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Daily News

September 10, 2019

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is seeking to phase out the agency’s use of non-animal chemical testing by 2035, a move that is winning praise from animal rights groups but criticism from environmentalists who say it will “gut” the agency’s ability to gather adequate information about substances’ toxicity and may lead to inadequate regulation.

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EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is seeking to phase out the agency’s use of animal chemical testing by 2035, a move that is winning praise from animal rights groups but criticism from environmentalists who say it will “gut” the agency’s ability to gather adequate information about substances’ toxicity and may lead to inadequate regulation.

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A wide-ranging group of stakeholders convened by EPA is moving ahead on initial steps to promote recycling and strengthen materials management infrastructure and secondary materials markets, even as they debate differences over how best to bolster the recycling system in light of major market impacts from China’s import restrictions.

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When lawmakers return from their August recess, they appear likely to consider EPA efforts to bolster municipal recycling amid concerns over the impacts of China’s import restrictions on recyclable materials and calls from nearly four dozen House Democrats who are pressing EPA to develop a national strategy to aid domestic recycling programs.

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A recent federal appellate ruling appears to have left the door open to the Trump administration’s planned prospective “reallocation” of waived biofuel production under the renewable fuel standard (RFS) to compensate for blending mandates waived for small refiners, though such a policy is universally opposed by the oil sector.

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September 09, 2019

EPA Region 2 is effectively agreeing with New Jersey regulators that sampling for emerging contaminants, such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), at Superfund sites in the state “is a priority,” prompting concern from at least one industry attorney who questions whether EPA is requiring more sampling than is necessary.

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EPA’s efforts to address lead-paint dust in residential settings are facing wide-ranging criticisms, with its Inspector General (IG) charging the program lacks goals or ways to track progress and its children’s health advisors and environmentalists questioning why the agency has yet to update its lead dust clearance standards for contractors.

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The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is “strongly” objecting to numerous provisions in Senate-passed defense legislation that would require EPA to craft a series of new drinking water, toxics and reporting rules for perfluorinated chemicals and mandate that the Defense Department (DOD) mitigate its past use of the chemicals.

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The Navy is urging a federal district court to dismiss claims from Pennsylvania residents seeking the military’s payment for medical monitoring to detect health issues that may develop after exposure to perfluorinated chemicals, after an appellate court, in a precedential decision, last year allowed the claims to proceed.

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Manufacturers of cleaning and cosmetic products are challenging California’s draft proposal to set a health risk threshold of 1 part per million (ppm) for when they may have to remove 1,4-dioxane from their products, a challenge that is being intensified as the Trump EPA’s review of the chemical is unlikely to preempt the state’s effort.

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September 06, 2019

Judges appeared skeptical at Sept. 6 oral argument of Trump administration claims that EPA’s threshold determination that current vehicle greenhouse gas standards are no longer appropriate is not a final action ripe for review, potentially signaling a major roadblock for the administration’s effort to roll back the rules.

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Multiple groups representing the coal, biomass and electric utility sectors are filing litigation over EPA’s Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule governing power plant greenhouse gases ahead of a Sept. 6 deadline to submit legal challenges, though the groups appear likely to target different aspects of the regulation.

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Environmentalists are asking the Supreme Court to dismiss their appeal of a ruling that rejected their suit seeking stricter closure mandates for a Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) coal ash disposal site, saying they have reached a pact with TVA and state officials that sets strict cleanup requirements and could be a model for other ash site plaintiffs.

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An appellate court has remanded EPA’s 2018 renewable fuel standard (RFS) to the agency and is directing it to conduct a proper evaluation of whether the rule should trigger an extensive Endangered Species Act (ESA) review, a victory for environmentalists that may set a precedent for how EPA conducts species reviews in future RFS rules.

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The Trump administration is escalating its war over California’s voluntary agreement with four automakers regarding vehicle greenhouse gas standards, launching a Justice Department (DOJ) probe into whether the automakers are violating federal antitrust laws and issuing an EPA warning that the deal is illegal and must be withdrawn.

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Biofuel producers and refiners are detailing competing legal arguments over whether EPA’s upcoming 2020 renewable fuel standard (RFS) should “reallocate” biofuels blending volumes to compensate for production lost to small refiner waivers, even before President Donald Trump readies a policy package designed to boost ethanol production.

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September 05, 2019

EPA staff’s just-released policy assessment (PA) detailing options for revising particulate matter (PM) ambient air standards recommends tightening the limits for fine particulate matter (PM2.5), posting a test for President Donald Trump’s deregulatory agenda as stricter standards would impose more onerous air controls on industry.

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The Trump administration appears poised to split its proposal to revoke California’s authority to enforce vehicle greenhouse gas curbs from its broader rule rolling back federal standards, with the new strategy advancing the preemption provisions on a quicker timeline than any rollback.

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EPA is asking for comment on several policy options to boost the use of water quality trading by making it easier for non-point sources of pollution to generate credits for sale, the latest action in the agency’s push to use non-regulatory approaches to meet environmental goals and an effort to expand updated trading policy released earlier this year.

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Utilities are raising multiple objections to a revised proposal by the California air board to phase out use of the potent greenhouse gas sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) in electrical transmission and distribution equipment, including that it will prematurely shut down leak-free gear, has unrealistic phaseout schedules for higher voltage gear, and uses an unfair emissions baseline to calculate phaseout requirements.

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