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Daily News

July 15, 2019

Congress’ watchdog has found that EPA did not follow its published process for selecting experts to serve on two of its core advisory committees in fiscal year 2018 and that the agency failed to ensure that advisors met conflict of interest rules, handing Democrats limited new opportunities to criticize the agency.

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Just weeks after the Supreme Court narrowly backed the doctrine that mandates judicial deference to EPA and other agencies, the Justice Department (DOJ) is citing the decision in an effort to bolster its defense against a lawsuit by industry groups attempting to strike down one of EPA’s first Superfund listings based solely on vapor intrusion.

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A draft plan circulating within EPA would sharply curtail the role of the Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) in a bid to speed permit reviews -- including possible elimination of the current administrative appeals process -- prompting warnings from critics that it could backfire by scaling back EAB’s role in building an administrative record that EPA can use to defend permits in court.

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July 12, 2019

Bolstering prospects for a bill banning the manufacture and use of asbestos, a group of Democratic attorneys general (AGs) is supporting the bill while agreeing with GOP lawmakers and industry groups that the legislation may have to give more time for producers of chlorine used for water treatment to transition to non-asbestos methods.

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Bolstering prospects for a bill banning the manufacture and use of asbestos, a group of Democratic attorneys general (AGs) is supporting the bill while agreeing with GOP lawmakers and industry groups that the legislation may have to give more time for producers of chlorine used for water treatment to transition to non-asbestos methods.

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EPA is facing new questions from its scientific advisors and environmentalists over why it is not willing to take additional time to review and complete its first 10 evaluations of existing chemicals under the revised Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), with some questioning whether EPA’s haste will imperil the quality of the evaluations.

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Tennessee’s top environment official is urging EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to force the Energy Department (DOE) to meet Superfund cleanup standards at a department facility in the state, blasting DOE’s attempt to reframe the issues in dispute in order to skirt stricter cleanup standards in favor of weaker Atomic Energy Act (AEA) levels.

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The House by voice vote July 12 approved an amendment to the defense authorization bill that would require EPA to declare within one year that perfluorinated chemicals are hazardous substances under the Superfund law, despite objections from GOP lawmakers and a number of industry groups, who fear significant new cleanup liability.

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President Donald Trump’s recent attempt to tout his environmental record is showcasing his administration’s awkward scramble on climate change, as he continues to slam the Paris Agreement as a bad deal and aides alternate between claiming greenhouse gas benefits from rules that roll back protections and switching the subject.

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July 11, 2019

EPA enforcement chief Susan Bodine has signed the final version of a long-standing interim memo detailing when the agency will defer to states on inspections, enforcement actions and related matters, creating a more-structured process for consultation between federal and state officials and adding detail on exceptions to the policy.

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The Senate July 11 voted along party lines to confirm Peter Wright to lead EPA’s waste office, overcoming Democrats’ efforts to block, or at least delay, the vote as they cited new ethical questions, his long-time chemical industry background and EPA’s failure, to date, to fulfill promises to regulate two perfluorinated chemicals.

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States are reluctantly accepting EPA’s proposal to delay by up to two years the rollout of an enhanced air monitoring network required under an Obama-era regulation, a move that the agency says is because states are not fully prepared to implement the network but that states say is due to inadequate EPA funds to assist them.

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Biofuels groups are petitioning the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to reconsider its ruling that rejected their suit challenging EPA’s policy for granting small refiners’ requests for waivers from renewable fuel standard (RFS) biofuels blending obligations, claiming the court erred by dismissing the case on procedural grounds.

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California environmental justice organizations are urging CalEPA and the state toxics department to extend the expiration date of a civil rights legal settlement they reached with the agencies in 2016, to help ensure regulators comply with requirements to strengthen hazardous waste dump permitting and other key provisions.

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A leading California senator is defending the use of hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue generated by the state’s greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program to pay for the long-term cleanup of drinking water supplies, saying that climate change is part of the reason some communities have contaminated water.

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California lawmakers are advancing legislation directing the state air board to consider allowing renewable natural gas (RNG) used to produce crude oil to generate credits under the low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS), as long as the RNG is from a source that directly reduces emissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane.

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California legislation creating a wildfire liability fund for utilities that would be partially supported by ratepayers is expected to bolster confidence among credit rating firms that the state’s largest investor-owned utilities (IOUs) can meet their renewable power contract obligations, sources say.

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Opposition by California community choice aggregators (CCAs) and new concerns raised by the state treasurer’s office may kill a bill that would create a new power-buying authority to ensure reliable electric service and adequate clean power supplies as the state transitions away from retail utilities.

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July 10, 2019

The House is gearing up to debate an amendment to the defense authorization bill that would require EPA to list perfluorinated chemicals as hazardous substances under the Superfund law, a move that is already prompting strong opposition from a top Senate Republican opposed to the measure.

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The House Rules Committee is allowing lawmakers to debate a series of amendments governing perfluorinated chemicals when lawmakers take up the annual defense authorization bill in the coming days, including a key amendment requiring EPA to quickly designate the chemicals as hazardous substances under the Superfund law.

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