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Daily News

July 30, 2019

EPA is proposing to rework how its Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) coal ash rule handles reuse of the waste, backing industry requests to scrap the current numeric approach and imposing instead a mandate to “control releases” that environmentalists say amounts to an exemption from regulation for structural fills and other activites.

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The American Petroleum Institute (API) is touting its voluntary program for reducing methane leaks from gas production as an alternative to regulations being sought by Colorado and other states, as well as a guide for the Trump EPA to follow as it reconsiders Obama-era rules designed to curb drilling-related air emissions.

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EPA science advisers are urging the agency to do a better job of explaining its decision to focus only on occupational exposures to the solvent 1,4-dioxane in its second draft risk evaluation under the revised Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), with some advisers questioning the agency’s decision to exclude general population exposures.

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The Senate environment committee has unanimously approved a sweeping renewal of the federal highway program despite complaints from environmentalists about its provisions streamlining project permitting and some free-market groups concerned about funding for electric vehicle (EV) chargers.

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July 29, 2019

Democratic attorneys general (AGs) from 14 states are urging EPA to withdraw a controversial guidance on how states can place water quality conditions on federally approved permits, arguing the guidance is contrary to the Clean Water Act (CWA) and case law and vowing to adhere instead to existing, binding requirements.

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The Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee is accelerating its plan to advance a bipartisan transportation funding bill with a first-ever climate change title along with permit streamlining provisions, moving up its planned markup from Aug. 1 to July 30, just one day after the bill was introduced.

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Environmentalists are challenging EPA’s regulations allowing industrial pollution sources to trade in different ozone precursor chemicals, a facet of the agency’s efforts to ease implementation of federal ozone standards but which environmental groups claim undermines necessary emission reductions.

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California’s agreement with four major automakers on vehicle fuel economy appears to significantly reduce environmental gains compared to current, Obama-era rules but would extend policies -- including generous credits for electric vehicles (EVs) -- that prod continued advancement in low-carbon vehicle technologies, observers say.

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Environmentalists are charging that the list of 20 existing chemicals that EPA has proposed as high priority candidates for the next round of assessments -- and possible regulation -- marks a “serious statutory violation” because the agency is not giving “sufficient preference” to criteria detailed in the revised Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

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July 26, 2019

Rejecting calls from EPA’s science advisors, Administrator Andrew Wheeler has announced plans to scale back the advisors’ planned review of its particulate matter (PM) and ozone standards in order to meet an accelerated review schedule, intensifying criticism that the agency is artificially rushing the reviews to maintain or weaken the standards.

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Newly confirmed Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s creation of a high-level task force to take a “proactive stance” on per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) contamination signals the Pentagon’s new chief is seeking to take control of an issue for which DOD has drawn strong criticisms for months and prompted Congress to advance legislation to address it.

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Seeking to avoid a regulatory patchwork, three southern states and more than a dozen national industry groups are asking a federal district court judge to reconsider his May ruling that remanded to EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers the 2015 Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction rule.

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A bipartisan highway funding bill to be introduced in the Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee on July 29 will include new funding for discretionary projects that reduce highway greenhouse gas emissions, one of several measures in the bill to lower emissions in the transport sector, which is now the country’s largest share of GHGs.

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Top House Democrats are defending a technology-neutral approach to achieving “deep” carbon reductions throughout the economy even though some climate advocates question key low-carbon options, while the lawmakers are also rejecting the notion that an “innovation” agenda favored by the GOP is sufficient.

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July 25, 2019

Following criticism that EPA was unnecessarily rushing to complete the first 10 risk evaluations required by the revised toxics law by the end of the year, the agency’s toxics chief says officials will use the additional six months the law allows to complete the studies but they are still aiming to complete all peer reviews by the December 2019 deadline.

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California’s deal with four major automakers setting vehicle greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards, which tracks closely with industry’s requested changes to the current rules, is increasing pressure on other auto companies and the White House to abandon their aggressive rollback plans and embrace a compromise.

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EPA’s newly inked agreement with the conservative American Conservation Coalition (ACC) is an unusual if not unique move to set up a working relationship with a political advocacy group that touts itself as an alternative to environmentalists that “have disenfranchised those who are right-of-center,” though EPA is downplaying the agreement as nonbinding.

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is releasing details of the state’s potentially groundbreaking voluntary agreement with four large automakers to implement what the state calls robust vehicle greenhouse gas standards through model year 2026.

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July 24, 2019

Environmental groups are warning EPA against using Texas’ proposed assessment of the health risks of ethylene oxide (EtO), which is much weaker than the agency’s, when officials write new air toxics rules for sectors emitting the carcinogenic pollutant, saying that to do so would violate legal requirements that the agency use “best available science.”

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Rep. Harley Rouda (D-CA), chairman of the House oversight environment panel, is suggesting that manufacturers of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) may be criminally liable for intentionally hiding toxicity findings of their chemicals while continuing to produce products with them and discharge the substances.

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