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Daily News

November 03, 2020

Various non-governmental groups and analysts are seeking to influence climate and energy policy in the post-election period, with some praising Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s political focus on climate, others pushing carbon-neutral requirements for infrastructure and one free-market group urging a hands-off approach to energy issues.

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A host of current and former top Democratic officials are reportedly in the running for key environmental positions in a potential Biden administration, including for EPA administrator, key Cabinet positions at the Interior and Energy departments, as well as personnel who could fill newly created climate and environment offices.

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November 02, 2020

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit at Nov. 2 oral argument asked tough questions of attorneys for EPA and New Jersey in the state’s suit over a new source review (NSR) reporting rule, including queries about the state’s legal standing to sue as well as the merits of the legal challenge.

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EPA has revoked an Obama-era federal plan imposing strict emissions controls on Utah power plants to reduce regional haze, replacing it with approval of a plan by the state that employs “alternative” measures to stringent source-specific control measures as part of a Trump administration policy of deferring more to states on such plans.

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Supreme Court justices at Nov. 2 oral argument in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suit over documents related to EPA’s cooling water rule grappled with a desire to craft an appropriate test for when certain federal agency documents can be publicly released, indicating an interest in broader FOIA principles than the facts of the case.

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Biofuels groups are lobbying Iowa lawmakers to oppose Democrats’ draft legislation to phase out liquid fuels in favor of electric vehicles (EVs) and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, preparing for a major fight over the bill and other fuels and climate policies if Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden wins the Nov. 3 election.

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The American Chemistry Council (ACC) is fighting environmentalists’ bid for a stricter EPA ethylene oxide (EtO) air rule for the miscellaneous organic chemical manufacturing (MON) sector, filing a lawsuit and an administrative petition for reconsideration saying EPA should weaken the rule because it overestimates EtO risks to the public.

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Environmental groups challenging the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) environmental reviews for thousands of oil and gas leases on 1.9 million acres of public lands across the West are declaring at least a partial victory after a federal district court granted the bureau’s request to remand the reviews for further climate change analysis.

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Advisors to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are considering tightening their recommendation of what CDC’s blood lead reference level should be, a non-regulatory construct that nevertheless drives EPA enforcement actions under TSCA and a range of other decisions at many federal, state and local agencies.

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October 30, 2020

Amid speculation that the Nov. 3 elections could allow Democrats to re-take control of the White House and potentially the Senate, industry attorneys are preparing their clients for expected dramatic changes in federal environmental and climate change rules.

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Expectations that Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) will take over as the top Republican next year on the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee that oversees EPA is prompting questions about how such a committee shuffle could affect environment policy.

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The nuclear energy industry is raising broad legal, policy and procedural concerns over the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) proposal to relax disposal requirements for some radioactive waste, adding to obstacles the NRC could face in attempting to finalize a rule that environmentalists and states already oppose and that EPA says needs revisions.

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-CA) are attacking and questioning efforts by Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) to impede the Golden State’s plan to phase out most uses of natural gas, including in homes and commercial buildings, charging the company’s tactics are unethical and possibly illegal.

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Members of an EPA advisory panel raised pointed questions at an Oct. 29 meeting about ongoing agency research efforts to improve the characterization and mapping of streams and wetlands, suggesting some of the projects are too narrowly focused and wondering how frequently changing policy decisions will affect the science.

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Capitol Hill Democrats and former EPA officials are ramping up their criticism of the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks in a bid to make them a liability for President Donald Trump just days ahead of the Nov. 3 election, while also seeking to lay the groundwork for undoing the policies if Trump is defeated.

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October 29, 2020

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear oral argument Nov. 1 in New Jersey’s long-delayed challenge to EPA’s Clean Air Act new source review (NSR) permit emissions reporting requirements, which the state says are inadequate to ensure the developers of industrial projects obtain the necessary permits.

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The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is planning to use the White House’s streamlined National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) rules for its analysis of a controversial oil exploration project in the Arctic, despite a top Justice Department (DOJ) official earlier telling a court that agencies would not immediately use the new rules.

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EPA is proposing to strengthen its draft evaluation of pigment violet 29 (PV29), the first such evaluation the agency conducted under the revised TSCA, after taking the novel step of ordering manufacturers to conduct a series of tests on the substance and provide the data to the agency.

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Members of an EPA advisory panel appeared generally supportive of the agency’s nascent research efforts on microplastics in sediment and water at an Oct. 28 meeting, with one member from California commending EPA for finding niche research efforts in a crowded field and tying them to existing agency programs.

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A new report by sustainability experts touts an array of short- and longer-term strategies to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, estimating that job gains under the approach would dwarf job losses and that the effort would not increase oil and gas sector unemployment over the next decade.

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