EPA Finalizes Cost-Benefit Rule for Clean Air Act Rulemaking

Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized its Clean Air Act (CAA) cost-benefit rule, which it proposed in June 2018 and held a public hearing on in July 2020. A procedural rule, it is meant to “improve the rulemaking process under the Clean Air Act by establishing requirements to ensure consistent, high-quality analyses of benefits and costs are provided to the public for significant rules,” according to the EPA’s press release. The final rule codifies “best practices” for benefit-cost analyses (BCA) in CAA rulemaking. …

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U.S. EPA’s Supplemental Analysis of 1,4-Dioxane Finds No Unreasonable Consumer Risks for Six Separate Categories of Potential Exposure

On November 20, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a supplemental analysis to the draft risk evaluation of 1,4-dioxane under the Toxic Substances Control Act. The supplemental analysis was developed in response to public and peer review comments to the draft risk evaluation, which our blog previously reported on here.

The EPA’s risk evaluation states that 1,4-dioxane is a “likely human carcinogen” that is “highly mobile” and “does not readily biodegrade in the environment.” However, the draft risk evaluation notes “(n)o unreasonable …

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Following Ninth Circuit’s Ban, EPA Approves Use of Dicamba Herbicide Until 2025

Over the last few years, the Environmental Law Monitor has monitored regulatory and litigation matters on dicamba herbicide used by farmers to combat broadleaf weeds that have developed resistance to other herbicides (see prior posts here.)

In June 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ordered a ban on certain dicamba products, which vacated the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) prior approval and required it to conduct a new review. However, in late October, the EPA renewed its approval …

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Massachusetts Adopts Stricter MCL for Six Combined PFAS Chemicals

On October 2, 2020, Massachusetts became the latest state or commonwealth to promulgate stricter water quality regulations for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection issued a new standard of 20 parts per trillion (ppt), which is more than three times lower than the present federal standard of 70 ppt (i.e., for the sum of PFOA and PFOS). MA’s new standard is more expansive as it covers the sum of six PFAS chemicals: the well-known PFOA and PFOS, and …

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algae bloom

New Technologies Being Developed to Combat Harmful Algal Blooms in Upstate New York

Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs)—neither pretty nor safe—have been an ongoing issue in certain Upstate New York lakes and other bodies of water. However, it appears that some good news has arrived for those otherwise bucolic upstate areas. Recently, the state of New York announced that new HAB mitigation technologies—being developed by Clarkson University and SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF)—are being tested: hydrodynamic cavitation with hydrogen peroxide, and electrochemical oxidation filtration.

According to the DEC, “Both treatment systems are designed to collect algae-laden water near …

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Empire State Adopts MCL for 1, 4-Dioxane, PFOA, and PFOS

On July 30, 2020, New York’s Public Health and Health Planning Council voted in support of maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for PFOA and PFOS—the two most well-known per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The Council voted to set the MCLs for both chemicals at 10 parts per trillion—among the lowest levels adopted by any state, and significantly lower than the U.S. EPA’s current guidance levels of 70 ppt.

Another chemical—1, 4-Dioxane—also has an MCL of 1 part per billion now. New York announced that this regulation …

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How Many Have Seen Schrödinger’s Cat?: D.C. Circuit Strikes Down FERC’s Longstanding Use of Tolling Orders in Response to Rehearing Requests

In Allegheny Defense Project, et al. v. FERC (Allegheny), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, sitting en banc, ruled last week that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission) could not delay reconsideration of its approval of gas infrastructure projects for the purpose of postponing judicial review. In essence, in a 10-1 decision, the court said FERC’s “tolling policy”—something used in every gas pipeline case (39 to be exact) of the last 12 years—violates the strictures of the …

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Long Island Water Districts’ 1,4-Dioxane Lawsuits Survive Motion to Dismiss

In March 2019, we posted about the strategy behind the Long Island water districts’ 1,4-dioxane litigations against major manufacturers—and then in October 2019, we followed that post with another report on the increasing number of those suits , which became the subject of a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. These suits filed by public water suppliers seek to recover costs against major manufacturers and promoters of the chemical for the design, construction, installation, operation, and maintenance of water treatment facilities and equipment required to remove …

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COVID-19 and Drinking Water: An Update Amid Further Scrutiny

As the nation continues to navigate its way through the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic, we wanted to pass along some updated information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA). Our blog post from March 19, 2020, remains a good primer on COVID-19 and drinking water, but there are a few updates to provide amid what appears to be an uptick in speculation about the transmission of the virus in sewage.

Two researchers at the …

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U.S. EPA Takes Key Step Toward Regulating PFOA and PFOS

As the virus pandemic has consumed our daily news, even some of the most important developments in the environmental world seem to have floated under the radar. Last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an initial regulatory determination under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)—the two most notorious substances in the family of thousands of similar “forever chemicals” also collectively referred to as PFAS. 

The EPA’s announcement—a little over a year following its release of …

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