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Daily News

August 19, 2020

Members of the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) environment and climate panel are seeking to bolster the profile of climate change and environmental justice as part of the party’s virtual national convention, though the issue has not yet been featured in-depth at the event’s main stage.

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EPA is proposing to withdraw Obama-era water quality criteria for Maine and allow the state to implement carefully negotiated compromise toxics criteria, following years of litigation that drew national attention over concerns that efforts to protect the health of sustenance fishers would lead to unlawfully stringent water discharge permit limits in other states.

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EPA is proposing the final designations for which areas are in attainment or violating the 2010 sulfur dioxide (SO2) national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS), taking a key step toward completing the long-delayed and extensively litigated attainment designations process for the SO2 limit that it issued more than 10 years ago.

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The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the developer of a proposed liquified natural gas (LNG) export terminal are urging a federal appeals court to reject opponents’ claims that FERC’s approval of the project should be vacated over a failure to show a domestic benefit from exported gas.

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California power grid officials say state regulators must improve how they backfill sometimes intermittent renewable resources amid a decreasing level of fossil fuel-fired electricity available in the West to avoid the rolling blackouts that were necessary late last week amid a massive heat wave and to prevent future power outages.

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August 18, 2020

Fearing the precedent it may set for future risk policies under TSCA, a pair of chemical industry groups is seeking to intervene in environmentalists’ suit challenging EPA’s risk evaluation of methylene chloride -- the first such assessment the agency has completed under the revised law and the first of what is expected to be a series of such lawsuits.

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Despite a top EPA official’s statements about the agency’s plans to ensure the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay, environmentalists say EPA’s position falls short of what is necessary for a successful cleanup and that EPA is making it all but certain the agency’s critics will file a Clean Water Act (CWA) suit to force stricter steps.

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EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and the leaders of the jurisdictions in the Chesapeake Bay watershed are making a new vow to address diversity, equity, inclusion and justice (DEIJ) in the long-term bay restoration bid, saying the cleanup’s success depends on the equitable, just and inclusive engagement of all communities in the watershed.

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Biofuels groups are outlining their legal attacks on EPA’s decision to grant dozens of renewable fuel standard (RFS) compliance waivers to small refiners in 2019, claiming the agency’s approach exceeded its authority under the Clean Air Act and also violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) for granting the waivers without a “rational basis.”

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Industry, civil liberties and wildlife protection groups are urging the Supreme Court to uphold an appellate ruling forcing the release of documents from EPA’s development of its cooling water rule, arguing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) opposition to disclosure is at odds with federal law and turns high court precedent “on its head.”

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Industry, states and environmentalists are sparring over EPA’s proposal to adjust vehicle greenhouse gas compliance calculations to account for its updated test fuel, with the industry threatening litigation if the agency proceeds with its primary plan while states and others arguing a failure to do so would undermine emissions rules.

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Industry, states and environmentalists are sparring over EPA’s proposal to adjust vehicle greenhouse gas compliance calculations to account for its updated test fuel, with the industry questioning the legality of the agency proceeding with its primary plan while states and others arguing a failure to do so would undermine emissions rules.

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Despite early fears that the COVID-19 pandemic would overwhelm state officials and impede progress on their efforts to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), the pandemic is instead driving a number of state efforts to regulate use of the chemicals in products and, in one key case, to provide funds to address them.

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Calls by former EPA officials, backed by six former administrators, for the agency to take a more active role in protecting minority communities from toxic chemicals will bring renewed scrutiny and challenges to operational and siting decisions by petrochemical and other facilities, especially if Democrats prevail in the November election.

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August 17, 2020

EPA has sent the second in a series of five rules on persistent, bioaccumulative toxic (PBT) chemicals to the White House for approval, weeks after two companies requested critical-use exemptions from the upcoming regulations for the chemical, phenol, isopropylated phosphate, or PIP (3:1).

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A federal judge in California has denied motions from a coalition of industry groups and a pair of Idaho landowners to intervene in a challenge filed by Democratic state attorneys general to the Trump administration’s narrowed waters of the United States (WOTUS) definition, saying the case will be adjudicated on the administrative record.

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Trump officials are urging a federal court to spurn states’ and environmentalists’ legal bid for methane controls on existing oil and gas facilities, arguing EPA’s newly final rule rescinding direct methane controls for new sources removes the legal basis for existing source standards under the Clean Air Act.

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The California air board’s role in setting and helping to achieve a first-time greenhouse gas target for “natural and working lands” that would be required by pending legislation is the subject of growing debate among state lawmakers as they advance the measure closer to the governor’s desk.

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit has rejected environmentalists’ bid to rehear a ruling upholding EPA’s narrow view of Title V air permit reviews, a move that appears to widen a split with the 10th Circuit, which recently backed a broader approach to permit reviews including greater agency oversight of state air regulators’ decisions.

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Private-practice attorneys are citing a guidance EPA quietly released in June that they say clarifies 2018 amendments to brownfields law, making clear that land banks and redevelopment authorities can qualify as local governments exempt from Superfund liability when they obtain contaminated property under certain circumstances.

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