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Environmental Policy Alert - 01/02/2019

  • EPA's Toxics Office Faces Difficulty Meeting TSCA's 'Challenging' Deadlines

    EPA's toxics office is grappling with meeting a series of steep deadlines that lawmakers imposed when they revised the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in 2016, a top official says.

    780 words

  • EPA's TSCA 'Pre-Prioritzation' Plan Intensifies Critics' Data Concerns

    Environmentalists and public health advocates are criticizing EPA's plan for how the agency proposes to identify existing chemicals for priority review under the revised Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), charging it continues the agency's ambivalence about requiring industry to provide more studies about their products.

    1667 words

  • Attorneys Query EPA's TSCA Prioritization Approach After Low Risk Finding

    Industry attorneys are questioning the prioritization approach EPA used to select the first 10 chemicals EPA is assessing as part of its new Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) program for existing chemicals, arguing that the selection of Pigment Violet 29 (PV29), which appears to be a low-risk chemical, begs the question of how it could be deemed a priority.

    1207 words

  • EPA Scales Back IRIS Assessment Schedule, Creating New Uncertainties

    Following a high-level review, EPA has released a scaled-back agenda of chemicals that its Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program will assess over the next few years, providing some certainty after months of limited public activity.

    1415 words

  • Despite Past Filings, Sterigenics Avoids Filing Reports To EPA's TRI

    Sterigenics, the sterilization company at the center of a controversy in the Chicago area over its releases of ethylene oxide (EtO), appears to have dropped its past practice of filing emissions data to EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) database for 2017 for any of its facilities, according to searches performed by Inside EPA.

    1427 words

  • Wheeler Seeks To Deflect Criticism Over Lead Plan's Lack Of New Rules

    EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler sought to deflect questions and criticism that the Trump administration's new plan for reducing children's exposures to lead lacks any new commitments to craft enforceable regulations, arguing that the agency's commitments to finalizing rulemaking efforts that are already underway are “new.”

    1326 words

  • EPA Facing Legal Fight Over Plan To Retain MATS But Scrap Cost Finding

    EPA is proposing to retain the Obama-era mercury and air toxics standards (MATS) for power plants but scrap the cost-benefit analysis underpinning the rule, teeing up a legal fight in which the rule's supporters will likely cite flaws in the plan while opening the door for critics to cite the lack of a cost finding to bolster their calls to undo the entire rule.

    1973 words

  • Scientist Rejects EPA's Claim Of Monitoring Hurdle For Stricter PM NAAQS

    An air pollution scientist is disputing a top EPA official's claim that limitations in current emissions monitoring technology could effectively preclude the agency from significantly tightening its fine particulate matter (PM2.5) air standard, countering that science justifies a stricter limit and technology is able to measure such a standard.

    969 words

  • Judges Appear To Back Stricter Ozone NAAQS, Doubt 'Background' Factor

    Appellate judges at Dec. 18 oral argument appeared to back the Obama EPA's 2015 decision to tighten its primary health-based ozone air standard and to doubt claims that the agency should have assessed “background” ozone levels to set a weaker limit, but they also faulted EPA for making the secondary environment-based standard the same.

    1443 words

  • EPA Defends Decision To Scrap 'Once In, Always In' Air Toxics Rule Policy

    EPA in a new legal brief is defending its decision to scrap a long-running “once in, always in” policy that required “major” air toxics sources to always comply with rules for such sources even if they reduced emissions below the major source threshold, saying the Clean Air Act authorizes the decision and that it is not subject to judicial review.

    635 words

  • Grassroots Group Eyes Reviving Superfund's 'Polluter Pays' Taxes

    A national grassroots citizens coalition is planning once again to push for reinstating long-expired Superfund 'polluter pays' taxes, seeking to press the Democratic-controlled House into action, but one industry source doubts such a measure will secure widespread backing.

    523 words

  • New York Again Threatens Suit If EPA Approves GE's Hudson Cleanup

    Top New York officials are urging EPA to require General Electric (GE) to continue cleaning up the Hudson River and threatening to sue the agency if it approves the cleanup conducted so far as complete after the state released a study showing the remediation the company has conducted failed to limit adverse effects of the contamination.

    777 words

  • Echoing MTBE, Panel Merges Scores Of PFAS Claims On Firefighting Foam

    A federal panel on multidistrict litigation (MDL) has consolidated scores of personal injury, groundwater contamination and other suits against companies involved in producing firefighting foam that contained perfluorinated compounds, echoing the path courts took when they consolidated cases over groundwater contamination from the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE).

    1677 words

  • Democrats Launch Inquiry Into EPA Approval Of 'New' PFAS Under TSCA

    Even as EPA grapples with how to manage past and ongoing releases of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), House Democrats are pressing the agency to explain its actions in approving hundreds of "new" PFAS under its Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) authorities before they enter commerce.

    767 words

  • Environmentalists Boost Bid To Show Industry Lobbying On Car GHG Plan

    Environmentalists are ramping up efforts to obtain information about the Department of Transportation's (DOT) external communications that could highlight its efforts to weaken vehicle fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards and the role of oil industry and other groups in lobbying for those rollbacks.

    713 words

  • Northeastern States Agree To Craft 'Cap & Invest' Transportation GHG Plan

    Nine Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states are agreeing to develop a “cap-and-invest” plan to reduce transportation greenhouse gas emissions and bolster clean infrastructure by the end of 2019 -- the culmination of a multi-year effort to agree on a climate policy for the sector that is now the region's top source of carbon emissions.

    1385 words

  • Subtle Industry Split Emerges Over Scope Of EPA Methane Rule Rollback

    A subtle split is emerging in the oil and gas sector over the scope of EPA's efforts to roll back Obama-era methane standards for the industry, with smaller producers arguing the plan does not go far enough and should indefinitely defer rules for low-production wells while larger firms are embracing some level of regulation for existing equipment.

    1085 words

  • 9th Circuit Grants DOJ Request For Early Appeal In Youth Climate Lawsuit

    A split panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has granted the Trump administration's request for an early appeal of novel climate change litigation brought by a group of youth plaintiffs, though the plaintiffs are arguing that the move would still allow district court proceedings to continue on some issues.

    506 words

  • Appeal Of CWA Groundwater Liability Ruling Will Test Circuit Court 'Split'

    Environmentalists are appealing a district court's rejection of their suit claiming the Clean Water Act (CWA) extends to liability for groundwater-borne pollution that reaches nearby surface waters, posing a new test on whether appellate courts are split on the liability -- a division at the center of a potential Supreme Court case.

    737 words

  • EPA's Final Aluminum Criteria Targets State Concerns Over Local Waters

    EPA's final aquatic life water quality criteria for aluminum emphasizes the site-specific nature of the agency's approach, expressing both acute and chronic values as a range that will vary as a function of a the water's pH, total hardness and dissolved organic carbon (DOC), which could address state concerns that the draft criteria failed to address local water conditions.

    1379 words

  • EPA Withdraws CWA Permit At Center Of 'Sue-And-Settle' Litigation Fight

    EPA is withdrawing a contested Clean Water Act (CWA) power plant permit that environmentalists filed suit over and plans to rewrite the permit ahead of issuing a revised version in March, in a case that included claims that agency contorted its positions on the permit to avoid entering a “sue-and-settle” pact to resolve the litigation.

    827 words

  • Retail Industry Gives Mixed Reaction To EPA Pharmaceutical Waste Rule

    The retail industry is providing a mixed reaction to EPA's newly released pharmaceutical waste rule, welcoming the agency's decision that most items handled in a reverse logistics system are not solid waste, but opposing the final rule's declaration that prescription drugs sent to reverse distribution centers are solid waste.

    1749 words

  • EPA Seeks Remand Of Ash Rule Changes To Address Adverse Court Ruling

    EPA is asking a federal appeals court to remand without vacatur its contested revisions to an Obama-era coal ash disposal rule so the agency can address the court's August ruling finding the original regulation to be unlawfully weak, warning that vacating the rule changes would create an “impossible” situation for regulated facilities.

    970 words

  • Court Urged To Quickly Scrap EPA Extension Of Ash Site Closure Delays

    Environmentalists are asking a federal appeals court to quickly scrap EPA's delay of facility closure deadlines in the Obama-era waste disposal rule for coal ash sites, claiming the court's prior ruling that the overall disposal rule is unlawfully weak shows the delay is illegal and countering EPA's bid to have nine months to reconsider the policy.

    1224 words

  • Democrats Query EPA Over TSCA Asbestos Assessment, Regulation Plans

    As EPA prepares to release its draft assessment of asbestos under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), congressional Democrats, who are seeking to ban the substance, are querying the agency's plans to assess and regulate asbestos risks in the wake of media reports detailing the presence of asbestos in talcum powder.

    760 words

  • Appellate Court Partially Grants EPA Request To Narrow TSCA Risk Suit

    A federal appellate court has granted EPA's request to vacate and remand a provision in its Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) rule for evaluating risks of existing chemicals that would allow industry submitters to face criminal penalties for providing incorrect information.

    819 words