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US Congress Creates New Subcommittee to Focus on Challenges and Opportunities for Local Governments

Local governments have a new forum on Capitol Hill focusing on the many challenges and opportunities they face: the Intergovernmental Affairs Subcommittee in the US House of Representatives. The new Subcommittee was created in January at the start of the new Congress and is led by Chairman Gary J. Palmer (AL-6) and Ranking Member Val … Continue Reading

State Attorneys General Join Fight Over “1-in 2-out” Trump Executive Order

Attorneys General from 14 states—led by West Virginia and Wisconsin—filed an amicus brief on April 17 in support of the “1-in 2-out” Executive Order (EO) issued by President Trump.  This EO, which we have covered previously, requires that: For every new regulation promulgated, two regulations are eliminated; Any new incremental costs associated with new regulations … Continue Reading

D.C. Court Gives US EPA 3 Years to Update National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants

On March 13, 2017, D.C. District Court Judge Tanya S. Chutkan granted summary judgment to an environmental advocacy group and ordered US EPA to update its National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutant (NESHAP) rulemakings for 20 listed major source categories in three years. The soon-to-be updated major source categories will affect several industries, including: … Continue Reading

OSHA Delays Effective Date of Controversial Rule Regulating Occupational Exposure to Beryllium

On March 16, 2017, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) adopted a 60 day effective-date delay for its controversial rule regulating occupational exposure to beryllium (the Final Beryllium Rule). The rule is now scheduled to be effective on May 20, 2017. The delay in the rule reflects the agency’s compliance with a directive issued … Continue Reading

D.C. Circuit Declines Review of US EPA Practices on Blending and Mixing Zones

On February 28, the D.C. Circuit in Center for Regulatory Reasonableness v. US EPA dismissed a challenge to statements made by the US EPA regarding two wastewater treatment techniques – blending and the use of mixing zones. US EPA previously prohibited these techniques in specified circumstances, and in 2013, the Eighth Circuit vacated these prohibitions in Iowa League … Continue Reading

Are Changes on the Horizon to the Deference Historically Afforded to US Administrative Agencies?

As we have previously discussed on this blog, a cornerstone of US administrative law, Chevron deference, is in flux.  That fluctuation and its eventual resolution will impact US businesses, including in the promulgation of critical environmental regulations.  Chevron deference describes a doctrine articulated by a unanimous US Supreme Court in its 1984 decision, Chevron USA, Inc. … Continue Reading

Coalition Seeks to Compel US EPA Action on States’ Impaired Waters Listings for Lake Erie

A coalition of environmental and conservation groups have given US EPA notice of their intent to sue over the Agency’s failure to timely review Ohio’s and Michigan’s biennial impaired waters listings. Under §303(d)(2) of the Clean Water Act (CWA), US EPA is required to approve or disapprove a state’s proposed list of impaired waters not … Continue Reading

US EPA Issues Proposed TSCA Risk Evaluation Rule

The US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) has issued its proposed rule outlining the process by which it will conduct risk evaluations on chemical substances under the recently amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), to determine whether the substances present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment under the conditions of use. … Continue Reading

US Mine Safety & Health Administration’s Newly-Issued Workplace Examination Rule Withdrawn Pending OMB Review and Approval

In the final days of the Obama Administration, the US Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) released the much anticipated “Examinations of Working Places in Metal and Nonmetal Mines” final rule amending 30 CFR Sections 56.18002 and 57.18002.  The final rule was published in the Federal Register on January 23, 2017 with an effective date … Continue Reading

President Obama’s Public Land and Coastal Drilling Withdrawals; Could They Be Overturned By The Trump Administration?

As his administration drew to a close, President Obama invoked his executive authority to set aside large swaths of the Western US and the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans from future development.  On December 28, 2016, President Obama established the Bears Ears and Gold Butte National Monuments in Utah and Nevada, respectively, setting aside nearly 1.5 million … Continue Reading

Superfund Financial Assurance Rules: Chemical, Coal, Petroleum & Electric Power Industries Face Upcoming US EPA Rulemaking

On December 1, 2016, the US EPA Administrator signed two documents about financial assurance – effectively bonding for facility cleanup – under Superfund for several industry sectors. The longer document with the shorter deadline concerned the hard rock mining and mineral processing industries, proposing specific costly rules, on which comments are due around March 13.  … Continue Reading

Asbestos-Containing Materials: A Non-Scope Consideration Worth Investigating During Environmental Due Diligence

A common question that arises when performing environmental due diligence on commercial real estate is the degree to which the presence of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) should be investigated.  In the case of ACMs, “what you don’t know can hurt you” and, therefore, the old axiom of “less is more” does not apply.  This is especially true regarding asbestos not only … Continue Reading

Proposed Settlement Agreement Requires US EPA to Promulgate Perchlorate Regulations by the End of 2019

US EPA recently agreed in federal court to engage in a rulemaking process over the next three-plus years which would culminate in the promulgation of final perchlorate regulations by December 19, 2019. Perchlorate remains the only unregulated contaminant for which US EPA has made a final determination to regulate since the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was amended in … Continue Reading

Despite New Administration, Environmental Groups May Influence Changes to US Industrial Stormwater Discharge Permits

Although the focus and priorities of a new US EPA administration under President-elect Trump remain unclear, regulatory changes may be in the works that could require certain industrial entities to either change how they handle stormwater discharges or face lawsuits brought by environmental groups. As described more fully below, US EPA entered into a settlement … Continue Reading

Involved with US Export and Import of Hazardous Waste? New Requirements Are Coming

On November 28, 2016, US EPA published its Final Rule revising the requirements applicable to the export and import of hazardous wastes to and from the United States.  The changes enacted by US EPA make three significant revisions to existing regulations by: Aligning existing export and import related requirements with the current import-export requirements for … Continue Reading

US EPA Identifies First 10 Chemicals For Risk Evaluations Under Amended TSCA

On November 29, US EPA announced the first 10 chemicals it will evaluate for potential risks to human health and the environment under the recently amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  US EPA will evaluate the 10 chemicals to determine whether they “present an unreasonable risk of injury” to health or the environment “under the … Continue Reading

Western US Water Managers Move Towards Collaborative Approaches to Water Management

The completion of the state of Colorado’s Water Plan on November 19, 2015, reflects a growing trend in western water management away from conflict and towards collaborative and inclusive discussion. Increasingly, western water managers are opting, or perhaps feeling obliged, to pursue more creative and coordinated solutions to complex water issues, built on broad-based stakeholder … Continue Reading

Recent Developments in Oil Pollution Act Litigation

Congress enacted the Oil Pollution Act in 1990 following the Exxon Valdez oil spill in order to strengthen the federal government’s ability to prevent and respond to oil spills. As this law continues to evolve, particularly in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill, the Environmental Law Institute convened a panel of experts to discuss … Continue Reading

Ohio Appellate Court Affirms Appropriation of Private Land for Propane/Butane Pipeline

Late last month the Seventh District Court of Appeals in Ohio upheld the appropriation of private land for a pipeline that will carry pure propane and pure butane, ruling that such fractionated natural gas liquids still constitute “petroleum” under Ohio’s eminent domain laws.  The case is now on appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court, but … Continue Reading

Preparing for Revised Warning Requirements Under California Proposition 65

On August 30, 2016, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) adopted revised warning requirements under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, commonly known as Proposition 65 and codified at California Health and Safety Code section 25249.5.  The new regulations take effect on August 30, 2018. Proposition 65 requires … Continue Reading

MSHA Releases “Safest Year in Mining History” Stats and Vows to Keep Inspector Boots on the Ground to Stave Off October’s “Deadliest Month” Trend

According to data released on October 11, 2016 by the US Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), the fiscal year of 2016 was the “safest year in mining history.” Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, Joseph A. Main, announced at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy in Beaver, West Virginia that between … Continue Reading

SPB Attorneys Address Bankruptcy and Successorship Issues Related to Mine Safety and Health (MSHA) Enforcement

As the mining industry continues to feel the impacts of low commodity prices, bankruptcy and successorship issues have become increasingly relevant.  Historically, bankruptcy has provided for the purchase of an insolvent entity’s assets without the third-party purchaser incurring the undue risks of taking on the debtor’s liabilities.  Indeed, this very mechanism has allowed for new … Continue Reading

Oral Argument Approaching in Litigation to Expand 8th Circuit’s Ban on US EPA’s Blending Prohibition

Oral argument in the Center for Regulatory Reasonableness (CRR) v. EPA, Case No. 14-1150 (D.C. Cir.) matter has been set for October 21, 2016. At issue is the March 25, 2013 decision of the Eighth Circuit in Iowa League of Cities v. EPA, Case No. 11-3412, which vacated US EPA’s across-the-board prohibitions on the use … Continue Reading
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