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Daily News

January 09, 2019

Seven energy-related labor unions are urging Congress to revisit the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade climate bill that passed the House in 2009 in lieu of both a carbon tax and a so-called “Green New Deal” that are gaining political traction, putting further strain on an already divided Democratic caucus.

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January 08, 2019

New findings of a sharp spike in domestic greenhouse gas emission levels are clashing with the oil and gas sector's argument that increased use of natural gas, a lower carbon fuel source than coal, is an effective climate strategy, an argument that Trump administration officials have generally echoed.

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Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), ranking member of the environment panel, might seek to pressure acting EPA chief Andrew Wheeler into agreeing to safeguard the Obama-era utility air toxics rule and other major regulations in exchange for Democrats not attempting to block his confirmation if he is nominated to head the agency permanently.

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Environmentalists fear a proposed EPA training program to limit commercial exposures to methylene chloride in paint strippers hints at a retreat from an Obama-era plan to prohibit the use outright, suggesting the agency will instead finalize a scaled-back ban that will allow some paint-stripping uses of the chemical despite potential risks to workers.

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Maui County, HI, is asking the Supreme Court to weigh all aspects of its pending appeal over whether the Clean Water Act (CWA) applies to groundwater-borne pollution including whether facilities have the “fair notice” of CWA violations required to impose penalties, fighting EPA's bid to limit the case to whether the law covers groundwater pollution.

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January 07, 2019

Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has pledged to review and in some cases revise key programs governing new and existing chemicals the agency is seeking to create under the reformed Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), commitments that helped win 11th-hour Senate confirmation for the agency toxics chief, Alexandra Dunn.

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Senate Democrats are calling for Congress to renew EPA's authority to collect industry fees to support timely pesticide reviews after the agency pledged to preserve Obama-era rules protecting farmworkers in exchange for toxics chief Alexandra Dunn's confirmation -- though the government shutdown still looms over the program.

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Democratic states and environmental groups are urging EPA to drop its proposal to dramatically extend the deadline for states to develop compliance plans for EPA's rule to limit landfills' methane emissions, arguing that the proposed extension amounts to an unlawful effort to stay the standards.

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Biodiesel producers in new legal filings are claiming EPA must assess the impact on its renewable fuel standard (RFS) from several RFS waivers the agency has granted to small refiners, faulting the Trump administration for ignoring what the producers say are adverse consequences such as hindering the program's biofuels production goals.

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January 04, 2019

Citizen groups are urging EPA's Inspector General (IG) to investigate alleged weaknesses in the agency's Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) corrective action program, particularly gaps in its handling of vapor intrusion risks, arguing that their own review of failures at an Indiana waste site highlight a pattern of ineffective management.

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EPA's recent decision dismissing a discrimination complaint against Alabama's environment department sets a disturbing precedent that the agency's civil rights office lacks political will, and is allowing states to play hardball and get away with it, even though EPA found the state action in this case harmed the petitioners, critics say.

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EPA is urging the Supreme Court to hear cases that could resolve a split among appellate courts over whether the Clean Water Act (CWA) limits groundwater-borne pollution, while pledging that the agency will “take further action” on the subject within “several weeks” -- although the ongoing shutdown could complicate that plan.

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EPA's plan to scrap the Obama-era finding that the costs and benefits of the utility air toxics rule make the rule “appropriate and necessary” is spurring uncertainty on how the agency will count “co-benefits” that result from reductions in non-target pollutants to justify future rules' costs because the plan downplays such benefits but does not prohibit their consideration.

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January 03, 2019

The ongoing, indefinite government shutdown threatens to stall EPA's deregulatory agenda by sidelining staff who were working on high-profile rollbacks of Obama-era regulations and preparing to defend those efforts in court, sources say, while worsening morale and deterring new hires by raising questions over job security at the agency.

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The Senate unanimously confirmed President Donald Trump's nominees to lead EPA's toxics and international offices in the final hours of the 115th Congress, but his nominee to lead EPA's waste office remains stalled after Democrats reportedly sought a recorded vote.

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House Democrats have elected Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as speaker, paving the way for new attention to climate change and other environmental issues in the chamber, though they are unlikely to be able to enact major new legislative policies due to White House and Senate obstacles.

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California officials have officially finalized an air board rule that allows the state to continue enforcing strict Obama-era vehicle greenhouse gas standards even if the Trump administration rolls back federal standards, casting new doubts on a potential compromise between state and federal officials in the coming months.

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January 02, 2019

A federal district judge is allowing a state coalition to continue its suit against EPA's efforts to delay implementation of an Obama-era rule limiting methane emissions from landfills, rejecting the agency's effort to dismiss and stay the case even as it moves to rewrite the regulation to extend compliance deadlines.

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Some oil- and gas-heavy states are pushing back on aspects of EPA's proposal to roll back Obama-era methane standards for new oil and gas equipment, particularly on the key issue of how frequently operators must check for emissions leaks at wells.

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Environmentalists are threatening to sue EPA if it finalizes a proposed Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) reporting waiver for animal feeding operations (AFOs), claiming the plan is unlawful and at odds with Congress' intent that AFOs be subject to the same reporting mandates as other facilities.

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