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Daily News

November 05, 2020

EPA staff and other observers are bracing for potential personnel moves by Trump administration officials in the coming weeks amid a possible transition to a Biden administration, including last-minute reorganizations or staffing shuffles based on a recent executive order (EO) from President Donald Trump.

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EPA has sent its controversial rule to retain the existing suite of particulate matter (PM) national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for mandatory White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) pre-publication review, aiming to quickly complete and publicly release the rule during President Donald Trump’s current term.

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Democrats appear to have extended their supermajority in the California state Senate by flipping at least two Republican-held seats in the Nov. 3 elections, likely making it even easier to pass controversial climate change and environmental bills, including fiscal-related legislation requiring two-thirds votes, sources say.

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Complying with a federal judge’s orders, anti-fluoridation groups have filed an updated petition asking EPA to regulate the practice under TSCA, though a lawyer representing EPA suggested during a Nov. 5 court hearing that officials are unlikely to change their position and grant the revised request.

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Environmental groups fear that California voters’ approval of Proposition 22 -- which reclassifies drivers who work for app-based ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft as independent contractors rather than employees -- will hinder the state air board’s proposed greenhouse gas rule for those firms that aims to encourage a shift to electric vehicles (EVs).

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Five environmental groups are suing a California water agency for allegedly violating the state’s umbrella environmental protection statute when it recently approved revenue bonds they claim are intended to pay for a project they oppose to divert water from the San Joaquin Delta and convey it south.

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Industry groups are urging California air board officials to ease requirements and extend a compliance deadline for new alternative diesel fuel certification rules, arguing they have taken much longer to finalize than expected, significant biodiesel supplies may not be available in 2021, and the measure requires too many nitrogen oxide (NOx) reductions.

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California air board officials are providing more details about their plans to propose a first-time fee on the railroad industry to pay for cleaner locomotives, as well as an idling limit -- drawing pushback from industry officials who say it could force some companies to close, increase use of dirtier trucks, and may violate federal law.

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The Trump EPA’s agenda is expected to be crowded in the coming months as officials aim to lock in deregulatory approaches amid a possible transition to a Biden administration, with some observers also expressing concern that the president’s recent civil-service executive order could drive disruptive, late-hour personnel moves.

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A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit appears likely to uphold a lower court decision finding that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to conduct a required rigorous environmental review of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) but the judges did not seem to reach consensus on the proper legal remedy for the violation.

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November 04, 2020

The California Chamber of Commerce’s landmark First Amendment suit seeking to block enforcement of the state’s listing of the food chemical acrylamide as a carcinogen under the Proposition 65 chemical warning law is facing a legal test as the chamber and a private enforcer of the law are battling over whether the case should proceed.

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Capitol Hill Democrats’ weak showing in the 2020 elections could set the stage for a heavy emphasis on regulatory policies rather than sweeping legislation to advance climate policy, should Democratic nominee Joe Biden be declared the winner in the presidential contest.

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Appellate judges’ tough questioning of a federal government attorney in a pending Clean Water Act (CWA) section 401 case raises the possibility of a ruling that creates a split among federal appeals courts on whether the CWA contains a bright-line limit on how long states can review applications for water quality certifications.

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Industry groups are urging a federal appeals court to uphold a lower court ruling that exempted a steel mill from Superfund reporting mandates because it holds a Clean Air Act (CAA) permit -- even though its emissions have violated the permit -- arguing a reversal would increase companies’ regulatory burdens and risk duplicative regulation.

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The United States’ now-formal departure from the Paris climate deal could be a temporary blip that is reversed within weeks if Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is declared the winner of this year’s election, though observers say re-joining the deal will be easier than the requirement to issue an updated emissions reduction target.

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Despite uncertainty about the final result of the Nov. 3 presidential election, environmental policy is poised for a major upheaval whether President Donald Trump wins re-election and pursues an aggressive deregulatory agenda in his second term or Democratic nominee Joe Biden wins and implements his sweeping climate change plan.

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November 03, 2020

Ted Boling -- who recently departed the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) where he helped develop a dramatic rewrite of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) implementing rules -- is expecting an “active debate” about what a potential Biden administration would do with the controversial rulemaking.

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In an effort to boost a dismal number of companies’ electronic submittals to EPA of hazardous waste manifests, the agency is developing a plan to relax certain requirements for generators and transporters when signing electronic manifests (e-Manifests) but is rejecting a specific streamlining method endorsed by an advisory board.

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Environmentalists and major industry groups are sparring over EPA’s plan to revise and tighten its air toxics rule for large industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) boilers in response to a federal appeals court remand, with Sierra Club and other groups saying the rule is too weak while industry organizations say it is too stringent.

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EPA has released its final risk evaluation for carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), a solvent and feedstock used to produce a host of other chemicals, finding that 13 of 15 conditions of use the agency evaluated pose unreasonable workplace risks that must be regulated, a change from the draft version which identified only four uses that pose such risks.

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