EPA Puts Ethanol Back in Play to Keep Gas Prices at Bay

On April 29, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officially suspended the ban on sales of gasoline blends with a higher concentration of ethanol. This suspension came two weeks after President Biden’s vow to lift the ban in order to counteract the increased gas prices attributed to Russia’s incursion into Ukraine. The suspension went into effect on May 1.

E15, or fuel with 15% ethanol, is traditionally banned during the warmer months—June through October—in an effort to combat the production of smog. In the current …

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Long Island Water Districts Settle Claims Arising from Alleged 1,4-Dioxane Contamination

You may have read about the slew of lawsuits filed over the past few years by Long Island water districts seeking to recover damages arising from alleged contamination of drinking water supplies by 1,4-dioxane. Our blog has covered them here, here, here, and here.

There is news on the settlement front. One of the primary defendants and the U.S. government have agreed to resolutions in two cases: Bethpage (in the amount of $49 million) and South Farmingdale (in the amount of …

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The Ethanol Waiver for E15 Is Not a Reason to Fill Up

Although ethanol is one of the earliest biotechnologies, it wasn’t until the energy crisis of the 1970s that ethanol was widely used as an additive to gasoline. Back then, concerns about the price of fuel and the impact of leaded gas on the environment led to a search for less expensive and more environmentally friendly alternatives. Ethanol seemed to fit both criteria. Today, approximately 90% of the gasoline sold in the United States contains ethanol—and this ethanol is largely produced from corn. Corn is used …

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SCOTUS to Decide Whether Congress or the EPA has the Power to Regulate Carbon Emissions – Part II

On the heels of oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court, we provide an update to a prior ELM post whether the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s has the ability to regulate carbon emissions from coal- and gas-fired power plants under the Clean Air Act. 

Various theories abound that the court could depend on to support its decision, which could have significant reverberating impacts.  Among the possibilities, from the most earth-shattering to the least are: (1) the non-delegation doctrine; (2) the major question doctrine; (3) statutory …

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Do Your Plastic Bottles Leach PFAS?

On March 16, 2022, the U.S. EPA Press Office issued a news release about implementing two key actions to prevent exposure from products with PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl).

The first action involves notification about fluorinated bottles; the second calls for the removal of two PFAS from the EPA’s Safer Chemicals Ingredients List. These two actions are consistent with the deadlines set in the “PFAS Strategic Roadmap; the EPA’s Commitment to Action 2021-2024”. The so-called roadmap—issued by the EPA in October 2021—is a relatively short (25 …

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EPA Seeks to Drive Down Heavy Truck Emissions

The last time the EPA tightened standards for truck emissions like this, the century was barely a year old and Bill Clinton was still President; in December of 2000 the EPA issued rules dramatically limiting particulate matter (PM) emissions and Nitric Oxide (NOx) on heavy duty trucks to go into effect for 2007-2010. PM has been shown to cause eye, nose, lung, and throat irritation, as well as exacerbating existing breathing problems. NOx, has similarly been linked to chronically-reduced lung function and increased risk of …

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Is There Still Lead in My Water?

In December 2021, the EPA announced new lead and copper rule improvements for drinking water. These rule improvements come on the heels of a prior extension of the final rule from June 2021. The final lead and copper rule was extended by the Biden Administration to provide more time for review and for input from communities that have been impacted by lead in drinking water.

According to the EPA, its “new Lead and Copper Rule” better protects children at schools and child care facilities by …

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Mercury No Longer Rising

A decade ago, as part of a concerted effort to reign in industrial pollution, the Obama-era Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) promulgated the mercury and air toxics standards (MATS) pursuant to its authority under the Clean Air Act (CAA). The purpose, as implied by the title, was to limit the amount of mercury and other toxins released into the air by coal-fired power plants. It was heralded by proponents and environmentalists as a large step forward in reducing the risk of heart attacks and cancer, and …

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EPA Adds Four PFAS to Toxics Release Inventory as Part of the PFAS Roadmap

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

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U.S. EPA Cannot Serve as Mere Bystander under the Clean Water Act

On December 29, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington held that, under the Clean Water Act, the EPA does not serve as a “mere bystander” in cases where states refuse to or cannot take action to implement water quality standards that protect aquatic life. See Northwest Envtl. Advocates v. United States EPA (2021) U.S. Dist. LEXIS 247673. For many years, the courts have held that while the states have primary responsibility under the Clean Water Act, the EPA itself must …

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