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Daily News

December 31, 2018

Industry groups challenging the Obama administration’s Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction rule are clashing with EPA over novel procedural arguments that, depending on how federal courts respond, could set a high bar not only for lawsuits over the reach of the water law but a host of future policy reversals.

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Expert panels in Michigan and New York -- two states that are grappling with contamination from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) -- say that EPA's health advisory levels for the contaminants in drinking water are not adequately protective, opening the door for regulators to adopt stricter standards than EPA's.

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EPA is fighting environmentalists' claim that a landmark decision on a Utah coal-fired power plant's Clean Air Act permit represents a broader unlawful reversal of the agency's policy on issuing “Title V” permits, arguing in a new legal brief that the Utah permit decision is not a “nationally applicable” rulemaking eligible for judicial review.

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At the request of House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the Naval Inspector General (IG) is pursuing a limited investigation into the Navy's oversight of cleanup and testing work done by a contractor at a former California Navy shipyard, following criminal convictions of two supervisors who falsified radioactive soil sampling data there, according to documents obtained by Inside EPA.

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December 28, 2018

EPA is proposing to retain the Obama-era mercury and air toxics standards (MATS) for power plants but scrap the cost-benefit analysis underpinning the rule, teeing up a legal fight in which the rule's supporters will likely cite flaws in the plan while opening the door for critics to cite the lack of a cost finding to bolster their calls to undo the entire rule.

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EPA is bracing for a shutdown of all operations except essential services following the imminent end to reserve funding that it has been using to stay open amid a partial government shutdown, and is preparing an “orderly” procedure to halting its work given the ongoing impasse over legislation to fund shuttered agencies.

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Environmentalists and public health advocates are criticizing EPA's plan for how the agency proposes to identify existing chemicals for priority review under the revised Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), charging it continues the agency's ambivalence about requiring industry to provide more studies about their products.

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The retail industry is providing a mixed reaction to EPA's newly released pharmaceutical waste rule, welcoming the agency's decision that most items handled in a reverse logistics system are not solid waste, but opposing the final rule's declaration that prescription drugs sent to reverse distribution centers are solid waste.

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A split panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has granted the Trump administration's request for an early appeal of novel climate change litigation brought by a group of youth plaintiffs, though the plaintiffs are arguing that the move would still allow district court proceedings to continue on some issues.

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December 27, 2018

EPA's toxics office is grappling with meeting a series of steep deadlines that lawmakers imposed when they revised the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in 2016, a top official says.

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Industry attorneys are questioning the prioritization approach EPA used to select the first 10 chemicals EPA is assessing as part of its new Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) program for existing chemicals, arguing that the selection of Pigment Violet 29 (PV29), which appears to be a low-risk chemical, begs the question of how it could be deemed a priority.

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EPA in a new legal brief is defending its decision to scrap a long-running “once in, always in” policy that required “major” air toxics sources to always comply with rules for such sources even if they reduced emissions below the major source threshold, saying the Clean Air Act authorizes the decision and that it is not subject to judicial review.

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is rejecting calls by backers of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan (CPP) utility greenhouse gas rule to issue a decision on the merits in the long-paused litigation over the rule, and is instead continuing to hold the case in abeyance while the Trump EPA crafts its narrow replacement policy.

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December 26, 2018

An air pollution scientist is disputing a top EPA official's claim that limitations in current emissions monitoring technology could effectively preclude the agency from significantly tightening its fine particulate matter (PM2.5) air standard, countering that science justifies a stricter limit and technology is able to measure such a standard.

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As EPA prepares to release its draft assessment of asbestos under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), congressional Democrats, who are seeking to ban the substance, are querying the agency's plans to assess and regulate asbestos risks in the wake of media reports detailing the presence of asbestos in talcum powder.

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A national grassroots citizens coalition is planning once again to push for reinstating long-expired Superfund 'polluter pays' taxes, seeking to press the Democratic-controlled House into action, but one industry source doubts such a measure will secure widespread backing.

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December 21, 2018

The Senate is expected to approve legislation, long sought by municipalities, to codify EPA's “integrated planning” policy that allows local authorities to address their Clean Water Act (CWA) wastewater and stormwater requirements on a pollution priority basis -- rather than all at once.

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EPA has sufficient funds to weather a short government shutdown with relatively minimal disruption to its operations, according to a new contingency plan and assurances from acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler sent to agency staff.

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Top New York officials are urging EPA to require General Electric (GE) to continue cleaning up the Hudson River and threatening to sue the agency if it approves the cleanup conducted so far as complete after the state released a study showing the remediation the company has conducted failed to limit adverse effects of the contamination.

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Environmentalists and the state of New York are preparing for a possible legal fight against EPA plans to allow a “sell-through” period for retailers to sell wood-burning heaters that do not meet coming tougher federal emissions limits, which critics say is an unlawful delay of emissions reduction requirements that will harm public health.

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