EPA Signs Proposed Rule to Revise Definition of “Waters of the United States”

In late November, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army announced the signing of a proposed rule to revise the definition of “waters of the United States” protected by the Clean Water Act (CWA). The proposal aims to put back into place the pre-2015 definition, with some amendments to ensure suitability for present day. This definition, of course, determines which of the nation’s waterways falls within the definition of the CWA—the federal law that regulates the discharge of pollutants into …

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SCOTUS to Decide Whether Congress or the EPA has the Power to Regulate Carbon Emissions

On November 12, 2021, just as President Joe Biden prepared to travel to a major climate conference in Scotland with the intention of establishing America as a world leader in curbing greenhouse-gas emissions, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to a lower appellate court’s recent restoration of some of the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory authority concerning carbon emissions. The challenge focuses on a provision of the Clean Air Act requiring the EPA to identify the “best system of emission reduction” for existing …

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EPA Moves to Enlarge Its Footprint on Methane Regulation

Methane, the powerful greenhouse gas responsible for a disproportionate percentage of man-made global warming, has for years been targeted with increasing oversight and regulation as a result of growing concerns about climate change. As a result, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under the Biden administration, is seeking to expand its stance on the issue with sweeping new proposals.

The EPA put out new regulations on November 2, 2021, including a proposal that would reduce more than 40 million tons of methane from 2023 to 2035 …

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EPA Releases PFAS Roadmap, Outlining Various Initiatives, Strategy, and Expected Rulemaking

After releasing a flurry of press releases and developments on PFAS regulation, on October 18, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s administrator announced an ambitious national strategy to address PFAS over the next three years. Dubbed a “roadmap,” the EPA says that it is centered on three guiding strategies focused on research, restrictions, and remediation: “Increase investments in research, leverage authorities to take action now to restrict PFAS chemicals from being released into the environment, and accelerate the cleanup of PFAS contamination.” North Carolina’s governor …

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EPA Releases Final Toxicity Assessment for GenX Chemicals

On October 25, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its final human health toxicity assessment for hexafluoropropylene oxide (HFPO) dimer acid and its ammonium salt (referred to as “GenX chemicals”). HFPO dimer acid and its ammonium salt are the major chemicals associated with the processing aid technology developed by DuPont with the trade name GenX. GenX chemicals are part of the PFAS class, which replaced perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) that are no longer used in the United States. However, the …

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EPA Continuing to Move Swiftly to Curb HFCs

Coming shortly after the September 23, 2021, enactment of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s rule calling for an 85% reduction in hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) over the next 15 years, the agency maintained its momentum on October 8, 2021, granting 10 petitions submitted under the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act to further reduce HFCs.

The AIM Act, enacted in December 2020, specifically directs the EPA to address HFCs in three areas; phase down their production and consumption, manage the use of existing HFCs and alternative chemicals, …

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EPA Rescinds Guidance on “Functional Equivalent”

On September 15, 2021, the Biden administration announced it was rescinding the Trump administration’s guidance on the Supreme Court’s decision in County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund and the Clean Water Act (CWA), § 402: National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES).

In County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund (590 US –, 140 S Ct 1462 [2019]), the U.S. Supreme Court addressed whether the CWA’s NPDES requires a discharger to acquire “a permit when pollutants originate from a point source but are conveyed to …

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PFAS Alert: New U.S. EPA Effluent Guidelines Program to take on PFAS

Each year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency prepares Preliminary Effluent Guidelines Program Plans pursuant to 33 U.S.C. 1251, more commonly known as the Clean Water Act (CWA). The purpose of these plans is to give an overview of the EPA’s Effluent Limitation Guidelines (ELG), or national standards for wastewater discharges to surface waters and municipal sewage treatment plants. The plans identify industrial categories, existing or new, which have been chosen for ELG regulation, and set forth the expected scope of that regulation.

On September 8, …

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EPA’S Chlorpyrifos Ban Likely to Increase Pesticide Litigation

As we previously reported, the U.S. EPA recently issued its ban on the use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos.

Chlorpyrifos has been widely used in food crop agriculture since the late 1960s. Unlike for the glyphosate-based pesticide commonly sold under the brand name Roundup®, most residential uses of chlorpyrifos were banned in 2001. However, it was not until on August 18, 2021 that the EPA took more aggressive action and banned the use of chlorpyrifos for all agricultural purposes.

Unlike for the weed …

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EPA Bans Use of Pesticide Chlorpyrifos

On August 18, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a pre-publication notice of a final rule banning the use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos on food in order to better protect human health. Chlorpyrifos is an insecticide used for a number of agricultural and non-food applications. It has been linked to numerous health risks including neurodevelopmental risks to infants and children, and harm to agricultural workers who work with the pesticide.

Per the final rule, the EPA announced the revocation of chlorpyrifos “tolerances”—which establish the …

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