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Environmental Policy Alert - 12/05/2018

  • EPA Seeks To Limit Industry Data Requests In Enforcement, Raising Concern

    EPA is seeking to limit information the agency requests from industry or states in enforcement and regulatory proceedings under federal air, waste and water laws, in a bid to ease burdens on industry and the agency, though the actions are reviving accusations that the Trump administration is curtailing environmental oversight.

    1399 words

  • Second Ruling Scrapping CWA Rule Delay Solidifies Regulatory Patchwork

    A second federal district judge has ruled that EPA's delay of the Obama-era Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction rule was unlawful and scraps the Trump administration's order blocking the rule's enforcement nationwide, solidifying a regulatory patchwork on the CWA's reach as various court decisions have now revived the rule in 22 states.

    989 words

  • Facing Subpoena Threat, Suit, EPA Limits Political Officials' FOIA Reviews

    EPA has quietly issued a new policy that sets a schedule for political officials to review Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) releases and also requires prompt disclosures of the review, a policy that the agency is citing to head off a pending lawsuit challenging the practice as well as a possible subpoena from House Democrats in the next Congress.

    1174 words

  • Utilities Urge EPA To Fix SDWA Constitutional Concern In Perchlorate Rule

    Rural water utilities are suggesting that a provision in the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) that gives the EPA administrator “sole judgment” to determine new contaminants may be vulnerable to a constitutional challenge under the “non-delegation” doctrine, and are urging the agency to address the issue in an upcoming rule governing perchlorate.

    1318 words

  • High Court Urged To Stop EPA 'Tyranny' Of Vetoes Blocking CWA Permits

    Supporters of a Michigan roads commission's request for the Supreme Court to let it sue EPA over the agency's “objection” to a state-crafted Clean Water Act (CWA) dredge-and-fill permit say the case is a vital effort to prevent the agency's “tyranny” in vetoing permits for state land use actions without facing judicial review of such decisions.

    641 words

  • Environmentalists Cite Health Fears To Fight EPA Water 'Blending' Policy

    Environmentalists are threatening to sue EPA over any rule that authorizes wastewater treatment plants to “blend” partly- and fully-treated effluent during wet-weather events, warning in written comments that the state of research into potential health harms from blending is too thin to support a rational rulemaking process.

    958 words

  • TVA Urges 6th Circuit To Let Stand Rejection Of CWA Groundwater Case

    The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is calling on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit to deny environmentalists' bid for rehearing of a divided panel’s holding that TVA cannot face Clean Water Act (CWA) liability for groundwater leaks from its coal ash storage, arguing the decision did not break with precedent or create a circuit split.

    975 words

  • Supreme Court Seeks White House's Views On CWA Groundwater Lawsuits

    The Supreme Court is giving the Trump administration just one month to weigh in on whether the Clean Water Act (CWA) limits pollution that travels through groundwater to protected surface waters, potentially posing a difficult test for EPA as the agency is in the early stages of crafting a rule or guidance to address the same question.

    583 words

  • Environmentalists Urge 5th Circuit To Reject EPA's Defense Of ELG Delay

    Environmentalists are pushing back against EPA and the power sector's defenses of the Trump administration's two-year delay of Obama-era Clean Water Act (CWA) utility wastewater guidelines, arguing that the agency's justifications for extending the rule are “post-hoc rationalization” that a federal appeals court must reject.

    1029 words

  • Federal Climate Study Gives GHG Rule Backers New Political, Legal Tools

    The Trump administration's recently released national assessment outlining increasingly serious effects from climate change is giving critics fresh political ammunition to challenge officials' efforts to dismiss the issue, and could also provide legal fodder for those fighting EPA's various climate rule rollbacks.

    1640 words

  • Highlighting Disconnect, Trump Climate Study Cites Obama-Era SCC Tool

    The Trump administration's newly released assessment warning of significant economic damages from global warming also cites the social cost of carbon (SCC) metric the Obama administration used to estimate the benefits of emission cuts, even as the Trump EPA and other agencies are significantly curtailing use of the tool.

    801 words

  • White House, California Talks Spur Guarded Optimism On Vehicle GHG Deal

    Recent negotiations between the White House and California on light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards are boosting optimism -- albeit slightly -- that the two sides can reach some kind of deal to avert a legal collision over the Trump administration's pending plan to freeze standards after model year 2020.

    816 words

  • EPA Easing 45-Year-Old Enforcement Policy For Aftermarket Vehicle Parts

    EPA's enforcement office is moving closer to updating a 45-year-old policy for how the agency enforces against tampering of aftermarket engine parts, including catalytic converters, clarifying that if manufacturers can demonstrate with test data that their products meet emissions requirements, then EPA will exercise discretion to limit enforcement.

    1532 words

  • NACAA Faults Eased EPA Auto Parts Enforcement, Seeks Strict Air Limits

    The National Association of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA) is faulting EPA's plan to revise and ease its enforcement policy on tampering with aftermarket auto emissions control parts such as catalytic converters by warning that it will not adequately protect air quality, and is calling on the agency to instead pursue strict new emissions rules for the parts.

    872 words

  • CASAC Members Urge More Time, Special Panel For Ozone NAAQS Review

    Members of EPA's Clean Air Scientific Advisory (CASAC) committee are urging the agency to give them more time for their review of the ozone ambient air limit and also revive a disbanded special panel to assist the review, warning that the current process is too quick and could undermine the quality of their scientific advice.

    1086 words

  • D.C. Circuit Divided On Merits Of States' Bid To Force EPA OTC Expansion

    Appellate judges at Nov. 28 oral argument appeared divided on the merits of Northeastern states' suit aiming to force EPA to expand the Ozone Transport Commission (OTC) of states subject to stricter ozone reduction mandates, with two judges backing the agency's denial of the effort while the third offered some support for the states.

    1176 words

  • Northeast State Officials Eye Organized Approach On Assessing PFAS Risks

    Prompted by a federal agency's strict draft risk values released earlier this year, toxicologists in New York and other Northeast states have held a dialogue on the risks posed by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), an early informal, coordinated effort to prepare for a possible review should state regulators decide to craft drinking water standards.

    1628 words

  • EPA Advisers Seek Broad Plan To Help Local Governments Target PFAS

    A local government advisory panel to EPA is urging the agency to provide leadership to communities on a “coordinated and comprehensive” approach of regulatory actions and other steps to address perfluorinated chemicals, as communities struggle with the emerging unregulated contaminants in drinking water.

    900 words

  • Grevatt's Retirement Creates Uncertainty Over Fate Of EPA's PFAS Policy

    Peter Grevatt, EPA's top official overseeing cross-agency policy on high-profile perfluorinated chemicals, is retiring from the agency after 30 years, creating uncertainty about who will take over the major task of responding to calls from lawmakers, states and communities to develop a comprehensive plan to address the contaminants.

    517 words

  • Utilities Seek Role In Environmentalists' Suit Over EPA Ash Rule Changes

    Utilities are asking a federal appeals court to let them intervene in environmentalist groups' suit over the Trump EPA's first round of revisions to the Obama-era coal ash disposal rule, in which the groups are alleging that the agency ignored its duty to avert harms to health and the environment when it extended compliance deadlines.

    1133 words

  • Coal Ash Disposal Site Assessments Tee Up Next Legal Fight Over Closure

    Environmentalists are eyeing the latest round of reports on coal ash disposal sites' compliance with EPA's rule for disposal of the waste to provide data for new legal fights seeking stringent environmental safeguards at facilities slated for closure, but those efforts face limits under regulatory deadline extensions in revisions to the 2015 standards.

    794 words

  • Final EPA 2019 RFS Gives Modest Hike To Cellulosic Fuel Production Goal

    EPA's final 2019 renewable fuel standard (RFS) production goals largely echo the proposed version of the rule but also include a modest hike for cellulosic biofuel targets over the proposal, disappointing biofuels groups that lobbied EPA to increase all fuel volume categories to compensate for RFS waivers it will likely grant to small refiners.

    1032 words

  • EPA's PV29 Assessment Likely To Test Reformed TSCA's Data Standards

    EPA's recently released draft assessment of pigment violet 29 (PV29), the first such study of an existing chemical under the revised Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), is likely to pose a test of the new law's data standards as environmentalists and others doubt the agency has enough information on which to base its conclusion that the substance does not pose an “unreasonable risk.”

    1696 words

  • EPA Imposes Obama-Era RMP Rule Mandates Despite Looming Rollback

    In compliance with an appellate court order, EPA is issuing a final rule imposing requirements of the Obama administration's January 2017 final rule strengthening the agency's Risk Management Plan (RMP) facility accident prevention program, despite plans to issue early next year a final rule largely scrapping the Obama-era rule.

    659 words

  • Mining Groups Argue Existing Rules Make EPA Financial Rule Unnecessary

    A host of mining industry groups is defending EPA's decision to drop a rule creating first-ever Superfund financial assurance requirements for the hardrock mining sector, detailing to a federal circuit court how existing state and federal regulations are stringent enough to make any additional EPA requirements unnecessary, duplicative and onerous to the industry.

    1333 words

  • Wheeler's Transparency Pledges Win Rare Praise Ahead Of Confirmation

    Acting EPA chief Andrew Wheeler is winning praise from some environmentalists for recent pledges to improve transparency, including policies limiting political reviews of disclosures and mandating decisions be documented, measures that could aid his pending confirmation even as he faces criticisms over the Trump administration's deregulatory agenda.

    1660 words

  • Senate GOP Eyes Speedy Confirmation For Dunn After TSCA Pledges

    Senate Republicans are eying a speedy confirmation for Alexandra Dunn, President Donald Trump's second nominee to lead EPA's toxics office, after a confirmation hearing where Democrats welcomed public and private pledges the nominee has made though they signaled they still need additional commitments before allowing the nomination to advance.

    1499 words

  • Industry Scrambles To Renew PRIA After Renewal Fails To Make Farm Bill

    Industry officials are urging lawmakers to renew EPA's expiring authority to collect industry fees to support timely pesticide reviews, either through a stand-alone bill or by attaching it to a broader appropriations package, after lawmakers declined to extend the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (PRIA) program in the Farm Bill.

    982 words

  • Key House Democrats Launch Early Scrutiny Of EPA Climate Rule Rollbacks

    Top Democrats on the House energy committee aren't waiting until they officially take control of the chamber in the next Congress before starting aggressive oversight of Trump EPA climate rule rollbacks -- an effort that appears to both signal plans for 2019 as well as preserve jurisdiction in the event that party leaders create a special climate panel.

    1224 words