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Advancing Environmental Justice: EPA Releases New Roadmap to Address Cumulative Impacts

The Environmental Protection Agency recently published a Cumulative Impacts Addendum (“Addendum”) to its Legal Tools to Advance Environmental Justice (EJ Legal Tools”), issued in May 2022. 

This Addendum builds on the cumulative impacts discussion in the EJ Legal Tools and provides additional detail and analysis regarding the EPA’s legal authority to address cumulative impacts affecting communities with environmental justice concerns.[1] These authorities include standard-setting, permitting, cleanup, emergency response, funding, planning, and state program oversight.

Although the Addendum itself is not a legally …

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New Sprawling EtO Litigations Mount as Our Pandemic-Shaken World Increasingly Relies on Commercial Sterilizers

Right on the heels of the eye-popping $408 million settlement between a major commercial sterilizer and plaintiffs claiming injuries resulting from exposure to ethylene oxide (EtO) emitted from the company’s Illinois facility (covered by ELM here), the company now faces two different legal actions initiated by two new groups of plaintiffs but similarly stemming from fugitive EtO emissions from the company’s U.S. facilities. These legal battles come at a time when there are not yet viable alternatives to EtO, a highly efficient medical-equipment sterilizing …

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A fleet of US postal service vehicles parked in a line.

You’ll Soon Be Getting Your Mail Delivered by Electric Vehicles

Biden administration officials announced on December 20, 2022, that the U.S. Postal Service intends to purchase over 66,000 electric vehicles by 2028, which would create one of the nation’s largest electric fleets in an effort to fight climate change.

To reach this goal, the USPS announced that it plans to purchase 60,000 so-called “Next Generation Delivery Vehicles” (NGDV) from Wisconsin-based defense contractor Oshkosh, 45,000 of which will be electric. The remainder will be supplied by a 46,000-vehicle purchase from other automobile makers; 21,000 of those …

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States Increasing Regulation of PFAS Products Heralds Increased Litigation

More and more state legislatures are looking to PFAS exposure as one of the main focuses of their new environmental regulations. As of this month, Maine banned the sale of residential carpets containing PFAS and became the first state to require companies to report products containing the chemicals. Maine’s law will ban all non-essential PFAS products by 2030. In November, the Maine State Chamber of Commerce told the state Department of Environmental Protection that the new laws would affect nearly every sector of the state …

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EPA Proposes Revisions to Particulate Matter NAAQS Under the Clean Air Act

In early January, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a proposal to revise and strengthen a key national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) for fine particle pollution, also known as PM2.5.

The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set two types of NAAQS: health-based standards, called primary standards, and standards to protect public welfare, called secondary standards. Based on the scientific evidence and technical information, EPA has set two primary standards for PM2.5, which work together to protect public health: the …

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A man's hand in a blue glove takes a close-up of water into a test tube to measure water pollution. Background

EPA Seeks Input From the Slaughterhouse to Reduce Nutrients in Discharged Wastewater

On Jan. 18, the Environmental Protection Agency announced it is seeking input regarding the development of Meat and Poultry Products (“MPP”) Effluent Limitations Guidelines Rulemaking Revision. 

As part of this process the EPA seeks to put together a Small Business Advocacy Review Panel. The EPA is looking to gather comments and suggestions from small entity representatives. Changes to these rules would, per the EPA, impact at least some of the thousands of meat and poultry facilities throughout the United States. The goal of the EPA in implementing …

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Everything Clean is New Again

The pendulum of policy on the environment was sent pounding back toward regulation again when the Biden administration issued new directives for greenhouse gas emissions.

The Interim Guidance on Consideration of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate Change (“Interim Guidance”) seeks to:

  • Clarify best practices for assessing greenhouse gases under the National Environmental Policy Act;
  • Fast-track evaluation of renewable energy projects, and;
  • Recommend reduction of harmful greenhouse gases by federal agencies. (One of the ways it does this is by requiring federal interaction and engagement with
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$408 Million Ethylene Oxide Settlement Resolves Over 870 Claims

On January 9, 2023, Sotera Health Company announced it reached agreements to settle more than 870 ethylene-oxide cases pending against its subsidiaries, including Sterigenics, in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Ill. and the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

The claims arose out of operations of Sterigenics’ Willowbrook, Ill. medical sterilization facility, which closed in 2019 following backlash regarding ethylene oxide emissions. Per the terms of the agreements, Sterigenics will pay $408 million, “subject to substantially all of the plaintiffs …

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Aerial view to industrial zone and technology park.

New York State Passes Landmark Environmental Justice Legislation

On the final day of 2022, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed into law the Cumulative Impacts Bill (CIB), which both houses of New York State’s legislature had passed eight months earlier in the year (language here: S.8830 and A.2103D). The legislation amends New York’s Environmental Quality Review Act by now requiring the State to consider during its permitting approval and renewal processes an analysis of the “cumulative impacts” on overburdened communities that could result over time from the introduction or expansion of facilities …

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large pile stack of textile fabric clothes and shoes

Fast-Fashion Post-Holiday Autopsy: How the Industry’s ‘Dupes’ and Fast-Fashion Apparel Boom is Fostering Environmental Disaster

The fashion industry has been dodging a colossal optics problem, but the aftermath of holiday shopping may finally expose prominent fashion houses for their part in contributing to environmental degradation. The metrics of the fashion industry’s dire environmental impacts are daunting:

  • More than 100 billion apparel items are manufactured annually — more than double the fashion industry’s production in 2000 — signaling a problematic upsurge in textile sourcing and processing.
  • 92 million tons of textile waste is produced annually — the equivalent of one truckload
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