Changes in EPA Audit Policy Q&A Promotes Voluntary Self-Disclosure

In early February, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) updated the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding its audit policy program, which is officially called, “Incentives for Self-Policing: Discovery, Disclosure, Correction and Prevention of Violations” (Audit Policy). The purpose of the Audit Policy, originally effected in 1996, is to safeguard human health and the environment by, according to the EPA, “providing several major incentives for regulated entities to voluntarily discover and fix violations of federal environmental laws and regulations.” 

These major incentives are: 

  • Significant penalty reductions
  • No
Continue Reading

Illinois EPA Joins Growing List of States Issuing PFAS Health Advisories

Illinois has joined a growing list of states seeking to regulate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and compounds. On January 28, 2021, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency announced four “health advisories” in accordance with the Illinois Part 620 groundwater regulations (35 Ill. Adm. Code Part 620). Specifically, the four PFAS compounds Illinois issued health advisories on are PFBS, PFHxS, PFHxA, and PFOA.

Pursuant to the Illinois Administrative Code, 35 Ill. Adm. Code 620.605, health advisories are issued when a chemical substance that is harmful to …

Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Upholds Dismissal of Kids Climate Suit—Headed to the Supreme Court?

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has declined to rehear the high-profile Juliana v. United States case, which has been followed by Environmental Law Monitor here, here, and here. Last January, the Ninth Circuit dismissed the case for lack of Article III standing, and last week, a little over a year after its decision ordering dismissal of the case, the court declined the plaintiffs’ motion for a rehearing.

The Juliana plaintiffs, a group of 21 then-minors, filed suit in …

Continue Reading

Is the “Safe Rule” as Safe as it Sounds? Developments Regarding the Fight Over Automobile Emissions Standards

The battle surrounding the regulation of automobile emissions standards lost some steam last week after a number of major automakers withdrew their support of the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles rule enacted by the Trump administration.

Certain major car manufactures are looking to exit the federal litigation, in which automaker trade groups intervened on behalf of the federal government to support the SAFE rules that sought to strip states of the ability to set their own vehicle greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy standards. These …

Continue Reading

California Aims for Big Businesses to Stop the Burning

In a new bid to stop the onslaught of climate-related crises, including successive, record-setting wildfire seasons, increased flooding, and paradoxically increased and more frequent droughts, the California legislature has seized on a new initiative: corporate accountability.

Senate Bill 260, or “The Climate Corporate Accountability Act,” would apply to both publicly-traded and private corporations making more than $1 billion per year doing business in California. If adopted, it will require the approximately 5,000 companies to which it would apply to log every single element of their …

Continue Reading

U.S. EPA Issues Final Risk Evaluation for 1,4-Dioxane

We recently wrote about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) supplemental analysis on consumer uses of 1,4-dioxane under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Now the EPA has issued its final risk evaluation for the chemical, setting the stage for potential future regulation.

1,4-dioxane was selected in 2016 as one of the first 10 chemicals for risk evaluation under section 6 of TSCA. In general, the chemical is likely present at many sites contaminated with certain chlorinated solvents because of its widespread use as a …

Continue Reading

Are SEPs Dead? Outgoing DOJ Strengthens Prohibition on SEPs as Mitigating Remedies

During the final days of the Trump administration, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD), which represents the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in environmental enforcement actions, issued a memorandum that summarizes new polices relating to Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs). SEPs are environmentally beneficial projects that settling parties had previously been allowed to undertake either to diminish fines or to serve in lieu of paying civil penalties in order to resolve environmental law violations, and had been popular with alleged violators and …

Continue Reading

EPA’s Affordable Clean Energy Rule Rejected

On the last full day of the Trump presidency, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued a strong rebuke of the Trump administration’s deregulatory agenda in its January 19, 2021 American Lung Assoc. v. EPA decision rejecting the EPA’s industry-friendly climate rule for power plants.

In rejecting the Affordable Clean Energy rule and remanding it back to the EPA, the Biden administration now has a clear opportunity for regulating greenhouse gas emissions from the power industry. The district court called the …

Continue Reading

Hawaii’s Ban on Oxybenzone and Octinoxate-Containing Sunscreen Takes Effect

Hawaii’s sunscreen ban has officially taken effect. In May 2018, Hawaii became the first state in the nation to ban the sale of over-the-counter sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate. The law went into effect on January 1, 2021, with the goal of preserving Hawaii’s marine ecosystems.

According to the language of the bill, Hawaii’s legislature found that oxybenzone and octinoxate, two chemicals found in many sunscreens, “have significant harmful impacts on Hawaii’s marine environment and residing ecosystems, including coral reefs that protect Hawaii’s shorelines.” Studies …

Continue Reading

SCOTUS to Resolve Circuit Split Regarding CERCLA Liability

On January 8, 2021, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) granted the Government of Guam’s petition for a writ of certiorari in a Superfund cost recovery case in which Guam faces a $160 million cleanup bill for a landfill leaking toxic waste at a site that the U.S. Navy created in the 1940s. The case, Government of Guam v. United States, Docket No. 20-382, presents two longstanding circuit splits before SCOTUS, which address CERCLA’s settlement provisions and their impact on a settling …

Continue Reading