A large construction excavator removes contaminated soil from an urban brownfield development site.

Leading with Lead: EPA to Implement Strategy for Lead in 2024

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency kicked off the New Year by strengthening its guidance for investigating and cleaning up lead-contaminated soil at residential properties, especially in areas where children live and play. Toward this end, the EPA lowered the recommended screening levels for lead in residential soil, from 400 parts per million to 200 ppm, for the first time in 30 years. 

While screening levels are not cleanup standard, this change is expected to assist the EPA in making site-specific cleanup decisions, which may include …

Continue Reading
A man's hand in a blue glove takes a close-up of water into a test tube to measure water pollution. Background

Did the 9th Circuit Just Let the EPA ‘Fudge’ the Numbers on Water Pollution?

Ever since the Clean Water Act of 1972 dramatically overhauled the way in which America, through the EPA, monitors and protects its waterways, there has been the struggle between the literal life-and-death need for clean water, and the cold, hard reality that people can, will, and sometimes-have-to release pollutants into the water as part of American life.

The balancing mechanism, however, is built right into the act itself in the form of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program.

As the program dictates, …

Continue Reading
Sterile storage of medical and surgical instruments in the dentist's office. View from above. Closeup shoot.

FDA Finally Recognizes EtO Sterilizing Alternative as the World Becomes a Force Majeure Pile-Up

Perhaps nothing has proven the indispensable value of commercial sterilizers more than the devastating worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Without the highly effective and efficient commercial sterilizer ethylene oxide (EtO), we would not have been able to rely on lifesaving sterilized medical equipment and supplies – such as cotton swabs for nasal-swab testing, masks, ventilators, and thermometers – to get us through the past four years. Moreover, maintaining basic hospital functionality and everyday healthcare needs outside of the pandemic requires sterile equipment and supplies simply for civilization …

Continue Reading
The toxic symbol on chemical products, dangerous chemicals in industry

EPA Adds Seven More PFAS To Toxic Release Inventory List

As our blog has reported a number of times, the Environmental Protection Agency announced an ambitious national strategy to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Dubbed a “roadmap,” the EPA says that it is centered on three guiding strategies focused on research, restrictions, and remediation. Specifically: “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.”

As part of this plan, the EPA last week announced the …

Continue Reading
ombustion fumes coming out of car exhaust pipe

EPA Issues Automotive Trends Report, Noting Record Improvements in CO2 Emissions and Fuel Economy

To close out 2023, the US Environmental Protection Agency issued its annual Automotive Trends Report, which provides the public with information about vehicle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, fuel economy, technology data and innovation, and auto manufacturers’ performance in meeting the EPA’s GHG emissions standards. EPA has been collecting this information since 1975.

According to EPA, new vehicle CO2 emissions and fuel economy had the biggest annual improvement of the last nine years, reaching record low CO2 emissions and record high fuel economy. In model …

Continue Reading

Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Challenges to the EPA “Good Neighbor Plan”

The Environmental Protection Agency, under the Clean Air Act, requires states to work with the EPA to address the interstate transport of air pollution. Under the “Good Neighbor Plan,” the EPA requires each state to implement – as part of its State Implementation Plan – regulations that will reduce emissions, which prevent downward states from attaining or maintaining National Ambient Air Quality Standards. The Act further requires the EPA to backstop any state actions that it does not approve or to develop Federal Implementation Plans …

Continue Reading

States Seek Smackdown of EPA’s Pollution Plan; Like a Good Neighbor, SCOTUS is There

In February 2024, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument on various emergency stay applications addressing whether the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can implement its “Good Neighbor Plan” (the Plan) to reduce cross-state pollution. The court will focus on whether the Plan unreasonably limits emissions and whether the EPA properly disapproved of alternative state emission-reduction plans.

Opponents argue that the Plan arrogates the states’ authority to control emissions and air pollution. They also assert that its unworkable, confusing emissions standards will force them to …

Continue Reading
Smoke and fumes

EPA Announces Final Rule to Reduce Methane and Combat Climate Change

In recent years, the global concentration of methane present in the atmosphere has increased dramatically. In fact, in 2021, methane increased by almost 18 parts per billion in the atmosphere, the largest single year increase since the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s records began in 1984. Last year was no exception, as atmospheric methane increased by 14 parts per billion, the fourth largest recorded increase.

These numbers are significant because methane is known as a “super pollutant” that is many times more potent than carbon …

Continue Reading
EPA Offices, Washington DC

EPA Proposes New Rules on Lead and Copper

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced proposed rules that would strengthen its regulation of lead and copper. These new regulations, if approved, would require water systems across the country to replace lead service lines within the next 10 years. They would also lower the allowable amount of lead in drinking water from 15 parts per billion to 10 parts per billion and require that lead service lines across the country be replaced within 10 years.  

Sampling protocols would improve throughout the country, too. The …

Continue Reading
person cleaning

Next On EPA’s Chopping Block: Trichloroethylene

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a risk management rule as part of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) that would ban the production, processing and distribution of trichloroethylene (TCE) for all uses. TCE is used in a variety of applications, including cleaning and furniture-care products, paints and coatings, solvents, laundry and dishwashing products, degreasers, lubricants, brake cleaners and tire-repair sealants. 

According to EPA, the proposed rule is meant to address “the unreasonable risk of injury to human health presented by [TCE]” associated with its …

Continue Reading