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Daily News

November 13, 2019

An environmental group is partnering with over 20 major corporations to float a detailed policy roadmap for achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, including calling for an economy-wide carbon price and a suite of low-carbon policies implemented by EPA, other federal agencies and states.

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November 12, 2019

The Air Force and Michigan regulators are battling over whether a Superfund five-year review should address per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) even though they were not subject to the original cleanup plan, a dispute whose outcome could set precedent for similar cleanup reviews at other sites.

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Appellate judges have dismissed on procedural grounds a biofuels group’s challenge to EPA’s policy allowing a major ramping up of renewable fuel standard (RFS) compliance waivers, but they are also signaling potential sympathy to the group’s ongoing attacks on the policy that the judges say “paint a troubling picture” of secretive agency law.

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Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are studying whether -- and under what conditions -- the long-term benefits of alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) incentives in EPA’s greenhouse gas rules outweigh the immediate short-term emissions penalty they create by allowing automakers to sell more inefficient trucks.

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November 11, 2019

The Defense Department (DOD) has quietly issued guidance setting Superfund screening levels for three per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in groundwater and other media, but the measure is drawing criticism from a former top EPA official who says it effectively preempts EPA’s pending groundwater cleanup guide for two of the substances and adopts much less stringent levels than those suggested by EPA if the chemicals are not comingled.

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A top Defense Department (DOD) official is asking the military services to account for recent costs related to investigating and cleaning up per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), an effort that comes after officials acknowledged that their earlier estimates fell short.

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EPA, backed by California air regulators and industry groups, is defending its policy allowing states to use “interprecursor trading” to reduce emissions and help meet federal ozone standards, part of a broader defense of its contested rule for implementing the 2015 ozone standard that environmentalists claim is unlawfully weak.

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Two environmental groups are threatening litigation against EPA to force overdue implementation of control technology guidelines (CTGs) for curbing ozone precursor emissions from oil and gas facilities -- seizing on Obama-era guidelines that remain on the books despite Trump officials’ efforts to repeal them.

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Two judges are taking starkly different tacks when ruling on how to remedy federal agencies’ violations of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), highlight the range of legal remedies that are possible under the law as courts sometimes remand decisions to fix violations while in other cases they scrap-- or at least delay -- a project approval.

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November 08, 2019

Anne Idsal, EPA’s acting Office of Air & Radiation chief, is detailing an ambitious deregulatory agenda for the coming years including finalizing rollbacks of major Obama-era rules and issuing policies to ease compliance mandates for states and industry, amid observers’ doubts over the content of, and justification for, some of the efforts.

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Top EPA air policy staff are defending their longstanding “weight of evidence” approach to assessing the risks of air pollution that considers all policy relevant data on emissions’ health impacts to determine causation, fighting criticism from agency advisers who fault the approach for conflating association of pollution and health effects with causation.

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Acting EPA air chief Anne Idsal is defending the agency’s efforts to “streamline” the process for reviewing its national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for ozone, particulate matter (PM) and other criteria pollutants, and noting EPA is also looking at a “significant change” in how states implement its ambient air limits.

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EPA’s largest union, for now, cannot pursue further litigation against an unlawful contract the agency unilaterally imposed on its members due to a key government vacancy, but the union hopes to eventually hold future talks over a new contract because the contested contract has been a “disaster” for management to implement, a union source says.

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Pennsylvania residents are urging a federal district court to reject the Navy’s attempt to dismiss precedent-setting litigation seeking the military’s payment for medical monitoring to detect health issues that may develop after exposure to perfluorinated chemicals, saying the Navy cannot reargue issues already settled by an appeals court.

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The battle over the proper venue for litigating the Trump administration’s rule preempting California’s vehicle greenhouse gas program is heating up, with the government recently arguing federal district courts lack jurisdiction to hear lawsuits brought by states and environmentalists.

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November 07, 2019

In an apparent reversal, EPA is for the first time proposing to use its conservative cancer risk value for ethylene oxide (EtO) in its recently released air toxics rule governing generic chemical manufacturing facilities, a defeat for chemical industry groups who have petitioned the agency to abandon use of the risk value for regulatory purposes.

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Appellate judges reviewing a first-time industry suit contesting EPA’s Superfund listing of a vapor intrusion site seemed to be grappling with the suit’s narrow challenge to the listing decision as it applies the agency’s 2017 Hazardous Ranking System (HRS) regulation governing the listing of such sites, even though the rule is not the subject of the suit.

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Appellate judges reviewing a first-time industry suit contesting EPA’s Superfund listing of a vapor intrusion site seemed to be grappling with the suit’s narrow challenge to the listing decision as it applies the agency’s 2017 Hazardous Ranking System (HRS) regulation governing the listing of such sites, even though the rule is not the subject of the suit.

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Lawyers representing municipal and industrial entities are bracing for the Justice Department (DOJ) to largely ban the use of supplemental environmental projects (SEPs) in enforcement settlements, with some municipal water agencies now turning to Congress to authorize the popular projects that defendants often seek in settlements to ease penalties.

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Even as municipal water agencies lobby Congress to reverse the Justice Department’s (DOJ) almost certain bar on supplemental environmental projects (SEPs), a lawyer who represents some municipal agencies says there is a “silver lining” in DOJ’s policy.

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