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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California Signs New PFAS Laws Regulating Children’s Products and Food Packaging

On October 5, 2021, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed two laws further restricting the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Often referred to as “forever chemicals,” California will now ban such compounds in many children’s products and in disposable food packaging.

One of California’s new PFAS laws (AB 652) will bar the use of PFAS in the manufacture of children’s products, including car seats, pillows, bassinets, changing pads, playmats, bouncers, walkers, strollers, and cribs. On and after July 1, 2023, this law prohibits a …

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No Asylum from Microplastics: How Recent Studies May Spark a Flood of Environmental Litigation

In a world where everything is supersized, or perhaps more appropriately venti sized (because let’s be honest, anything less than a venti pumpkin latte is simply not adequate), we tend to overlook what isn’t pronounced. However, recent headlines involving the fate of our littlest constituents remind us that we should be paying more attention to the inconspicuous things in life for, as it turns out, the microsized may be the most threatening. Yes, it is arguably Darwinian to disregard the discreet dangers, ones that we …

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California’s Latest Oil Spill Poses Urgent Energy Questions

Around 9 a.m. on Saturday morning, October 2, 2021, the United States Coast Guard was notified that Amplify Energy’s 17-mile San Pedro Pipeline, off California’s Huntington Beach coastline, was leaking. By Sunday morning, birds and fish were washing up onshore, covered in oil, and the beaches were closed to a concerned public. Days later, there are still more questions than answers about what is already shaping up to be one of California’s largest oil spills in the state’s history, having already resulted in at least …

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Georgia PFAS Decision Differentiates Categories of Defendants against Whom Claims May Proceed

Dalton, Georgia, which has been dubbed the “Carpet Capital of the World” has found itself at the center of emerging PFAS litigation. On September 20, 2021, Judge Amy Totenberg of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia issued a 180-page order ruling on 12 motions to dismiss, on various grounds, filed by numerous defendants in the current litigation.

By way of background, in 2019, a class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of citizens and property owners in Georgia, alleging that Dalton’s …

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EPA Rescinds Guidance on “Functional Equivalent”

On September 15, 2021, the Biden administration announced it was rescinding the Trump administration’s guidance on the Supreme Court’s decision in County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund and the Clean Water Act (CWA), § 402: National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES).

In County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund (590 US –, 140 S Ct 1462 [2019]), the U.S. Supreme Court addressed whether the CWA’s NPDES requires a discharger to acquire “a permit when pollutants originate from a point source but are conveyed to …

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Biden Administration Takes Steps to Advance Sustainable Fuel Use in Aviation Industry

In early September, President Biden released a fact sheet describing steps taken by the administration to advance innovation and the use of cleaner and more sustainable fuels in the American aviation industry, with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 20% by 2030 and reaching a zero-carbon aviation sector by 2050. According to the fact sheet, the aviation industry is responsible for 11% of transportation-related emissions in the United States, with that share expected to increase in the future. Meanwhile, less than 1% …

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PFAS Alert: New U.S. EPA Effluent Guidelines Program to take on PFAS

Each year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency prepares Preliminary Effluent Guidelines Program Plans pursuant to 33 U.S.C. 1251, more commonly known as the Clean Water Act (CWA). The purpose of these plans is to give an overview of the EPA’s Effluent Limitation Guidelines (ELG), or national standards for wastewater discharges to surface waters and municipal sewage treatment plants. The plans identify industrial categories, existing or new, which have been chosen for ELG regulation, and set forth the expected scope of that regulation.

On September 8, …

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The “Green” Fashion Police and the Renaissance of the Fashion Industry

Sustainability is the new black dress in the fashion world. As the need to address climate change becomes more urgent, it is no longer fashion forward, hip, or trendy to walk the red carpet in non-durable apparel/garments. Likewise, designers and textile manufacturers who neglect to embrace the paradigm shift toward making fashion a remedy for climate change will likely be left behind.

The fashion value chain is complex and threatening to the environment, with greenhouse gas emissions generated from the beginning to the end of …

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Another Citizen Suit Under the Clean Air Act Doomed on Standing Grounds

On August 30, 2021, a North Carolina federal court dismissed a Clean Air Act citizen-group lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club (plaintiffs) against defendant University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) for certain violations of its Title-V permit, which comprehensively regulates a particular facility’s emission sources. In granting UNC’s summary judgment motion, and denying the plaintiffs’ cross-motion for summary judgment, the court found that the plaintiffs lacked standing, pursuant to Article III of the U.S. Constitution, as a …

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