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Daily News

August 27, 2020

A leading chemical industry group is warning that a plan by a group of states to ban the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and phthalates, two classes of widely used chemicals, from packaging materials would have “perverse” economic consequences, cause “unwarranted alarm” and “product de-selection".

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An analysis of EPA data by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) shows EPA’s approval of new chemicals under TSCA section 5 often assumes workers use personal protective equipment (PPE) even if they do not, allowing the agency to approve dozens of chemicals that exceed the agency’s risk benchmarks in just the past few months.

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August 26, 2020

EPA is aiming to shield its utility climate rules from coal companies’ claim that courts must scrap the policies because of the agency’s legal determination in its just-finalized rollback of Obama-era oil and gas greenhouse gas standards that the drilling sector’s GHGs have not been shown to “significantly” endanger public welfare.

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EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is blaming major disruption to the transportation fuels market caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors for the agency’s delay in proposing its 2021 renewable fuel standard (RFS), with uncertainty about whether EPA will meet a Nov. 30 deadline for issuing a final version of the 2021 RFS.

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The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and major industry groups are arguing that environmentalists lack standing for their suit seeking a preliminary injunction of the council’s broad overhaul of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) rules, urging a federal district court to dismiss the case.

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Environmentalists in their opening brief in a potentially precedent-setting Superfund case are urging a federal appeals court to reverse a lower court ruling that exempted a steel mill from Superfund reporting requirements because the facility holds a Clean Air Act (CAA) permit -- even though its emissions violate those permits.

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The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced EPA to refocus its work on previously low-priority areas such as evaluating disinfectants for use against the coronavirus and enforcement action against businesses selling untested alternatives, a shift that one industry attorney says might continue long after the current crisis ends.

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Environmental and labor groups are opposing industry motions to intervene in their landmark legal challenge to EPA’s findings that certain uses of the solvent methylene chloride do not pose unreasonable risks, a suit that could set important precedents governing TSCA’s reach and how the agency should evaluate chemicals’ risks.

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August 25, 2020

The Justice Department (DOJ) and a coalition of 15 industry groups are defending the Trump administration’s exclusion of waste treatment systems from the definition of waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, arguing that contrary to environmentalists’ claims the waiver is lawful, reasonable, and longstanding.

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EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is blaming an Obama-era agency official for efforts that resulted in nixing a research plan to test per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) incineration methods in New Jersey, while the administrator is touting the launch of a $50,000 contest to find alternative disposal methods to burning the substances.

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Top Senate Democrats say they might end the upper chamber’s longstanding requirement to achieve supermajority support to move legislation in order to enact bold climate change policies if they retake the Senate and the White House following the Nov. 3 elections.

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The latest California-Quebec greenhouse gas allowance auction saw significantly higher sales than the previous auction in May, as economic activity has increased since the early effects of the COVID-19 emergency and as companies begin preparing to meet the cap-and-trade program’s next three-year compliance period that begins in 2021.

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A major refining sector group and biofuels advocacy organizations are clashing in legal briefs over EPA’s authority for its final rule authorizing year-round use of 15-percent ethanol fuel (E15), with refiners calling on a federal appeals court to scrap the approval while biofuels groups aim to safeguard it and expand the rule to higher fuel blends.

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The Air Force is urging a federal district court overseeing multi-district litigation (MDL) on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to reject an attempt by New Mexico to force the military to implement interim cleanup measures, arguing the state’s motion has national implications for the service’s cleanup priorities and raises threshold Superfund law questions.

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Opposition from agribusiness and other industry groups has helped kill a California bill that would have required a first-time greenhouse gas target for “natural and working lands,” with the author of the measure indirectly criticizing Democratic leadership for failing to recognize its importance in fighting climate change.

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August 24, 2020

Opponents of the planned Pebble Mine in Alaska are calling the Army Corps of Engineers’ request for a wetlands compensatory mitigation plan for the project a significant move that critics hope will finally stop the controversial mine, but the mine’s developer is downplaying the request as a normal part of the Clean Water Act (CWA) permitting process.

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New Jersey is urging a federal appeals court to force EPA to tighten Clean Air Act new source review (NSR) permit emissions reporting requirements for industrial sources, asking judges to scrap a longstanding agency rule that allows permit applicants to avoid reporting if their self-assessed likely pollution falls below a regulatory threshold.

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A federal district court says it will quickly consider environmentalists’ request for a preliminary injunction of the White House Council on Environmental Quality’s (CEQ) rule to significantly streamline agency implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), meaning a decision could come before the rule takes effect next month.

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Early legal filings in litigation over EPA’s decision to rescind the cost-benefit finding underpinning the Obama-era mercury and air toxics standards (MATS) for power plants detail a coal mining company’s explicit goal of scrapping the entire emissions rule and a competing bid by environmentalists to force the agency to tighten the air policy.

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The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will not defend its rule aimed at limiting venting and flaring of the potent greenhouse gas methane from oil and gas operations on federal lands, with litigation over the Obama-era measure revived after the Trump administration’s recission of the standards was vacated last month.

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