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Daily News

February 28, 2020

EPA’s science advisors are raising concerns that its Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) analysis of carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) underestimates cancer risks, with some urging the agency to account for new studies showing brain cancer risks while others say EPA’s assessment of dermal exposure risk falls short by two orders of magnitude.

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The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is seeking to prevent federal preemption of state and local governments’ ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from ride-hailing companies, a fast-growing sector that a former EPA official says has upended the agency’s emissions projections.

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EPA and other federal agencies have unveiled a wide-ranging plan to encourage water reuse in a variety of sectors through partnerships with states, local governments and industry, marking the “beginning of institutionalizing water reuse at EPA” in the Office of Water (OW), according to agency water chief David Ross.

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White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Associate Director Edward Boling is suggesting that the administration is unlikely to extend the 60-day public comment period on controversial proposed changes to how federal agencies implement the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), despite numerous requests.

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February 27, 2020

A hearing on EPA’s fiscal year 2021 budget is providing a venue for House Democrats to slam proposed cuts as a fresh sign the Trump administration places a low priority on the environment, even as Republicans and Administrator Andrew Wheeler cite select EPA actions in Superfund, toxics and other areas in rebuttal.

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A likely move by EPA to dramatically restrict the number of economic hardship waivers it grants to small refiners from having to comply with renewable fuel standard (RFS) biofuels production targets raises serious doubts over the fate of the program’s 2020 fuel goals, sources say, as the move could undermine the basis for the 2020 RFS.

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EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is defending the agency’s new process for its Science Advisory Board (SAB) to review the science underlying ongoing rulemakings, saying it will “broaden” the board’s access to the agency in determining which items it will review and will speed reviews.

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Despite the Trump administration’s emphasis on the clear categories of regulation in its waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, legal and regulatory experts say the rule’s reliance on the concept of a “typical year” to determine when several categories of waters are subject to Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction will create implementation challenges.

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The Trump EPA has scrapped Obama-era standards to fix leaks on equipment that uses hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants that act as potent greenhouse gases, a move the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) calls “baffling” given widespread support for such rules in Congress and among industry groups.

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California lawmakers are ordering a broad state audit of the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) myriad transportation greenhouse gas reduction programs, despite push-back from the board’s top executive and environmentalists who say the review is unnecessary and could negatively burden the agency.

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In an apparent repeat of last year’s tactics to block Oregon legislation to implement a greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program in the state, Republican senators have left the Capitol in an effort to prevent Democrats from advancing their signature climate bill in a shortened legislative session, according to media reports.

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California is suing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) over its approval of San Bernardino International Airport’s expansion, charging in a major environmental justice challenge that the agency and developers failed to adequately assess air pollution impacts to disadvantaged communities as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

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February 26, 2020

In what environmentalists are calling a “monumental” victory for the public and farmers, a California appellate court is rescinding a sweeping Kern County oil and gas drilling ordinance, finding the county’s environmental-impact review for the long-term planning document violated the state’s bedrock environmental review and mitigation law.

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The latest California-Quebec quarterly greenhouse gas allowance auction fetched record-high prices as the total number of credits offered was reduced, prompting some supporters of the cap-and-trade programs to declare that the sale represents a robust start to 2020 for the market.

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The high court’s recent decision declining review of a 2019 ruling allowing plaintiffs to argue a due process violation of “bodily integrity” stemming from the Flint water crisis could offer a new theory for plaintiffs pursuing tort suits against manufacturers and users of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), just as litigation over the issue ramps up, attorneys say.

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A House committee hearing is showcasing the continued political divisions on how and whether to address climate change, with Republicans slamming a Democratic measure to slash greenhouse gas emissions on public lands while touting a plan to encourage tree planting and wood harvesting as an alternative.

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EPA toxics officials are considering extending the deadline for companies to self-identify to the agency that they manufacture, process or import one of 20 chemicals the agency plans to assess in the coming months as officials grapple with how to divvy up the $1.35 million assessment fee in the face of industry confusion and concern.

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California air regulators are urging EPA to “align” its upcoming heavy-duty truck emissions rules with the state’s forthcoming strict standards, calling for tough federal nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions targets and urging that EPA accelerate by at least a year its plans for mandatory new emissions limits.

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The Trump administration is rebutting arguments by California and its allies that the state’s greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program link to Quebec is constitutional, expanding on claims that California has illegally established its own foreign policy and is violating the Constitution’s treaty and compact clauses.

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A California state senator is floating legislation to require environmental regulators to establish carbon dioxide sequestration goals for “natural and working lands” aimed at increasing the carbon storage capacity of the state’s soils, forests, wetlands and other habitats.

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