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Daily News

February 10, 2021

Twenty-one youth plaintiffs are planning to ask the Supreme Court to allow their constitutional climate change case against the U.S. government to proceed after an appeals court rejected their request to rehear a panel’s decision dismissing the suit for lack of standing and the Biden administration declined an invitation to weigh in on the case.

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The Trump EPA’s guidance on implementing the Supreme Court’s test for determining when pollutants that travel through groundwater to surface waters require a Clean Water Act (CWA) discharge permit is unlikely to be of much assistance to industry, due to ongoing legal uncertainty and a likely change in approach from the Biden administration.

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An alliance of major chemical industry groups, state and local regulators, individual companies and environmentalists is urging EPA to reinvigorate its Safer Choice labeling program for household products made with less-toxic materials, building momentum for efforts to undo Trump-era cuts to its staff and resources.

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February 09, 2021

New research is highlighting that the United States and other countries must significantly bolster their greenhouse gas reduction targets under the Paris Agreement to achieve the deal’s long-term temperature aspirations given findings that most major economies are off track in meeting even their current goals.

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EPA has withdrawn the Trump administration’s controversial Jan. 19 toxicity assessment of perfluorobutanesulfonic acid (PFBS), a document that critics say would have set an adverse precedent limiting how states, industry and other risk managers could apply chemical studies, saying it was the product of “political interference.”

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EPA is asking a federal appeals court to halt litigation over its renewable fuel standard (RFS) biofuel blending targets for 2020 pending the resolution of a Supreme Court case over EPA’s policy on RFS compliance waivers for small refineries, but renewable fuels groups and refiners challenging the rule say they oppose delaying the suit.

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Automakers’ early advocacy regarding the Biden EPA’s push to re-strengthen federal greenhouse gas and fuel economy rules for the sector is prompting some observers to suggest that auto companies remain split on the stringency of near-term regulations.

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Refiners and biofuels groups are fighting over the Trump EPA’s proposal to delay renewable fuel standard (RFS) compliance deadlines, with refining groups backing the move and urging the Biden administration to finalize it but biofuels groups condemning it as an 11th-hour effort by the Trump administration to “undermine” the RFS.

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The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) in a 14-6 vote has approved President Joe Biden’s nomination of North Carolina environment chief Michael Regan to be the next EPA administrator, while also renaming two key EPW panels to highlight Democrats’ focus on climate change and environmental justice.

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February 08, 2021

Academics and environmentalists are pushing back against a new study by several university economists claiming that electric vehicles (EVs) are only being driven about half as much as traditional autos, arguing the study primarily uses home electricity usage to gauge mileage and ignores data showing newer EVs have much longer ranges.

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A Trump EPA-issued air permit for an oil refiner based in the U.S. Virgin Islands is spurring dueling cases before the agency’s Environmental Appeals Board (EAB), with the company seeking to scrap a novel environmental justice emissions monitoring mandate while environmentalists pursue a challenge claiming the permit is too weak.

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Environmental justice (EJ) advocates say EPA faces questions about which tools it can use to achieve President Joe Biden’s goal of elevating the role of EJ in policymaking, with think tanks and other groups saying a range of tools exist that are fairly advanced but not sufficiently well-known or fully integrated into the agency’s work.

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EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) is planning to examine how the agency has been implementing grant flexibilities permitted by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) during the COVID-19 pandemic, an effort that addresses a top management challenge OIG identified for the agency last year.

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Jim Tozzi, the first director of the White House Office of Information & Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) that reviews major EPA rules prior to their publication, is proposing that the Biden administration overhaul the office by increasing its staffing levels and giving OIRA a “proactive” role in helping agencies develop their policies.

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An appellate court is suspending the consolidated legal challenge to the Trump administration’s preemption of state vehicle greenhouse gas programs, in response to a Biden administration request to pause the case while it considers whether to restore states’ authority under the Clean Air Act.

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February 05, 2021

The US Water Alliance is outlining more than 20 federal policy actions to help the water sector and the U.S. economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, some that have been endorsed by key senators and others tied to principles that acting EPA water chief Radhika Fox endorsed when she led the alliance and might support at the agency.

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A federal district court has dealt biofuels supporters a loss by largely rejecting their Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suit seeking information on refiners that receive EPA renewable fuel standard (RFS) economic hardship compliance waivers, a decision that will make it harder for biofuels groups to challenge future RFS waivers.

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Democratic and GOP senators from biofuels-producing states are urging EPA to reject several dozen pending requests from refiners for renewable fuel standard (RFS) compliance waivers, citing a federal appeals court ruling they say justifies a strict threshold for granting such exemptions as they seek to defend the future of the RFS.

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The Biden Department of Justice (DOJ) faces potential legal hurdles implementing its decision to immediately scrap a ban on supplemental environmental projects (SEPs) -- part of a memo immediately scrapping nine controversial Trump environmental litigation policies -- according to a former top Trump DOJ environment official and others who say the action could potentially face a lawsuit and should require a formal rulemaking to take effect.

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A decision by the acting Department of Justice (DOJ) Environment & Natural Resources Division (ENRD) chief to rescind nine Trump-era policies, including a ban on popular supplemental environmental projects (SEPs) in settlements, effective immediately, is drawing swift praise from environmentalists and former government officials.

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