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 …Continue Reading
The U.S. Supreme Court this week ruled in Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Christian that state law claims are still valid against landowners who have entered into settlements with the EPA pursuant to CERCLA. In this case, Atlantic Richfield Co. (Arco) had purchased the Anaconda Smelter site in Montana in 1977, where smelting had been taking place since 1884. In 1983, the site was designated as a Superfund site, and Arco worked with the EPA for approximately 35 years to remediate it. In 2008, landowners within …Continue Reading
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 …Continue Reading
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 …Continue Reading
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 …Continue Reading
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 …Continue Reading
As many individuals read this from the safety of their homes, significant time and energy is focused around the impact on human health, the economy, our families, and so many other areas that have been impacted by COVID-19. However, while the thought of entire cities, trains, airports, and public businesses being shut down indefinitely has evoked fear among many individuals, a byproduct of this crisis is the significant reduction, albeit temporary, in the world’s output of greenhouse gases. According to a recent Forbes article, …Continue Reading
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 …Continue Reading
As the coronavirus continues to spread across the nation, states throughout the country are ordering citizens to stay at home and not report to work. All orders, however, contain carve out exceptions for essential or life-sustaining activities, such as providing health care, medicine, and food. Yet, these orders have created much uncertainty as to what constitutes essential or life-sustaining activities. Arguably, many activities not directly related to containment of the coronavirus are still essential and/or life-sustaining. As with every aspect of the country’s economy, the coronavirus …Continue Reading
Last week the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) jointly announced the suspension of certain rules through July 31, 2020, in an effort to allow utility operators to “focus their resources on keeping people safe and the lights on during this unprecedented public health emergency.” NERC, a nonprofit corporation devoted to reducing risks to the reliability and security of the electrical grid across North America, develops and enforces the Reliability Standards, which are designed to ensure …Continue Reading