EPA’s Supplemental “Transparency in Regulatory Science” Rule Likely to Restrict the Use of Scientific Studies in Determining Pivotal Environmental Actions

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is planning to publish a supplemental proposed rule that would expand the applicability of a preexisting proposed rule from 2018 impacting how environmental regulations come about.  The supplemental proposal would require underlying data in scientific studies used in the promulgation of significant regulatory actions be publicly available—underlying data that’s often confidential, proprietary, and may contain private personal information subject to confidentiality agreements.  As reported by the New York Times, this rulemaking action would supplement the April 2018 proposed rule entitled “Strengthening Transparency in
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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
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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
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We Need to Talk … It’s Not Me, It’s You: EPA Accuses California of Worsening Environmental Issues

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has accused California of “failing to meet its obligations” to protect the environment, claiming that the state’s growing homeless population threatens its water quality. In an oversight letter, Administrator Wheeler charged California officials with failing to meet federal health standards in numerous communities where large homeless populations litter the streets with trash, drug paraphernalia and human waste. The letter went on to argue that California’s focus on global warming has come at the expense of more
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California v. Trump Administration Round LX: California and EPA War Over Vehicle Emission Standards

The Trump administration’s ongoing war with California over environmental standards has now reached a fever pitch. On September 19, 2019, the EPA announced that it will revoke the Clean Air Act waiver historically granted to California, which has allowed the state to set its own auto emission standards. The next day, California and 23 other states filed suit against EPA challenging the revocation. The EPA’s stated goal is to reduce the regulatory burden on automakers by implementing a single national standard for
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WOTUS War Surges Forward As EPA Announces Repeal of 2015 Rule

Last week, the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Administrator, Andrew R. Wheeler, signed a rule for publication that would repeal the 2015 Clean Water rule, also known as the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.  The 2015 WOTUS rule allowed for a significant extension of the reach of the Clean Water Act (CWA) by expanding the definition of “waters of the United States” to include waters such as headwaters, wetlands, and streams. The 2015 rule interpreted the CWA to cover these waters reasoning that they require protection “in order to restore and
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Two Strikes – Medical Equipment Cleaning Facility Hit with Over 30 Lawsuits, While its Doors Remain Closed by State Regulators

Over 30 personal injury lawsuits have been filed against Sterigenics LLC in Cook County, Illinois. The suits are the latest development in the company’s issues arising out of claims its medical equipment cleaning plant emits harmful fumes. Jeanne Hochhalter is one of those suing Sterigenics. She claims that the cancer she developed is directly related to the plant’s release of the chemical ethylene oxide. “I got breast cancer. I have no family history of it,” Hochhalter said. A Sterigenics spokesman
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Navigating Landowners through the Brownfields

The EPA recently updated its vintage standard guidance on CERCLA’s landowner defenses. This was the first update since 2003. The update was explained as an effort to provide clarity. Historically, under CERCLA, the owner or operator of a contaminated property could be held strictly, jointly, severally and even retroactively liable for releases of hazardous substances. The three statutory liability defenses available under the 2002 Brownfields Amendments to CERCLA provide important liability limitations for landowners who qualify as: 1. Bona fide
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Employing New Technology to Clean Up an Old Site

Cleanup work has resumed at a former chemical plant in central Michigan that’s become one of the country’s costliest Superfund sites. However, these efforts come with a new twist. The EPA plans to test a new method to remove soil contaminants in floodplains downstream from a former chemical plant in central Michigan with hopes that it could save millions of dollars on the costs of this ongoing cleanup. Velsicol Chemical Corp. (formerly Michigan Chemical Corp.) produced various chemical compounds and
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Wolverine State Moves Toward Regulation of GenX

Michigan could be the first state in the nation to establish maximum contaminant levels for the chemical, GenX. This comes after a Science Advisory Workgroup, made up of three environmental and health experts, listed GenX among seven chemicals deserving of regulation in the state’s drinking water in late June. Although it gained notoriety for contaminating the Cape Fear River in North Carolina, GenX is not among chemicals currently regulated by the EPA, leaving beleaguered states to step up and set
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