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Daily News

September 18, 2019

Faced with a recent ruling upending its Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) power plant emissions trading program, EPA is asking a federal appellate court to postpone oral argument slated for Sept. 20 in a related case brought by East Coast states seeking tougher federal regulation of interstate ozone pollution.

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Updated at 6:10pm EST: A federal appellate court panel has granted EPA’s request to postpone oral argument over the agency’s “close-out” of the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) emissions trading program, previously scheduled for Sept. 20, after a three-judge panel ruled in a separate case to require the program ensure timely attainment of air quality standards.

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A federal judge is asking EPA and environmentalists to respond to a set of questions in a potentially precedent-setting Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) case after an agency lawyer sought to clarify statements she made during recent oral arguments but instead raised new doubts about the agency’s stances on key issues and the suit’s procedural posture.

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States and environmentalists challenging the Trump EPA’s effort to slow implementation of an Obama-era landfill methane rule are blasting the agency’s long-running “crusade” against the policy and calling EPA’s request for a court to drop a looming deadline to issue a federal compliance plan just the most recent delay tactic.

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September 17, 2019

EPA is poised to formally announce that it will scrap California’s Clean Air Act authority to enforce vehicle greenhouse gas standards that are tougher than the federal government, a move that will likely spark a fierce political and legal backlash from the Golden State and others that have adopted its vehicle climate rules.

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A top Justice Department (DOJ) antitrust official is defending his office against claims that it has launched a politically motivated inquiry into four automakers that voluntarily agreed to follow stricter California vehicle greenhouse gas rules than those planned by the Trump administration.

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The Defense Department (DOD) is outlining in just-released operating principles the scope and purpose of its high-level task force on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), making clear that it wants to take a “whole of government approach” in collaboration with EPA to respond to the pollutants believed to be at hundreds of military sites.

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Citing a series of provisions in the Superfund law, the Air Force is seeking to dismiss New Mexico’s suit aimed at winning a more rigorous response to its per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) pollution, an effort that highlights the hurdles states face getting federal agencies to clean up their contamination.

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has reversed a lower court’s dismissal of litigation seeking to require Clean Water Act (CWA) discharge permits for contaminants that flow through agricultural tile drains in California, finding the district court misinterpreted a key word in the law and made other errors in judgment.

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Several Western states are questioning whether EPA has legal authority to propose changes to the Clean Water Act (CWA) section 401 water quality certification process even as other states wrestle with how to respond to the agency’s proposed rule that seeks to limit states’ abilities to review certification requests.

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September 16, 2019

EPA could be forced to pursue a stricter policy on reducing interstate transport of air pollution following an adverse appellate ruling that remanded the agency’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) emissions transport trading program back to EPA after finding fault with its justification for not pursuing tighter pollution limits.

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California lawmakers wrapped up their 2019 legislative session Sept. 13 but without securing the environmental deals many were seeking, with Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) pledging to veto a bill locking in Obama-era standards and the legislature failing to vote on another bill setting landmark plastic recycling standards.

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EPA’s draft evaluation of 1-bromopropane (1BP) is drawing mixed views from its advisors and others, with some advisors praising the clarity of agency’s latest draft assessment under the revised toxics law even as they and some environmentalists criticized its narrow scope as well as agency violations of some risk evaluation policies.

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The Supreme Court is slated to hear arguments later this year in a landmark suit over the reach of the Superfund law’s bar on pre-enforcement judicial review, a case in which the Trump administration is backing an oil company’s effort to overturn a landmark Montana high court ruling that found the bar does not extend to state damages claims.

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Colorado municipalities have won a federal district court decision rejecting the oil industry’s bid to move their climate nuisance case to federal court where it would likely be dismissed, with the ruling marking the third-straight victory on the issue for local governments seeking to force industry to pay for climate damages their products caused.

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September 13, 2019

EPA is considering issuing an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) to inform its forthcoming rule setting stricter nitrogen oxide (NOx) limits on heavy-duty trucks, a move that could let the agency claim some forward momentum this year as a formal proposal appears unlikely before California considers its own plan.

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In a case of first impression, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit has ruled that EPA has broad discretion to decide whether to revoke a state’s delegated Clean Water Act (CWA) discharge permitting authority, even when the state’s permit program has not always complied with the water law’s requirements.

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As Congress weighs legislation requiring that the Defense Department (DOD) and other liable parties address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), Pentagon officials say they expect the number of contaminated sites and associated cleanup costs to increase beyond past estimates, further boosting DOD’s total cleanup liability.

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As lawmakers prepare to resolve differences in their pending defense bills, they will have to consider an amendment attached to the House version of the bill that would limit the Energy Department’s (DOE) effort to reclassify “high-level radioactive waste” (HLW) and ease associated waste disposal options.

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A federal appeals court has remanded EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) update to the agency after finding it unlawfully ignored deadlines for states to attain ozone standards in its justification for not tightening the emissions trading program as much as environmentalists sought, dealing a major blow to the Trump administration’s interstate air policy.

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