Inspector General Directs the EPA to Improve Oversight of Public Drinking Water Regulations

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issued a report that found the EPA is failing to properly monitor state-level compliance for violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Federal regulations mandate that public water systems notify consumers of violations of the national drinking water standards or in situations that pose a risk to the public. These violations and situations are divided into three tiers with specific notice requirements. Under the SDWA, 49 states and certain territories are responsible for implementing the
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WOTUS War Surges Forward As EPA Announces Repeal of 2015 Rule

Last week, the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Administrator, Andrew R. Wheeler, signed a rule for publication that would repeal the 2015 Clean Water rule, also known as the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.  The 2015 WOTUS rule allowed for a significant extension of the reach of the Clean Water Act (CWA) by expanding the definition of “waters of the United States” to include waters such as headwaters, wetlands, and streams. The 2015 rule interpreted the CWA to cover these waters reasoning that they require protection “in order to restore and
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Natural Gas Pipeline One Step Closer to Reality For Residents of New York

The United States Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC) has issued an order holding that the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) waived its authority under the Clean Water Act to issue or deny a water quality certification for the proposed Constitution Natural Gas Pipeline because DEC failed to act in a timely manner. Entities proposing to construct interstate natural gas pipelines are subject to a multitude of state and federal permitting regulations and statutes. One such requirement, as scrutinized
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EPA Taps Public for Comment on Water Reuse Plans

Water scarcity is a growing concern for the EPA, as discussed in depth in its National Water Reuse Action Plan issued this week. The plan outlines ways that the EPA can work with state and local governments to promote water reuse and support research into new technologies. Due to various pressures, 80 percent of U.S. states anticipate water shortages in some parts of their states in the next decade. Over the past several decades, agriculture, industry, and communities have faced
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Lead Alert: Unapproved Water Additive Leads to Lead Contamination in Chicago Suburb

Illinois has filed suit against a company that provides water to a Chicago suburb after it made changes to the chemical additives in the water supply without permission from state regulators. The suit goes on to allege that the change caused lead to contaminate the village’s drinking water. The problems started in 2017 when Aqua Illinois switched the source of the village’s water from groundwater wells to the Kankakee River. The suit alleges a chemical added to the water system
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Newark Water Crisis Still an Issue as City Distributes Bottled Water to Residents

As previously addressed in the Environmental Law Monitor,  lead was found in Newark, New Jersey’s water supply. The city has now attempted to assuage fears by providing water filters to residents in affected areas. According to the EPA, that isn’t enough, and the city has begun offering water bottles to concerned residents after a sample demonstrated that filters are not sufficiently removing lead from drinking water. On Friday, the EPA sent a letter to the city and state advising bottled
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Federal PFAS Regulation Around the Corner?

The Senate and House both are considering Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) regulations this summer. Last month, the Senate began inching closer to consensus on certain regulations. Following two hearings in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the PFAS Release Disclosure Act was considered in committee and filed as an amendment to S. 1790, the National Defense Authorization Act heading to the Senate floor. The Senate PFAS legislation would require reporting of PFAS releases as part of the Toxic
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Global Plastic Proliferation – An Emerging Climate Threat

From teeming landfills, choked rivers, and Pacific Ocean garbage gyres, to potential harm to marine and animal life from micro-plastic debris spanning the poles to the deepest part of the oceans, the growing proliferation of plastics is triggering a growing realization that the world has a plastics problem. This is not just an environmental pollution problem. Scientists are beginning to understand that plastics – from cradle to grave – potentially could have an unrealized significant impact on global climate change.
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WOTUS Woes – Federal Judge Remands Obama-Era CWA Rule

Last week, a federal district judge in Texas remanded the Obama-era Waters of the United States rule to the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (US ACE), citing the agencies’ failure to use proper procedure when publishing the rule. ​The 2015 rule, generally referred to as WOTUS, allowed for a drastic increase to the reach of the Clean Water Act (CWA), in part, by defining “waters of the United States” to include waters adjacent to waters that had traditionally been considered covered by the CWA.
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Executive Order 13868 – the Push is on to Maximize Energy Production – Climate Change Impacts and the Local Environment – Nevermind.

On April 10, 2019, the Trump administration published Executive Order 13868, “Promoting Energy Infrastructure and Economic Growth,” which directs the EPA Administrator to, “consult with states, tribes, and relevant executive departments and agencies in reviewing section 401 of the Clean Water Act and EPA’s related regulations and guidance to determine whether any provisions thereof should be clarified to be consistent with the policies described in section two of this order.” The policy referred to in section two states, in relevant
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