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Daily News

February 05, 2021

Environmental groups are detailing legal and other problems with a Trump EPA proposal to change requirements for the type of negligence standard states must use for criminal enforcement of delegated Clean Water Act (CWA) programs, although sources say the Biden administration is unlikely to finalize the proposal as written.

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A newly created National Academy of Sciences (NAS) committee is preparing to review the operating handbook for EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program, just as the Biden administration is preparing to consider whether to boost IRIS to its past role after the Trump EPA sidelined it in favor of the reformed TSCA program.

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February 04, 2021

The Biden Department of Justice (DOJ) is immediately scrapping nine controversial Trump environmental policy memos including a prohibition on the use of popular supplemental environmental projects (SEPs) in settlement agreements, arguing the memos conflict with President Joe Biden’s executive order (EO) on protecting the environment.

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Reversing a Trump-era policy, the Biden EPA and Department of Justice (DOJ) are supporting citizen groups’ ability to pursue Clean Air Act enforcement by deciding not to appeal a recent federal district court order approving an air suit settlement between Sierra Club and utility DTE that the Trump administration had opposed.

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President Joe Biden’s recent climate change executive order (EO) includes a directive for EPA and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to significantly elevate environmental justice enforcement efforts, including making it a top priority for EPA’s enforcement office and renaming DOJ’s environment division to highlight the equity focus.

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EPA is asking a federal appeals court to freeze three related lawsuits challenging its Trump-era policy approving the use of waivers from Clean Air Act emissions limits for air pollution spikes during periods of facility startup, shutdown or malfunction (SSM) in states’ air law compliance plans, as the agency weighs whether to reverse the policy.

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Environmentalists are urging EPA to consider regulating certain uses and exposure pathways of 1,4-dioxane under TSCA even though the Trump administration excluded them from its controversial evaluation of the substance, arguing that the benefits that accrue from such rules could justify any regulations.

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February 03, 2021

California’s attorney general (AG) is seeking to intervene in support of environmentalists’ suit challenging a rural county’s approval of an upscale residential and commercial development, bolstering claims that the county is illegally relying on carbon offset credits to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and is failing to safeguard against wildfire risks.

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A California appellate court has upheld a state and local water board’s controversial stormwater permit for dozens of municipalities in the Los Angeles area, reversing a trial court ruling that found the board failed to consider economic impacts to dischargers that would be caused by attempting to comply with numeric effluent limitations included in the permit.

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EPA Administrator nominee Michael Regan is vowing to senators that, if confirmed, he will conduct an “assessment” of the agency’s Trump-era actions in line with President Joe Biden’s directive to review specific policies for revision but will focus more on collaborative approaches in crafting new high-priority policies.

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Energy efficiency advocates in a new report are finding that most states are lagging in efforts to spur more sales of electric vehicles (EVs) and build charging infrastructure, concluding that states should try to follow policy and program leads provided by California and New York.

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Biofuels advocates are seeking to carve out a role for their industry as a provider of near-term cuts in greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector, pressing the Biden EPA to allow higher ethanol blends in motor fuel as the administration balances its support of biofuels with a push to greatly expand the use of electric vehicles (EVs).

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New Mexico is urging a federal appellate court to remove its suit against the Air Force over per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination from a massive multi-district litigation (MDL) case and transfer it back to a federal trial court in New Mexico, opening the door for other states to seek similar actions.

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EPA is notifying a federal appeals court that it intends to issue in May a long-delayed federal plan implementing landfill methane limits in the vast majority of states, and the agency is also asking that oral arguments scheduled for Feb. 22 over a Trump EPA rule delaying the deadlines for the federal plan be postponed due to the pending action.

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A coalition of a dozen Republican attorneys general (AGs) is objecting to the Biden administration’s bid to halt litigation over the Trump EPA’s efforts to block state vehicle greenhouse gas programs in order to review a potential change in policy, creating a possible legal roadblock for an expected effort to reverse the Trump policy.

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Electricity providers are clashing with environmentalists over a proposed order by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for three major investor-owned utilities (IOUs) to immediately seek contracts to purchase additional power to ensure sufficient supplies this summer, including natural gas-fired energy.

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Biodiesel and biofuel additive companies are continuing to press California air board officials to further revise and relax alternative diesel fuel certification rules that were adopted last April but have still not been finalized, with some arguing that the new requirements will likely cause a significant shortage of cleaner diesel in the state.

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The presiding judge on a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit is doubting that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) adequately assessed potential air quality and greenhouse gas effects from a new distribution facility at a California airport, signaling the court might order a new review and block the facility from beginning operations.

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A top California state senator is introducing legislation to expand and tighten a controversial law requiring the state air board to set vehicle greenhouse gas targets for regional transportation agencies, in part by adding vehicle miles traveled (VMT) reduction targets and requiring more information from municipalities about their compliance strategies.

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EPA is asking a federal judge to walk back his order requiring the agency to revise its Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) rule to add asbestos reporting to the program, a request that is sparking criticism from environmentalists who say it shows the Department of Justice (DOJ) is still “carrying water” for the Trump administration.

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