EPA Set to Abandon Perchlorate Limits

On May 14, 2020, the EPA indicated it will not be imposing any limits on perchlorate, a chemical compound the EPA previously characterized as “a persistent contaminant of concern.” Perchlorate can be man-made or it can form naturally in the atmosphere in arid states in the Southwest U.S., in large deposits of sodium nitrate fertilizer in Chili, and in potash ore in the Northwest and Canada. Manufactured perchlorate is used in rocket propellant, munitions, explosives, fireworks, road flares, and in food containers and equipment that …

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EPA’s COVID-19 “Enforcement Discretion” Policy Challenged in Suit Commenced by Nine States’ Attorneys General

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) continues to face backlash over its policy relaxing certain monitoring and reporting obligations under various federal environmental laws amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week nine states’ attorneys general sued the U.S. EPA in the Southern District of New York in the action titled State of New York et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency et al., No. 1:20-cv-03714, in which New York, California, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Vermont, and Virginia contend the U.S. EPA’s decision …

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States Bring WOTUS Rule Back to Court

The state of California continued its crusade against the Trump Administration this month, filing a lawsuit against the U.S. EPA, challenging the agency’s replacement for the defunct 2015 Waters of the United States Rule (WOTUS). Sixteen other states joined the lawsuit, which was filed in the Northern District of California. The Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) was also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

The definition of “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) as used in the Clean Water Act has been disputed for …

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Close Only Counts with Horseshoes, Hand Grenades, and Dicamba Applications? Suit Seeks to Overturn EPA’s Decision to Allow Expanded Use of Dicamba

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has heard from the parties in a suit challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to allow more widespread applications of dicamba. In 2016, the EPA approved dicamba for a conditional two-year registration. The agency allowed the more widespread use of dicamba, previously considered a volatile herbicide, as long as incidents of the pesticide harming other crops “are not occurring at unacceptable frequencies or levels.” In 2018, despite more than 4,200 official complaints that alleged damage to at least …

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Environmental Groups Sue EPA Over Relaxation of Enforcement of Environmental Laws Due to COVID-19

On April 16, 2020 a coalition of environmental groups commenced the action National Resources Defense Council, et al. v. U.S. EPA et al., No. 20-3058, in the Southern District of New York, over concerns about the EPA’s policy on “enforcement discretion” in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiffs are demanding that the EPA be compelled to respond to a Petition for Emergency Rulemaking filed on April 1, 2020, requesting that the EPA publish an interim final rule to ensure prompt public notice of …

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U.S. EPA Issues Interim Guidance On Site Field Work In Times Of COVID-19

As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to calibrate its response to COVID-19, the agency issued interim guidance on how to conduct environmental cleanups in light of the ongoing pandemic.  The guidance applies to cleanups under CERLCA, RCRA, the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Oil Pollution Act, and the Underground Storage Tank program.

The interim guidance does not provide any blanket work stoppage, nor does it toll any deadlines.  Rather, it provides that the EPA continues to make decisions about continuing, reducing, or pausing …

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U.S. EPA Takes Key Step Toward Regulating PFOA and PFOS

As the virus pandemic has consumed our daily news, even some of the most important developments in the environmental world seem to have floated under the radar. Last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an initial regulatory determination under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)—the two most notorious substances in the family of thousands of similar “forever chemicals” also collectively referred to as PFAS. 

The EPA’s announcement—a little over a year following its release of …

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NGOs Petition U.S. EPA for “Emergency Rule” to Require Disclosure of Environmental Noncompliance Due to COVID-19

On April 1, a group of twenty-one organizations sent a petition to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency seeking accountability for companies that utilize a recently announced non-enforcement policy. The policy pertains to a relaxation of U.S. EPA enforcement of environmental testing, monitoring, and other compliance-related activities. The petition requests that EPA publish a new rule that requires public notification when a facility does not conduct environmental monitoring or reporting in reliance on EPA’s non-enforcement policy.

As previously reported, the EPA published a memorandum on …

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The Last Step – EPA Finalizes Rollback of Obama-era Automotive Pollution Targets

On April 1, 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency announced its final rule to rollback Obama-era automobile fuel efficiency standards. The new rule will allow vehicles on American roads to emit nearly a billion tons more carbon dioxide over the lifetime of the vehicles than they would have under the prior administration’s standards.

The new rule, which is expected to be implemented by late spring, will roll back a 2012 rule that required automakers’ fleets to average about 54 miles per gallon by 2025. Under the …

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COVID-19: EPA Limits Enforcement of Environmental Laws During Coronavirus Emergency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a temporary policy regarding EPA enforcement of environmental legal obligations during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  On March 26, 2020, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler stated:  “EPA is committed to protecting human health and the environment, but recognizes challenges resulting from efforts to protect workers and the public from COVID-19 may directly impact the ability of regulated facilities to meet all federal regulatory requirements.”  As a result, the EPA’s temporary enforcement discretion policy – which is designed to provide …

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