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Daily News

November 05, 2018

EPA waste officials are suggesting that the agency may eventually apply its requirement setting a six-month deadline for all its permitting decisions to state-issued permits, prompting concerns from state officials who fear they would not be able to meet such a goal and fear it may undercut the quality of some permits.

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Environmentalists are seeking to use the Trump EPA's restrictive interpretation of its Clean Air Act authority against it in comments on the proposed Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) greenhouse gas rule for coal-fired power plants, arguing that the narrow legal interpretation -- which EPA says is limited to what can be done to boost efficiency within a facility's fenceline -- means that carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) must be included when setting GHG limits and that co-firing coal with biomass must be barred.

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Municipal and wastewater industry groups are urging EPA to drop any Clean Water Act (CWA) limits on wastewater “blending” and claiming any rule to limit blending is beyond the agency's statutory authority, but states are taking a more cautious approach that backs blending while calling for regulatory safeguards against possible abuse.

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November 04, 2018

In a surprise move, the Supreme Court rejected a Department of Justice (DOJ) request to halt the novel suit brought by 21 youth plaintiffs seeking to compel the government to address climate change, bolstering efforts by the plaintiffs to go to trial in a federal district court in Oregon though they will almost certainly face continued DOJ opposition.

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November 02, 2018

Key gubernatorial and Senate races remain close days before critical midterm elections, though several leading GOP critics of Obama EPA rules appear to be fading in their efforts to win higher office, including the attorneys general (AGs) of Michigan and West Virginia -- each of whom successfully sued to block EPA power plant rules.

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EPA's call for data on the adverse impacts of implementing ambient air standards is sparking a fight over how, and whether, the agency and its advisers should consider such impacts, with industry groups saying they are a vital factor while environmentalists and some states say weighing such factors in reviews of the standards is unlawful.

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Several states and environmental groups are opposing EPA's plan to lift air emissions monitoring requirements first established under an obsolete Clean Air Act program, warning that eliminating the monitoring will weaken compliance with other environmental programs and risks unlawful “backsliding,” or worsening of air quality.

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EPA and other Trump administration officials are stepping up their efforts to secure more “Good Samaritan” voluntary cleanups at abandoned mine sites that have been difficult to advance because of strict legal liability that often dissuades such voluntary parties from signing up to remediate the sites.

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The mining and pesticide industries, along with state regulators, are backing a Trump administration proposed rule seeking to streamline EPA and other agencies' consultations with federal wildlife agencies on risks to listed species, with industry seeking greater involvement in reviews, though environmentalists are threatening to sue to block the changes.

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November 01, 2018

A coal industry coalition is warning EPA that it must scrap its Clean Air Act section 112 mercury and air toxics standards (MATS) for power plants before it can lawfully finalize its proposed section 111(d) Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) utility greenhouse gas rule, saying the air law prohibits regulation of utilities under both sections.

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EPA's draft plan for the review of its 2015 ozone national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) adopts a faster process than previous NAAQS reviews that will involve less review by agency science advisers, but it does not compress the schedule as much as an earlier agency memo suggested might be possible.

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A sharp and mostly partisan divide is emerging between states over the legality of EPA's proposal to replace the Obama-era Clean Power Plan (CPP) utility greenhouse gas rule, with Democratic-led states urging the agency to drop its “unlawful” plan, while Republican state officials are broadly supporting it.

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EPA has issued fresh guidance to states on how they can use “flexibilities” to avoid having air quality monitoring locations labeled as “maintenance” for the agency's 2015 ozone standard, part of an ongoing effort to give states the ability to avoid Clean Air Act mandates to curb interstate ozone emissions.

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EPA has begun exploring how best to implement a new statutory requirement to expand the universe of drinking water systems that are required to monitor for emerging, unregulated contaminants, data the agency uses to determine if new enforceable drinking water standards are needed.

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October 31, 2018

EPA is urging local governments and recycling companies to improve the quality of municipal waste materials slated for recycling by limiting food waste and other non-recyclable “contamination” in an effort to bolster the sagging domestic industry, which has hit major financial woes in the face of Chinese restrictions and tariffs on imports of U.S. material.

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Battle lines are emerging for expected future lawsuits over EPA's proposal to replace the Obama-era Clean Power Plan (CPP) utility greenhouse gas standards with a much narrower policy, with industry groups praising the new rule as a valid use of Clean Air Act powers while environmentalists blast it as doing little to cut GHGs.

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Proponents of reforming EPA's renewable fuel standard (RFS) are pushing administrative and legal bids to achieve their goals, with conservation groups petitioning the agency to craft a rule on barring land conversion for biofuels while biomass energy makers are threatening a suit over EPA's failure to approve RFS credits for the power they produce.

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A group representing public employees is urging EPA to enforce a Florida wastewater facility's Clean Water Act (CWA) permit and claiming the state has ignored numerous violations at the site, but if EPA rejects the move the union hopes the state might enforce the permit if Democrat Andrew Gillum wins Florida's gubernatorial election next week.

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A Michigan county roads commission is asking the Supreme Court to let it sue EPA over its objection to a proposed state-crafted Clean Water Act (CWA) permit, charging that the agency's intervention amounts to a “veto” and asking the high court to further expand property owners' power to sue regulators over CWA permitting decisions.

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Environmentalists and other critics of the Trump administration's plan to freeze vehicle greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards are floating a bevy of attacks on its legal and technical foundation as a prelude to likely litigation, including arguments that the plan significantly under-counts air pollution increases and associated adverse effects.

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