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Daily News

February 12, 2021

EPA is asking a federal appeals court to delay issuing part of its mandate in its Jan. 19 ruling vacating the Trump-era Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) utility climate rule that also scrapped a regulation repealing the Obama EPA’s earlier Clean Power Plan (CPP), saying the agency needs time to consider its power plant climate rules “afresh.”

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The Governors’ Biofuels Coalition of 22 states is urging President Joe Biden to pursue several policies that the group argues are essential for boosting the biofuels industry, including issuing overdue EPA renewable fuel standard (RFS) targets for 2021, denying refiners’ requests for RFS compliance waivers, and other measures.

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A Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) compliance advisory that the Trump EPA issued in December might impede the development and marketing of some renewable fuels and fuel additives if those fuels have not already been registered on the TSCA inventory of chemicals, according to lawyers tracking the issue.

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White House officials appear to have sought to bolster the legal basis for EPA’s five TSCA rules governing persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) chemicals from possible industry challenges, adding language during interagency review that sought to justify developing the rules without conducting risk assessments.

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EPA’s toxics office is considering a new computational toxicology tool that could aid efforts to pre-screen chemicals before “prioritizing” them for TSCA risk evaluations, offering a possible remedy for long-standing concerns about the volume of information the agency must gather to support the assessments under short statutory deadlines.

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A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has rejected a trucking and construction industry challenge to an Obama-era EPA Clean Air Act (CAA) waiver of federal preemption authorizing California to issue stricter emission regulations for “non-road” diesel engines.

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February 11, 2021

EPA has certified that surfaces made from certain copper alloys “provide long-term effectiveness” against viruses including the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes COVID-19, marking the first time the agency has met its long-sought goal to grant a nationwide approval for a product as a “durable” disinfectant against the virus.

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Amending the Clean Water Act (CWA) to give EPA more control over nonpoint source pollution could help close gaps in pollution control that would help to better protect drinking water supplies, but getting such legislation through Congress is almost impossible, according to two law professors with long-time ties to EPA.

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Environmentalists are disputing a Superfund settlement reached in the last days of the Trump administration between EPA, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and a Canadian mining company, contending the voluntary cleanup the company is pledging to do to address abandoned mining waste might effectively void pending Clean Water Act (CWA) citizen suit claims against the company.

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Environmentalists are suing EPA in a bid to overturn its Dec. 31 rule retaining Obama-era national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for ozone, joining states’ effort to force the Biden administration to tighten the emissions standards in litigation that is expected to focus on the review process as much as adequacy of the limits.

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As the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) begins its review of the IRIS program’s long-awaited handbook for developing its influential risk assessments, an EPA toxicologist is asking committee members to balance advice for long-term program improvements with what he said is an urgent need to accelerate its work after years of delays.

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February 10, 2021

A California lawmaker’s new legislation to tighten water quality permitting and enforcement, provide more money for cleaning up impaired waterways, and set a goal of making all waters statewide suitable for conversion to drinking water, swimming and fishing by 2050 is facing stiff opposition from numerous water agencies and industry sectors.

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California water board officials appear to be downplaying the impacts of a recent superior court ruling overturning a portion of their landmark 2019 “wetlands” definition and new procedures for permitting discharges of dredge-and-fill materials to state “waters,” saying in a recent notice that the decision does not significantly restrict the board’s authority.

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California’s toxics department has struck a $4.1 million settlement with a metal-shredding company in Oakland over allegations that the facility violated state environmental laws, but environmentalists are still urging a court to order the department to enforce hazardous waste regulations at the facility and to all metal-shredding operations statewide.

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Two environmentalists have resigned from a California expert panel that just released a “final draft” report recommending the state expand greenhouse gas offset trading under the cap-and-trade program and potentially other programs, charging the task force was dominated by industry representatives who want to use offsets that may prove to be faulty.

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The California Supreme Court is weighing a request from the attorney general (AG) on behalf of the state energy commission to review a recent appellate court ruling finding that the state’s narrow legal process for considering challenges to new power plant approvals -- through petitions to the high court only -- is unconstitutional.

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The Biden EPA is taking the first step toward regulating climate-warming hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under new Clean Air Act authority it received from a bipartisan law enacted late last year, floating a data notice to inform a pending rule setting production limits for the chemicals used in refrigeration and other sectors.

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Environmentalists are hailing EPA’s decision to freeze and review an 11th-hour proposal by the Trump EPA that dropped a prior commitment to designate two per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as “hazardous substances” under the Superfund law and instead said the agency would weigh whether they should receive such a designation.

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Environmentalists are pursuing a novel first-time lawsuit that aims to force EPA to account for adverse impacts from air pollution when it reviews its ambient air standards, challenging the Trump administration’s decision to retain the existing suite of particulate matter (PM) limits and saying a species review would justify stricter standards.

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Drinking water utilities and two environmental groups are jointly asking EPA to conduct a negotiated rulemaking to develop updates to the agency’s Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) rules for microbial pathogens and disinfection byproducts, noting the agency used this approach for the existing rules.

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