Colorless Haze? Carcinogenic Gas Found at Monitoring Sites in 16 Cities

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released new data regarding the concentrations of ethylene oxide, a colorless and carcinogenic gas, found in metropolitan areas throughout the country. That data shows that the highest concentrations can be found in Phoenix, Arizona, followed closely by Chicago, Illinois, Calvert City, Kentucky, and Chester, New Jersey.

Ethylene oxide is an industrial compound most commonly used to produce other chemicals or as a sterilizing agent for medical instruments. The EPA released the data as part of an ongoing effort …

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COAL-ASH ALERT: New EPA Regulations Impact Waste Emission Requirements at Coal-Fired Power Plant

On November 4, 2019, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it was releasing regulations on how coal-fired power plants dispose of waste laden with arsenic, lead, and mercury. The newly promulgated rules have been considered a weakening of EPA regulations issued during the Obama Administration regarding the disposal of coal ash, which often makes its way to water and is stored in giant pits that could leech into local waterways. The revised rules were a result of a court decision mandating that …

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Environmental Advocacy Groups Mount New Challenges to EPA Decision-Making Under the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act

The EPA has been called to task on multiple fronts in the past week by challenges from environmental advocacy groups. The agency faces new claims in a federal suit filed by several entities in the District of South Carolina due to the repeal of the 2015 Clean Water Rule, also known as the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which determines the waterways that are covered by the Clean Water Act (CWA). The repeal was previously reported by the Environmental Law Monitor. Additionally, a petition was filed last week by a coalition of renewable fuel and agricultural trade organizations in the D.C. Court …

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EPA Denies New York’s Good Neighbor Request

Last week, the EPA issued a final rule denying New York state’s bid to have the EPA issue enforceable daily emissions standards for hundreds of emission sources in upwind states in order to allow the New York Metro Area and Chataqua County to comply with 2008 and 2015 national ambient air quality standards for ground-level ozone under the Clean Air Act. The EPA ruled that the state failed to prove that the upwind pollution sources are interfering with its efforts to comply with the NAAQS.…

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Inspector General Directs the EPA to Improve Oversight of Public Drinking Water Regulations

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issued a report that found the EPA is failing to properly monitor state-level compliance for violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Federal regulations mandate that public water systems notify consumers of violations of the national drinking water standards or in situations that pose a risk to the public. These violations and situations are divided into three tiers with specific notice requirements. Under the SDWA, 49 states and certain territories are responsible for implementing the federal drinking water program, with …

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EPA Taps Public for Comment on Water Reuse Plans

Water scarcity is a growing concern for the EPA, as discussed in depth in its National Water Reuse Action Plan issued this week.

The plan outlines ways that the EPA can work with state and local governments to promote water reuse and support research into new technologies. Due to various pressures, 80 percent of U.S. states anticipate water shortages in some parts of their states in the next decade. Over the past several decades, agriculture, industry, and communities have faced water crises and responded through …

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SSRA 2.0: New Jersey Makes Changes to its Privatized Site Contamination Remediation Law

On Friday, August 23, 2019, Gov. Murphy signed into law an amendment to New Jersey’s 2009 Site Remediation Reform Act (SSRA)—a law that privatized many responsibilities previously handled by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) concerning the remediation of contaminated sites. The SSRA created what is called the Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP) program; LSRPs are experienced, private sector environmental professionals that are licensed by the state and hired by Responsible Parties (RPs) to direct and oversee environmental investigations and remedial action in …

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Lead Alert: Unapproved Water Additive Leads to Lead Contamination in Chicago Suburb

Illinois has filed suit against a company that provides water to a Chicago suburb after it made changes to the chemical additives in the water supply without permission from state regulators. The suit goes on to allege that the change caused lead to contaminate the village’s drinking water.

The problems started in 2017 when Aqua Illinois switched the source of the village’s water from groundwater wells to the Kankakee River. The suit alleges a chemical added to the water system to address resident’s complaints about …

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Newark Water Crisis Still an Issue as City Distributes Bottled Water to Residents

As previously addressed in the Environmental Law Monitor,  lead was found in Newark, New Jersey’s water supply. The city has now attempted to assuage fears by providing water filters to residents in affected areas. According to the EPA, that isn’t enough, and the city has begun offering water bottles to concerned residents after a sample demonstrated that filters are not sufficiently removing lead from drinking water.

On Friday, the EPA sent a letter to the city and state advising bottled water usage for residents …

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Tug-of-War: EPA and States Take Opposing Action on 1,4-Dioxane

On June 28, 2019, the EPA released its draft risk evaluation for 1,4-Dioxane. The EPA’s initial determination was that 1,4-Dioxane poses no unreasonable risks to the environment and no unreasonable risks to occupational non-users. However, the EPA also concluded that the chemical presents unreasonable risks to workers in certain circumstances. The same day, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control held a public workshop on 1,4-Dioxane risks, and the department is actively considering further regulation. Just two days earlier, the New York legislature approved a …

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