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Daily News

March 04, 2020

As rural and other water utilities increasingly worry that farmers will be unable to land-apply biosolids because of concerns about per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination, they and their supporters are pressing EPA to craft a safety standard and take other steps under the Clean Water Act (CWA) that will ameliorate their concerns.

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A key House Democrat is questioning EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler over the regulatory impact of the administration’s decision to drop as the basis for its evaluation of trichloroethylene (TCE) studies showing in utero exposure can cause cardiac birth defects, asking whether this may allow the agency to avoid banning the chemical.

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The two lead sponsors of a Senate bill giving EPA new authorities to phase out the potent greenhouse gases hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) are seeking a floor vote on the bill as part of pending energy legislation, and some sources indicate there may be a bid to block consideration of the broader energy bill if the HFC plan is blocked.

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EPA’s timeline for proposing major changes to how it conducts cost-benefit analysis under its Clean Air programs has slipped by about six months, a knowledgeable source says, with the agency now targeting the end of 2020 for a final rule.

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A New York state guidance setting protocols and screening limits to sample per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) at cleanup sites includes a novel mandate to test imported soil used in caps or covers, prompting fears from industry about reopening cleanups while hiking the cost of site investigation and remediation in the state.

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March 03, 2020

Environmentalists are urging EPA to re-do “at least three” previously released draft chemical evaluations under the reformed Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), arguing that an appellate court backed their arguments that the agency is required under its regulations to consider all of the chemicals’ uses, not just those that the agency chooses to consider.

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EPA on March 3 issued a proposed supplement to its controversial proposed rule limiting the science the agency can use in rulemakings, clarifying that it intends the policy to apply to “influential scientific information” as well as significant regulatory decisions, and also seeking fresh input on which statutory authority to rely on for the proposal.

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A federal judge has dismissed the California Chamber of Commerce’s suit seeking to block the state’s mandate for businesses to provide Proposition 65 cancer warnings for foods and drinks containing the ubiquitous chemical acrylamide, a loss for many companies seeking to avoid compliance with the state’s chemical warning law.

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Lawyers for 21 youth plaintiffs are asking the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to review a split panel decision dismissing their climate change case against the federal government for lack of standing, putting the case on a path to the Supreme Court where some warn it could severely limit standing for a range of environmental plaintiffs.

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EPA has issued its first orders requiring companies to test chemicals they manufacture and report the results to the agency since Congress reformed the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in 2016, responding to calls from its advisors who charged it had too little data on pigment violet 29 (PV29), the first chemical it sought to evaluate, to find it did not pose “unreasonable risk.”

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The Senate’s move to begin debating a bipartisan energy package to boost research of various low-carbon technologies is likely to tee up, if not necessarily resolve, demands for additional climate policies including clean energy tax credits, new EPA curbs on hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) and tougher building codes.

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March 02, 2020

EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) is reiterating its criticism of a rule the agency crafted with the Army Corps of Engineers defining waters of the United States (WOTUS) by saying it fails to incorporate current science, although the board dropped language from a draft commentary expressing disappointment with the agency’s legal approach.

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EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) is releasing a final harsh critique of the modeling underlying the agency’s plan to roll back vehicle greenhouse gas standards, stating the plan’s flaws are significant enough that the current policy may be better for the public than the proposed rollback.

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EPA is acknowledging reports that the White House directed it to replace studies in its draft risk evaluation of trichloroethylene (TCE) that show the chemical causes fetal birth defects, resulting in weaker risk estimates than it otherwise would have, though the agency is defending the action.

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EPA is defending its process for drafting its Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) evaluation of trichloroethylene (TCE) in the face of a report that the White House directed it to replace studies that show the chemical causes fetal birth defects, resulting in weaker risk estimates than it otherwise would have.

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Over environmentalists’ opposition, the Supreme Court has agreed to review a lower court ruling that ordered federal agencies to release draft documents on the development of EPA’s cooling water intake rule, marking the second time in the last year that the court will review the reach of exemptions from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

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Biogas producers seeking credit for their fuel as a compliance option for EPA’s renewable fuel standard (RFS) have filed what appears to be the first of several expected lawsuits over the agency’s 2020 RFS fuel production goals, while a broader group of biofuels makers is reviving a separate legal fight over EPA’s biofuels blending formula.

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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is urging a federal judge to vacate and remand a key portion of the Trump EPA’s 2017 policy barring scientists receiving agency research grants from serving on its advisory panels, arguing the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) requires such a remedy when policies are found to be unlawful.

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Industry groups are citing a new ruling broadening the test for when common law nuisance suits can be removed from state to federal court to bolster their defense of a raft of climate nuisance cases brought by local governments against oil majors, where courts are considering their “federal officer removal” jurisdiction arguments.

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February 28, 2020

Health and environmental groups are urging EPA not to split its ongoing draft risk evaluation of asbestos into existing uses of the toxic mineral and legacy uses that can still be causing exposures, as EPA’s toxics chief has floated, arguing that the idea is “contrary” to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

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