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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Trump Administration: Environmental (Budget) Impact Assessment

Earlier this month, the Trump Administration released its Fiscal Year 2021 Budget requests. As it has in previous years, the administration has proposed steep cuts in funding for the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Other agencies, such as the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would also see their budgets trimmed. Although the current Congress is unlikely to agree to such broad-sweeping cuts, the White House’s proposed budget requests provide a strong indicator of the Trump Administration’s priorities. 

The Cuts:

Overall, …

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Clean Air Act Alert: Coalition of Northeastern States Sue EPA over Good Neighbor Violations

Five states and the City of New York filed suit last week against the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the Southern District of New York alleging the agency failed to protect the states from ozone pollution traveling downwind, in violation of the Clean Air Act (CAA). The coalition of states, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, and Massachusetts, and the City of New York, are seeking an order that requires the EPA to create a plan to limit ozone emissions carried into the states from certain upwind states, including Illinois, …

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When Too Much Is Too Much: EPA Declines Further Regulation Over Chemical Manufacturers

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, Andrew Wheeler, signed a proposed rule under Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) to not impose financial responsibility requirements for facilities in the chemical manufacturing industry on Feb. 10, 2020. A number of environmental advocacy groups spurred this action in August 2014 when they filed a writ of mandamus in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, seeking financial responsibility rules in this industry and others.

Section 108(b) of CERCLA addresses the promulgation …

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Environmental Groups Send Notice of Intent Seeking Action on Aircraft Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Three environmental organizations submitted a notice of intent to file suit to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in January 2020 for its failure to act on greenhouse gas emissions from aircrafts. In a joint letter to the EPA’s administrator and director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality, the three groups–Center for Biological Diversity, Earth justice, and Friends of the Earth–argue that the EPA’s failure to promulgate standards on greenhouse gas emissions constitutes unreasonable delay under the Clean Air Act. The groups …

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EPA Proposed Rule Changes Questioned Based on Scientific Principles

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is introducing significant changes to reduce environmental regulations on several critical issues, despite sharp criticism from several scientific advisers. The proposed changes reduce the standards governing waterways and wetlands, in addition to those governing gasoline mileage emissions for vehicles within the United States. Other changes are under consideration, including the EPA’s change of its calculation limiting air pollutants from coal-fired power plants, as well as the implementation of restrictions regarding the types of permissible scientific studies when writing new environmental …

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