Hand with a spatula renovating the paint.

Don’t you know that you’re toxic? EPA spears most uses of controversial solvent.

In late April, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a ban on most uses of methylene chloride, a toxic solvent used for paint stripping and linked to over 85 deaths in the last 45 years. The ban forbids all consumer use of the substance, as well as most industrial and commercial uses. TheEPA did not completely ban all uses — it did allow some exemptions for the military, in addition to makers of climate-friendly coolants and electric-vehicle components.

Users often employ methylene chloride to refinish bathtubs …

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Smoke emerging from chimneys

Greenhouse Gas Regulation Heats Up as EPA Finalizes Rule for Reducing & Reporting Methane Emissions

After much anticipation, the Environmental Protection Agency issued its final rule this week aimed at cutting methane emissions as well as strengthening and updating greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) reporting for the oil and gas industries.

Methane is a “super pollutant” that is many times more potent than carbon dioxide. Methane also contributes to approximately one third of the global warming from GHGs today, and the oil and natural gas sector is the largest industrial source of methane emissions in the United States.  Toward that end, …

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Thick smoke rising from chimneys

Attorneys General from 23 States Petition to End EPA’s Use of Disparate Impact In Regulating Pollution

Attorneys General from 23 states have filed a petition for rulemaking with the Environmental Protection Agency demanding the agency stop using Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when regulating pollution. The petition, the main signatory of which is Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, comes on the heels of a decision in Louisiana v. EPA, No. 2:23-cv-692, 2024 WL 250798 (W.D. La. Jan. 23, 2024), where the EPA was enjoined from enforcing any Title VI based requirements on the state based on …

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EPA Offices, Washington DC

Big Wheel Keep on Turnin’, EPA Keep on Churnin’ Out Regulations

Stationary combustion turbines, often referred to as gas turbines, are used to generate high volumes of electricity at power stations, dams, and industrial centers. Despite their size, noise, and prodigious output, these engines are simple, with a design that dates, at least in concept, all the way back to 150 BC when a Greek inventor named “Hero” designed a ‘toy’ sitting on top of heated water, the gases of which caused the toy to spin.

This concept, compressing air and then injecting fuel and heat …

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Ecological catastrophe

EPA Finalizes New Rule Requiring More Than 200 Chemical Plants to Reduce Toxic Emissions

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced April 9 a set of final rules under sections 111 and 112 of the Clean Air Act (CAA) to significantly reduce toxic air pollution from more than 200 chemical plants in the United States.

The plants affected make products such as synthetic organic chemicals, plastics, paints, synthetic fabrics, pesticides, petrochemical products, and various polymers and resins, including neoprene. The new rules strengthen protections for communities living near these industrial facilities, especially along the Gulf Coast, and it is anticipated …

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EPA Issues Final Emission Standards

The Environmental Protection Agency announced March 20 final national pollution standards applicable to cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty vehicles. These standards apply to vehicles manufactured beginning in 2027. The new standards will be phased in on vehicles manufactured until 2032. 

The EPA estimates the new standards will avoid more than 7 million tons of carbon emissions. The standards also are estimated to provide over $100 billion in net benefits to society – including $62 billion in reduced fuel costs and $13 billion in public health …

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EPA Offices, Washington DC

Fifth Circuit Tells EPA 40-Year-Old Fluorination Process isn’t ‘New’

Inhance Technologies is a company that has been fluorinating plastic containers using the same process since 1983. The fluorination process creates a barrier that keeps dangerous substances from leaching out of their containers, and keeps outside substances from permeating in. The U.S. EPA began investigating Inhance after the presence of perfluoroalkyls (PFAS) was detected in an insecticide that was stored in a container fluorinated by Inhance.

After confirming that Inhance’s fluorination process resulted in the creation of PFAS, the EPA issued Inhance a Notice of Violation …

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Close-up of exhaust fan on factory roof

EPA’s Final EtO Rule Finally Finalized

The Environmental Protection Agency on March 14 announced final amendments to the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) applicable to 90 large commercial sterilization facilities that use ethylene oxide (EtO), a chemical to which long-term exposure can cause cancer or other serious injury.

The EtO rulemaking process has engendered some criticism – most dramatically in lawsuits filed against the EPA by advocates representing neighbors of EtO facilities who claim the rulemaking process was too little too late (covered by ELM here). But …

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Smoke stacks at a power plant.

SCOTUS Poised to ‘Shove Thy Neighbor’ on EPA Law

In March 2023, the EPA issued its final Good Neighbor Plan, the last in a series of legislations designed to reduce emissions of ozone-forming nitrogen oxide (NO2) which cross state borders. Specifically, the Plan was intended to assist 23 identified states to maintain the EPA’s 2015 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for smog (ground-level ozone) production into downwind states, by reducing NO2 from electric generating units and industrial plants. Smog, of course, has been identified for decades as a cause for whole gamut of respiratory …

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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 …

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