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Daily News

March 26, 2019

Entities that produce, install, manage and recyclesolar photovoltaic (PV) panels say California’s first-time proposed universal waste (UW) rules for the panels do not address practical issues or offer enough flexibility, setting up a fight in the coming months as the state prepares to submit the streamlined requirements to U.S. EPA for approval.

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Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has made several high-level appointments to the Cal/EPA secretary’s office, including naming a former EPA regional and headquarters official as undersecretary.

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A federal district judge has rejected two GOP-led states’ request to block enforcement of the Obama-era Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction rule within their borders, prolonging a nationwide “patchwork” of CWA standards that has led to fights in courts and Congress over how to apply the law until EPA repeals and replaces the 2015 rule.

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March 25, 2019

The Trump administration is once again proposing to increase the budget for EPA's toxics office, a rare bump up for an EPA program, as it works to implement the bipartisan reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), an effort that is a priority to industry and agency leaders as they gain insight on the resources needed to operate the new program.

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The Trump administration is proposing to eliminate EPA's Lead Risk Reduction Program in fiscal year 2020 despite pledges from Administrator Andrew Wheeler and other top officials who said when unveiling an inter-agency lead strategy late last year that reducing children's exposures to the metal and its risks is a priority.

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States are struggling to fill a regulatory gap EPA created by not regulating animal feeding operations’ (AFOs’) air pollution, with state initiatives to impose first-time emissions controls on AFOs failing due to environmentalists’ focus on urban pollution, inadequate rural advocacy resources, and powerful livestock sector push-back, sources say.

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A new federal district court ruling says EPA is required to expand its use of Clean Water Act (CWA) stormwater permits when it finds that exempt facilities are contributing to water quality violations, rejecting the agency’s claim that it has discretion to avoid issuing new permits by relying on other CWA programs to remedy the pollution.

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The White House has been hosting a series of meetings with individual auto manufacturing companies, prodding them to publicly back the administration's planned rollback of vehicle greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards and preemption of state rules, according to several sources familiar with the issue.

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The California Senate’s top environment panel is advancing a bill tasking the air board to study replacing the state’s sales and use tax with a new carbon tax, despite industry concerns that such a tax would clash with the state’s greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program, hurt manufacturers and potentially violate the Constitution’s “dormant commerce clause.”

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Groups representing the oil and utility sectors are supporting EPA’s proposal to no longer set greenhouse gas limits for new coal plants based on carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), though the groups sharply divide on the rationale for the change and take issue with much of EPA’s explanation.

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March 22, 2019

EPA’s proposal to scrap the Obama-era finding that its power plant air toxics rule was “appropriate and necessary” while leaving the overall rule in place is spurring debate over expected legal challenges to the plan, suits that could set new precedents on issues including “co-benefit” cost-benefit analysis and the fate of the utility regulation.

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EPA has released 24 studies for its draft review of the chemical pigment violet 29 (PV29) -- the first risk evaluation of an existing chemical under the revised Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) -- that it previously said was confidential business information (CBI) protected from release, a day after House Democrats attacked the CBI claim.

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Serena McIlwain, director of the EPA Office of Continuous Improvement (OCI) that aims to streamline agency operations, is leaving for a state government job after less than a year in the position, but the Trump administration’s contentious plan to use “Lean” techniques and other steps to improve EPA’s operation efficiency continues.

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California wastewater groups will ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to block the state from using a contentious Clean Water Act (CWA) test method to measure compliance with facilities’ discharge permits, potentially teeing up a precedential decision on utilities’ claim that the method falls short of regulatory standards.

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States challenging EPA’s delay in implementing methane standards for existing landfills are bolstering their arguments for why they have standing to sue after the agency launched a broad challenge to their standing that sought to differentiate the challenge from the landmark Supreme Court ruling granting states “special solicitude” in climate suits.

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The Air Force is urging a federal judge to reject calls from New Mexico officials to remove its challenge to a waste permit governing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to a state court, an effort aimed at preserving a suit that could become a test case on federal agencies' attempts to limit state regulation of PFAS in the absence of EPA standards.

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March 21, 2019

Local business groups in Colorado are urging the state to ask EPA for a less-severe “nonattainment” designation for the agency’s ozone ambient air limit by citing a Clean Air Act (CAA) waiver that would blame foreign emissions for its inability to meet the standard, posing an early testing of the Trump administration’s push to expand use of the waiver.

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House Democrats are renewing their push to force EPA to release studies that form the basis of its draft assessment of a pigment chemical, its first such assessment of an existing chemical under the revised Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), saying new agency claims that the studies are confidential business information (CBI) are wrong.

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A key House Democrat is outlining principles for evaluating comprehensive climate legislation, floating several policy concepts that could be crucial to wooing both industry and environmentalists yet promising to keep all options open on the precise design of carbon limits or other policies to reduce emissions and boost climate resilience.

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The California Senate’s environment panel has approved a bill to lock into state law stringent Obama-era rules from U.S. EPA and other federal agencies to protect them from Trump administration rollbacks, but industry groups say it will spur a wave of lawsuits because the bill would allow the state to issue strict, costly rules with no public input.

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