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Environmental Policy Alert - 07/19/2017

  • Waste Definition Ruling Prompts Mixed Reaction, Uncertainties Over Impact

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit's recent ruling that vacates aspects of the Obama EPA's definition of solid waste (DSW) rule is prompting varied reaction, with the hazardous waste recycling industry concerned it will bring new uncertainties -- particularly if environmentalists push for rehearing -- and the chemical industry saying it will encourage more recycling.

    1301 words

  • Ash Recyclers Press EPA To Revive Bush-Era Voluntary Reuse Program

    Coal ash recyclers are pressing the Trump administration to revive a controversial George W. Bush-era program through which EPA and other agencies worked with the sector to promote beneficial reuse of ash, but environmentalists are warning that the program could undermine EPA restrictions on using ash as structural fill material.

    928 words

  • Utilities Seek Swift Issuance Of EPA Coal Ash Guide For Permit Certainty

    The power sector is pressing Trump administration officials to quickly release EPA's draft guidance for states on crafting permit programs to govern coal ash disposal, saying release of the federal guidance is vital to give state officials certainty on what the federal procedures will be for reviewing and approving states' ash permitting efforts.

    798 words

  • EPA Sees Superfund Task Force Report As 'Starting Point' For State Talks

    EPA's top equity official says an internal task force's recommendation for overhauling the Superfund program is only a "starting point" for the effort rather than a binding agenda for reform, suggesting potentially months or even years of talks with states officials and extensive input from the advisory board before EPA issues any final plan.

    1013 words

  • Communities Ready Task Force To Resist Pruitt Superfund Reform Effort

    Grassroots community groups are forming a task force to help them push back against EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's efforts to reform the Superfund program, as they argue that his endeavor raises significant concerns about curtailing cleanup oversight, and plan to come up with alternative approaches to offer the administrator.

    1245 words

  • Industry, Environmentalists Bolster Opposing Arguments Over Mining Rule

    Industry and environmental groups are bolstering their opposing arguments on EPA's draft Superfund financial assurance rule for the hardrock mining sector, with industry contending EPA failed to meet legal mandates to show such requirements are warranted and environmentalists stressing the need for safeguards in a time of dwindling cleanup budgets and increased waste volumes.

    1213 words

  • Forest Service Presses EPA To Pare Back Hardrock Mining CERCLA Rule

    The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is advising EPA to heavily pare back its draft Superfund bond rule for hardrock mining in order to avoid duplicating and preempting existing rules the service implements on national forest lands, echoing concerns from GOP lawmakers, industry and western states.

    1003 words

  • D.C. Circuit Remands Air Toxics 'Completion' Finding For EPA Justification

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in a unanimous July 18 ruling has remanded EPA's final rule declaring that it has met a Clean Air Act mandate to regulate 90 percent of sources of seven air toxics, agreeing with environmentalists that the agency needs to better justify its explanation for the rule.

    985 words

  • EPA Says States Lack Legal Standing For Role In Ozone NAAQS Challenge

    EPA and groups representing several major industries are opposing a request by Democratic-led states to intervene in litigation over the Obama-era rule tightening federal ozone standard in order to defend the measure, with the agency and others saying the request is untimely and EPA also claiming the states lack legal standing to join the suit.

    1085 words

  • EPA Cites Public Input To Justify Air Law Authority For RMP Policy Delay

    EPA is claiming broad Clean Air Act authority for its final rule that significantly delays implementation of Obama-era revisions to the agency's facility safety policy, saying its decision to first seek public comment on the delay shields it from the legal uncertainty that led an appellate court to recently vacate a stay of an unrelated air rule.

    1181 words

  • House GOP Bills Aim To Achieve Industry's Renewed Bid To Overhaul NSR

    House Republicans have introduced two bills that would relax several Clean Air Act new source review (NSR) permitting requirements, which could help industry groups achieve some of the NSR overhauls that they have urged EPA to make as part of its ongoing regulatory review initiative weighing revisions to agency policies.

    947 words

  • 7th Circuit Hands Win To EPA On D.C. Circuit Review Of 'National' Policies

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in a unanimous July 12 opinion is agreeing with EPA's bid to transfer to the D.C. Circuit a suit over an area's attainment designation for federal sulfur dioxide (SO2) air standards, revising its precedent to make it easier to send lawsuits over "nationally applicable" rules to the D.C. Circuit.

    1252 words

  • SAB Panel Members Question Agency Method For Air Toxics Rule Reviews

    EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) panel members are questioning many of the agency's assumptions in its method for reviewing health risks from air toxics emitted by a host of industries, saying the approach might be too conservative by capturing too many emissions sources and could create too much work for EPA.

    1218 words

  • EPA Analysis Could Bolster Potential Shift To States On CWA Jurisdiction

    EPA is floating a new economic analysis that could help the Trump administration make the case for scaling back federal oversight of waterbodies and defer Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction over smaller, isolated or intermittent waters to states, though sources say such a move faces an uncertain future given dwindling state budgets.

    1085 words

  • Environmentalists Raise Early Legal Attacks Over Plan To Delay Utility ELG

    Environmentalists are raising early legal attacks on EPA's proposal to indefinitely delay many provisions of the Obama-era power plant effluent limitation guideline (ELG) by arguing no federal law allows such a stay, though utilities and coal companies argue the the delay is needed to avoid unnecessary compliance costs.

    1140 words

  • Seeking Flexibilities, POTWs, Regulators Pause CWA Enforcement Talks

    Federal regulators and several municipalities are pausing consent decree negotiations over longstanding combined sewer overflow (CSOs) noncompliance issues, hoping that Trump administration enforcement nominees will agree to provide flexible enforcement approaches as they wait for Congress to act on pending bipartisan legislation that could ease requirements.

    572 words

  • Trump's Pick For EPA Toxics Chief Draws Criticism Over Industry Ties

    President Donald Trump's nomination of Michael Dourson, a risk assessor who left the agency in the 1990s, to be the agency's next toxics chief is drawing criticism from environmentalists, who charge he is the latest nominee for the office with close industry connections that raise doubts about implementation of the new Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

    1041 words

  • Court Rejects Environmentalists' Push To Block EPA Chlorpyrifos Reversal

    A federal appeals court has rejected an environmentalist lawsuit seeking to block EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's reversal of an Obama administration plan to ban the widely-used pesticide chlorpyrifos, ordering petitioners to administratively appeal the agency's action, though environmentalists have another pending suit seeking to block the action on the merits.

    676 words

  • D.C. Circuit Ruling Spurs Debate Over Potential EPA Species Review Fixes

    The appellate court ruling rejecting EPA's plan to forgo interagency review of new pesticides' risks to endangered species is spurring debate over whether it could trigger revisions to the agency's review policies, with an environmentalist saying it boosts their push for more efficient reviews but an industry source says the ruling's overall effect is limited.

    686 words

  • TSCA Reform Supporters Tout Fee Rule To Help Offset EPA Budget Cuts

    EPA's acting toxics chief and supporters of the agency's efforts to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) say the pending draft rule imposing fees on the chemical sector could help to offset proposed EPA funding cuts in fiscal year 2018 that environmentalists and others have warned might risk hindering implementation of the law.

    1130 words

  • Former Officials Seek To Clarify EPA Risk Practices, Strengthen Rule Reviews

    Two former Bush administration regulatory review officials are urging the Trump administration to overhaul EPA and other agencies' regulatory risk assessment and management process to make them more transparent and to further strengthen regulatory review requirements, measures they say will bolster review of rules' impacts, but which also seem likely to further slow the regulatory process and benefit regulated entities.

    1223 words

  • EPA Expected To Cite '112 Exclusion' In CPP Repeal To Exempt Coal Plants

    The draft EPA proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan (CPP) currently under review by the White House is thought to include as one justification for rolling back the Obama-era rule the argument that EPA is barred from regulating coal plants' greenhouse gases under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act because it already regulates their air toxics under section 112.

    1229 words

  • D.C. Circuit Vacates EPA Methane Rule Stay Over Flaws In Reconsideration

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in a split opinion has vacated EPA's administrative stay of several key requirements in an Obama-era rule setting limits on the potent greenhouse gas methane from new oil and gas equipment, finding major flaws in how the Trump EPA paused the provisions to reconsider them.

    1142 words

  • D.C. Circuit Ruling On Methane Rule Delay Boosts Series Of Pending Suits

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruling that struck down EPA's administrative stay of Obama-era methane standards for new oil and gas operations could provide a boost for environmentalists hoping to undo similar delays on several other rules, even though the suits test different legal principles.

    1165 words

  • EPA, Industry Cite Methane NSPS Review, Delay Plans To Back Recall Bid

    EPA and several industry groups are intensifying their calls for a federal appellate court panel to recall its mandate requiring the agency to immediately implement Obama-era methane limits for oil and gas facilities, charging the court's immediate issuance of its mandate vacating EPA's stay risks undercutting the agency's reconsideration of the rule and is unreasonable given agency plans to further stay the requirements.

    1279 words

  • California Extends Landmark GHG Cap-And-Trade Program To 2030

    The California Legislature July 17 approved legislation extending the state's cap-and-trade market to 2030, clearing a key two-thirds vote threshold with bipartisan support.

    340 words

  • EPA Starts Work On Rule To Reset Statutory RFS Biofuel Volume Mandates

    EPA is starting technical analysis required to craft an upcoming rule resetting the mandatory biofuel production requirements under the renewable fuel standard (RFS), paving the way for the Trump administration to fundamentally alter the program's goals -- likely by reducing statutory mandates for cellulosic biofuel production.

    962 words

  • House Report Maintains Voluntary Programs Despite Embrace Of EPA Cuts

    House lawmakers are formally spurning the Trump administration's proposal to eliminate numerous voluntary programs at EPA, including its Energy Star and Water Sense programs, signaling congressional support for the programs even though the agency's fiscal year 2018 spending bill continues a steady erosion in funding for EPA.

    1079 words

  • House Bill Would Cut EPA's FY18 Funds, But Far Less Than Trump Sought

    House appropriators are proposing to provide EPA with $7.5 billion in fiscal year 2018, a reduction of $528 million below the fiscal year 2017 level and $1.9 billion above the Trump administration's request -- but the measure is drawing criticism from environmentalists over the cuts and policy riders, including one that would postpone until 2026 mandates for states to submit ozone control plans.

    885 words

  • OMB Sees Slight Increase For EPA In FY19 But Renews Push For Overhaul

    The White House budget office has released new guidance for fiscal year 2019 reiterating that EPA could see a slight increase over what the administration sought for FY18, though the office touts the request as an opportunity to present a "comprehensive plan" for "reforming" the government and cutting its workforce, telegraphing continued steep cuts despite signs of Capitol Hill blowback.

    896 words

  • EPA Eases 'Paternalistic' Oversight Of State Programs To A 'Trust' Approach

    A top adviser to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and several state officials say the agency appears to be moving away from its close "matter-by-matter" oversight reviewing a slew of individual state actions under delegated agency authority, shifting from the "paternalistic" approach to a broader "trust" that states' programs are adequate.

    982 words

  • Bodine Backs Centralized OECA, Squelching Talk Of New Program Function

    EPA enforcement chief nominee Susan Bodine is dismissing earlier discussion that the Trump administration is planning to close down the agency's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) and disperse its functions to program offices, embracing its mission as a centralized entity in EPA headquarters, according to her written response to senators' questions.

    1135 words

  • CARB Faces Host Of Decisions After Lawmakers Back Post-2020 GHG Bill

    Just-passed landmark legislation to extend California's greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program to 2030 presents state air regulators with a host of critical policy and regulatory choices about the program, which will have major implications for costs to regulated entities and consumers, the state's broader economy and how it reduces GHGs to meet declining emissions limits.

    1296 words

  • EPA Eases 'Paternalistic' Oversight Of State Programs To A 'Trust' Approach

    A top adviser to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and several state officials say the agency appears to be moving away from its close “matter-by-matter” oversight reviewing a slew of individual state actions under delegated agency authority, shifting from the “paternalistic” approach to a broader “trust” that states' programs are adequate.

    928 words