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Daily News

October 30, 2019

Seeking a first-time decision requiring use of battery storage as best available control technology (BACT), environmentalists are charging that EPA is improperly relying on cost estimates to defend its decision disallowing storage to lower pollution from a natural gas-fired power plant in California.

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California’s overwhelming wildfires and unprecedented utility power shutoffs are offering a high-profile example of the daunting task the state -- and the rest of the country -- faces to stave off the worst damages from climate change, even as the Golden State is seen as leading the nation in cutting greenhouse gas emissions that fuel global warming.

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A federal district judge appears skeptical of EPA’s request to lift a looming deadline for issuance of a direct federal plan for most of the country to implement Obama-era rules to cut methane emissions from landfills, with the agency arguing the deadline is moot because it has finalized a separate rule extending its deadline to issue the federal plan.

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October 29, 2019

Years-long efforts by House lawmakers to reach a bipartisan deal on reforming EPA’s renewable fuel standard (RFS) face fresh hurdles in coming months, with several key GOP lawmakers heavily involved in reform efforts leaving Congress and new divisions emerging within the Democratic caucus that might stymie reaching a deal.

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EPA’s has released a draft risk evaluation that finds scores of methylene chloride uses can pose unreasonable risks to consumers, workers and bystanders, a finding that opens the door to the agency adopting new toxics rules months after issuing a controversial measure that regulated only consumer uses of paint strippers containing the chemical.

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A House hearing on the Trump administration’s rollback of vehicle greenhouse gas controls is showcasing early political pushback against several major automakers that are supporting the Trump administration’s attack on California’s regulations, with critics seeking to paint the companies as short-sighted foes of clean vehicles.

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A group of 11 Democratic attorneys general (AGs) is urging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to take steps to “advance” state climate change policies and to accommodate a range of clean energy sources in wholesale power markets.

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The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has approved by voice vote bipartisan legislation to almost double current spending levels for EPA’s clean water state revolving fund (SRF) by 2025 as well as allow states the flexibility to extend the terms of some Clean Water Act (CWA) discharge permits from five to 10 years.

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Thirteen Democratic state attorneys general (AGs) are citing preliminary investigation results from the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) on explosions at a Philadelphia refinery to reiterate their recent calls for EPA and the White House to “abandon” plans to roll back strict Obama-era Risk Management Plan (RMP) facility safety requirements.

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Bipartisan legislation that has cleared the Senate to encourage a suite of carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) technologies might hang in the balance of contentious ongoing conference negotiations over a broader defense policy bill to which the CCUS policy is attached.

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October 28, 2019

A coalition making up the vast majority of automakers including General Motors and Toyota is intervening on behalf of the Trump administration in litigation from California and environmentalists targeting the administration’s preemption of the state’s vehicle greenhouse gas and zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) rules.

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Fearing risks to sensitive groups, local officials in Texas are raising concerns over a state plan to adopt significantly weaker risk values than EPA’s for ethylene oxide (EtO), the controversial chemical used to sterilize medical devices among other uses, with some officials urging the state to coordinate with the federal agency before easing its values.

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning that closures of sterilization facilities over concerns about the environmental risks posed by their release of ethylene oxide (EtO) is leading to shortages in medical equipment and devices, bolstering industry criticisms of an EPA risk assessment of the chemical that is driving some closures.

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Backers of tough vehicle greenhouse gas rules are seizing on language in a recent appellate court opinion underscoring EPA’s duty to justify policy changes in its pending rollback of Obama-era standards, even though the court more broadly rejected states and environmentalists’ challenge to Trump officials’ decision to reopen the rules.

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A major manufacturing group is urging a federal appeals court to reject EPA’s listing of an industrial site in Newark, NJ, to the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL), contending the agency’s singular reliance on alleged human food chain hazards that lack a plausible link to the site could set a precedent prompting widespread NPL listings of manufacturing sites near waterbodies.

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Joe Goffman, who helped craft the Obama-era Clean Power Plan (CPP), says the Trump EPA’s Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule to replace the CPP is silent on whether its narrow interpretation of the agency’s Clean Air Act authority to regulate power sector greenhouse gas emissions is reasonable, which “amounts to a confession that it is not.”

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October 25, 2019

A group of 69 House lawmakers say they have the votes to scuttle efforts to pass a stripped-down defense bill if it lacks measures addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), though supporters say they are open to potential compromises on the PFAS measures, including a controversial Superfund law amendment.

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit appears primed to dismiss on procedural grounds advanced biofuels makers’ suit over EPA’s renewable fuel standard (RFS) small refiner waiver policy, but the court is also indicating that it is likely to rule on the merits of the waiver policy in upcoming litigation.

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A federal appeals court has rejected for lack of jurisdiction a suit filed by states and environmentalists over EPA’s 2018 finding that Obama-era auto climate rules are not “appropriate,” ruling that it is not a final agency action, but the decision sets a potentially high bar for EPA to justify its pending rollback of the rules once that is litigated.

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EPA in its latest draft plan for addressing pollution from point sources under the Clean Water Act (CWA) is outlining a new process for evaluating technologies that could reduce such pollution, with an initial emphasis on nutrients but with the potential to shape the agency’s response to perfluorinated compounds as well.

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