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Daily News

September 02, 2020

EPA has created a new Office of Mountains, Deserts and Plains (OMDP) aimed at speeding the cleanup of former hardrock mining sites through closer oversight, promoting “Good Samaritan” remediation, serving as a technology transfer hub, and overseeing the cleanup of abandoned uranium mines in the Navajo Nation.

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As expected, California water regulators approved controversial operation extensions for several coastal natural gas-fired power plants with once-through-cooling (OTC) technology to help ensure grid reliability, and state energy officials are warning that they may seek further extensions in the coming months.

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Environmentalists are planning to appeal a federal district court ruling upholding the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review for three oil and gas lease sales in New Mexico that failed to address their climate change and other concerns, arguing the decision is at odds with other NEPA rulings in resource-heavy Western states.

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Electric power company Dynegy is urging a federal appeals court to affirm a lower court’s dismissal of environmentalists’ Clean Water Act (CWA) suit over groundwater contamination from coal ash ponds, saying the case does not meet a new Supreme Court test for applying CWA permitting and liability.

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California Air Resources Board (CARB) members rejected calls by ports and the shipping industry to further relax a regulation requiring ships “at-berth” to cut their emissions of various air pollutants, unanimously approving the new limits last week.

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Critics of the Trump EPA’s decision to drop oil and gas sector methane emissions rules are citing the agency’s own cost-benefit analysis of the regulation as creating a possible legal vulnerability for the policy, because agency officials estimate the action could result in overall net costs to the public.

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Environmental and public interest groups say EPA should tighten its recently proposed dust-lead clearance levels, and should broaden the standards to include porches and window troughs, rather than just windowsills and floors, in order to better protect children.

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The U.S. Energy Storage Association (ESA) is floating guidelines to encourage energy storage system (ESS) owners and other power supply chain participants to adopt robust plans for recycling lithium ion batteries used for storage when they become end-of-life (EOL) waste.

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September 01, 2020

Two years after initiating a review of EPA’s enforcement of the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) program, the Office of Inspector General is expected to release its findings this fall on the impact of late TRI reporting by the chemical industry and the role of the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

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A new White House memo directs EPA and other agencies to weigh revising their enforcement policies in order to restrict potential enforcement actions against regulated entities and individuals, including possible new limits on consent decrees and higher standards of evidence in administrative proceedings.

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EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is highlighting the agency’s move to finalize the addition of six new sites to the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) and propose to add four more as part of a broader push to incorporate environmental justice (EJ) into EPA decisionmaking, saying many of the sites are in EJ communities.

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EPA is renewing its efforts to end potentially precedential TSCA suits from Democratic state attorneys general and environmentalists seeking to force the agency to require companies to report their uses of asbestos, filing a summary judgment motion that argues the plaintiffs lack standing and failed to meet the burden of proof.

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EPA’s waste chief is setting goals the agency expects to reach in the next 10 years under its Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) corrective action program including curbing adverse impacts beyond facility boundaries such as vapor intrusion, while touting EPA’s achievements meeting goals set for cleanups by 2020.

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Groups representing the oil, manufacturing and other sectors are strongly defending EPA’s plan to leave unchanged the Obama-era national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for ozone, citing “dramatic” improvements in air quality in recent years and a need to give industry and states regulatory certainty over NAAQS compliance and costs.

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California toxics regulators are suggesting they will narrow the number of paper food-packaging products containing per- or polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) potentially subject to an upcoming regulation, a move that is already drawing criticism from public health and environmental groups.

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State clean water and drinking water regulators, as well as wastewater and drinking water utilities, are raising numerous concerns about a draft EPA technical document intended to help states develop numeric nutrient criteria for lakes and reservoirs, saying the guide could actually hamper states’ efforts to develop such criteria.

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Environmentalists are pressing EPA to establish enforceable numeric nutrient water criteria, saying a proposed methodology to help states net numeric nutrient criteria for lakes and reservoirs continues a failed approach of merely encouraging states to voluntarily adopt such criteria.

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Environmental and public health groups in Aug. 31 public testimony pressed EPA to scrap its proposal to retain current ozone standards and to instead pursue tougher limits, saying the agency is ignoring key science and rushing its review of the limits while also linking the need for stricter standards to social equity and the COVID-19 pandemic.

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August 31, 2020

EPA has announced the opening of a research grant competition offering $1.9 million to fund a single research center tasked with investigating children’s environmental health, early life vulnerabilities to exposure to environmental contaminants and other stressors, a year after funding for more than a dozen similar centers ran out.

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Environmentalists and EPA are wrangling over how to end the activists’ remanded suit in a federal district court over the agency’s vacated policy for selecting chemical and other science advisor.

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