Is a Watchdog’s Bark Worse Than its Bite? Inspector General Begins Probe of EPA’s New Vehicle Emissions Rule

The Office of the Inspector General of the United States Environmental Protection Agency is beginning an investigation into “potential irregularities” in the adoption of new regulations related to vehicle emissions. The evaluation arose after a former Environmental Protection Agency employee complained that career staff were not involved in the creation of the new rules.

The notice from the Office of Inspector General also credits Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) for initiating the investigation and notes that the Office of Inspector General will determine whether the rule …

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Does This Mean My Trucker Hat is Cool Again? CARB Enacts First Mandate for Implementation of Zero-Emission Trucks in the U.S.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) adopted a rule on June 25, 2020, setting a deadline of 2045 for all trucks sold in California to be zero-emission models. The rule is the first of its kind in the United States. Globally, the rule represents one of the most ambitious efforts to date to replace diesel trucks with battery-powered and other zero-emission vehicles.

“It is clear this is the first of its kind in the world,” said California Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols. “It’s part …

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Pencils Down! New EPA Rule Limits States’ Time and Ability to Review Energy Infrastructure Projects

On June 1, the United States Environmental Protection Agency announced it had enacted a rule to limit states’ ability to block the construction of energy infrastructure projects. Under the rule, first proposed in August 2019, the EPA will alter Section 401 of the U.S. Clean Water Act to make it impossible for a state to block a water permit for a project for reasons other than direct impacts of discharges into state waters and set a one-year deadline for a decision. The proposed rule can …

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Close Only Counts with Horseshoes, Hand Grenades, and Dicamba Applications? Suit Seeks to Overturn EPA’s Decision to Allow Expanded Use of Dicamba

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has heard from the parties in a suit challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to allow more widespread applications of dicamba. In 2016, the EPA approved dicamba for a conditional two-year registration. The agency allowed the more widespread use of dicamba, previously considered a volatile herbicide, as long as incidents of the pesticide harming other crops “are not occurring at unacceptable frequencies or levels.” In 2018, despite more than 4,200 official complaints that alleged damage to at least …

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NGOs Petition U.S. EPA for “Emergency Rule” to Require Disclosure of Environmental Noncompliance Due to COVID-19

On April 1, a group of twenty-one organizations sent a petition to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency seeking accountability for companies that utilize a recently announced non-enforcement policy. The policy pertains to a relaxation of U.S. EPA enforcement of environmental testing, monitoring, and other compliance-related activities. The petition requests that EPA publish a new rule that requires public notification when a facility does not conduct environmental monitoring or reporting in reliance on EPA’s non-enforcement policy.

As previously reported, the EPA published a memorandum on …

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The Last Step – EPA Finalizes Rollback of Obama-era Automotive Pollution Targets

On April 1, 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency announced its final rule to rollback Obama-era automobile fuel efficiency standards. The new rule will allow vehicles on American roads to emit nearly a billion tons more carbon dioxide over the lifetime of the vehicles than they would have under the prior administration’s standards.

The new rule, which is expected to be implemented by late spring, will roll back a 2012 rule that required automakers’ fleets to average about 54 miles per gallon by 2025. Under the …

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COVID-19: EPA Limits Enforcement of Environmental Laws During Coronavirus Emergency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a temporary policy regarding EPA enforcement of environmental legal obligations during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  On March 26, 2020, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler stated:  “EPA is committed to protecting human health and the environment, but recognizes challenges resulting from efforts to protect workers and the public from COVID-19 may directly impact the ability of regulated facilities to meet all federal regulatory requirements.”  As a result, the EPA’s temporary enforcement discretion policy – which is designed to provide …

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Clean Water Act Alert – U.S. EPA Releases Its Proposed 2020 NPDES Multi-Sector General Permit

The regulated industry needs to be aware that the U.S. EPA, last week, published its proposed 2020 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP). The MSGP authorizes stormwater discharges associated with industrial activities in areas where EPA is the permitting authority.

Under Section 402(p) of the Clean Water Act, EPA has been directed to regulate stormwater discharges under the NPDES program–the program by which EPA and authorized states grant permits for discharges from a point source. The MSGP is a general NPDES …

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Butt Out – Illinois EPA Looking at Improper Disposal of Vaping Products

While the recent focus on electronic cigarettes and vaping products has been on their potential health effects on users, the Illinois EPA is looking at a potential new issue – the improper disposal of their waste products.

A team at the Illinois EPA is developing methods to prevent toxic materials in discarded e-cigarettes and vaping products from polluting the environment and damaging human health. E-cigarettes and vaping products contain numerous materials, each with various waste regulations. E-cigarettes, which are disposable and closely resemble a traditional …

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Trump Administration: Environmental (Budget) Impact Assessment

Earlier this month, the Trump Administration released its Fiscal Year 2021 Budget requests. As it has in previous years, the administration has proposed steep cuts in funding for the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Other agencies, such as the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would also see their budgets trimmed. Although the current Congress is unlikely to agree to such broad-sweeping cuts, the White House’s proposed budget requests provide a strong indicator of the Trump Administration’s priorities. 

The Cuts:

Overall, …

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