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Environmental Policy Alert - 10/10/2018

  • EPA Readies Regional Office Reorganization Plan For Congress' Review

    EPA plans to soon send to Congress a recently completed plan for reorganizing the agency's regional offices to more closely mirror headquarters' structure and improve coordination, but an official with one of the agency's employee unions is raising concerns that the fast-moving process may not leave adequate time for employee input.

    782 words

  • EPA Counsel Seeks To Ensure 'Durable, Defensible' Deregulatory Efforts

    Even as the Trump EPA faces a mixed record defending its deregulatory agenda, EPA General Counsel Matt Leopold says he wants to ensure that rule changes implementing the administration's rollbacks are "durable and defensible" so that its policies will endure, arguing the policies will save billions while also reducing pollution.

    1149 words

  • OIG's 2019-2023 Plan Targets EPA Goals For Audit, Vows Efficiency Boosts

    EPA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) in its newly unveiled strategic plan for 2019-23 is vowing to quickly open audits of the agency's progress toward six goals that former Administrator Scott Pruitt set for the same time period, while also offering steps for how the OIG plans to improve its own efficiency and effectiveness.

    980 words

  • Critics Vow Suit Over EPA's RMP Rollback Plan, Citing Scrapped Delay Rule

    Environmentalists and Democratic-led states are threatening to sue EPA if the agency does not drop its plan to roll back the Obama-era rule strengthening the agency's facility accident prevention program, citing the recent appellate ruling vacating EPA's measure delaying the rule's implementation.

    1555 words

  • D.C. Circuit Judges Ask Tough Questions In Suit Over EPA CSAPR Update

    A three-judge appellate panel at Oct. 3 oral argument asked tough questions of all sides in litigation over the Obama EPA's "update" to its Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), including what authority the agency has to craft interstate air pollution rules that fail to guarantee states will attain federal air standards by statutory deadlines.

    1919 words

  • California, Environmentalists Ask Court To Revive 'Once In' Air Toxics Policy

    California and environmental groups are asking a federal appeals court to restore EPA's former "once in, always in" (OIAI) policy of regulating industrial facilities as "major" air toxics sources even when they cut emissions below major source thresholds, arguing the Trump administration's decision to scrap the policy is unlawful and will boost pollution.

    956 words

  • D.C. Circuit Searches For Ways To Review EPA's RFS Compliance 'Point'

    Appellate judges at oral argument in two related suits over EPA's renewable fuel standard (RFS) appeared to be searching for ways to review refiners' long-running claims that the agency's compliance "point of obligation" is unfair, querying EPA on whether it has attempted to unlawfully shield the obligation point from judicial review.

    1428 words

  • Wheeler Vows To Unveil 'Clear' CWA Jurisdiction Proposal Within 30 Days

    Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler says the agency within 30 days will unveil its proposal for a new "clean and straightforward" Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction standard that follows the water law and confusing Supreme Court precedent, and which is expected to be narrower in scope than the Obama-era rule it will replace.

    985 words

  • High Court Urged To Reverse Rulings Finding CWA Groundwater Liability

    GOP-led states, wastewater utilities, county and city governments and a free-market legal group are backing calls for the Supreme Court to reverse novel rulings that imposed Clean Water Act (CWA) liability for pollution that travels through groundwater to surface waters, calling the decisions an unwarranted and unworkable expansion of the law.

    963 words

  • 5th Circuit Judges Doubt EPA Defense Of Utility ELG 'Leachate' Standards

    Appellate judges at oral argument in environmentalists' suit over the Obama EPA's Clean Water Act (CWA) effluent guidelines for power plants appeared to doubt the Trump administration's defense of the rule for leaving in place 36-year-old standards for "leachates" -- water that has absorbed, or leached, pollutants from solid waste.

    1166 words

  • GOP Senators Urge EPA CWA Section 401 Policy Revisions, Tout Bill

    Republican senators who are seeking legislative changes to the Clean Water Act section 401 water quality certification process are urging EPA to revise its policy on the issue and saying current agency guidance incorrectly characterizes some aspects of the law, while still touting their bill to implement some of the revisions.

    938 words

  • Wetland Bankers Fear Trump Administration Plans To Ease Mitigation Rules

    Wetlands mitigation banking experts are raising concerns about plans by the Army Corps to ease rules for how compensatory mitigation credits are created, saying that some options would harm the environment while questioning how much of a role EPA might play in the program if the Corps changes a 2008 rule developed jointly with the agency.

    1291 words

  • Environmentalists' Suit Targets EPA Reviews Of State Coal Ash Permitting

    Environmentalists have filed a broad lawsuit challenging EPA's oversight of state coal ash disposal programs that claims the agency is failing to ensure public participation in the state permitting process, and seeking to overturn EPA's approval of Oklahoma's ash program after an appellate court said the rule it was based on is unlawfully lenient.

    675 words

  • Lacking Consensus, EPA Offers Split Approach For TSCA Prioritization Plan

    Faced with a congressional deadline under the revised Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), EPA has released its plan for how it will prioritize chemicals for possible assessment and regulation, though limited stakeholder consensus appears to have led the agency to pursue a split approach for short- and long-term efforts.

    1222 words

  • Final TSCA User Fees Rule Expands 'Small' Firm Method, Assessment Costs

    EPA has finalized its user fees rule under the revised Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), a measure that largely follows a proposed version though the final measure will likely expand the universe of firms that qualify for lower "small business" fees and increases fees that large firms will have to pay when they ask EPA to assess chemicals.

    1021 words

  • EPA Taps Koch Industries' Chemical Engineer To Lead Research Office

    EPA has appointed David Dunlap, a chemical engineer with Koch Industries, as the deputy chief of its research office, a move that will provide the office with political leadership at the deputy level, which does not require Senate confirmation, while allowing the agency to avoid another bruising battle over an industry nominee for the office.

    509 words

  • EDF, Auto Industry Clash Over EPA Plan To Address PBT Chemicals

    Some environmentalists are urging EPA to ban five chemicals the agency has designated as persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT), though auto industry groups say that any regulation of the substances will be difficult to implement because it will require them to track ingredients in hundreds of parts used in vehicles' manufacturing.

    1046 words

  • Backers, Critics Of EPA's ACE Plan Spar Over Role Of Low-GHG Market Shift

    Supporters and opponents of EPA's newly proposed power sector greenhouse gas rule are sparring over how any new measure should interact with market trends toward lower-carbon generation, with environmentalists arguing EPA should strengthen its rule to bolster such trends while industry is praising the plan for largely relying on such shifts.

    980 words

  • Industries Query EPA On States' 'Beyond The Fenceline' Flexibility In ACE

    Utility and other industry groups are querying EPA on whether states will have flexibility to rely on greenhouse gas reduction strategies "beyond the fenceline" of power plants when crafting compliance plans for the agency's Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) utility GHG plan, seeking credit for steps such as off-site renewable power projects.

    1068 words

  • SAB Rejects Panel's Advice On EPA's CO2 Accounting For Biomass Energy

    EPA's Science Advisory Board (SAB) is poised to finalize recommendations that EPA account for biomass emissions and regrowth within a specific policy context, rather than over a long time horizon where the two are equal, as recommended by an SAB panel that deliberated over the issue for seven years.

    649 words

  • Critics Cite High Court To Fight Trump Claim Of Car GHG Rule's Risk

    Critics are pouncing on the Trump administration's claim that its proposed rollback of vehicle greenhouse gas standards is justified because it would only result in a "minimal" rise in global temperatures, with opponents of the rollback poised to cite the claim as in conflict with a landmark Supreme Court ruling.

    1114 words

  • High Court Asks For DOJ Views On CERCLA Pre-Enforcement Review

    The Supreme Court is asking the Justice Department (DOJ) to weigh in on an industry petition seeking to overturn a landmark ruling from Montana's high court allowing state damages claims by local landowners to proceed despite the Superfund law's bar on pre-enforcement review of EPA cleanup decisions, which industry says would create "chaos" and gives third parties a significant new role in selecting remedies.

    1043 words

  • 3rd Circuit Backs Precedent For Private PFAS Monitoring Under CERCLA

    Setting a precedent, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit has partially reversed a district court decision and found medical monitoring of per- and polyfluoroakyl substances (PFAS) conducted by a private party at a contaminated Navy site is a form of injunctive relief and is not prohibited by the Superfund law's bar on challenges to cleanup actions.

    1322 words

  • Senate GOP Eyes 'Secret Science' Bill To Adopt Policy In EPA's Proposal

    Senate environment committee Republicans are suggesting they will try in the next Congress to move legislation that largely adopts a controversial EPA proposal to bar the agency in rulemaking from relying on scientific data that is not publicly available, with a GOP staffer saying lawmakers' preference is to enact such policies through statute.

    1070 words

  • Backers See New Carbon Tax Opening But GOP Groups Eye Incentives

    A right-leaning group is floating the notion of tying a carbon tax to another round of tax cuts -- including extending recent tax breaks that would eventually expire -- highlighting efforts by carbon tax supporters to continue pressing for a political opening for the idea even as it competes with non-binding incentives as a conservative-friendly climate policy.

    907 words