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Daily News

March 10, 2020

Despite Ohio’s recent pledge to craft a total maximum daily load (TMDL) for Lake Erie, environmentalists and local officials are asking a federal judge to set a compliance schedule for EPA to develop a TMDL for the lake, one of several pending cases testing the judicial doctrine requiring the agency to craft the plans when a state has not acted.

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March 09, 2020

SACRAMENTO, CA – A federal district court judge is weighing whether to require more briefing in the Trump administration’s lawsuit claiming that California’s greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program link to Quebec violates the Constitution, a move that could setback the administration’s request for a speedy ruling in the case.

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EPA has ordered BASF and Sun Chemical, the two known domestic producers of pigment violet 29 (PV29), to test various chemical properties, seeking to fill data gaps that EPA advisors said prevented the agency from justifying its threshold finding that the substance poses no “unreasonable risk,” according to copies of the orders.

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EPA, refiners, biofuels groups and environmentalists are battling in final legal briefs over the agency’s 2019 renewable fuel standard (RFS), in a suit that tests multiple aspects of the program including its fuel production goals and the agency’s approach to issuing RFS “economic hardship” compliance waivers to small refiners.

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Los Angeles officials are citing the significant negative economic impacts to business at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports caused by the Covid-19 virus as one of the reasons for voting down development of a long-planned “indirect source rule” (ISR) to slash truck emissions and deciding instead to negotiate an agreement with port officials.

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A federal district court judge is expressing heavy skepticism about the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) rollback of Obama-era rules to limit “wasted” methane from oil and gas operations on public land, a suit posing an early test of the Trump administration’s narrow approach to monetizing damages from greenhouse gases.

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March 06, 2020

EPA is expected to reverse position and now contest an appellate ruling that significantly limits its ability to issue renewable fuel standard (RFS) compliance waivers to small refiners, days after the agency signaled that in lieu of appealing the ruling it would instead apply it nationwide and dramatically reduce the waivers it issues.

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Despite lawmakers’ pressure, Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett earlier this month said the military is examining the use of recently enacted powers allowing the Defense Department (DOD) to take steps to aid agricultural operations harmed by its per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) releases but she stopped short of pledging to use those powers.

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In a first-of-a-kind ruling, a federal appellate court is agreeing to keep Baltimore’s climate nuisance case against major oil companies in state court under Maryland common law, rejecting industry’s efforts to have the litigation removed to federal court, where the firms would then argue the claims were preempted by the Clean Air Act.

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An appellate court has vacated a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) conducted as part of a plan to open a Colorado roadless area to coal mining, bolstering environmentalists who say it shows that law still matters especially as the White House moves to dramatically scale back how agencies implement it.

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March 05, 2020

EPA is asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to reverse a three-judge panel’s landmark ruling that expands a controversial “constructive submission” forcing the agency to develop waterbody cleanup plans when states have failed to act, warning the decision will lead to a “massive wave” of citizen suits if left unchecked.

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EPA science advisors say the agency’s draft Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) assessment of methylene chloride (MC), the ubiquitous solvent, provides an “incomplete picture of risks,” warning that without a broader review that considers risks from uses the agency declined to evaluate, the assessment could lead to harmful releases.

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As EPA and Congress weigh efforts to ban asbestos, plaintiffs in asbestos tort suits are casting a wide net to capture companies not directly involved in making the substance, but a product liability defense attorney says states are seeking to limit those efforts including Iowa’s bid to prevent “an epidemic” of “over-naming” defendants.

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Democratic attorneys general (AG), scientists, environmental, labor and public health groups are urging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and other Democratic leaders to schedule a floor vote on a bill that would direct EPA to ban asbestos within a year.

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EPA has sent for White House pre-publication review its proposed rule on whether to revise its national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for particulate matter (PM), eyeing an April release for the proposal that is expected to float leaving in place all standards for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and larger coarse particles (PM10).

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California’s top air official is saying a “revolution” is necessary to slash enough transportation greenhouse gases to meet the state’s long-term climate targets -- such as implementing first-time fees on motorists to reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) -- but state lawmakers are wary of advancing such measures, especially during a major election year.

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California is claiming it has gained no new political power in violation of the Constitution’s compact or treaty clauses by linking its greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program to Quebec, in its final brief prior to currently scheduled oral argument in the Trump administration’s lawsuit seeking to sever the state’s agreement with the Canadian province.

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A California lawmaker is pursuing legislation to eliminate the state toxics department’s controversial Safer Consumer Products (SCP) green chemistry program because it is too slow in regulating hazardous compounds, aiming to spark new plans or return to a time when lawmakers pursued their own stand-alone bills to ban or restrict chemicals.

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California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) is recommending that state lawmakers approve Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) fiscal year 2020-21 budget proposal to establish a new environmental safety oversight board for the state’s embattled toxics department but provide detailed requirements for how the board operates.

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The city of Berkeley, CA, is touting state energy regulators’ approval of its novel ban on natural gas infrastructure in new and remodeled buildings as a defense against restaurant owners’ lawsuit, arguing that federal judges should defer to state officials on whether its ordinance and similar local climate policies are preempted by state or federal law.

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