A Change is Gonna Come … (and it’s kinda sorta already here)

The legendary singer/songwriter Sam Cooke may have intended for his 1964 anthem, “A Change is Gonna Come,” to be a protest song to surreptitiously fuel the civil rights movement and its pursuit of social justice, but little did he know the soulful R&B melody may realize its revival in the Biden administration as the U.S. Environmental Agency’s (EPA’s) new battle cry for environmental justice.

The EPA defines environmental justice (EJ) academically as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people, regardless of race, color, national origin, …

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EPA Releases Historic Climate Change Indicators Report

After a four-year gap, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) resumed its issuance of climate change indicators reporting on Wednesday May 12, 2021. The newly released data, which used 54 separate indicators, provides the federal government’s most comprehensive and up-to-date public release of information to date and demonstrates that an ever-increasing warming trend world is making life more difficult in the United States. The report’s issuance is conveniently timed as the Biden administration is taking aggressive action to address the pollution challenges that contribute to global …

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A Second Bite at the PFAS: House of Representatives Passes PFAS Action Act of 2021; Similar to Act Passed in 2020

Recently, lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a bill—the PFAS Action Act of 2021—that would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to begin regulating perfluoroalkyl and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water.

The legislation would require the EPA to establish a national drinking water standard within two years for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluoroactanesulfonic acid (PFOS)—the two most scrutinized PFAS chemicals. Currently, the EPA has a voluntary guidance level of 70 parts per trillion for both PFOA and PFOS combined.

The bill requires …

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EPA Releases Updated Toxicity Assessment for PFBS

On April 8, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released an updated toxicity assessment for perfluorobutane sulfuric acid (PFBS). This assessment comes as part of the EPA’s larger PFAS Action Plan, aimed to increase the amount of research and publicly available information on chemicals in the PFAS family.

PFBS, which is part of the larger group of PFAS compounds, is a replacement chemical for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), which is no longer used in United States manufacturing. PFBS is mainly used as surfactants and repellants …

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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
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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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. …

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