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Daily News

June 16, 2020

The Justice Department (DOJ) is asking the Supreme Court to stay a landmark district court ruling that vacated the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) general permit for constructing new oil and gas pipelines, arguing in part that the lower court erred in issuing a nationwide injunction and noting several justices’ recent concerns about universal injunctions.

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California Air Resources Board (CARB) officials late this month will formally propose stringent low-nitrogen oxide (NOx) standards and other emission requirements for heavy-duty trucks beginning with model year 2024, amid strong opposition from truck makers and a continued delay in EPA’s proposed update to federal NOx limits.

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Environmental groups are raising a host of concerns with EPA’s proposed industrial stormwater general permit, including that the permit would weaken provisions intended to lessen flooding risk due to climate change and that the agency rejected the recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).

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Several states are asking EPA to add requirements to its proposed industrial stormwater general permit to limit pollution from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) through pollution prevention actions and monitoring requirements, with Colorado warning it may deny certification of the permit without the changes.

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The Ozone Transport Commission (OTC) of air regulators from 12 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states is formally asking EPA to impose tougher emissions controls on Pennsylvania utilities as leverage to obtain stricter controls under the Keystone State’s own air rules, as East Coast states press the agency for action to curb interstate ozone.

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June 15, 2020

EPA says it plans to voluntarily collect information through surveys and interviews for the chemical risk evaluations it is conducting under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), but the agency is leaving the door open to mandatory orders to compel additional data, an approach environmentalists have long sought.

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EPA is urging a federal appeals court to overturn a closely watched Clean Water Act (CWA) water quality standards decision, arguing the lower court failed to follow proper regulatory and statutory construction principles and should have given greater deference to EPA’s interpretation for how to implement variances to stringent standards.

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Several states and environmental groups are backing EPA’s preliminary work towards developing drinking water standards for two per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and urging an expanded effort to other chemicals in the class, sparring with industries that object to broadening the effort and even dispute the initial evaluation.

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In a win for the natural gas industry, the Supreme Court is rejecting a key challenge to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), though the pipeline and other large gas infrastructure projects are still facing growing legal and permitting hurdles before they can be built and put into operation.

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California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) is appealing a March district court ruling that upheld the Trump administration’s repeal of an Obama-era rule requiring companies conducting hydraulic fracturing on federal lands to disclose the chemical constituents of their fracking fluids and take other steps to prevent harmful releases.

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California Assembly lawmakers have overwhelmingly approved legislation that would prohibit 12 chemicals from being added to cosmetic products starting in 2025, a move that came after industry groups dropped their opposition when the bill’s sponsors offered a series of amendments easing the measure’s requirements.

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Senate environment panel ranking member Tom Carper (D-DE) is pressing EPA to confirm whether the White House has stalled for months an agency plan to designate two key per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as “hazardous substances” under the Superfund law, seeking a definitive timeline for issuing the finding.

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Environmentalists are asking a federal appellate court to reject EPA’s plan to let farmers continue using the weed killer dicamba until July 31 despite the court holding the 2018 registration of the chemical unlawful, setting up a test of how strictly the agency must apply rulings that cancel registrations for already available products.

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June 12, 2020

EPA employee unions are vehemently protesting Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s new plan to begin phased reopening of agency headquarters and two more regional offices starting June 15, calling the proposal rushed and one that will put lives at risk while warning the plans do not meet Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.

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A federal district court judge in California is seeking additional briefing on whether he could issue a nationwide injunction halting the Trump administration’s waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, even while cautioning he has not decided, even tentatively, that Democratic state attorneys general (AGs) are entitled to an injunction.

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Senate Democrats are seeking answers from EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to questions and concerns about a host of EPA regulatory rollbacks in air and climate policy, including particulate matter (PM) standards, interstate pollution transport, vehicle greenhouse gas standards, wood heater standards and other rules.

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Several senators on the Environment & Public Works Committee (EPW) in recent questions to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler are highlighting lingering divisions among lawmakers over the future of the renewable fuel standard (RFS), including a deep divide between GOP senators over key aspects of biofuels regulations.

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EPA is proposing to authorize the use of numerous hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) alternatives in heat pumps, residential air conditions, retail refrigeration and foam, in what environmentalists are greeting as a generally positive development that could speed a federal and state transition to more climate friendly alternative HFCs.

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The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is seeking to save its “tolling order” power to indefinitely delay a 30-day statutory deadline to review administrative petitions for rehearing of its natural gas approvals, issuing a direct final rule banning developers from starting construction until FERC acts on rehearing requests.

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June 11, 2020

Members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) are pressing EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to explain how the agency is addressing a number of high-profile Clean Water Act (CWA) and Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) issues, including groundwater, state water quality reviews, perchlorate and perfluorinated chemicals.

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