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Daily News

January 14, 2020

Environmentalists and a chemical industry group are signaling possible future litigation over EPA’s evaluation of the human health and environmental risks of exposure to methylene chloride (MC), a common solvent, with groups arguing in recent comments that the agency’s draft evaluation does not meet Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) mandates.

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A group that has long sought to speed the phase-out of ozone-depleting chemicals is warning EPA that it must consider the ozone-depleting effects of methylene chloride and a dozen chemicals on the agency’s list for the next 20 to evaluate under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), because they pose risks to human health and the environment.

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Environmental groups are significantly expanding their litigation challenging the climate change-related analysis supporting federal oil and gas drilling leases across the West, targeting over 2,000 leases in five states while also trying to block nearly 500 separate leases that were the subject of a prior suit from the groups.

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January 13, 2020

Plaintiffs challenging EPA’s denial of a Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) citizen petition seeking to ban drinking water fluoridation may have overcome an initial EPA motion to end the case but the judge’s recent ruling allowing the landmark suit to proceed highlights the court’s skepticism on key issues to address in the future, attorneys say.

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Weeks after policymakers enacted new limits on the Defense Department’s (DOD) incineration of materials containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), environmentalists are suggesting they may sue the department in an effort to force it to comply with the new mandates.

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EPA is defending its decision not to use its 2019 renewable fuel standard (RFS) rule to compensate for lost biofuels production as a result of RFS waivers that the agency might have granted for that compliance year, even as the Trump administration vows to shift to a policy that could reduce the number of exemptions granted.

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The Department of Justice (DOJ) is opposing a request by states and environmentalists that a federal appeals court pause a dispute over EPA’s preemption of California vehicle greenhouse gas rules pending resolution of a related dispute in district court over the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) portion of the rulemaking.

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The fight over the Trump administration’s plan to scale back implementing rules for the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is kicking into gear, with the proposal’s narrower definition of the “effects” agencies must consider in environmental reviews of major projects emerging as a significant early battleground.

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January 10, 2020

EPA in new draft guidance is detailing hurdles states face in successfully filing Clean Air Act requests for the agency to ease their implementation of federal air standards by blaming emissions from foreign sources for their failure to attain the limits, in particular making it difficult to cite pollution from Asia to justify reduced compliance mandates.

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With the support of two dozen Republicans, the House has approved legislation that would regulate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in air, water and other media, though the bill continues to face stiff opposition from top congressional Republicans and the White House, stymieing its future prospects.

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Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, IN, is pledging to boost funding for water infrastructure if elected, including targeting funds toward preventing and addressing contamination from perfluorinated chemicals, reducing lead in drinking water and boosting resiliency to climate change.

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EPA is downplaying both the precedential nature and environmentalists’ legal threats on its approval of Georgia’s rules to establish a state-run permitting program for coal ash disposal, sidestepping a wide array of attacks on the state’s past handling of ash sites and its ability to enforce the rules and instead saying its approval is narrow in scope.

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State officials are providing a mixed reaction to EPA’s recent proposal to ease credit generation for water quality trading, with those states that have established trading programs raising concerns about conflicts between EPA’s approach and their programs while others strongly supporting the proposal but seeking clarification on how it would be implemented.

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January 09, 2020

California Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) has proposed amendments to his landmark bill to spur new multi-story housing projects near transit hubs, in part help cut greenhouse gases associated with vehicle miles traveled (VMT) -- driving new support from key stakeholders and suggesting it may win approval in 2020.

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White House officials are proposing a sweeping overhaul to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) implementing rules, with the plan scaling back the reach of environmental reviews under the law in an effort to speed major infrastructure projects and other federal actions.

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PHILADELPHIA -- Pennsylvania residents seeking to require the Navy to pay for medical monitoring to detect health issues that may develop after exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) struggled to convince a federal judge to allow their landmark case to proceed, with the judge noting legal weaknesses in their arguments.

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As House Democrats begin floor debate on a comprehensive bill aimed at regulating per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), they say growing public concerns will help persuade intransigent Senate Republicans and the Trump administration to consider the bill, particularly as it is a top concern in Michigan, a key swing state in the upcoming presidential election.

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EPA’s plan to overhaul how its Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) operates faces likely lawsuits if finalized from several challengers raising competing criticisms, with environmentalists saying the effort will hamstring EAB reviews of agency permit decisions while free-market advocates say it does not go far enough to restrict the board’s powers.

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EPA’s growing backlog in funding new construction work at Superfund sites shows the agency has been disingenuous about touting Superfund as a priority while failing to ask Congress for sufficient funds for the program and also signals an insufficient focus on orphan sites, which lack a viable responsible party, agency critics say.

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Supporters of carbon offset projects are growing apprehensive that the California air board has not yet assembled a new panel to guide the consideration of new protocols that prioritize in-state projects to expand the credit market under the state’s economy-wide cap-and-trade program.

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