Proposed Rollback of NEPA Regulations to Impact Review of Environmental Impacts of Federally-Approved Projects

The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) proposed a new rule on January 10, 2020 to alter the procedural provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). NEPA requires federal agencies to review the potential environmental effects of all federal, federally-assisted, and federally-licensed actions, and analyze potential alternative solutions before making a final decision on such actions. In essence, agencies are required to comply with the NEPA environmental review process, while considering a wide range of federal actions that include federal construction projects, plans to develop federally owned lands, and federal approvals of
Continue reading...

Limited PFAS Regulations Included in Recent Law Creating Military’s Space Force

When the National Defense Authorization Act for 2020 (NDAA) was signed into law on Dec. 20, 2019, it is not surprising that the creation of the Military’s Space Force garnered the most attention. However, for environmental regulatory observers, the new law surprisingly included several environmental regulations meant to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including PFOA and PFOS. More specifically, the NDAA prohibits the use of firefighting foam containing PFAS after Oct. 1, 2024 at military installations and immediately prohibits
Continue reading...

Legislators Assemble! North Carolina and Illinois Move to Enact PFAS Regulations

So far in 2020, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NC DEQ) proposed a maximum concentration level in groundwater for two PFAS compounds, while the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency released proposed draft amendments to its groundwater standards, including standards for a wide range of PFAS compounds. North Carolina’s and Illinois’ actions join prior efforts at legislation in other states, including Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Vermont. The NC DEQ is proposing a maximum concentration of 70 parts per
Continue reading...

EPA Releases Guidelines For PFAS in Groundwater

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued Interim Recommendations for addressing groundwater contaminated with Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) under federal cleanup programs. These recommendations represent the first federal guidance for mitigating per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in groundwater. After reviewing public comments solicited in April 2019, EPA made these interim recommendations based upon the data and scientific information it collected on PFAS’ toxicity, while specifically acknowledging that the scientific information on these compounds continues to evolve. Specifically,
Continue reading...

EPA Proposed Rule Changes Questioned Based on Scientific Principles

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is introducing significant changes to reduce environmental regulations on several critical issues, despite sharp criticism from several scientific advisers. The proposed changes reduce the standards governing waterways and wetlands, in addition to those governing gasoline mileage emissions for vehicles within the United States. Other changes are under consideration, including the EPA’s change of its calculation limiting air pollutants from coal-fired power plants, as well as the implementation of restrictions regarding the types of permissible scientific
Continue reading...

New Lawsuit puts EPA Repeal of WOTUS Rule in the News Again

On December 20, 2019 a coalition of 14 states, including both New York and New Jersey along with the District of Columbia and New York City, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers,  challenging the new rule that redefines the term “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act (CWA), which went into effect on December 23, 2019. The new lawsuit can be added to the list
Continue reading...

New York Senator Presents Bill to Permanently Ban Hydraulic Fracturing

Despite the December 2014 existing regulatory ban on hydraulic fracturing from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the new legislation – Senate Bill 6906 – is focused on providing New York with a permanent legal protection from hydraulic fracturing activities, including gelled propane fracking, a new process being advocated by the oil and gas industries. New York Sen. Jen Metzger stated that more than five years after the current ban was put in place, more than 1,000 scientific studies have been
Continue reading...

Several States Press the Accelerator on Reducing GHG Emissions in Transportation Sector from Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles

Last week, eight states and the District of Columbia announced a joint commitment to develop an agreement and action plan to support accelerated development of medium and heavy-duty zero emissions trucks and buses. In a joint statement of intent entitled “Multi-State Medium-and Heavy- Duty Zero Emission Vehicle Initiative,” California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont declared their intent to develop a multistate memorandum of understanding to support efforts to develop zero-emission medium and heavy-duty vehicles in an effort to address climate change concerns. “Our states
Continue reading...

Less is Less? Illinois EPA sees Trend of Budget and Staff Reductions Leading to Reduction in Enforcement Actions

In 2003, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency had over 1,200 employees, including engineers, chemists, biologists, and attorneys. Last year, that number had been reduced to 639, according to a new report. “Protecting Illinois EPA’s Health, so that It Can Protect Ours,” published by the Abrams Environmental Law Clinic staff, documents reductions in staff and budget cuts at the state agency over the last 15 years. The report also details a decline in air pollution inspections, water quality monitoring, and enforcement
Continue reading...

New York Bans Products Containing 1,4-Dioxane Effective January 1, 2022

On December 9, 2019, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo approved legislation that will eliminate the sale of products containing the chemical 1,4-dioxane in New York state. The ban, which is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2022, has a broad reach and includes many household cleaning products, some cosmetics, and personal care products containing the soon to be banned chemical. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified 1,4-dioxane as a likely carcinogen. It is a man-made chemical that
Continue reading...