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Environmental Policy Alert - 09/13/2017

  • Retailers Bolster Push To Exempt Nicotine Products From RCRA

    Chain drug stores and two pharmaceutical companies are pointing to new studies to bolster previous arguments urging EPA to exempt low-concentration nicotine products, such as gums and patches, from regulation as an acute hazardous waste under federal waste law -- a move they say would reduce regulatory requirements on retailers.

    1050 words

  • Environmentalists Seek To Reverse RCRA Lead Bullet Case Dismissal

    Environmentalists are continuing their five-year legal battle to get the U.S. Forest Service to regulate lead bullets in a national forest in Arizona, asking a federal appellate court to reverse a lower court's determination that it lacks jurisdiction over the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) case.

    889 words

  • EPA Officials Acknowledge Challenges Implementing Superfund Reforms

    EPA officials are acknowledging a host of challenges to implementing the Superfund reforms that are among Administrator Scott Pruitt's top priorities, conceding smaller budgets, retiring staff and a series of other hurdles will make the revisions more difficult to enact, even as the officials note that the agency has begun to implement them.

    1257 words

  • EPA May Face Bigger Hurricane Burden From Smaller, Unregulated Facilities

    EPA has mobilized emergency response program personnel to coordinate with other government agencies to respond to damage from Hurricane Harvey across southeast Texas, including shoring up Superfund sites and assessing industrial facilities, but one industry source believes the larger burden for the agency will be managing toxic releases from smaller, unregulated facilities.

    1038 words

  • Ozone Designations Delay Throws 'Wrench' Into NAAQS Compliance Plans

    East Coast air regulators are warning that EPA's withdrawn delay of designations for which states are attaining the 2015 ozone air standard throws a "monkey wrench" into their efforts to craft plans for complying with the standard, because of lingering uncertainty about whether the agency might revive the delay for some states.

    972 words

  • Texas' Rule Suspension Intensifies Doubts On Air Law Regulatory Waivers

    Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has suspended a host of state environmental rules due to Hurricane Harvey, though the indefinite suspension has intensified uncertainty over the future of the states' pre-existing regulatory exemptions for periods of startup, shutdown and malfunction (SSM), which the Obama EPA sought to remove but which the Trump administration is reconsidering.

    1226 words

  • Panel Backs Call For Ammonia-Based NAAQS, Boosting Environmentalists

    Members of EPA's panel examining the ecological effects of nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx) and particulate matter (PM) are urging the agency to set a national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) for nitrogen to mitigate rising ammonia emissions, a long-standing but so far unsuccessful goal of environmentalists.

    1114 words

  • Industries Fight 'Wild West' Of Uneven EPA Adherence To Court Decisions

    Groups representing major industry sectors are urging a federal appeals court to scrap an Obama-era rule that allows EPA to opt against applying one federal appellate court's ruling on Clean Air Act (CAA) issues in another circuit, with industry warning that the rule creates a legal "wild, wild west" spurring major uncertainty for companies.

    970 words

  • Appellate Decisions Will Guide Future Of EPA's SO2 NAAQS Designations

    Two recent decisions by federal appeals courts will guide the future of EPA's issuance of designations for which areas are attaining the 2010 sulfur dioxide (SO2) air standard, with one court agreeing to hear a suit over four existing designations while a separate circuit court has approved EPA's timetable for issuing other designations.

    1558 words

  • Court Weighs Limits Of 'Final Action' Test In Challenge To EPA Permit 'Veto'

    A Michigan road commission is asking a federal appeals court to broadly apply the test for "final agency action" to allow it to sue EPA over a Clean Water Act (CWA) permit objection that triggered federal authority over a formerly state-crafted permit, saying landmark Supreme Court cases show that the agency's "veto" is subject to legal challenges.

    1294 words

  • Wastewater Group Cites CWA Rule In Supreme Court Appeal On 'Blending'

    A group of municipalities and wastewater authorities is urging the Supreme Court to hear its appeal of a ruling backing EPA's Clean Water Act (CWA) wastewater "blending" policy, saying the high court's decision to hear a separate case on the correct venue for suits over the 2015 CWA jurisdiction rule means it must also take the group's case.

    1115 words

  • House Backs SRF Spending Hike In FY18 But Seeks More Limits On EPA

    House lawmakers have approved several modifications to pending legislation funding EPA in fiscal year 2018, including language that would add $250 million to EPA's clean water loan fund, as well as numerous provisions that restrict the agency's current or potential pollution control authorities.

    757 words

  • EPA Defends Stay Of Utility ELG Despite Ruling Narrowing Delay Authority

    Environmentalists are invoking a federal district court ruling that vacated the Trump administration's delay of an Obama-era Interior Department (DOI) royalty rule as proof that EPA's similar delay of Clean Water Act (CWA) power plant effluent limits is also unlawful, but the agency says the decision shows that the CWA suit is procedurally flawed.

    691 words

  • Environmentalists Defend Court's Order For EPA To Craft Conductivity Plans

    Environmentalists are urging a federal appeals court to uphold a district judge's finding that West Virginia has unlawfully abandoned any effort to craft Clean Water Act (CWA) cleanup plans for a host of waters across the state, including many with high conductivity from mining, saying the state will not advance those plans unless ordered to.

    1095 words

  • EPA Approval Of State's CWA List May Signal Weaker Controls On Minerals

    EPA's approval of Arkansas' delayed Clean Water Act (CWA) list of impaired waters could signal that the agency is preparing to allow states to weaken controls on waters with high mineral content, sources say, seeing it as part of a broader switch to taking a more hands-off approach to states' decisions on environmental regulation.

    952 words

  • New IRIS Leaders Pledge To Shift Program's 'Paradigm,' Winning SAB Praise

    Facing calls for its elimination, the new leaders of EPA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) are pledging to shift the program's "paradigm," including working quickly to implement long-pending reforms, speeding release of its chemical assessments and making the program more relevant to partners inside and outside the agency, efforts that are winning strong support from agency science advisors.

    1128 words

  • Panel Selects 4th, 9th Circuits To Hear Environmentalists' First TSCA Suits

    A multidistrict litigation panel has randomly selected the U.S. appellate courts for the 9th and 4th Circuits to hear environmentalists' lawsuits challenging EPA rules for prioritizing and reviewing existing chemicals under the revised Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), though one environmentalist is backing EPA calls that the two suits should be consolidated in a single circuit.

    816 words

  • TSCA Rule Suits Will Test EPA's Discretion On Interpreting 'Uses' Definition

    Lawsuits challenging EPA's initial rules implementing the revised Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) will test the discretion courts are willing to give the agency on interpreting the law's definition of a chemical's "uses" that will determine when a substance is subject to the rules and must undergo a risk assessment, sources say.

    1083 words

  • Novel Enforcement Case Driving GOP Effort To Overhaul EPA's IRIS Program

    Republicans on the House science committee are citing novel EPA and state enforcement efforts at a Louisiana chemical plant, based on a cancer risk estimate for chloroprene from the agency's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS), to make the case for their efforts to de-fund or overhaul the program, starting with a budget rider that would eliminate any IRIS funding in fiscal year 2018.

    1113 words

  • Seeking Second Rewrite, Split SAB Again Rejects Advice On Biomass CO2

    For the second time in less than two years, EPA's Science Advisory Board (SAB) has rejected draft advice from a special panel on how the agency should estimate carbon dioxide emissions from biomass power, deciding to revise language addressing the time frame over which emissions impacts are measured, an issue that has long stymied the effort.

    1202 words

  • SAB Faces Bias Concerns Over Biomass Panel Chair's Work For Industry

    A member of EPA's Science Advisory Board (SAB) is raising concerns that EPA allowed University of Illinois professor Madhu Khanna to chair the board's panel seeking to advise the agency on how to estimate carbon emissions from biomass, despite her paid work for an industry group that promotes the fuel as a carbon-neutral energy source.

    1135 words

  • CARB Plan For Tougher Trailer GHG Rules Sparks 'Messy' Waiver Debate

    California air officials' new proposal to tighten the state's greenhouse gas (GHG) rules for truck trailers if similar EPA standards are weakened or shelved is renewing debate over whether the state must seek a new Clean Air Act waiver from EPA to enforce any new rules, while underscoring confusion among truckers and trailer manufacturers.

    1291 words

  • Environmentalists Cite Harvey's Impacts In Defense Of Vehicle GHG Rule

    Environmentalists and a national security group are citing catastrophic flooding from Hurricane Harvey to bolster their arguments for retaining current EPA light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas standards, arguing that the rule is needed to limit continued GHG emissions and associated warming that exacerbated the storm's impacts.

    1062 words

  • States Seek 'Reciprocity' To Streamline Approvals Of Oil & Gas Controls

    JACKSON HOLE, WY -- State environmental regulators are seeking to create a process for streamlining approvals of new oil and gas emissions control technologies for use in complying with EPA and state rules, hoping broad regulatory acceptance will spur innovation and adoption of new technologies for measuring or limiting emissions in natural gas fields.

    799 words

  • Early Comments Focus On Cellulosic Levels In EPA's 2018 RFS Proposal

    Supporters and detractors of EPA's proposed rule setting volumes under the renewable fuel standard (RFS) for 2018 have filed dueling comments on the issue, with many focusing on the agency's proposal to reduce the volume of low-carbon cellulosic biofuels that must be blended into the nation's fuel supply.

    954 words

  • Judge Scraps Stay Of Royalty Rule, Boosting Suits Over EPA, DOI Rules

    A federal judge has backed states and environmentalists' claim that the Trump administration cannot use the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) to delay an Obama-era rule boosting royalty rates for fossil fuel extraction on federal land that has already taken effect, potentially boosting other suits targeting similar delays of methane emissions from some oil and gas sites and EPA limits on power plant effluent.

    1011 words

  • NRC Raises Jurisdictional Questions Over EPA Uranium Groundwater Rule

    Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff says EPA's re-proposed groundwater protection rule for uranium in-situ recovery (ISR) mining reaches beyond the agency's jurisdictional authorities, by encroaching on NRC's authorities to regulate the activity and applying the wrong statutory authority in an attempt to protect potential future groundwater uses.

    1167 words

  • Environmentalists Say Texas Facility Fire Backs Need For Obama RMP Rule

    Environmentalists say the fire at a Texas chemical facility caused by Hurricane Harvey backs the need for the Obama-era rule strengthening EPA's facility accident prevention program with new requirements for hazard analysis and streamlined release of facility data, though an industry source says the existing rule is adequate.

    881 words