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Analyzing the critical energy and environmental issues of the day

Category Archives: EPA

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Trump Track: Test for EPA’s Sue and Settle Process

Posted in EPA, Federal, Health and Safety, Litigation, Trump Track
As noted previously on this blog, on October 16, 2017, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt issued a memorandum announcing new policies to avoid what he considered inappropriate approaches to resolving litigation, commonly referred to by the rubric “sue and settle.” The major changes in policy included inviting participation by all interested parties in any settlement negotiations,… Continue Reading

Trump Track: EPA Sue and Settle Fix?

Posted in EPA, Trump Track
On October 16, 2017, EPA Administrator Pruitt issued a memo to his agency directing that managers take certain steps to curtail the practice known as “sue and settle.” This practice most often is used for relatively quick resolution of citizen suits by environmental groups against the EPA involving the agency’s failure to comply with statutory deadlines for… Continue Reading

Trump Track: Portland Harbor Reset Redux

Posted in EPA, Trump Track
Last Thursday, I posted about EPA apparently looking at resetting the approach to the Portland Harbor Superfund site.  I believe that the cost associated with the cleanup plan contained in Region 10’s Record of Decision (ROD) is out of proportion to the environmental benefits it would achieve, and despite the 17 years it has taken… Continue Reading

Trump Track: EPA/DOJ Funding Split

Posted in EPA, Trump Track
EPA has proposed to end its funding of Superfund enforcement activities by the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD). In its proposed budget for FY 2018, EPA has cut the nearly $26MM that DOJ included in its budget for FY2018.  This represents a complete change from the practice since 1986, when… Continue Reading

Trump Track: Pruitt Moves to Streamline Superfund Process, Accelerate Pace of Cleanups

Posted in Environmental Quality, EPA, Federal, Trump Track
On May 22, 2017, EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, convened a Superfund Group to examine the existing Superfund process and make recommendations to streamline the process and incentivize parties to accelerate remediation and revitalize the properties. On July 25, he received the group’s report and ordered implementation of its recommendations.  In particular, the recommendations and the… Continue Reading

EPA Proposes Ban on Common Degreasing Chemical TCE

Posted in EPA
Yesterday, EPA announced its first proposed ban of a new chemical under the amended TSCA (Frank R. Lautenberg Act, Pub. L. No. 114-182 (2016)), which, among other changes, mandated  EPA risk assessments of all high-priority substances including chemicals already in commerce. Today’s proposed rule would ban trichloroethylene (“TCE”) for use in dry cleaning and aerosol… Continue Reading

The (much!) Higher Cost of Non-Compliance: Federal Civil Penalties Increase

Posted in EPA, Federal
EPA has released an interim final rule with penalty adjustments mandated by a new law (“Interim Rule” or “Rule”). Most importantly, the “catch up” adjustments under the Interim Rule carry quite a wallop for those subject to any of a wide variety of violations (rule available here). For example, the maximum daily penalty for violating… Continue Reading

Whither WOTUS?

Posted in EPA, Federal, Water Law
In June 2015, EPA and the Corps of Engineers released a rule to define “waters of the United States,” affectionately referred to as WOTUS.  This definition goes to the scope of federal jurisdiction over wetlands and other waters that are not obviously free flowing and navigable.  An in-depth analysis of the rule can be found… Continue Reading

New Amendments To TSCA Invigorate Chemical Regulatory Regime And Empower EPA

Posted in EPA, Health and Safety, Rulemakings
On June 22, 2016, President Obama signed into law the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (the Act) which amends the core provisions of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), an environmental law whose use and enforcement has dwindled somewhat over the years (Available here). TSCA regulates chemical manufacturing and usage, and… Continue Reading

Curiouser and Curiouser: Sixth Circuit Not Sure of Jurisdiction but Stays WOTUS Rule Anyway

Posted in EPA, Rulemakings, Water Law
Does this make sense to you?  Eighteen states petitioned the Sixth Circuit to challenge the new rule adopted by EPA and the Corps of Engineers defining “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act.  Then the petitioners move the court to dismiss their own petition for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, but at… Continue Reading

EPA’s Audit Policy eDisclosure: Electronic Self-Reporting for Environmental Violations

Posted in EPA, Rulemakings
Reporting uner EPA’s audit policy, which has provided relief from gravity-based penalties to those who self-report, is about to become much easier.  This fall, EPA expects to launch a centralized web-based “eDisclosure” portal that will make self-disclosure just a mouse click away.  The requirements of the audit policy remain unchanged (e.g., violations must be disclosed… Continue Reading

US Supreme Court Nixes EPA Regulations on Mercury Emissions – Must Consider Costs Early!

Posted in EPA, Rulemakings, Sustainability
In Michigan v. EPA, the U. S. Supreme Court invalidated EPA’s rules limiting emissions of mercury and other pollutants from power plants, ruling that EPA inappropriately ignored the costs of regulation – particularly compliance costs – when it decided it should regulate these emissions from power plants.  The June 29, 5-4 decision chastises EPA for… Continue Reading

Electronic Disclosure of Violations Coming This Fall

Posted in EPA, Rulemakings
Under EPA’s Audit Policy, those who discover,  promptly disclose and correct environmental violations may have penalties reduced or eliminated. 60 Fed Reg 66, 705 et seq. (1995);  65 Fed Reg 19, 617, et seq.  (2000) EPA recently hosted a webinar on its proposed “eDisclosure” portal for reporting Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and… Continue Reading

Possible Renewable Identification Number Price Spike Due to Proposed EPA Compliance Deadline Causes Biofuel Industry Concern

Posted in EPA, Oil & Gas, Renewables, Rulemakings
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets the annual percentage standards for ethanol, cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuels that apply to all gasoline and diesel produced or imported each year.   EPA blending requirements for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to date have been reduced to address the “blend wall” – the… Continue Reading

CERCLA Settlements Get a Different Look: the Ninth Circuit May Have Set a New Level of Scrutiny in State of Arizona v. Tucson

Posted in CERCLA, EPA, Rulemakings
The Ninth Circuit has further defined the level of scrutiny required by a court when evaluating settlements under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).  In State of Arizona v. City of Tucson, the Ninth Circuit refused to defer to the settling state agency and required the lower court to independently scrutinize the… Continue Reading

The Space Between Draft and Final

Posted in Climate Change, EPA, Rulemakings
EPA has a lot to consider in finalizing its rule directing states to create programs to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from fossil fuel fired electric generating units.  The public comment period on a recently proposed rule generated 1.6 million comments from companies, governmental agencies and members of the public. EPA targets June 2015 for… Continue Reading

Science Advisory Board Finally Weighs In on Waters of the U.S.

Posted in EPA, Rulemakings, Water Law
The Science Advisory Board has at last released its peer review  of EPA’s draft report on Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis, the technical support for the proposed rule on definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act.  The SAB paper is generally supportive of EPA’s… Continue Reading

ECOS Releases “Waters of the U.S.” Paper

Posted in EPA, Federal, Water Law
On September 15, the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) released a paper produced by the American College of Environmental Lawyers (ACOEL) on the new “waters of the U.S.” rules proposed by EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers.  The new rules are intended to bring clarity as to the jurisdictional reach of the federal government… Continue Reading

EPA Fixes Due Date for Comments on Its Proposed Regulations of Carbon Emissions from Existing Power Plants

Posted in Climate Change, EPA, Federal
Today, the EPA has published in the Federal Register the official version of its proposed regulations to curb carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. 79 Fed. Reg. 34830. You can find the official version here. Public comments on the proposed regulations will now be due on… Continue Reading