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The Insider

Trump Signs Order Targeting EPA Climate Rules

President Donald Trump has signed a long-awaited executive order (EO) that targets a slew of Obama administration climate rules, including reworking or scrapping the Clean Power Plan:

Trump Promises 'Really Clean Coal' As He Signs Order Targeting EPA Rules
Flanked by a group of coal miners, Vice President Mike Pence and his energy and environment Cabinet, President Donald Trump signed an executive order March 28 at EPA headquarters that targets several Obama-era climate regulations for repeal or review in a move the president said will “cancel job-killing regulations.”

But implementation of the order faces several legal, political and other hurdles that could limit how successful the administration is in achieving its goals:

Trump's EO Faces Legal Battle Over Call To Pause Power Sector GHG Suits
President Donald Trump's just-signed executive order directing EPA to “review” and “if appropriate” revise or rescind its greenhouse gas limits for power plants will soon spur an administration request for appellate judges to pause ongoing litigation over those rules, a critical move that could preserve several options for officials to scrap the rules.

Trump Order Seeks To Rollback 'Burdens' But Draws Democrats' Warning
The Trump administration is outlining a broad policy to promote development of the country's “vast energy resources,” with the president's just-issued executive order on the issue directing agencies to identify a host of “regulatory burdens” that “unnecessarily encumber energy production” and hamper job growth.

Utilities Petition EPA To Reconsider Effluent Rule

Citing Trump's EOs on regulatory reform, power companies are urging EPA to reconsider the Obama administration's effluent water rule for utilities:

Utilities Cite Trump Regulatory Orders In Petition To Reconsider EPA ELG
Electric utilities are citing President Donald Trump's regulatory reform executive orders (EOs) to bolster their new petition urging EPA to reconsider the Obama administration's Clean Water Act effluent limitation guideline (ELG) for the sector, saying the ELG's costs and other alleged flaws make it a prime target for repeal under the EOs.

High Court Appeal Tests EPA Air Malfunction Policy

A pending petition for a Supreme Court appeal contests EPA's long-running policy barring Clean Air Act limit waivers for emissions associated with facility malfunctions:

High Court Appeal Challenges EPA Bar On Facility Malfunction Air Waivers
An electric utility is asking the Supreme Court to force EPA to end its “absurd” Obama-era policy prohibiting waivers from Clean Air Act emissions limits for accidental air pollution releases due to facility malfunctions, using an appeal of a case over EPA's boiler air toxics rule as the vehicle for the broader push to undo the policy.

Flint Pact Leaves SDWA Duty Question Unanswered

Residents of Flint, MI, have reached a settlement over some legal claims over the city's lead in drinking water crisis, but it fails to resolve a question about a federal drinking water law mandate:

Flint Pact Avoids Answer On SDWA Lead Service Line Replacement Duty
A tentative settlement to resolve some litigation over the lead in drinking water crisis in Flint, MI, would require the full replacement of lead service lines and increased drinking water monitoring in the city but leaves unanswered questions about water utilities' responsibility under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) to conduct such replacements.

Environmentalists Fault Bid To Target Vehicle GHG Rules

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's reliance on a controversial study to help justify attacks on the agency's vehicle greenhouse gas (GHG) rules is drawing attacks from environmentalists:

Environmentalists Fault Pruitt's Use Of Jobs Study To Undercut Vehicle Rules
Environmentalists are criticizing EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's reliance on a study by a deregulatory group that claims the agency's vehicle GHG rules are responsible for moving jobs to Mexico to bolster his decision to reconsider the rules, saying it appears based on little actual study but is being cited in a hasty effort to shore up administration claims that its regulatory rollbacks protect employment.

Meanwhile, California officials are pushing ahead with their vehicle GHG rules for upcoming model years but inviting input on the policy from the auto industry:

California Retains Vehicle GHG Rules But Invites Industry To 'Sit Down'
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is retaining the state's vehicle greenhouse gas standards for model year 2022-2025 that currently align with national rules, but is inviting the auto industry to discuss its implementation concerns, though its top official is promising to maintain the rules “overall impact.”

NAS Defends EPA's Human Exposure Research For NAAQS

A new report by the National Academy of Sciences could help EPA defend the human exposure research it uses to help inform its national ambient air quality standards:

NAS Defends EPA's Human Exposure Research Supporting Air Standards
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in a new report defends EPA's controlled human exposure research program as providing essential data to support Clean Air Act ambient standards and says it should continue with certain recommended improvements, a potential setback for Trump administration critics of the air standards.

EPA Buyout Plan May Boost Trump's FY18 Budget Proposal

EPA's use of a buyout plan to reduce staffing levels has had some success, says the agency's Inspector General, which could help Trump in his bid to further reduce EPA staffing:

EPA's Buyout Program Could Bolster Trump's FY18 Restructuring Plan
EPA's Inspector General (IG) has found that the agency has made steady progress to attain its 2014 restructuring goals using a voluntary buyout program, potentially bolstering efforts by the Trump administration to use the program to significantly scale back the agency's workforce in fiscal year 2018.