What the EPA’s Reclassification of Information Under Clean Air Act Means

Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a prepublication version of a final rule under the Clean Air Act (CAA) that permits major sources of hazardous air pollutants (HAP) to reclassify as sources if the source reduces its potential to emit HAPs below the major source threshold (10 tons per year of any single HAP or 25 tons per year of any combination of HAPs). In addition, the rule is design to finalize amendments to clarify the compliance dates, notifications, and recordkeeping requirements …

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The Garden State Passes Landmark Environmental Justice Legislation to Protect Overburdened Communities

In the United States, New Jersey has quickly become a leader in tackling environmental justice issues. Earlier this year, the state, which boasts 130 miles of shoreline, became the first to require builders to take climate change and rising sea levels into account to obtain government project bids. The Garden State also pledged it would produce 100 percent clean energy by 2050. On September 18, 2020, Gov. Phil Murphy signed one of the most stringent environmental justice bills in the country into law. The overall …

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Trouble in Paradise: Honolulu Brings Climate Change Lawsuit Against Fossil Fuel Companies

Last week, the City and County of Honolulu, Hawaii filed a lawsuit against major corporate members of the fossil fuel industry, alleging they knew the negative effects their products would cause via climate change but obscured the information from public knowledge in order to reap greater profits. According to the complaint, the fossil fuel companies worsened the climate crisis by undermining climate science and delaying a transition to clean energy.

According to the lawsuit, the fossil fuel companies’ actions have resulted in sea level rise that …

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Clean Air Act Alert: Coalition of Northeastern States Sue EPA over Good Neighbor Violations

Five states and the City of New York filed suit last week against the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the Southern District of New York alleging the agency failed to protect the states from ozone pollution traveling downwind, in violation of the Clean Air Act (CAA). The coalition of states, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, and Massachusetts, and the City of New York, are seeking an order that requires the EPA to create a plan to limit ozone emissions carried into the states from certain upwind states, including Illinois, …

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Environmental Groups Send Notice of Intent Seeking Action on Aircraft Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Three environmental organizations submitted a notice of intent to file suit to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in January 2020 for its failure to act on greenhouse gas emissions from aircrafts. In a joint letter to the EPA’s administrator and director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality, the three groups–Center for Biological Diversity, Earth justice, and Friends of the Earth–argue that the EPA’s failure to promulgate standards on greenhouse gas emissions constitutes unreasonable delay under the Clean Air Act. The groups …

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An Exercise in Separation of Powers: Second Circuit Signals Affirmance of Dismissal of NYC Climate Change Lawsuit

“Global warming and solutions thereto must be addressed by the two other branches of government,” said district court judge John Keenan last July in nixing New York City’s climate change nuisance suit that seeks to hold major oil companies liable for global-warming related injuries resulting from greenhouse gas emissions. New York City appealed Judge Keenan’s dismissal to the second circuit, arguing that its action is not an attempt to regulate emissions.

Late last week, hearing New York City’s appeal of Judge Keenan’s dismissal, the second …

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Environmental Advocacy Groups Mount New Challenges to EPA Decision-Making Under the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act

The EPA has been called to task on multiple fronts in the past week by challenges from environmental advocacy groups. The agency faces new claims in a federal suit filed by several entities in the District of South Carolina due to the repeal of the 2015 Clean Water Rule, also known as the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which determines the waterways that are covered by the Clean Water Act (CWA). The repeal was previously reported by the Environmental Law Monitor. Additionally, a petition was filed last week by a coalition of renewable fuel and agricultural trade organizations in the D.C. Court …

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To Remove or Not Remove – Complete Preemption is the Question!

An interesting dichotomy is developing in how federal courts are determining the proper forum for climate change lawsuits, that is whether they should be heard in state or federal court. This question, while seemingly a technical matter of civil procedure, could be fundamental to whether current and future climate change suits will be successful or whether they will be heard at all. The technical issue at stake is preemption – whether federal issues are determinative of the matters raised in the climate change suit  – …

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Summer of Discontent – EPA looks to eliminate California Air Resources Board

Despite an effort by the automotive industry, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is set to finalize a proposal that would freeze fuel economy standards at roughly 37 miles per gallon for the next six years, rather than raising them to nearly 51 miles per gallon for 2025 models. The rule would also revoke California’s existing waiver to set its own rules under the Clean Air Act, a practice the federal government has allowed for decades.

“As we acknowledged earlier this year, California Air Resources Board …

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The Replacements: DC Circuit Partially Vacates EPA’s HFC Rule

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit invalidated part of a 2016 EPA rule that made hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) unacceptable for various uses in aerosols, automobile air conditioners, commercial refrigerators, and foams.

In the waning years of the Obama presidency, EPA made an effort to combat climate change by enacting two rules restricting the use of HFCs, which are greenhouse gases. EPA claimed it had authority to do so under Title VI of the Clean Air Act. Section 612 of the Act …

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