concerns raised by the solar power industry, waste management companies and recycling organizations in recent revisions to their proposed universal waste (UW) rules for the disposal of photovoltaic (PV) panels, but also appear to be rejecting most others.

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California air board officials are unveiling preliminary data that will be used to calculate first-time greenhouse gas targets for transportation network companies (TNCs) operating ride-hailing services such as Lyft and Uber, including estimates that TNC vehicles have higher emissions than the average passenger car registered in California.

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has signed into law a mandate for the state air board and other agencies to adopt a heavy-duty vehicle smog check program to cut truck nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) emissions, but enforcement on trucks registered outside California that regularly travel through the Golden State remains unclear.

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Environmentalists have reached a legal settlement with a southern California development company to reduce greenhouse gases and other air pollutants from a planned large complex of industrial warehouses, underscoring the ever-growing use of GHG and climate policies under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to alter major development projects.

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Citing the “severity of the climate crisis,” environmentalists are urging a California appellate court to block San Diego County from allowing greenhouse gas offset credits generated outside the county when approving development projects, and to order the county to draft a new Climate Action Plan (CAP).

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A California lawmaker is floating legislation to restrict rebates for the purchase of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) only to customers of auto companies that have agreed to the state’s voluntary “framework” for greenhouse gas emission standards that are much stricter than the Trump administration’s planned rollback of federal limits.

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September 25, 2019

SEATTLE -- Acting EPA air chief Anne Idsal is suggesting that the agency could work with states looking to go beyond the requirements of its Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule for power plants’ greenhouse gas emissions, seeming to walk back the rule’s threat to block stringent compliance plans that critics say is a major legal flaw.

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A member of EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) is asking a newly appointed expert “pool” of science advisors to guide the panel on the implementation costs of possible changes to the agency’s particulate matter (PM) air standards, a legally contentious request because the high court bars consideration of costs in setting the limits.

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A House Energy and Commerce panel is scheduled to mark up a package of 13 bills dealing with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that includes provisions contained in House and Senate defense bills, asserting the committee’s jurisdiction over the subject and potentially boosting support for the measures in the final defense bill.

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EPA is poised to release next month a new method that will be able to detect nearly a dozen additional per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water beyond what the current method allows and focus on new, shorter-chain compounds that have been difficult to detect until now, EPA scientists say.

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Former EPA air officials are warning that the agency’s proposed “correction” allowing five Texas counties to escape being labeled “nonattainment” with sulfur dioxide (SO2) air standards undermines public health protections and sets an unlawful “dangerous precedent” for other areas to win weaker designations subject to less-stringent SO2 controls.

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September 24, 2019

State officials are expressing surprise at EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s unprecedented threat to withhold California’s highway funds and concern that the agency may try to apply similar approaches to numerous other states with air quality problems.

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Senate appropriators are advancing an EPA fiscal year 2020 spending bill that would boost funding for the agency by $161 million over current spending levels, a first step toward reaching a conference with House lawmakers on the measure, though the Senate bill provides EPA with $500 million less than the House version.

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Environmental and ratepayer groups are raising concerns about the potential pollution and climate impacts of California energy regulators’ grid-reliability plan to allow several natural gas-fired power plants that use once-through-cooling (OTC) systems to operate for three years longer than the current 2020 retirement deadline for such plants.

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EPA is vowing to “speak closely” with states over their delayed plans for attainment federal air quality standards, says a top agency official, following the Trump administration’s threat to withhold federal highway funding from California unless the state acts quickly to submit “approvable” air quality plans to EPA.

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“Worried” House Democrats are stepping up their push for defense bill conferees to preserve their amendment requiring EPA to list per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as “hazardous substances” under the Superfund law in the face of opposition from Senate environment committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY).

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EPA has formally published its proposal to scuttle methane controls for new oil and gas facilities and block limits on existing sources, kicking off a two-month public comment period that could feature a prominent debate on defining whether this sector or other industries pose a “significant” danger in terms of greenhouse gas pollution.

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September 23, 2019

EPA’s denial of New York’s Clean Air Act petition seeking federal regulation of out-of-state ozone sources appears to be at odds with a federal appeals court’s ruling days earlier that requires the agency’s primary interstate air pollution rule to respect states’ deadlines under the air law for attaining national air ambient quality standards (NAAQS).

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The Maui County Council has voted to settle a long-running Clean Water Act (CWA) case pending before the Supreme Court, which could limit the potential for the high court to resolve a split among federal appellate courts on when the act applies to pollution in groundwater, but questions remain as to whether the vote will end the matter.

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EPA is for the first time requiring that landowners seeking to retain brownfields liability protections ensure that land use controls at their contaminated properties are being implemented, according to guidance the agency released this summer aimed at updating the “common elements” that developers must meet to avoid cleanup liability

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