Changes in EPA Audit Policy Q&A Promotes Voluntary Self-Disclosure

In early February, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) updated the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding its audit policy program, which is officially called, “Incentives for Self-Policing: Discovery, Disclosure, Correction and Prevention of Violations” (Audit Policy). The purpose of the Audit Policy, originally effected in 1996, is to safeguard human health and the environment by, according to the EPA, “providing several major incentives for regulated entities to voluntarily discover and fix violations of federal environmental laws and regulations.” 

These major incentives are: 

  • Significant penalty reductions
  • No
Continue Reading

U.S. EPA Issues Final Risk Evaluation for 1,4-Dioxane

We recently wrote about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) supplemental analysis on consumer uses of 1,4-dioxane under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Now the EPA has issued its final risk evaluation for the chemical, setting the stage for potential future regulation.

1,4-dioxane was selected in 2016 as one of the first 10 chemicals for risk evaluation under section 6 of TSCA. In general, the chemical is likely present at many sites contaminated with certain chlorinated solvents because of its widespread use as a …

Continue Reading

Are SEPs Dead? Outgoing DOJ Strengthens Prohibition on SEPs as Mitigating Remedies

During the final days of the Trump administration, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD), which represents the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in environmental enforcement actions, issued a memorandum that summarizes new polices relating to Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs). SEPs are environmentally beneficial projects that settling parties had previously been allowed to undertake either to diminish fines or to serve in lieu of paying civil penalties in order to resolve environmental law violations, and had been popular with alleged violators and …

Continue Reading

EPA’s Affordable Clean Energy Rule Rejected

On the last full day of the Trump presidency, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued a strong rebuke of the Trump administration’s deregulatory agenda in its January 19, 2021 American Lung Assoc. v. EPA decision rejecting the EPA’s industry-friendly climate rule for power plants.

In rejecting the Affordable Clean Energy rule and remanding it back to the EPA, the Biden administration now has a clear opportunity for regulating greenhouse gas emissions from the power industry. The district court called the …

Continue Reading

Ethylene Oxide: The Coming Storm?

Ethylene oxide is a gas commonly used to make other chemicals utilized in a variety of consumer and industrial goods, including fabric, detergents, medicines, and adhesives. It’s even used to sterilize medical devices and spices and to kill microorganisms in grains. But ethylene oxide is acknowledged as a known human carcinogen (cancer-causing compound or substance) in high-level concentrations and extended periods of exposure. Ethylene oxide has been linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia, multiple myeloma, and breast cancer, among many other cancers and physical ailments.

The …

Continue Reading

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. …

Continue Reading
wetlands; Florida; Everglades

Does Florida’s Plan to Take Over the Federal Wetlands Permitting Process Hold Water?

On December 17, 2020, two years after the Florida legislature overwhelmingly passed a bill serving as an initial step to promote the transfer of permitting authority from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the state of Florida, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted the Sunshine State’s request and approved a plan transferring federal authority to the state to issue permits for projects affecting the state’s wetlands. Florida will be only the third state in the United States to be granted such broad permitting …

Continue Reading

EPA Final Rulemaking Will Not Require Additional Financial Assurance Requirements for Cleanups at Industrial Sites

On November 25, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it finalized rulemaking on financial assurance requirements for the Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution; Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing; and Chemical Manufacturing industries. The EPA determined the financial risks from facilities in these industries are addressed by existing state and federal regulations and modern industry practices, which mitigate risks inherent in these industries and cover the costs of cleaning up hazardous substance releases.

The final rulemaking relates to section 108(b) of the Comprehensive …

Continue Reading

NDMA―Hiding in Plain Sight

Last month, extended release (ER) Metformin―an oral diabetes medicine that helps control blood sugar levels―joined a small-but-expanding list of prescription drugs, including Valsartan (for blood pressure) and Zantac (for heartburn), that were recalled by manufacturers because it may contain amounts of N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) above the acceptable intake limit.

NDMA is a semi-volatile, odorless yellow oil that can form naturally or unintentionally through industrial processes, and is also found naturally at low levels in many foods, such as roasted meats, cheese, and beer, because of cooking …

Continue Reading

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 …

Continue Reading