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Daily News

May 21, 2021

East Coast Democratic state attorneys general (AGs) are underscoring their support for the Biden administration’s goal of elevating environmental justice (EJ) in decision-making while touting states’ efforts to also boost equity, but they are warning it will take time and effort to reverse Trump-era policies they view as damaging to EJ areas.

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Industry groups are detailing their arguments in a legal challenge to New Jersey’s drinking water and groundwater regulations governing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a test case for standards that some experts consider are among the most legally sound enforceable PFAS limits that several states are pursuing.

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May 20, 2021

EPA is weighing whether to use a federal advisory panel, as many stakeholders have urged, to help the agency craft potential revisions to an interconnected set of drinking water treatment rules aimed at reducing microbial pathogens and harmful disinfection byproducts, agency officials said May 20.

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EPA is developing policy guidance it plans to release this year to bolster non-discrimination program requirements that recipients of agency funding must follow, and plans next year to strengthen existing guidance on its Civil Rights Act Title VI standards of review, according to an official in EPA’s Office of General Counsel (OGC).

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The Biden EPA is setting a strict precedent for how it will consider TSCA section 21 rulemaking petitions in its response to environmentalists’ request to regulate phosphogypsum, finding that calls to prioritize substances for risk evaluation or write significant new use rules (SNURs) fall outside the law’s petition process.

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EPA’s request for comment on whether to make changes to its policy on allowing beneficial reuse of coal ash in products such as wallboard is prompting competing comments, with environmentalists seeking fresh limits on reuse that consider environmental justice while industry groups urge the agency against any stricter requirements.

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The Center for American Progress (CAP), the influential Democrat-aligned policy group, is ramping up its push for the Biden administration to follow California’s multi-pronged agenda for combatting climate change, urging Biden officials to continue setting aggressive carbon targets, prioritize environmental justice, and forge partnerships.

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) plan to restrict zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) purchase rebates so only “low- and medium-income” consumers are eligible is drawing concerns from some leading Democratic lawmakers, who say the policy could hinder the state from achieving its lofty ZEV and greenhouse gas-reduction targets.

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The Biden EPA’s forthcoming proposal for near-term vehicle greenhouse gas standards is likely to be more stringent than the Trump-era deal California reached with five automakers, sources say, countering some analysts’ prior expectations but reflecting the administration’s push to quickly secure steep emissions cuts.

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May 19, 2021

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s (D) enactment of landmark low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS) and greenhouse gas cap-and-trade bills this week is expected to result in the programs launching in 2023 as planned despite controversy over his line-item veto of a provision in each measure linking implementation on the future passage of a 5-cent gas tax boost to fund transportation infrastructure, sources say.

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit has scrapped three renewable fuel standard (RFS) compliance waivers that EPA issued to small refiner Sinclair just days before the end of the Trump administration, another setback for refiners who oppose the Biden EPA’s tougher stance on granting the exemptions.

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California’s toxics department is appealing a superior court ruling that scrapped its listing of some spray polyurethane foam (SPF) systems as priority products under the state’s landmark Safer Consumer Products (SCP) green chemistry program, while the chemical industry is also appealing over several claims that the court dismissed.

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EPA is adding 11 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to a drinking water treatment database, bringing to 37 the total number of PFAS for which the agency has identified proven treatment options, and is increasing the depth of its scientific knowledge through dozens of new scientific references to existing PFAS entries in the data.

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EPA expects this month to release a memo directing staff on how to consider the potential impacts of climate change in risk assessments and cleanup decisions at Superfund sites, responding to a 2019 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report it originally disagreed with under the Trump administration.

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Facing a rare preliminary finding of discrimination from EPA, Missouri’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is strongly defending its air permit for a local fuel company as complying with the agency’s nondiscrimination rules, saying it has the required processes in place and that the permit complies with the Civil Rights Act (CRA).

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Former Trump-era toxics officials are questioning EPA officials’ plan to reopen its risk evaluation of methylene chloride and potentially other chemicals the prior administration studied, saying the agency has already struggled to meet TSCA’s strict deadlines for action and lacks the resources to take on an even-more-expansive workload.

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May 18, 2021

California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) is urging state lawmakers to defer decisions on a large portion of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) revised budget increases for climate programs until later this year, saying the surplus on which the new request is based is half of what the governor claims and a delay will give them time to weigh the requests.

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Companies potentially responsible for contamination at a California Superfund site are asking the Supreme Court to reject a petition for review of a contribution case, arguing the litigation has nothing in common with another Superfund contribution case pitting Guam against the United States where a decision is pending from the high court.

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EPA is telling states that it expects to propose health-based drinking water goals, known as maximum contaminant level goals (MCLGs), for the two most studied per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and submit them to its Science Advisory Board (SAB) for review sometime this year, sources say, the first in a series of steps the agency must take before it can regulate the substances.

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White House domestic climate advisor Gina McCarthy is pushing back on environmental justice (EJ) advocates’ objections to federal support for carbon capture and storage (CCS) and nuclear power, while also pledging that deployment of such projects would be safe and address pollution concerns in EJ communities.

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