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Environmental Policy Alert - 06/20/2018

  • EPA Official Says CWA Jurisdiction Uncertainty Might Deter Enforcement

    A senior EPA enforcement official says legal and regulatory uncertainty surrounding the Obama-era Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction rule might deter agency enforcement staff from pursuing criminal cases that involve complex jurisdiction determinations, because the agency favors straight-forward litigation and faces resource constraints.

    975 words

  • Enforcement Appeal On Use Of Kennedy CWA Test Could Boost EPA Rule

    A California construction company is trying to force a new appellate decision on which of two competing Supreme Court Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction tests judges should apply, just as EPA is readying a new jurisdiction rule that would use the firm's preferred narrower test and could get a major boost if courts start to back that standard.

    716 words

  • Judge Finds CWA Rule 'Likely' Illegal, Blocking Enforcement In 11 States

    A federal district judge has barred enforcement of the Obama EPA's Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction rule in 11 states, holding that the standard as crafted is likely unlawful and providing a major boost to opponents of the Obama-era policy who have called for it to be overturned either administratively or in the courts.

    985 words

  • EPA Sends New CWA Jurisdiction Rule To OMB But Legal Battles Escalate

    EPA has sent a narrower Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction rule for White House pre-publication rule to replace the Obama-era jurisdiction rule, but even though the submission marks a major step forward in the agency's repeal-and-replace plan the legal battles over the existing rule and EPA's replacement process are escalating.

    1193 words

  • 9th Circuit Wrestles With 'Futurity' In Suit Over Corps' Wetlands Handbook

    Appellate judges weighing the legality of the Army Corps of Engineers' regional supplements to its handbook for identifying wetlands under the Clean Water Act (CWA) appeared split at oral argument on whether a 1992 spending law bars the practice of using regional handbooks, with one judge backing that claim and another strongly questioning it.

    1027 words

  • House Democrats Seek FBI, DOJ Criminal Investigation Into Pruitt's Ethics

    Democrats are intensifying their campaign against EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt over his alleged ethics violations, with six House lawmakers asking that the FBI and Justice Department (DOJ) look into possible criminal violations stemming from Pruitt's efforts to obtain a fast-food franchise for his wife and his past lease of a lobbyist-owned condo.

    965 words

  • In Latest Rebuke To Pruitt, Appropriators Adds Ethics Limits To FY19 Bill

    Senate appropriators have added a provision in EPA's fiscal year 2019 spending package formally admonishing Administrator Scott Pruitt -- albeit without mentioning him by name -- for numerous reported ethical lapses, marking a political response and mounting Capitol Hill impatience with Pruitt's scandals.

    1181 words

  • NRDC Suit Faces Hurdles But May Dissuade EPA Use Of Chemicals Plan

    Environmentalists' lawsuit challenging EPA's framework for reviewing new chemicals appears to face legal hurdles because it challenges a policy that is not yet final but it nevertheless appears to have dissuaded the agency from following the novel process it floated last year to speed chemical reviews, industry and environmental attorneys say.

    986 words

  • Environmentalists May Tighten Demands After Pesticide Suit Proceeds

    A judge is allowing environmentalists to continue their long-running suit seeking to force EPA to consult with wildlife regulators on risks of dozens of pesticides to endangered species, but the plaintiffs may face new complications, including a requirement to seek vacatur of the products' registrations because EPA's bar on settlements may preclude a deal on the review deadlines the group is seeking.

    889 words

  • EPA Faces Calls To Overhaul TSCA Test Method Plan On Eve Of Release

    As EPA prepares to unveil a congressionally mandated plan for how to reduce animal testing of chemicals, the agency is facing competing calls from environmentalists and animal rights groups who are still at odds over how quickly officials can end or limit such testing.

    1003 words

  • Despite TSCA Evaluations, EPA Leaves Door Open To New TCE, NMP Rules

    EPA says it could still promulgate stalled Obama-era proposals to regulate two chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) even though the agency says in recently issued "problem formulation" documents that it is planning to re-evaluate risks that the previous administration had already assessed.

    559 words

  • IRIS Poised To Restart Stalled Studies On Arsenic, Cr6 Under New Schedule

    EPA's influential Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program is slated to release new protocols for its long-running assessments of the human health risks of arsenic and hexavalent chromium (Cr6) -- two ubiquitous and potent contaminants -- in the fall, part of a revamped schedule of priorities for the controversial program.

    1079 words

  • Amid Looming Rollback, EPA Floats Vehicle GHG Credit 'Amendments'

    Even as the Trump administration is poised to unveil its proposed rule for rolling back Obama-era light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards, EPA is advancing a new draft plan that could give automakers more generous compliance credits for advanced vehicles and other technologies.

    1071 words

  • EPA's Planned Glider Truck Repeal Appears 'Stuck' Absent Political Pressure

    The Trump EPA's pending rule to repeal Obama-era greenhouse limits on high-emitting "glider" trucks, which was slated for release last month, is stuck in regulatory limbo and may not advance unless EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt or White House budget director Mick Mulvaney opt to wield political influence and order its release without a required regulatory impact analysis (RIA).

    799 words

  • Automakers Seek To Bolster ZEV Policies Even As GHG Rule Rollback Looms

    Automakers are urging the nine mostly Northeastern states that have adopted California's zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) sales mandate to boost complementary policies to help consumers buy such vehicles, an effort that could aid compliance with EPA's vehicle greenhouse gas standards, particularly if Trump officials weaken them.

    621 words

  • New York Eyes 'Contingency' Policies To Counter Rollbacks Of EPA Rules

    NEW YORK -- New York's environment commissioner is crafting "contingency plans" to promote environmental protection to help balance out potential pollution increases associated with EPA rule rollbacks, including a state push for zero-emission and electric vehicles (ZEVs) to counter any weakening of federal mobile source standards.

    1147 words

  • EPA Approval Of Oklahoma Ash Permitting Tees Up Likely Legal Challenge

    EPA has announced it will approve Oklahoma's application for delegated authority to administer a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) coal ash permit program, making the Sooner State the first to take advantage of a 2016 law allowing disposal permits for ash -- though environmentalists are likely to challenge the decision in court.

    569 words

  • EPA Unveils Prerule To Overhaul Agency Cost-Benefit Review Process

    EPA is formally launching a rulemaking that has the potential to overhaul how the agency considers regulatory costs and benefits across a wide range of air, water, toxics and other statutes, arguing the effort could address the "perceived inconsistency and lack of transparency" in prior cost-benefit reviews.

    950 words

  • EPA's Cost-Benefit Plan Starts Debate On Co-Benefits, Agency Discretion

    EPA's preliminary rulemaking to consider changing how it weighs the costs and benefits of its rules could lead to far-reaching changes, including trimming the estimates of a rule's co-benefits, greater consideration of costs in a variety of settings and revisiting already-issued regulations.

    1089 words

  • East Coast States Ramp Up Push For EPA Heavy-Duty Truck NOx Proposal

    BALTIMORE -- Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states are ramping up their push for EPA to propose stricter nitrogen oxides (Nox) emissions limits for heavy-duty trucks, saying it would provide "critical" help in reducing ozone-forming NOx emissions as the states strive to attain the agency's tightened 2015 ozone ambient air limit.

    1011 words

  • EPA Floats Aug. 1 Deadline To Decide On Ozone NAAQS Reconsideration

    EPA is suggesting to a federal appeals court that it will decide by Aug. 1 on whether to reconsider the Obama-era decision to tighten the ozone air standard, with agency air chief William Wehrum said to favor accelerating a Clean Air Act-mandated review of the standard due by Oct. 1, 2020, in lieu of launching the reconsideration process.

    557 words

  • Future Of RFS Reform Unclear After GOP Senators Appear To Block 'Deal'

    The future of the Trump administration's plan for short-term changes to EPA's renewable fuel standard (RFS) is highly uncertain after push-back from two key GOP senators appears to have blocked a tentative RFS reform "deal," but observers say the administration could yet try to implement some of the deal's most contested provisions.

    668 words

  • D.C. Circuit Backs EPA Rule Allowing 'Nonacquiescence' To Court Rulings

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has upheld EPA's rule saying its regions do not have to adhere to adverse appellate rulings from circuit courts outside of a particular region, rejecting an industry coalition's suit over the "nonacquiescence" policy and correcting prior precedent in an earlier similar case.

    1092 words

  • Industry Urges High Court To Reverse Ruling Expanding CERCLA Reviews

    Industry and free-market groups are backing calls by oil giant Atlantic Richfield Company's (ARCO) for the Supreme Court to reverse a Montana state court ruling that they say would weaken the Superfund law's bar on judicial review of ongoing cleanup remedies and frustrate EPA's ability to reach settlements with potentially responsible parties (PRPs).

    1060 words

  • Attorney Urges EPA To Ease Way For More Cleanup Liability Transfers

    An industry attorney is pressing EPA take steps to ease the way for liable parties at contaminated sites to make greater use of cleanup liability transfers, including allowing a "portfolio" approach that packages numerous sites together in a single transfer.

    1052 words

  • EPA's Planned Changes To Brownfields Liability Guide Draw Industry Praise

    EPA staff has begun drafting revisions to 2003 brownfields guidance that outlines when developers can qualify for limited liability protection under the Superfund law, responding to recommendations from Administrator Scott Pruitt's Superfund Task Force and longstanding calls from industry for greater clarity in the wake of controversial legal rulings.

    1097 words

  • Litigants Clash Over Reach Of Ruling On CERCLA Third-Party Defense

    California regulators and a tax-sale property buyer are at odds over whether a federal appeals court should reconsider its precedent-setting ruling that blocked the property buyer from using the Superfund law's third-party defense as a shield against liability, which the buyer says will leave local taxing authorities "stuck" with contaminated properties.

    1035 words