EPA Set to Abandon Perchlorate Limits

On May 14, 2020, the EPA indicated it will not be imposing any limits on perchlorate, a chemical compound the EPA previously characterized as “a persistent contaminant of concern.” Perchlorate can be man-made or it can form naturally in the atmosphere in arid states in the Southwest U.S., in large deposits of sodium nitrate fertilizer in Chili, and in potash ore in the Northwest and Canada. Manufactured perchlorate is used in rocket propellant, munitions, explosives, fireworks, road flares, and in food containers and equipment that …

Continue Reading

A Trade Off For Clean Water

On February 6, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its updated Water Quality Trading Policy (Updated Policy). The Updated Policy is an effort to respond to a growing environmental crisis — the over-enrichment of freshwater and coastal ecosystems with nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus). Sources of nutrients include agriculture run-off, sewage treatment plants, and urban and suburban storm water. Reducing certain nutrients in water is one of the nation’s most challenging environmental issues.

At its most basic principle, “[w]ater quality trading … allows one …

Continue Reading

No Straw for You!

On January 1, 2019, the District of Columbia and the State of California became the latest jurisdictions to ban restaurants from offering their customers a plastic straw and other single-use plastics, including coffee stirrers.  Seattle and Vancouver have similar straw bans in place and regulations are now proposed or pending in New York City, Miami Beach, Fort Myers, and Monmouth Beach, among others. The straw ban movement has expanded beyond the U.S. and Canada; the United Kingdom proposed a ban on selling plastic straws, stirrers …

Continue Reading

The Scorecard

In May 2017, we reported about the intentions of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to rebalance the EPA. At that time, Pruitt discussed core values and stressed that going forward the process and rule making will matter. One of the customs that Pruitt expressed he wanted to shed was “the federal government [being] actively involved in picking winners and losers by using regulations and the power to penalize…” Pruitt contended that the EPA’s mission is and should be clean air, water quality, and land remediation.

On …

Continue Reading

The EPA’s Draft Strategic Plan — Part of the Rebalance?

In May, we wrote about the intentions of EPA director Scott Pruitt to rebalance the EPA. At the time, we reported on the speech Pruitt delivered at CERAWEEK, an annual conference involving leaders in industry, energy, the financial sectors, and government.

In early October, the EPA released a Draft Strategic Plan for fiscal years 2018-2022. This draft, released for public comment and review, echoes the comments made by Pruitt during CERAWEEK, including the three goals (listed below) to support the EPA’s “core mission” …

Continue Reading

“How am I doing?” — The Preliminary Hurricane Scorecard for the EPA

The EPA maintains that it is working with local, state, and federal officials to respond to Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, and Hurricane Maria. With all three hurricanes, the EPA maintains that its role is to assess and assist with drinking water and waste water systems, Superfund sites, and flood waters.

Christine Todd Whitman, former EPA Administrator, recently interviewed by Bloomberg News claimed that vacancies at the top of nearly all 10 regional EPA offices will likely hamper EPA’s response to Hurricane Harvey. Whitman said that …

Continue Reading

Taking a “Hard Look”

In August 2017, decades long dispute involving the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Province of Manitoba, North Dakota, and Missouri, arising from a proposed water reclamation project was resolved in Government of the Province of Manitoba, et al. v. Zinke, et al., 2017 WL 3437658 (D.D. C. August 10, 2017). In 1987, the Bureau of Reclamation created the Northwest Area Water Supply Project (NAWS or Project) to respond to water problems in Northcentral and North Western North Dakota. The Project called for piping …

Continue Reading

Court Rejects the EPA’s Efforts to Stay the Methane Gas Rule

In 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency implemented a rule for fugitive methane gas and other greenhouse gasses to reduce pollution. Methane gas is considered a greenhouse gas because in the air, unused methane absorbs the heat from the sun and poses a global warming potential that is about 21 times greater than carbon dioxide. The Methane Gas Rule imposed “new source performance standards” on the oil and gas industry.

The new performance standards, which were effective as of August 2, 2016, required the oil and …

Continue Reading

The EPA’s Action Plan to Restore a Cornerstone of its Mission

In May, E. Scott Pruitt, EPA Administrator, issued a memo about prioritizing the Superfund Program and establishing a commission to expedite the identification and revitalization of superfund sites. CERCLA created the Superfund Program in 1980, but efforts to revitalize superfund sites have lately been delayed by red tape, funding issues, bankruptcies, and court proceedings. In his memo directed to the deputy administrator, the inspector general, assistant administrators, and other high level personnel, Pruitt vowed that “the EPA’s Superfund land and water cleanup efforts will be …

Continue Reading

A Gang of Thirteen — The Attorneys General Condemning Rollback of Federal Emissions Standards

On March 15, 2017, President Trump rescinded “executive action of new vehicle emission standards” claiming that the previous administration had set these federal fuel efficiency standards “far into the future” and then threatened auto jobs by cancelling a previously promised midterm review of the standards. Trump stated that “if the standards threatened auto jobs then common sense changes could have and should have been made.” Trump claimed that “[j]ust days before my inauguration the previous administration cut short the promised mid-term review in an eleventh …

Continue Reading