EPA Signs Proposed Rule to Revise Definition of “Waters of the United States”

In late November, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army announced the signing of a proposed rule to revise the definition of “waters of the United States” protected by the Clean Water Act (CWA). The proposal aims to put back into place the pre-2015 definition, with some amendments to ensure suitability for present day. This definition, of course, determines which of the nation’s waterways falls within the definition of the CWA—the federal law that regulates the discharge of pollutants into …

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A Black Friday Sale on Federal Oil and Gas Leases?!

This past Black Friday, while the rising cost of gas dominated the news and Americans began digging into their Thanksgiving leftovers, the U.S. Department of the Interior released a report concerning federal oil and gas leasing, prepared pursuant to Executive Order 14008. This order was signed by President Biden just days after he was inaugurated into office, placing a moratorium on federal oil and gas lease sales. Although the report does not recommend a total ban on oil and gas leasing on federal land, it …

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New ASTM Standard Released for Phase I Environmental Site Assessments

For nearly two years, a task force comprised of various environmental professionals has been working on revisions to the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (Phase I) Standard E1527-13, which is used by prospective purchasers in real estate acquisitions in order to satisfy the All Appropriate Inquiries (AAI) requirements under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).

Purchasers must meet the AAI requirements in order to establish the innocent landowner, contiguous property owner, or bona fide …

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SCOTUS to Decide Whether Congress or the EPA has the Power to Regulate Carbon Emissions

On November 12, 2021, just as President Joe Biden prepared to travel to a major climate conference in Scotland with the intention of establishing America as a world leader in curbing greenhouse-gas emissions, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to a lower appellate court’s recent restoration of some of the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory authority concerning carbon emissions. The challenge focuses on a provision of the Clean Air Act requiring the EPA to identify the “best system of emission reduction” for existing …

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EPA Moves to Enlarge Its Footprint on Methane Regulation

Methane, the powerful greenhouse gas responsible for a disproportionate percentage of man-made global warming, has for years been targeted with increasing oversight and regulation as a result of growing concerns about climate change. As a result, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under the Biden administration, is seeking to expand its stance on the issue with sweeping new proposals.

The EPA put out new regulations on November 2, 2021, including a proposal that would reduce more than 40 million tons of methane from 2023 to 2035 …

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EPA Releases PFAS Roadmap, Outlining Various Initiatives, Strategy, and Expected Rulemaking

After releasing a flurry of press releases and developments on PFAS regulation, on October 18, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s administrator announced an ambitious national strategy to address PFAS over the next three years. Dubbed a “roadmap,” the EPA says that it is centered on three guiding strategies focused on research, restrictions, and remediation: “Increase investments in research, leverage authorities to take action now to restrict PFAS chemicals from being released into the environment, and accelerate the cleanup of PFAS contamination.” North Carolina’s governor …

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The Renaissance of the Pistachio to Achieve Net Zero Carbon Emissions

So you thought pistachio was just an underrated ice cream flavor or the in-vogue topping to that savory encrusted salmon recipe trending on social media. Think again—pistachios (along with some other unexpected resources) have upped their culinary game and are helping to decarbonize the cement industry by serving as an alternate, carbon-free fuel source for industrial manufacturers. The cement industry may take the credit for tapping into this underutilized resource, more specifically the pistachio shell, to fuel its cement kilns. However, Turkey was first keen …

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EPA Releases Final Toxicity Assessment for GenX Chemicals

On October 25, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its final human health toxicity assessment for hexafluoropropylene oxide (HFPO) dimer acid and its ammonium salt (referred to as “GenX chemicals”). HFPO dimer acid and its ammonium salt are the major chemicals associated with the processing aid technology developed by DuPont with the trade name GenX. GenX chemicals are part of the PFAS class, which replaced perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) that are no longer used in the United States. However, the …

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White House Proposes Modifications to Trump Administration’s Changes to NEPA Regulations

On October 6, 2021, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) proposed modifications to provisions of its regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act. NEPA is a federal law that requires all federal agencies to assess the environmental effects of any proposed actions as part of its decision making. The proposed rule is the first of a two-phase rulemaking process, which would reverse changes to NEPA that went into effect during the Trump Presidency after being in place for decades prior to such modifications. …

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EPA Continuing to Move Swiftly to Curb HFCs

Coming shortly after the September 23, 2021, enactment of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s rule calling for an 85% reduction in hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) over the next 15 years, the agency maintained its momentum on October 8, 2021, granting 10 petitions submitted under the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act to further reduce HFCs.

The AIM Act, enacted in December 2020, specifically directs the EPA to address HFCs in three areas; phase down their production and consumption, manage the use of existing HFCs and alternative chemicals, …

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