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Superfund Report - 03/27/2017

  • Proponents Push To Boost Brownfields, Superfund In Rebuke To Cuts

    Proponents of EPA's cleanup programs are pushing to shore up funding in a rebuke of the Trump administration's proposed spending cuts, with bipartisan House lawmakers eying brownfields legislation amid a strong push by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, as well as city, county and state officials, who have advocated for the program in recent weeks.

    1608 words

  • Trump's Budget Cuts Likely to Stymie Pruitt Plan On Superfund Priorities

    The Trump administration's plans to slash EPA's budget in fiscal year 2018, including a proposed 30 percent cut to the Superfund program, is likely to stymie plans by Administrator Scott Pruitt to prioritize cleanups and accelerate deletion of sites from the National Priorities List (NPL), a former EPA official says.

    981 words

  • Former EPA Officials Warn Climate Budget Cuts Might Hurt Other Programs

    Former EPA officials are warning that President Donald Trump's proposed massive budget cuts for the agency's climate change activities in fiscal year 2018 would likely hurt unrelated EPA programs, because statutory mandates mean the government would eventually have to divert funds to global warming efforts in lieu of the other programs.

    1244 words

  • Infrastructure Struggles Prompt Fresh Calls For EPA Funding Increases

    Four waste and water infrastructure sectors with EPA oversight are struggling to meet existing demands and to prepare for the future, prompting fresh calls to boost federal water infrastructure funding while preserving local governments' access to capital, and finding stable funding for mining site cleanups, among other policy suggestions.

    762 words

  • Facing Severe Budget Cuts, Officials Urge EPA Staff To 'Ride This Out'

    Seeking to shore up agency morale in the face of draconian budget cuts proposed by the Trump administration, former Obama EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, as well as other current and former agency officials, are urging career staff at the agency to continue their current work while downplaying concerns that the budget plan will be the final word on the issue.

    1235 words

  • IG Touts 'Return On Investment' In Call For FY18 Funding, Staffing Boost

    As the Trump administration mulls plans to slash EPA's budget, the agency's Inspector General (IG) Arthur Elkins, Jr. and other top IG officials are touting the division's "return on investment" to justify calls for increasing the IG's budget and staffing levels in fiscal year 2018.

    2094 words

  • D.C. Circuit Questions Industry's Standing In Lawsuit Over EPA DSW Rule

    A federal appeals court is questioning whether industry has legal standing for part of its suit over the Obama EPA's definition of solid waste (DSW) rule, asking for new briefs on whether industry has a right to contest a regulatory exclusion in the rule even though petitioners never used a weaker exclusion in a Bush-era version of the rule.

    866 words

  • High Court Sets Strict Test For Trump Nominees To Serve In Acting Roles

    The Supreme Court has issued a ruling barring almost all acting agency officials from continuing in that role after being nominated to take the same position permanently -- a strict test that could limit President Donald Trump's ability to fill top slots at EPA and that also raises questions over the legitimacy of actions by the Obama EPA's deputy chief.

    1565 words

  • Administration Critics Charge EPA Rule Delays May Violate 'Procedure' Act

    House Democrats and other administration critics are warning top officials that recent actions by EPA and other agencies delaying implementation of almost a dozen Obama-era environmental and energy efficiency rules may violate the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and are urging the officials to withdraw the actions.

    1411 words

  • Early Chaos Raises Doubts On Trump's Ability To Enact EPA Agenda

    Chaos and infighting at the White House and EPA are raising doubts about whether President Donald Trump and Administrator Scott Pruitt will be able to enact their ambitious deregulatory agenda at the agency, industry, Republican, and environmentalist sources say, with the instability giving some administration critics newfound hope.

    2091 words

  • Trump's 'Two For One' Order Sparks Early Clash Over EPA Rulemakings

    Industry groups and environmentalists are clashing over how -- or whether -- EPA should implement President Donald Trump's executive order (EO) requiring agencies to "identify" two rules for repeal for every new rule they propose, with an industry group insisting that the order prohibits an Obama EPA air toxics proposal from advancing while environmentalists stridently oppose such a stance over a similar rule.

    1266 words

  • Industry Urges OMB To Prioritize EO's Cost Savings Over '2-1' Rule Repeal

    Major industry groups -- including oil and gas, paper, construction and others -- are urging the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to prioritize provisions in President Donald Trump's deregulatory orders that require agencies to offset new regulatory costs over its requirements that agencies "identify" two rules for repeal for every new regulation they propose.

    1083 words

  • Pruitt Said To Be Seriously Weighing Shuttering EPA's Enforcement Office

    EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and top White House officials are said to be seriously considering a major reorganization of EPA's Office of Enforcement & Compliance Assurance (OECA), which could result in moving much of the office's personnel to the agency's program offices.

    1581 words

  • Top White House Officials Said To Hold 'Vigorous' Debate Over EPA Deputy

    Debate over who should serve as deputy EPA administrator -- and what role any nominee should play -- has reached nearly the highest level in the White House, a Trump administration source says, explaining why Administrator Scott Pruitt has yet to have any supporting political staff nominated to serve with him.

    1292 words

  • Pruitt Withdrew Decision-Making Powers From Senior Officials, Email Shows

    EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has since March 2 rescinded delegated authority for acting assistant administrators and regional administrators to take "significant" actions on his behalf, according to an internal email obtained by Inside EPA, centralizing decision-making for many high-profile issues despite Pruitt's lack of agency experience and minimal staff.

    618 words

  • District Court Weighs Claims Over EPA's Liability For Gold King Mine Spill

    New Mexico and the Navajo Nation are urging a federal district court to hold EPA liable for its role in the 2015 Gold King Mine wastewater spill, arguing that the Superfund law does not shield a government agency from penalties for its negligence and that the court should allow their lawsuits to proceed.

    864 words

  • Sen. McCain Seeks IG Information On EPA Mine Spill Criminal Investigation

    Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is asking EPA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) to release new information from its investigation into potential criminal wrongdoing by officials involved in an agency cleanup team's accidental release of millions of gallons of wastewater from the abandoned Gold King Mine in Colorado in 2015.

    686 words

  • GOP Senators Hedge On Prospects For CRA Repeal Of EPA RMP Rule

    Top Senate environment committee Republicans are hedging on whether a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to rescind EPA's chemical facility safety rule will reach the Senate floor, raising fresh doubts about the measure's prospects even as EPA is said to be concerned about its administrative reconsideration of the regulation.

    1216 words

  • Industry Petition Tees Up Issues For Revised EPA RMP Rule, Litigation

    The industry petition that prompted the Trump administration to agree to reconsider the Obama-era overhaul of EPA's risk management plan (RMP) facility accident prevention program tees up numerous issues on which the agency may seek public input, including the threshold question of whether the finding that arson caused the fire that drove the rulemaking undermines the need for the final rule.

    1642 words

  • Judges Question Local Coal Ash Ban But Signal Narrow Preemption Ruling

    Federal appellate judges at recent oral argument appeared skeptical of two Puerto Rico municipalities' ordinances barring disposal of coal ash within their borders, signaling that they could back industry groups' claim that they are preempted by EPA's first-time national rule on ash disposal, though they also questioned whether that preemption is as broad as industry claims.

    1104 words

  • Judge Backs CWA Liability For Coal Ash Leaks But Rejects Strict Penalties

    A federal district court judge has found Dominion Virginia Power liable under the Clean Water Act (CWA) for allowing contaminants to leak from its coal ash impoundments at a Chesapeake, VA, utility into groundwater that then flowed to protected surface waters, backing environmentalists' novel claims on liability but denying their calls for strict penalties.

    761 words

  • Transporters Push DOT To Override Oregon Waste Rule Interpretation

    Groups representing recyclers and transporters of hazardous materials are pushing the Department of Transportation's (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to override Oregon regulators' interpretation of the state's EPA-delegated hazardous waste rules that hold transporters strictly liable for hazardous waste violations.

    1610 words

  • DOE Cleanups Win Slight Budget Increase But Gap, Uncertainty Remain

    The Trump administration is asking Congress for a small funding increase for the Energy Department's (DOE) nuclear weapons cleanup program in fiscal year 2018, but the budget's lack of detail is leaving some to question the scope of any increase and also remain concerned over the gap between the program's funding levels and its regulatory needs.

    1280 words

  • Draft EPA Ban On TCE Uses Prompts Competing Claims Over Plan's Merits

    EPA's proposed rule seeking to ban certain uses of the solvent trichloroethylene (TCE) is prompting competing claims over the merits of the plan, with some business groups calling it unjustified and urging its withdrawal while others including worker safety groups say the benefits of the ban will be greater than EPA projects.

    1799 words

  • ACC Presses EPA To Restrict Scope Of Chemical 'Uses' For TSCA Reviews

    The American Chemistry Council is pressing EPA to restrict the scope of chemical "uses" it considers for the first 10 substance reviews it is planning under the revised Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) authority, arguing the agency should only look at the chemicals' current uses rather than all possible uses of the substances.

    1600 words

  • Cleanup Resumes At High-Profile Lead Site, As Citizens Seek Broad Effort

    Cleanup is resuming at a high-profile lead-contaminated site in East Chicago, IN, after EPA reached a long-negotiated administrative settlement with potentially responsible parties (PRPs), even as citizens are separately continuing to press for inclusion in a separate judicial consent decree in order to broaden the agency's response to the various sources of lead exposures to the community.

    920 words