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In an unexpected move, EPA has announced that air chief Bill Wehrum is departing at the end of this month, potentially raising questions about the progress of major air and climate rollbacks that EPA has been advancing under his watch.

EPA is proposing to allow “major” industrial sources of air toxics to reclassify as “area sources” subject to less-stringent emissions controls if they reduce their emissions below major source thresholds, a move that could let up to half of all industrial major sources ease controls despite critics’ fears it will lead to air pollution spikes.

EPA’s toxics chief says the agency is facing a “tall order” and a “heavy lift” as it works to meet the revised toxics law’s December 2019 deadline for evaluating risks of the first 10 existing chemicals subject to assessment, opening the door to the possibility that the agency may not meet the deadline without using a six-month extension the law allows.

House Democrats have approved fiscal year 2020 spending legislation for EPA and other agencies that includes numerous provisions blocking Trump administration environmental rollbacks, though it is far from clear whether the provisions will survive negotiations with the GOP-controlled Senate and the White House.

States, drinking water utilities and environmentalists are raising concerns that EPA’s recent “interpretative statement” declaring pollution releases to groundwater should never be subject to Clean Water Act (CWA) permit limits could open the door to challenges to existing state permits and increase pollution.

Groups representing a variety of industry sectors subject to Clean Water Act (CWA) discharge permits are backing EPA’s recent policy statement declaring that pollution releases to groundwater should never be subject to permit limits, though many of them also urge the agency to strengthen the policy through a formal rulemaking.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has rejected refiner Valero’s suit alleging EPA failed to meet a statutory mandate to conduct periodic reviews of the renewable fuel standard’s (RFS) impacts on the sector, finding a 2017 agency statement that it met review mandates is not a final action subject to judicial review.