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Environmental Policy Alert - 08/15/2018

  • In 'Test,' Environmentalists Urge Wheeler To Break With Pruitt On Key Rules

    Environmentalists are urging Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to narrow or scrap a series of proposals that his predecessor Scott Pruitt championed before resigning last month, eyeing the agency’s coming decisions on science policy, climate regulation and other issues as key signs of whether the new acting chief will be “Pruitt 2.0.”

    1135 words

  • Reilly Urges Wheeler To Advance Affirmative Agenda But Doubts Prospects

    William Reilly, who served as EPA administrator during the George H.W. Bush administration, is urging Andrew Wheeler, the agency's new acting chief, to advance an affirmative environmental agenda rather than a continued focus on regulatory rollbacks, but he is also indicating that he does not expect Wheeler to wholeheartedly embrace that advice.

    980 words

  • EPA Shift To Substance Of Rule Rollbacks Adds To 'Pressure' On Wheeler

    EPA is shifting its focus from the multiple delays of Obama-era rules it has already issued to crafting substantive regulations rolling back those standards, which supporters and critics of the agency alike say will add to the “pressure” acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler faces in quickly crafting rollbacks that can withstand judicial review.

    1246 words

  • Several States Seek EPA Cost-Benefit Guidance In Lieu Of Criticized Rule

    Several groups representing state environmental regulators are criticizing EPA's consideration of a possible new rule the agency says would increase consistency and transparency of its cost-benefit analyses for regulations, claiming it could clash with statutory directives and calling on EPA to instead pursue any cost-benefit changes in flexible guidance.

    1314 words

  • Citing Legal Flaws, States Urge EPA To Withdraw Or Clarify Science Rule

    Citing significant legal flaws, state environmental agencies are urging EPA to withdraw or delay and clarify its proposed rule barring the use in major regulatory decisions of any science where the underlying raw data and models are not publicly available, arguing that the proposal is vague and the agency has not engaged with states on its content.

    1680 words

  • EPA Expects 'Flexible' Ozone SIPs By Oct. 1 Deadline, States Fear Sanctions

    AUSTIN, TX -- EPA expects states to meet an Oct. 1 deadline for submitting plans to reduce interstate air pollution and predicts many will opt to use regulatory “flexibilities” that could reduce their obligations, but some sources say there is major concern about the potential sanctions the agency could impose on states that will miss the deadline.

    1343 words

  • EPA Retains Obama-Era Ozone NAAQS, Rejects Push For Reconsideration

    EPA has decided against reconsidering the Obama-era decision to tighten the ozone national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) from the 2008 limit of 75 parts per billion (ppb) down to 70 ppb, opting instead to consider the issue as part of an expedited review of the 2015 standard that the agency is slated to conclude in October 2020.

    1138 words

  • EPA Air Official Predicts Push For Strict PM NAAQS But Doubts Feasibility

    AUSTIN, TX -- A top EPA air official is predicting some stakeholders will push for significantly ramping down the fine particulate matter (PM2.5) ambient air standard from the current limit of 12 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3) to as low as 5 ug/m3 as part of EPA's ongoing review of the limit, but is suggesting such a standard might be technically impossible.

    598 words

  • East Coast States Warn EPA's CSAPR 'Closeout' Is Unlawful, Inadequate

    East Coast states are warning EPA against finalizing its proposed finding that its Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) emissions trading program fully satisfies Clean Air Act requirements to curb interstate ozone pollution, telling the agency the proposal is based on faulty and unlawful assumptions about the problems of ozone transport.

    1013 words

  • Automakers Call For Deal On Vehicle GHG Rules But Few Are Optimistic

    Having initially urged the Trump administration to roll back Obama-era vehicle fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards, automakers are now pressing officials to cut a deal with California and its allies on any changes, though few observers expect that such a deal will materialize and instead are expecting a furious legal and political fight.

    1571 words

  • Refiners Eye Departing If California Seeks To Offset Lost Vehicle GHG Cuts

    Some oil refiners are threatening to leave California if the state imposes new greenhouse gas limits on the sector to offset reductions lost as a result of the Trump administration's planned roll back of Obama-era GHG standards for light-duty vehicles, though one source says refiners should await any plan from the Golden State before taking action.

    1555 words

  • CARB Seeks To Retain Strict Vehicle GHG Rules With Oil, Auto Sector Threats

    California is taking a major step to retain its current vehicle greenhouse gas rules in the face of EPA plans to block or reverse them, clarifying that automakers would only be “deemed to comply” with state standards if they are meeting current limits and that if the state is “prevented” from meeting its emissions goals, it may craft new rules, such as for the oil sector.

    976 words

  • EPA Downplays Emissions Hike From Auto GHG Plan, But Faces Doubts

    The Trump administration is acknowledging its plan to roll back vehicle greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards will boost emissions of conventional air pollutants that cause local health effects but argues such increases are modest, even as some are concerned the plan could make it more difficult for some areas to meet national air standards.

    1131 words

  • States' Oil & Gas Methane Suit Could Force Stricter EPA Clean Air Policies

    AUSTIN, TX -- Pending litigation from 15 states and environmentalists to force the Trump EPA to issue first-time methane emissions standards for existing oil and gas equipment could, if successful, broadly force the agency to issue tougher Clean Air Act rules for several sectors, according to legal experts.

    844 words

  • States, Environmentalists Fight EPA's Bid To Moot Glider Enforcement Suit

    States and environmentalists are fighting EPA's claim that litigation over its enforcement waiver of glider truck emissions rules is moot after the agency withdrew it, arguing that an appellate court should still rule on the legality of the waiver in case EPA tries to revive it and warning that mooting the case could complicate future glider rule enforcement.

    853 words

  • Chlorpyrifos Critics Eye Preemptive Steps To Counter EPA Appeal On Ban

    Opponents of the pesticide chlorpyrifos concerned about its human health harms are eyeing preemptive steps to block use of the substance including calling on California to suspend it and rallying support for legislation to impose a national ban, as they expect EPA to appeal a recent appellate ruling that requires it to prohibit the substance.

    1455 words

  • EPA Faces Broad Criticism Over Plan To Limit Asbestos Analysis, Regulation

    EPA's plans to analyze and possibly regulate some existing and renewed uses of asbestos is drawing broad criticisms from a coalition of Democratic attorneys general, environmentalists and former agency officials, who say it precludes a host of possible uses and falls short of the total ban that is needed.

    1936 words

  • Farm Agencies Fault Call To Curb Pesticides But One Seeks EPA Protections

    Federal and state farm regulators are sharply criticizing a wildlife agency's novel opinion calling for limiting use of certain pesticides to protect listed species as the result of a failed Obama-era review process, though Washington state, while backing some of the criticism, is urging EPA to implement some of the opinion's protections for listed species.

    1297 words

  • EPA New Chemical Approval Signals 'Reckless' TSCA Process, EDF Charges

    EPA has approved a new chemical for use under the revised toxics law but has limited its review and regulation of the substance's “reasonably foreseen uses,” a move environmentalists say signals a “reckless” process for reviewing new chemicals that violates the June 2016 toxics law by failing to preclude unintended uses from its requirements.

    1523 words

  • EPA Seeks Partial Remand Of TSCA Risk Rule But Defends Rest Of Policy

    EPA is asking a federal appeals court to remand several provisions of its Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) rule for evaluating the risks of existing chemicals so that it can revise them, but is defending the rest of the policy, arguing that Congress gave the agency broad discretion in how to craft rules under the revised TSCA.

    923 words

  • 6th Circuit Judges Seek To Avoid Broad CWA Groundwater Liability Ruling

    Appellate judges hearing two groundwater contamination suits against coal ash disposal sites appear to be seeking options to resolve the litigation on narrow grounds without issuing a broad ruling on the contested issue of whether the Clean Water Act (CWA) covers leaks to groundwater, despite calls from all sides in the suits for such a ruling.

    1083 words

  • Water Utilities Seek EPA Focus On Research, Source Control For PFAS

    Wastewater utilities are urging EPA to focus its work on perfluorinated chemicals on research to better understand the fate, transport and toxicity of the chemicals and then to use "heightened source control efforts and certain, specifically tailored regulatory standards," to remove the constituents from the environment.

    1214 words

  • Limiting EPA Discretion, Court Orders Aggressive Stormwater Regulation

    Environmentalists who have long urged EPA to expand its use of Clean Water Act (CWA) stormwater permits for individual properties have scored a major court victory in California, where a federal judge ruled that the agency must either craft permits for the properties or ban them from discharging any polluted stormwater in impaired watersheds.

    1027 words

  • EPA Eyes Alternative Metrics For Revised Water Affordability Guidance

    EPA is exploring at least three new metrics for measuring communities' ability to afford water infrastructure projects as it seeks to respond to congressional and other pressure to revise existing guidance to account for utilities' infrastructure needs and enforcement compliance and move beyond its current, controversial metric of median household income (MHI).

    1414 words

  • Backing EPA Panel, Corps Eases States' Ability To Assume CWA 404 Powers

    The Army Corps of Engineers has issued new guidance aimed at encouraging states to assume Clean Water Act (CWA) dredge-and-fill permitting authority, a measure that narrows the scope of waters the Corps would oversee and agrees with an EPA advisory panel finding that states can adequately protect the environment.

    1093 words

  • 4th Circuit Upholds Virginia CWA 401 Certification For Interstate Gas Pipeline

    In a significant loss for environmentalists, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit has upheld Virginia's Clean Water Act (CWA) section 401 certification for an interstate natural gas pipeline, finding the environmentalists' charges that the state's actions were arbitrary and capricious to be unfounded.

    896 words

  • 11th Circuit Judges Question 'Absurdity' Of Alabama NPDES Withdrawal

    A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit is questioning the outcome of granting environmentalists' push for EPA to declare Alabama's Clean Water Act (CWA) permitting program deficient and start withdrawal proceedings, with one judge suggesting a strict reading of the law could lead to “absurd” results.

    1312 words

  • Senate Approves FY19 Bill Maintaining EPA Funds, Teeing Up House Fight

    The Senate has approved a “minibus” fiscal year 2019 spending bill that largely maintains EPA's existing funding level, teeing up a fight with the House that has already approved an FY19 measure to cut funding for the agency's budget by between $100 million and half a billion dollars, depending on which programs are counted as base EPA funding.

    644 words

  • Judges Query Jurisdiction In Suit Over Border Wall's Environmental Impact

    Appellate judges are wrestling which court, if any, has jurisdiction over a suit by environmentalists and California trying to block construction of the Trump administration's southern border wall, with the judges' questions at oral argument focusing almost entirely on whether the case falls under a law that limits judicial review of such projects.

    771 words