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Daily News

March 29, 2019

DENVER -- EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler says the agency will propose its long-awaited update to the lead and copper rule (LCR) this summer with a three-step structure that aims to map the country’s remaining lead drinking water pipes and model their levels of corrosion before prioritizing the “most corrosive” lines for replacement.

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DENVER -- Career EPA and Justice Department (DOJ) enforcement officials say there has been no change in their agencies’ environmental enforcement posture under the Trump administration and their offices are “damn busy,” pushing back against environmentalists’ attacks on falling federal enforcement figures.

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March 28, 2019

EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), which advises the agency on how to set federal air standards, will urge the agency to reconstitute a specialized panel Trump officials disbanded to help review particulate matter (PM) limits, a move that would throw the administration’s timeline for completing its review into disarray.

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In a closely watched case, a federal judge has found that EPA improperly approved Montana's plan to allow dischargers 17 years to meet a controversial variance from strict water quality standards (WQS) for nutrients rather than requiring immediate compliance with the variance and working toward attainment of the WQS.

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A bipartisan group of senators will soon unveil legislation to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water, with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) suggesting support for both technical assistance and an enforceable drinking water standard that takes into account the costs and challenges of sampling and mitigating the chemicals.

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Key Democrats in both chambers are re-introducing “cap-and-dividend” legislation that would create a greenhouse gas permit program for “first sellers” of carbon-based fuels while rebating all revenues directly to the public, arguing their approach could be the most politically viable route to passing carbon pricing legislation.

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Oregon lawmakers are poised to consider recently unveiled amendments that would strengthen requirements for key sectors under a landmark bill to create a greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program that links to the California-Quebec system, though the measure still faces calls from the natural gas industry for more flexibility.

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The California Assembly’s primary environment committee is advancing a landmark bill that would in part establish a first-time tax on all water agency customers in the state to help pay for the cleanup of contaminated water supplies in certain regions, rejecting push-back by agencies that argue the measure sets a disturbing water-tax precedent.

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The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is recommending a strategy for how California regulators should cost-effectively phase out the use of natural gas in buildings and gas-fired power plants in the coming decades, as part of its broader push for electrifying most sectors of the economy to fight climate change.

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Two major environmental groups suggest California may need to increase flexibility under its protocol for incorporating carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) into its low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS), illustrating the priority that many experts place on deploying the technology to combat global warming.

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March 27, 2019

Supreme Court justices at March 27 oral argument appeared unlikely to completely overturn a key precedent granting deference to EPA and other federal agencies' interpretations of their regulations, though several of the justices appeared open to the Trump administration's call to narrow the deference.

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EPA is planning an annual review of its program office priorities for Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) assessments, a top official told lawmakers, despite controversy that the first such review stalled IRIS' work for months and led to charges that a top political appointee interfered in the review to drop the formaldehyde assessment.

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Environmentalists are warning EPA that any attempt to drop use of its conservative Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) risk values for ethylene oxide (EtO) when crafting air toxics rules would result in unlawful regulations not based on the “best available science,” signaling a likely legal challenge should the agency proceed with the approach.

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House Democrats have unveiled new legislation that would bar use of federal funds to withdraw from the Paris climate deal and require the Trump administration to develop a plan to meet the U.S. emissions targets, signaling a clash with the White House over the issue should lawmakers seek to enact such mandates in upcoming spending legislation.

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Amid uncertainty over U.S. EPA rules, truck-trailer manufacturers from across the country are raising concerns about whether out-of-state manufacturers must comply with the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) Phase 2 greenhouse gas regulation requiring new trailers sold in the state to comply with fuel-efficiency and other standards.

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A key biofuels group, represented by a former top official in the George H.W. Bush administration, is urging EPA to withdraw its proposed consent decree with Sierra Club that would set deadlines for the agency to complete a delayed congressionally mandated study of the environmental impacts of its Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

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March 26, 2019

The Senate's unanimous rejection of the Green New Deal (GND) climate change resolution – with nearly all Democrats protesting the vote – is highlighting a larger battle in which each of the two parties is seeking to define itself as in the political mainstream, while dismissing the other side as fundamentally extremist.

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Mark Frampton, the sole research scientist on EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory committee (CASAC), is lambasting panel Chairman Tony Cox’s controversial new approach to assessing air pollution science for reviewing the agency’s particulate matter (PM) air standards, saying it undermines and misstates the latest data on PM.

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The House science committee is holding a March 27 hearing that is expected to highlight major stakeholder divisions on whether EPA's embattled Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program or the agency's emerging toxics program should play the lead role assessing chemical risks.

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EPA is taking the rare step of publicly criticizing Missouri’s draft coal ash disposal rules for failing to meet the standard of protection required by the agency’s Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) ash rule, previewing the bar that EPA will set for states to win approval of their programs to comply with the rule’s mandates.

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