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Environmental Policy Alert - 11/08/2017

  • 9th Circuit Reverses Broad Read Of RCRA Anti-Duplication Provision

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has reversed a district court decision that broadly interpreted the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act's (RCRA) anti-duplication provision, finding that the lower court had overreached when it ruled that the Clean Water Act (CWA) categorically preempts RCRA claims.

    1152 words

  • EPA Wrestles With Land Use Controls In Push For Contaminated Site Reuse

    EPA waste officials are wrestling with the dual challenges of adopting land use controls (LUCs) at contaminated sites as the agency strives to meet a Trump administration push to encourage reuse of contaminated sites, as well as in ensuring that existing LUCs are viable as sites move to long-term stewardship.

    1297 words

  • EPA Crafting Mine Cleanup Financing Rule In Face Of Trump Criticisms

    EPA officials say the agency is on track to meet a Dec. 1 court deadline to issue a final rule governing financial responsibility requirements for the hardrock mining sector under the Superfund law, though they are declining to specify how they might alter a draft version to address strong criticism from the Trump administration, other agencies, GOP lawmakers and industry groups.

    1032 words

  • EPA Brownfields Grants To States Face Cuts Despite Increased Demand

    An EPA brownfields official is warning state officials of expected cuts to the grants the agency gives states annually to support brownfields programs -- even if Congress restores some of the funding the Trump administration proposed to eliminate -- noting the likely reductions come as demand among states and tribes for the grants continues to rise.

    987 words

  • Trump EPA Push For 'Samaritan' Brownfields Measure Faces Uncertain Path

    The Trump EPA's push for Congress to include new cleanup liability waivers in pending brownfields legislation for "Good Samaritans" is facing an uncertain path as it lacks strong support from the private and public sectors and earlier discussions generally resolved to set aside the provision, according to a local government source.

    748 words

  • Superfund Office Weighs Adopting Great Lakes Program's Cleanup Concepts

    EPA's Superfund office is considering recommendations made by industry proponents to see whether the Superfund program can adopt any concepts from the agency's Great Lakes cleanup program -- which uses a mix of public and private funding to clean up contaminated sediment in the Great Lakes.

    707 words

  • EPA Readying Plan To Coordinate Water, Waste Issues At Sediment Sites

    EPA's water, waste and enforcement offices are close to signing a model agreement to serve as a template for deals with states, tribes and other federal agencies to ensure better collaboration between water and Superfund program efforts at contaminated sediment sites, potentially bolstering efforts by Administrator Scott Pruitt to speed cleanups at the challenging sites.

    771 words

  • EPA Fights Supreme Court Review Of NSR Preconstruction Permit Policy

    EPA is fighting electric utilities' call for the Supreme Court to hear an appeal of a ruling backing the agency's long-running policy on when a facility must obtain a Clean Air Act new source review (NSR) permit prior to construction, with EPA saying it wants to avoid a high court ruling on the issue while it weighs major reforms to NSR.

    1016 words

  • States Fear Air Quality Impacts From EPA Repeal Of 'Glider Kit' GHG Limits

    States are increasingly urging the Trump EPA to preserve heavy-duty truck greenhouse gas limits for so-called “glider kits,” arguing that administration plans to repeal the limits would lead to a massive increase in nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) pollution that could undo efforts to attain air quality standards and require additional controls on other sectors.

    1169 words

  • Hurricanes Revive Debate On EPA 'Force Majeure' Refinery Air Rule Waiver

    Recent major hurricanes and other extreme weather events are reviving debate over an Obama EPA air toxics rule that allows refineries a waiver from the regulation due to force majeure -- unforeseen and uncontrollable events -- with environmentalists urging the agency to scrap the exemption in its ongoing reconsideration of the rule.

    1315 words

  • High Court CWA Rule Suit Poses Early Test For Gorsuch On Environment

    The Supreme Court's pending case testing whether litigation over EPA's Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction rule should first be heard in federal district or appeals court will be an early test for how Justice Neil Gorsuch will interpret environmental laws, observers say, as the suit will require him to decide on how to interpret the CWA.

    1189 words

  • EPA Prepares To Delay Implementation Of 2015 CWA Jurisdiction Standard

    EPA has sent for White House review a proposal to delay the effective date of the currently stayed Obama-era Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction rule, likely in an effort to avoid having to implement the policy if the Supreme Court dissolves an appellate court's nationwide stay of the rule before the Trump administration can repeal it.

    616 words

  • Internal Memos Show EPA Offices' Fears Over Narrowed Trump TSCA Rule

    A series of recently released internal EPA memos underscore significant environmental and legal concerns officials in the agency's water and enforcement offices have with the toxics office's controversial changes to narrow the range of chemical uses the agency will consider when assessing and regulating substances under the new toxics law.

    1337 words

  • Beck Defends Opposition To Using 'Exploratory' Science For EPA Rules

    Nancy Beck, the former chemical industry toxicologist who is currently the top Trump toxics appointee at EPA, is defending her approach to regulation that critics have said favors weaker rules sought by industry, saying she focuses on using robust scientific studies for policies and not “exploratory” science to support costly rules.

    849 words

  • Sparking Fears, EPA Drops Use Of Orders To Control Some 'New' Chemicals

    EPA has dropped its use of enforcement orders to limit some 'new' chemicals' uses that it had previously applied as a bridge before issuing a rule governing those uses, but the move is sparking concerns from environmentalists who fear it will speed chemical approvals and end a backlog of reviews but make short shrift of public health concerns.

    1068 words

  • EPA's ORD Prioritizes PFAS Research Amid Growing Exposure Concerns

    Leaders in EPA's research office are prioritizing work on assessing risks of perflouroalkyl substances, which they see as a major challenge for the agency in the short term as they face monitoring results that show an ever-widening spread of contamination from the substances, though EPA's water office is worried they will be harder to address under Trump administration toxics office rule changes.

    1315 words

  • Environmentalists Cite TSCA Rule Changes In Bid To Maintain Fluoride Suit

    Environmentalists are urging a federal court to allow their suit against EPA over its denial of their petition to ban drinking water fluoridation to continue, arguing among other things that the agency's changes to the final framework rules implementing the 2016 statutory reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) bolster their case.

    1270 words

  • Sessions' Ban On Third-Party Payments Derails EPA 'Supplemental Projects'

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions' order barring the Justice Department (DOJ) from entering into settlements that provide payments to non-governmental third parties is already derailing popular EPA supplemental environmental projects (SEPs), sources say, despite DOJ assurances that the projects can continue as long as they comply with EPA policy.

    1106 words

  • Environmentalists Blast Trump Administration's Exxon SEP As Inadequate

    Environmentalists are blasting as inadequate a supplemental environmental project (SEP) that involves tree planting that the Trump administration included in a proposed Clean Air Act settlement with Exxon Mobil after the Justice Department (DOJ) reportedly dropped a series of other SEPs from the deal.

    603 words

  • Hiring For Pruitt Security Detail Seen As Drain On Enforcement Resources

    A retired EPA enforcement officer says the agency's move to add security staff for Administrator Scott Pruitt's protection detail is a “shell game” that will drain at least $2 million from the enforcement office, while a current career official says the move will free up criminal investigators who were temporarily transferred to the detail.

    817 words

  • Trump EPA's Deregulatory Agenda May Have Staying Power Amidst Chaos

    Faced with a divisive and chaotic political environment in Washington, President Donald Trump's efforts to roll back EPA and other agencies' rules may be one of the few priority agenda items his administration is successfully advancing, though agency officials still face a long and litigious road before any major rules are repealed or revised.

    1066 words

  • Trump EPA Faulted For Narrow Benefit Tallies Of Targeted Obama Rules

    The Trump EPA is attracting a barrage of criticism for narrowing or omitting analysis of potential health or other lost benefits from its proposed repeals of Obama administration rules, with critics arguing the agency's methods often ignore established or peer-reviewed approaches used to account for the costs and benefits of environmental regulations.

    1810 words

  • Former EPA Staff Say Budget Cuts Will Hinder 'Meaningless' Strategic Plan

    Former EPA officials are criticizing the Trump administration's draft plan outlining the agency's broad priorities for 2018 through 2022 as an “almost meaningless” document, and saying that proposed budget cuts will hinder EPA's ability to even achieve the plan's vague goals let alone adequately protect public health and the environment.

    1607 words

  • Bodine Reply May Aid Trump EPA Nomination But Dourson's Fate Unclear

    Susan Bodine's reply to senators about her ongoing advisory work at EPA appear to have satisfied Democrats and could help ensure her confirmation as the agency's top enforcement official, but the fate of controversial toxics office nominee Michael Dourson, who cleared the environment committee, is unclear as Democrats are vowing to block his confirmation.

    895 words

  • Carper Sees Senate Democrats As 'Last Line Of Defense' Against Trump EPA

    Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), ranking member on the environment committee, says Senate Democrats are “like the last line of defense” against the Trump EPA's deregulatory agenda and will use the legislative process to fight President Donald Trump's proposed massive budget cuts for the agency and oppose roll-backs of rules they support.

    936 words

  • Whitehouse Vows Tough Tactics In Face Of Trump EPA 'Shutdown' On Deals

    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) says the Trump EPA has sent a “shutdown signal” against compromising on any environmental policy matters and is pledging that Democrats and other critics will continue to pursue aggressive tactics -- including oversight, litigation, inspector general inquiries, whistleblowers and leaks -- to block the administration's deregulatory agenda.

    1359 words

  • EPA Sees GHG Cuts From Oil & Gas Settlements But Declines To Quantify

    EPA officials say they expect that settlement agreements announced Oct. 31 with oil company Exxon Mobil and oil and gas producer PCD Energy requiring cuts in volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions will have a “co-benefit” of reducing sector greenhouse gases, though agency officials are declining to quantify the exact benefit.

    1120 words

  • EPA Quietly Floats Data Notices On Oil And Gas Methane Rule Stay

    EPA is quietly seeking comment on two notices of data availability (NODA) related to its proposals to delay the Obama-era new source performance standards (NSPS) methane reduction rule for new oil and gas drilling, measures that could help the Trump administration build a record to revise or repeal portions of the underlying regulation.

    749 words

  • ECOS, EPA Eye Metrics To Reduce State Program Reviews, Boost Flexibility

    Todd Parfitt, president of the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS), says the group of state environmental regulators is working with EPA to craft metrics for reducing agency reviews of state programs in order to free up limited resources and bolster agency Administrator Scott Pruitt's goal of delegating more environmental protection work to states with increased flexibility in how states achieve those goals.

    918 words

  • Pruitt Directive Axes Current Science Advisers, Driving 'Purge' Charge

    EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is applying his new policy barring science advisors from receiving agency grants to current advisors, a move that will force some to either give up their grants or step down from the panels on which they serve, opening the door to Pruitt making additional appointments and intensifying criticisms that the he is seeking to "purge" independent advisors.

    1200 words

  • Critics Float Legal Theories To Challenge Pruitt's Science Advisor Policy

    House Democrats and a Columbia University law professor are detailing possible legal arguments that could be used to challenge Administrator Scott Pruitt's controversial new directive barring scientists who are receiving an EPA research grant from serving on one of its scientific advisory committees.

    1161 words

  • Arkema Fire May Complicate RMP Revision But Few Expect Stricter Rule

    An industry attorney is acknowledging that the industrial facility fire sparked by Hurricane Harvey flood waters may complicate the Trump administration's effort to revise an Obama-era rule updating the agency's risk management plan (RMP) accident prevention program with new requirements, as environmentalists have argued the fire backs the need for the Obama rule.

    1098 words

  • Industry May Seek EPA Guide To Ease Strict 'Off-Site' Enforcement Reviews

    Industry officials may ask the Trump administration to provide greater clarity on how EPA reviews facilities' analysis of the potential impacts of accidental “off site” releases as agency enforcement officials are maintaining the Obama EPA's stepped up scrutiny of the analyses, an industry attorney says.

    694 words