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Daily News

June 09, 2020

Environmentalists and state air officials are urging EPA to scrap its proposed deadline extension for retailers to stop selling wood heaters that do not meet strict agency air limits, saying EPA’s justification for granting more time due to the COVID-19 pandemic is inadequate, and warning of likely litigation if the Trump administration finalizes the plan.

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June 08, 2020

EPA’s science advisors are deepening their concerns over the narrow scope of the agency’s draft evaluation of asbestos raising questions during a June 8 meeting on why EPA excluded consumer uses and all but chrysotile fiber types from its evaluation, as well as over EPA’s decision to evaluate legacy uses separately.

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A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit appeared to struggle at June 8 oral argument to understand what California wastewater utilities are challenging in long-running legal opposition to an EPA toxicity testing method, potentially making it more difficult for the utilities to have their case reinstated and heard on its merits.

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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is asking a federal district court to reject EPA’s defense against issuing an emergency rule notifying the public of which companies take advantage of its controversial enforcement discretion policy that might allow lapses in routine monitoring and reporting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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National drinking water and groundwater groups are urging EPA to quickly move ahead with evaluating drinking water standards for two per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) but are calling for the agency to use “sound science and robust analyses” to inform the reviews while pushing EPA to use other legal powers to stem PFAS contamination.

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A federal appellate court has vacated EPA’s reporting waiver for importers of products that include components that contain mercury, saying the agency failed to adequately justify it under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), but the court upheld a waiver for manufacturers of such products as well as a partial waiver for large-volume manufacturers.

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Industry attorneys are suggesting potentially responsible parties (PRPs) urge EPA to amend Superfund consent decrees and even add new language to the agency’s model consent decree (CD) to better protect them from efforts by homeowners or others to bolster cleanup requirements, in light of the Supreme Court’s recent Superfund ruling.

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June 05, 2020

EPA and Texas are fighting Sierra Club’s push to hear litigation over the agency’s approval of the state’s ozone air quality plans in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, rather than the regional 5th Circuit, testing the courts on when EPA policies are deemed “nationally applicable” and must be heard in the D.C. Circuit.

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Industry representatives say they are wary of President Donald Trump’s new executive order (EO) directing federal agencies to waive certain environmental reviews to speed infrastructure permits, as any project approved under the emergency exemption is virtually guaranteed to face litigation from environmental groups.

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In a loss for New Mexico, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation (MDL) is transferring the state’s federal district court suit against the Air Force over per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination to a consolidated case in which the state fears its claims and preliminary injunction motion may get waylaid.

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As EPA’s Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) prepares to meet June 8 -- 11 to review the agency’s draft risk evaluation on asbestos, state officials, environmentalists and others are criticizing the agency for the narrow scope of the review even as they urge the agency -- and Congress -- to ban the substance.

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Industry groups are urging EPA to revise several aspects of its proposed industrial stormwater general permit, arguing the agency has failed to show the provisions will improve water quality, that some of the permit’s measures mischaracterize a settlement agreement that led to the proposed permit and that the permit will be overly burdensome to small businesses.

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The National Ground Water Association (NGWA) is warning that EPA’s proposed general permit for industrial stormwater could allow runoff that carries toxic chemicals like perfluorinated substances into drinking water aquifers, creating major new treatment burdens, in part because the agency has failed to conduct needed research on the subject.

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June 04, 2020

Critics of EPA’s just-released proposal to mandate cost-benefit analyses for all future air and climate rules are looking to federal courts or a potential Biden administration to halt the plan if EPA does not withdraw it, warning it would deprioritize pollution reduction benefits and make it harder to advance protective air regulations.

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Stepping up his deregulatory push amid the COVID-19 pandemic, President Donald Trump has directed EPA and other agencies to exempt infrastructure projects from legally required reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Clean Water Act (CWA) and other laws so they can be fast-tracked and help spur the economy.

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Industry lawyers are bracing for stepped up EPA enforcement actions against producers, importers and others who make claims about the efficacy of pesticidal devices against the coronavirus following agency warnings to consumers and the regulated community about devices that make false or unapproved claims.

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Environmental groups and several states are warning EPA that its draft Clean Air Act guidance making it easier for companies to avoid new source review (NSR) permitting requirements is unlawful, outlining a host of legal attacks on the guide that could inform a potential lawsuit if the agency finalizes the guidance as proposed.

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Major industry groups are pressing EPA to quickly finalize and implement its proposed guidance narrowing the definition of what constitutes beginning “actual construction” of projects under Clean Air Act new source review (NSR), arguing that the revision will speed up the permitting process and is lawful.

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Numerous industry sectors are fighting a proposal by California air board officials to expand by more than 700 a list of substances for which companies must quantify or report air toxics emissions, charging that many chemicals pose no health threats and dozens of others are already subject to EPA reporting requirements.

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California lawmakers are countering Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) proposed fiscal year 2020-21 budget cuts by maintaining $1.7 million to develop a first-time inspection and maintenance (I/M), or “smog check,” program for heavy-duty trucks and providing $50 million for local air districts to continue carrying out a novel program to assess and mitigate air pollution in disadvantaged communities.

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