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Water Policy Report - 11/26/2018

  • DOJ Limit On Consent Decrees Has 'Unclear' Impact On EPA, Bodine Says

    EPA enforcement chief Susan Bodine says officials are wrestling with how to apply a Department of Justice (DOJ) policy memo limiting when the administration can enter consent decrees with state and local governments and how long they can last, saying the impact on EPA is "unclear" but doubting it will significantly limit environmental decrees.

    1133 words

  • EPA, OIG At Odds Over Whether Land-Application Of Biosolids Is 'Safe'

    EPA's Office of Water and Office of Inspector General (OIG) are at odds over the agency's position that the land-application of sewage sludge is safe, with OIG in a new report noting the agency has identified 352 pollutants in the treated sludge, 61 of which are designated as acutely hazardous, hazardous or priority pollutants in other programs.

    1043 words

  • Wastewater Group Claims EPA 'Fraud' In Bid To Revive Blending Policy Suit

    A municipal wastewater group is charging the Obama administration committed "fraud" when it told a federal appeals court it had made no final decision on its policy for regulating wastewater "blending" and convinced the court to reject the group's suit over the policy, urging judges to recall the mandate in the case and restart the litigation.

    986 words

  • Trump Announces Plan To Nominate Wheeler As Permanent EPA Chief

    President Donald Trump says he intends to nominate acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to lead the agency on a permanent basis, and his confirmation could be eased by the midterm election results in which Republicans expanded their majority in the Senate by one or possibly two seats.

    570 words

  • District Court Boosts Industry Claim Of 'Split' On CWA Groundwater Liability

    A new federal district court ruling could bolster industry groups who claim there is a court "split" that the Supreme Court must resolve on whether the Clean Water Act (CWA) applies to groundwater pollution that reaches surface waters, because the decision sides with industry claims that a 1994 appellate decision bars liability for such pollution.

    880 words

  • Environmentalists Urge 5th Circuit To Reject EPA's Defense Of ELG Delay

    Environmentalists are pushing back against EPA and the power sector's defenses of the Trump administration's two-year delay of Obama-era Clean Water Act (CWA) utility wastewater guidelines, arguing that the agency's justifications for extending the rule are "post-hoc rationalization" that a federal appeals court must reject.

    998 words

  • 2nd Circuit Denies Rehearing In Challenge To EPA Cooling Water Rule

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit has rejected environmentalists' petition to rehear their suit over the EPA's Obama-era Clean Water Act (CWA) permit rule for cooling water intake structures, letting stand a decision that broadly upheld the rule as stringent enough to satisfy both the water law and the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

    501 words

  • EAB Rejects EPA Delay Request In CWA Case Linked To 'Sue-And-Settle'

    The Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) has rejected EPA's bid for a stay of environmentalists' challenge to a closely watched power plant Clean Water Act (CWA) permit, dealing a blow to the agency's strategy that petitioners say is merely a pretext to avoid entering a "sue-and-settle" agreement to end the litigation.

    528 words

  • In Reversal, EPA Agrees To Bolster Scrutiny Of States' LCR Enforcement

    In a reversal, EPA has struck a deal with its Inspector General (IG) to conduct annual reviews of state compliance with the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) and is crafting a National Compliance Initiative (NCI) for drinking water, though environmentalists say the effort will take significant resources that the Trump administration may not be willing to provide.

    1119 words

  • Report: Elections Could Drive New Efforts To Address Lead In Drinking Water

    EPA's limited response to the Flint, MI, drinking water crisis has prompted several states in the Northeast and Midwest to enact state laws to address lead contamination in municipal water supplies and schools, and while these state actions still fall short of what is needed, the results of the recent election could drive new state and federal efforts to address the issue, a new report says.

    678 words

  • NRDC Agrees To EPA Extension Of Perchlorate Water Standard Deadline

    Environmentalists have grudgingly agreed to EPA's request to extend until April a court-ordered deadline for proposing a health-based drinking water goal for the rocket fuel ingredient perchlorate, acknowledging that EPA has yet to craft such a standard while expressing their frustration with the pace of the agency's efforts.

    611 words

  • Waterkeeper Renews Threat To Sue EPA Over SDWA Deadline Violations

    The Waterkeeper Alliance is renewing its threat to sue EPA for failing to perform several nondiscretionary duties under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), saying that while the agency has taken some actions since receiving a similar 2016 threat, environmentalists have identified additional violations.

    587 words

  • EPA Floats New Risk Values For Two PFAS, Continuing Regulatory Patchwork

    EPA has released new draft toxicology assessments for two per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) known as GenX and PFBS, long-awaited by state agencies and other stakeholders, but the numbers -- a stricter level than North Carolina recently adopted for GenX and a weaker level than Minnesota adopted for PFBS -- continue the regulatory patchwork that EPA and states have created.

    1151 words

  • EPA Advisers Seek Broad Plan To Help Local Governments Target PFAS

    A local government advisory panel to EPA is urging the agency to provide leadership to communities on a "coordinated and comprehensive" approach of regulatory actions and other steps to address perfluorinated chemicals, as communities struggle with the emerging unregulated contaminants in drinking water.

    936 words

  • Senate Backs Deal Retaining EPA Control Of Ballast Water, Limiting States

    After years of debate, the Senate has overwhelmingly approved a bipartisan deal that that maintains EPA's authority to set ballast water discharge standards under the Clean Water Act (CWA) and recognizes invasive species concerns in the Great Lakes, but limits most states' ability to set stricter standards.

    1192 words

  • EPA Declines Growing Calls To Set Surface Water Standards For PFAS

    EPA is facing growing calls from states and other stakeholders to set surface water standards for perfluorinated compounds, but the agency currently has no plans to establish such standards, an EPA water official told state waste managers recently.

    1204 words

  • OMB Completes Review Of EPA Selenium Water Criteria For California

    The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has completed review of a draft EPA selenium water quality criteria proposal for California to protect aquatic life and aquatic-dependent wildlife, a regional effort that could open a new test for the agency on how to apply its controversial national chronic selenium criterion.

    291 words

  • CEI Says Obama-Era Pebble Mine Assessment Fails Data Standards

    The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a free-market think tank, is calling on EPA to rescind the Obama-era "watershed assessment" that formed the basis for proposed Clean Water Act (CWA) limits on a massive planned hard-rock mine in Alaska, arguing that its development violated a host of Information Quality Act (IQA) guidelines.

    566 words

  • Democrats' State-Level Gains Might Test EPA's 'Federalism' In Trump Era

    Democrats' state-level gains in the mid-term elections are likely to drive new efforts to strengthen climate, water and other rules in the face of the Trump EPA's deregulatory agenda -- potentially easing environmentalists' concerns about the agency's push to shift more responsibility to states and testing the Trump administration's commitment to cooperative federalism, sources say.

    1461 words

  • EPA Rejects Maryland Call To Enforce Chesapeake TMDL On Pennsylvania

    EPA enforcement chief Susan Bodine is rejecting calls from Maryland environment director Ben Grumbles for the agency to level "enforcement-related consequences" on Pennsylvania if it continues to fall short of its water pollution reduction goals in the multi-state Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan, saying the conflict is not "an enforcement question."

    670 words

  • EPA Decision Could Limit New Mexico's Options To Address Produced Water

    EPA and New Mexico have released a draft white paper aimed at facilitating the use of produced water from oil and gas drilling in the state by identifying regulatory or policy gaps, but the state's ability to make any changes outlined in the paper could be limited by EPA's pending decision on how to manage wastewater from onshore oil and gas extraction.

    637 words