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Environmental Policy Alert - 05/24/2017

  • Waste Generators Urge EPA To Narrow RCRA Corrective Action Program

    A group representing industry parties subject to EPA waste rules is urging the agency to rescind or revise various components of its Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) program and to significantly pare back its RCRA corrective action program, urging EPA to shift a host of manufacturing sites currently regulated under an "interim" status by the program to Superfund or state cleanups.

    1177 words

  • Utilities Invoke 2016 Ash Law In Call For EPA To Reconsider Disposal Rule

    The utility sector is calling on EPA to reconsider its first-time rule governing coal ash disposal by saying a 2016 law that overhauled enforcement of the policy justifies reconsidering many of its technical mandates, but environmentalists counter that such changes would contradict Congress' decision to leave the rule's substantive provisions in place.

    1071 words

  • Waste Industry Recommends EPA Repeal Outdated RCRA Air Standards

    The hazardous waste management industry is suggesting that EPA repeal what it says are outdated and duplicative Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) air standards as part of the Trump administration's push for regulatory reform, highlighting the rules as an opportunity to repeal regulations without harming public health.

    1002 words

  • 1st Circuit Sidesteps Decision On RCRA Barring Cities' Ash Disposal Bans

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit has struck down a pair of Puerto Rico municipal ordinances barring coal ash disposal that industry feared could become a model for local governments elsewhere, but on a narrow basis that avoids deciding whether such restrictions are preempted by the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA).

    579 words

  • Pruitt Creates EPA Task Force To Streamline, Overhaul Superfund Cleanups

    EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is creating a task force of agency officials to provide him within 30 days detailed recommendations on how to streamline and overhaul the Superfund program, following his recent decision to remove from regional offices some decisionmaking authority on cleanups.

    770 words

  • Pruitt's Repeal Of Regions' Superfund Remedy Powers Wins Mixed Reviews

    EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's recent action to move final decisionmaking authority for high-cost Superfund cleanup decisions from regional offices to his office is receiving mixed reviews from environmentalists, industry and former agency officials, with most sources interpreting the move as an attempt to rein in costly mega-site sediment and mining cleanups.

    1269 words

  • Industry Seeks Host Of CERCLA Policy Changes To Speed Cleanups

    Major industry groups that are liable for hazardous waste releases are urging EPA to ease its Superfund cleanup requirements, set deadlines for making cleanup decisions and make a host of other changes to the program's policy documents as part of its broad review of existing measures, signaling support for changes that could help achieve Administrator Scott Pruitt's goal of speeding cleanups.

    1375 words

  • Legal Fight Could Set Precedent For Expanding Citizens' Say In Cleanups

    Legal advocacy groups for citizens around a high-profile Superfund site in Indiana are asking a federal district court to set aside a magistrate judge's order rejecting their attempt to intervene in a cost recovery cleanup settlement there, with the groups seeking a ruling that could set precedent in boosting citizens' say in such cleanup accords.

    1341 words

  • 4th Circuit Judges Skeptical Of Ruling Forcing EPA Air Rules 'Jobs' Review

    RICHMOND, VA -- Appellate judges at May 9 oral argument appeared skeptical of a lower court judge's ruling forcing EPA to complete by July 1 a review of the impact its Clean Air Act rules have had on coal sector jobs, raising a host of procedural criticisms of the decision even though it is unclear what remedy the judges might require.

    1147 words

  • DOJ Warns Murray Precedent Could Aid Broad Attacks On Rollback Agenda

    The top Trump environment official at the Justice Department (DOJ) says the administration is continuing to fight coal companies' lawsuit claiming EPA neglected mandatory reviews of air rules' employment impacts in large part because officials fear a loss in the case would open the door for environmentalists to broadly challenge the agency's deregulatory agenda.

    1232 words

  • EPA Faces Legal, Scientific Barriers To Using Scalia CWA Jurisdiction Test

    EPA faces significant legal and scientific barriers to its plan for using the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's narrow test for determining Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction in a new rulemaking on the law's reach, say observers who argue the test is based on flawed assumptions and lacks strong support in federal courts.

    1314 words

  • Pruitt's Participation In High Court CWA Suit Raises Questions On Recusal

    Speakers at a May 11 panel on the future of EPA's Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction rule said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt could be violating his pledge to recuse himself from lawsuits over the Obama-era regulation, saying he must also step back from a Supreme Court case over the correct venue for challenges to the rule.

    823 words

  • Environmentalists Urge OMB To Reject EPA Plan For Scrapping CWA Rule

    Environmentalists at a May 17 meeting with EPA and White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) staff urged OMB to reject the agency's pending proposed rule to repeal the Obama-era Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction rule, touting the merits of the CWA policy and attacking as inadequate the comment period on the repeal rule.

    1150 words

  • EAB Case Sets Up Test For Trump EPA On CWA Groundwater Protections

    A Massachusetts town is asking EPA's Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) to overturn a Trump agency-crafted Clean Water Act (CWA) permit that it claims restricts groundwater contamination based on a connection to protected surface waters -- setting up a legal test over whether the water law allows such limits in EPA-issued permits.

    1002 words

  • EPA Asks Judges To Back Ruling Avoiding National CWA 'Blending' Order

    EPA is asking a federal appeals court to reject municipal wastewater authorities' call to rehear a ruling that blocked their bid for a court order enforcing nationwide restrictions on the agency's Clean Water Act (CWA) authority to bar "blending" at treatment plants, arguing that the ruling avoiding such an order was legally correct.

    1012 words

  • House Democrats Give Mixed Reaction To Draft SDWA Improvements Bill

    House energy panel Democrats are giving a mixed reaction to a discussion draft of legislation aimed at improving drinking water systems through changes to the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), with Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) saying it is inadequate but Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) saying there is potential for a bipartisan deal to proceed.

    864 words

  • EPA Seeks Dismissal Of Wastewater Utilities' Suit Over CWA Test Method

    EPA is asking a federal district court in California to dismiss wastewater utilities' suit over Clean Water Act (CWA) test methods they claim are unsupported by existing rules and should not be required in discharge permits, with the agency saying the deadline to sue has expired and that the utilities should instead challenge individual permits.

    531 words

  • Industry Argues EPA's Draft TSCA Bans Do Not Meet Law's Requirements

    Chemical industry groups are arguing that the Obama EPA's proposed restrictions on certain uses of the solvent trichloroethylene (TCE) and two paint-stripping chemicals do not meet legal requirements of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and should be withdrawn, while environmentalists are urging the Trump administration to finalize the rules.

    942 words

  • EPA, Industry Spar Over 'Consensus' Need For TSCA Burden Reduction Rule

    EPA and the chemical sector are sparring over the agency's claim that a panel convened to inform a future Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) rule limiting certain reporting requirements must reach "consensus" before crafting a rule, with industry arguing the rule is mandated and that legal options may be necessary to force it.

    1217 words

  • Advocates For Lead Protections Appeal To EPA To Uphold Rules, Budget

    Environmentalists and advocates for protections against lead poisoning are urging EPA to uphold or strengthen lead rules, as well as reverse proposed budget cuts for lead programs, as the agency in undertaking a major regulatory reform initiative considers whether to revise or rescind lead protection rules.

    1078 words

  • Energy Industry Opposes Adding Some Natural Gas Facilities To EPA's TRI

    Energy groups are opposing an Obama EPA proposal to expand the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) environmental release reporting program to include some natural gas processing facilities, saying the rule would be at odds with President Donald Trump's executive order (EO) that aims to limit the number of new rules agencies issue.

    1180 words

  • EPA's Draft Nano Rule Guide Appears Unlikely To Prevent Industry Lawsuit

    EPA is floating draft guidance clarifying its final nanomaterials reporting rule, including definitions of reportable and exempt materials, though the draft appears unlikely to prevent a lawsuit from nanomaterials producers and users over their claims that the final rule unlawfully failed to give them a chance to weigh in on the definitions.

    828 words

  • EPA Delays Nano Reporting Rule Pending Potential Guidance For Clarity

    EPA is delaying the effective date of an Obama-era nanomaterials reporting rule from May 12 to Aug. 14 while it considers crafting guidance on how to implement the rule, handing a win to the chemical sector that has called for the agency to repeal the rule in part because it fails to provide sufficient clarity on which substances are subject to its mandate.

    602 words

  • Mindful Of CPP Stay, Groups Spar Over Possible D.C. Circuit Rule Remand

    Supporters and opponents of EPA's power sector greenhouse gas rule are clashing over whether a federal appellate court should pause litigation over the rule or remand it to the agency as it mulls whether to revise or rescind the regulation, a question that could determine whether the Supreme Court's stay of the rule remains in place.

    1107 words

  • Industry Sees Quick Action On Deregulatory Efforts As 'More Complicated'

    Despite unified Republican control of the government, industry groups are beginning to acknowledge publicly that quickly advancing new deregulatory actions in Congress and the Trump administration is more complicated than they initially believed and are stepping up their efforts to overcome hurdles at EPA and elsewhere.

    924 words

  • Environmentalists Detail Legal Arguments Against 'Arbitrary' EPA Rule Repeal

    Environmental groups are laying out early legal arguments that could be used to challenge the merits and legality of the Trump administration's process for identifying EPA rules to target for "repeal, replacement or modification," arguing the plan does not take into account statutory requirements to protect public health and provides little meaningful opportunity for public comment.

    913 words

  • ASTM Suggests Gap-Filling Role As EPA Weighs Regulatory Reforms

    An industry-standard setting organization is suggesting to EPA that its voluntary, consensus-developed standards may help fill a gap by providing standards for compliance as EPA embarks on fulfilling the Trump administration's directive to repeal, revise or replace regulations considered burdensome to the regulated community.

    1030 words

  • Senate Democrats Face Industry Push To Support Regulatory Review Bill

    Groups representing major industries are stepping up their efforts to win over reluctant Senate Democrats to support pending legislation to overhaul the federal regulatory review process, though the effort is facing hurdles as many Democrats and allied groups strongly oppose the bill.

    821 words

  • Pruitt Thought To Be EPA 'Short-Timer' With Ambitions For Elected Office

    As EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is settling into his new role, sources inside and outside the agency are increasingly considering him a "short-timer" who is running the agency as someone who sees it as a political stepping stone to an elected office rather than as an administrator who is committed to the agency's mission and intends to understand how it operates.

    995 words

  • Bodine Praised As EPA Enforcement Pick But Slow Selections Criticized

    Susan Bodine's nomination to lead EPA's enforcement office is generally winning praise from current and former agency officials, who say she will bring competence and experience to a relatively inexperienced EPA leadership team that faces significant struggles advancing the administration's deregulatory agenda.

    1272 words

  • Trump EPA Advances First RFS Policy For OMB Review With 2018 Targets

    The Trump EPA has sent for White House pre-publication review its proposed 2018 fuel blending targets under the renewable fuel standard (RFS), which will be the first explicit statement of the agency's approach to setting RFS goals in an administration where cabinet officials are split over whether to oppose or support the program.

    928 words

  • Looming Term Limits Raise Doubts On Fate Of Host Of EPA Advisory Panels

    Looming term limits for members of several major EPA advisory panels are prompting questions over the fate of the committees that provide expert advice to officials on scientific and policy issues, including whether EPA will decline to renew existing members' terms in order to install panelists more favorable to the Trump administration.

    1092 words

  • SAB, CASAC Nominations Delayed, Raising Questions Over Agency Plans

    EPA's process for selecting new members for two of its congressionally mandated scientific advisory committees is behind schedule this year, heightening observers' concerns over the Trump administration's approach to scientific reviews after recent reports that the agency delayed acting on a process for selecting members for a third panel.

    1193 words

  • White House Rejects Calls To Maintain Popular EPA Programs In FY18 Budget

    The White House is doubling down on its plans to slash popular EPA programs in its just-released fiscal year 2018 budget proposal, offering justifications for the cuts that reject growing calls from lawmakers, industry and other groups who have been lobbying hard to preserve the funds.

    864 words

  • EPA's FY18 Funding May Hinge On Progress Of Individual Spending Bills

    The ability of EPA's defenders to resist deep cuts to EPA's fiscal year 2018 budget may depend not only on their ability to mobilize public support in favor of the agency but also on whether Congress can avoid last-minute budget brinksmanship with the White House, while focusing aggressively on details in individual spending bills, according to several Senate Democrats.

    1031 words