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Daily News

May 24, 2019

Appellate judges are giving EPA and refiners a partial victory in their bid to dismiss biofuels advocates’ lawsuit contesting the agency’s issuance of renewable fuel standard (RFS) waivers for small refiners, ruling to reject challenges to EPA’s policy of allowing retroactive waivers but transferring suits over specific waivers to another court.

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Environmentalists say the Trump administration’s just-announced monthslong delay of its self-imposed deadline for finalizing a rollback of an Obama-era rule tightening facility safety Risk Management Plan (RMP) requirements may suggest the plan is “dead in the water” as it signals ongoing legal doubts about undoing the changes.

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The Department of Justice (DOJ) is expanding its legal attacks on municipalities’ climate nuisance suits against oil companies, going beyond two well-known Supreme Court climate rulings to now reference a Clean Water Act (CWA) case that DOJ says bolsters its arguments for dismissal, as well as claims that such nuisance cases can only be brought by states.

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May 23, 2019

EPA is proposing a long-awaited health protective goal and drinking water standard for perchlorate of 56 micrograms per liter (ug/L) but is asking the public to comment on a variety of options including setting levels more and less stringent or not regulating the chemical at all in drinking water, given new information on occurrence levels.

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EPA and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) are poised to end grant funding they have jointly provided for the past two decades to more than a dozen children's health research centers though officials say they will provide some funds for children's health issues though it is likely to be significantly less, and more narrowly focused, than in the past.

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A bipartisan group of seven former EPA administrators is offering to provide its expertise as a “resource” for House Democrats’ oversight of both the Trump administration’s environmental policy and the agency’s long-term future -- an offer that led directly to a planned oversight hearing in June where four members of the group will testify.

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EPA is appealing a federal district judge’s ruling that limits its discretion on Clean Water Act (CWA) stormwater permits and could force an expansion of stormwater discharge permits, teeing up a first-time appellate case on the issue even after the agency declined to appeal a similar adverse ruling from another district court last year.

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A tighter supply of carbon credits is a chief reason for record-high prices in the latest quarterly California-Quebec allowance auction, experts say, adding that the price might also be driven by expectations of even higher prices after 2020 and greater confidence that the trading program will expand by linking to Oregon.

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California lawmakers are advancing a restructuring and fee reform budget proposal for the state’s embattled Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), while limiting Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) proposed General Fund backfill budget for the agency to only the coming fiscal year instead of the next three.

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Several major climate change bills in the California Legislature are being significantly scaled back in order to clear the chamber in which they originated and continue advancing this session, including a measure that aimed to reduce acidification in the Pacific Ocean and sequester more carbon dioxide in coastal wetlands and other shoreline ecosystems.

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In a rare rejection of a chairman’s proposal, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is advancing new rules allowing for more biomethane and potentially hydrogen to be injected into the state’s natural gas pipeline system as one strategy to lower the state’s energy carbon footprint.

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A California appellate court is rejecting environmentalists’ challenge to the state’s environmental impact report (EIR) for a suite of new rules for hydraulic fracturing and other oil and gas well stimulation treatments, upholding a lower court ruling that regulators complied with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and a 2013 state law.

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The California Energy Commission (CEC) is appealing an April state superior court ruling that overturns as unconstitutional the commission’s current process for parties to legally challenge its power plant certification and siting decisions.

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May 22, 2019

EPA in its just-updated Unified Agenda of pending regulations is acknowledging that its deadlines have slipped considerably for many high-profile rollbacks of Obama-era rules, including climate standards for power plants and vehicles, as well as the 2015 Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction standard.

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House Democrats have rejected Republican attempts to fight funding increases for EPA enforcement or restore riders limiting EPA's authority, a trend that appears likely to repeat itself during subsequent floor action on the agency's fiscal year 2020 spending bill, which is expected in June at the earliest.

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Environment committee senators are pledging to take a bipartisan approach that includes environmentalists and industry as they seek to address polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), though committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) is indicating that while the bills under review enjoy bipartisan support, they will have to be narrowed to win his approval.

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EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) is seeking to investigate the agency’s valuation of “co-benefits” in its Clean Air Act rules and is planning a new report on the topic, just as EPA overhauls its approach to cost-benefit analysis for rules to downplay its prior emphasis on co-benefit pollution reductions to help justify the cost of regulations.

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EPA is backing calls from major industry groups, GOP-led states and others for the Supreme Court to reject environmentalists’ claim that the Clean Water Act (CWA) limits surface water contamination from groundwater-borne pollution, arguing that any such liability would violate Congress’ intent when developing the water law.

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The IRS is soliciting feedback on how it should implement an expanded tax credit for carbon capture and storage (CCS) and formally floating the possibility of allowing companies to use an alternative to EPA rules to certify long-term storage, a move that highlights the crucial issue of how to define permanent sequestration.

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A bill advancing in the California Legislature backed by the electric vehicle (EV) charging industry would block proposed state air board regulations that the industry fears would disrupt the use and security of charging stations by requiring several consumer payment options to be installed on the equipment.

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