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Daily News

July 18, 2019

Democrats, mainstream environmental groups and equity organizations are redoubling their efforts to bridge long-standing divisions that seek to address both environmental justice concerns and climate change policy ahead of the 2020 election and possible legislation that could be advanced afterward.

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A federal judge in Oregon has granted an agriculture group’s request to stay implementation of the Obama-era Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction rule in the state, agreeing that the members of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association would be irreparably harmed by the rule and increasing to 27 the number of states where the rule has been blocked completely.

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The trucking industry is aiming to limit the frequency and type of smog checks they will be subject to under California’s first-time heavy-duty diesel truck inspection and maintenance (I/M) program, raising concerns that they could face exorbitant compliance costs.

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California toxics department officials are planning to make further changes to their controversial draft proposal to establish first-time universal waste (UW) rules for the disposal of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, based on extensive written comments that were filed last month by numerous entities that manufacture, install, manage and recycle the panels.

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Despite further relaxing some key requirements, California waste regulators continue to face overwhelming opposition from the waste management industry to their proposed first-time regulations to dramatically reduce organic waste disposal levels and associated emissions of methane and other potent greenhouse gases.

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Environmentalists are urging California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) to halt permitting for new oil and gas hydraulic fracturing and other production after the governor fired the state’s oil and gas regulatory agency chief based on an investigation showing that eight top agency officials own stock in petroleum companies.

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A long-stayed industry challenge to California rules requiring cancer warnings for glyphosate pesticide products could be poised to proceed following federal appellate rulings on similar issues that the state was waiting on when it asked the court to delay imposing a preliminary injunction on its labeling rule in 2018.

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July 17, 2019

The latest EPA air quality trends report is providing a vehicle for the Trump administration to cite decades of air quality improvements predating its tenure as a political antidote to criticism of its deregulatory agenda, even as observers are citing a number of details in the report itself that point to some more troubling recent pollution trends.

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House Republicans are showing little interest in supporting a bill being crafted by Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) that seeks to codify scientific integrity requirements at EPA and other agencies, accusing Democrats of “weaponizing” the debate over federal science and faulting the bill for its failure to sufficiently address “research misconduct” and other issues.

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A free-market group is urging the Energy Department (DOE) to drop its use of the social cost of carbon (SCC) when developing appliance efficiency standards, though opponents of the Trump administration’s deregulatory agenda are already fighting agencies’ use of a narrowed approach to the SCC in court.

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EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and other administration officials say they will step up their deregulatory agendas in 2020 even after completing work on their top-priority rollbacks, with EPA moving on to “tier 2” rulemakings in addition to branch-wide “structural” changes aimed at making recent policy shifts more durable.

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The biomass industry appears unlikely to challenge EPA’s decision in its Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) power plant greenhouse gas rule to remove co-firing with biomass as a compliance mechanism, even though the agency proposed to allow it and industry strongly supported it.

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July 16, 2019

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has not yet decided how to respond to agency science advisers’ call to reconstitute an expert panel to assist with oversight of EPA’s review of federal particulate matter (PM) standards, throwing into doubt both the speed and quality of the agency’s review, House Democrats say.

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EPA is considering a number of changes to the next version of its rule governing how drinking water utilities must monitor for contaminants that may need regulations, seeking to reduce costs for utilities, speed the public availability of monitoring results and increase the number of approved laboratories to analyze the samples.

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Environmental groups are ramping up warnings of the climate and health damages from oil and gas industry methane emissions, just as the Trump EPA draws closer to issuing a proposal that is expected to seek to rescind an Obama-era policy directly regulating methane emissions from new and modified sources.

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In a case that tests the Trump administration’s approach to conducting environmental reviews, the Army Corps of Engineers and a major Virginia utility are getting key support from power regulators in their attempt to avoid being forced to remove a contested transmission line project while the Corps conducts a court-ordered review of the project.

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California lawmakers have rejected, at least for this year, a bill that would have required air regulators to study the feasibility of calculating the carbon intensities of millions of products sold in the state to determine if a novel carbon tax based on such data could be imposed to replace the existing sales and use tax.

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Sierra Club is launching a broad legal assault on the Clean Air Act’s 60-day deadline to file challenges to EPA’s air rules, asking for rehearing of an appeals court ruling on state air monitoring plans which, if granted and decided in the group’s favor, could open the door to many other suits challenging years-old EPA rules.

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July 15, 2019

East Coast states and environmentalists are ramping up pressure on EPA to take steps to force reductions of interstate ozone emissions, threatening legal action over states’ delayed plans for reducing ozone and filing new briefs in litigation that challenges the agency’s decision against pursuing any new interstate ozone regulations.

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Environmentalists are urging the Supreme Court to reject competing legal arguments from EPA and a Hawaii county that pollution in groundwater can never be subject to the Clean Water Act (CWA) requirements, arguing that the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s plurality opinion in Rapanos v. United States does not permit that result.

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