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Daily News

April 08, 2019

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is strongly rejecting state regulators’ criticism of the Trump administration’s action plan targeting per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), saying their recent letter criticizing the plan includes “inaccurate” statements, such as that the plan fails to address the contaminants broadly as a class.

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EPA, California and industry officials are expressing greater optimism that truck makers can implement strategies for curbing nitrogen oxides (NOx) without degrading fuel economy and boosting greenhouse gases, as both EPA and the state begin developing stricter NOx controls for heavy-duty trucks.

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Environmental groups in a new legal filing are challenging EPA’s discretion to avoid setting new limits for previously unregulated hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) for an industry when the agency reviews the sector’s remaining air toxics risks, arguing that EPA has violated the Clean Air Act by refusing to set such new limits for pulp mills.

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California air board officials are floating a “concept” proposal that would set a first-time cap on low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS) credit prices and expand a cost-containment mechanism, in response to concerns that prices may soar to the point where state lawmakers could suspend the high-profile greenhouse gas reduction program.

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A senior EPA official says the agency will consider state requests for pacts allowing new oil and gas facility owners that comply with voluntary state audit programs to also qualify for penalty relief under a recently issued federal policy, though the official said EPA's past enforcement history makes such agreements largely unnecessary.

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April 05, 2019

EPA has finalized significant new use rules (SNURs) on 13 new chemicals using an approach intended to speed up reviews but which environmentalists and others oppose, setting the stage for a likely first-time suit on how EPA addresses new chemicals and protects workers under the revised Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

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A National Academies of Sciences (NAS) panel is backing the use of chemical dispersants to address oil spills but is urging EPA and other agencies to harmonize their toxicity testing methods and take other steps to address them, advice that could help environmentalists who are pledging to sue to force the agency to update its rules on dispersants.

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A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit grilled environmentalists at recent oral argument on whether they have standing to sue EPA over a Clean Water Act (CWA) general permit for offshore oil and gas activities in the western Gulf of Mexico, raising concerns about how the groups could trace harms to specific discharges.

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State environmental commissioners are joining environmentalists to urge EPA and state governments to bolster the use of “alternative compliance” provisions in their rules limiting methane releases from oil and gas operations, a step they argue could ease industry costs while still delivering equivalent emissions cuts.

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has overturned a second Obama-era rule requiring appliance and other manufacturers to replace climate-warming hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants, agreeing with two of the chemical’s producers that it should extend its prior precedent limiting such policies.

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April 04, 2019

Administrator Andrew Wheeler is asking top EPA scientists to develop new guidance aimed at harmonizing risk assessment practices across the agency, an effort that sources say is likely to put further pressure on the agency's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program and its conservative approaches.

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EPA is approving state implementation plans (SIPs) to meet federal ozone standards that rely on Obama-era vehicle greenhouse gas limits for reducing emissions even as the agency prepares to scrap such measures after finishing its controversial rule preempting states from enforcing their own vehicle GHG rules.

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EPA leaders have quietly brought the agency's former children's health chief back though in a new role, after abruptly removing her last fall, sparking a firestorm of criticism and messaging efforts to show the topic remains important at the Trump EPA.

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Groups representing state environment officials are publicly criticizing EPA's recently released multi-media action plan for addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), citing weaknesses across many program areas and calling for the agency to go farther such as by setting binding standards for contaminants across multiple media.

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House Democrats have advanced on a party-line vote a leadership-backed bill that would block President Donald Trump's pledge to leave the Paris climate agreement, arguing the measure is an opportunity to force Republican lawmakers to develop their own strategy to tackle climate change.

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A bloc of California lawmakers and a coalition of environmental groups are urging appropriators to propose an additional $400 million of greenhouse gas program revenue in fiscal year 2019-20 for multiple programs that sequester GHGs in “natural and working lands,” complaining that the Newsom administration wants to cut such funding.

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A Senate energy committee is advancing a controversial bill that would expand the types of forest fuels and feedstocks eligible for a special biomass renewable portfolio standard (RPS) electricity tariff, though environmental groups oppose the measure due to concern it could allow unnecessary tree removal and increase air pollution from biomass processing plants.

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April 03, 2019

EPA air policy chief Bill Wehrum is planning a second wave of changes to the new source review (NSR) air permitting program to ease industry compliance, based mostly on non-binding guidance, before the end of President Donald Trump’s current term, according to a top agency air official.

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Capitol Hill Democrats are pressuring EPA chief Andrew Wheeler to reconcile what they argue are yawning discrepancies in his generic support for greater environmental protections and the agency's fiscal year 2020 budget request -- which seeks significant cuts -- and other activities that threaten to undercut such protections.

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An auto parts company is detailing first-time arguments challenging EPA's landmark decision to add a site to the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) based solely on the presence of a vapor intrusion pathway, charging the decision is arbitrary because it did not consider ongoing mitigation and used a residential, rather than industrial, measure of the site's air quality.

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