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US EPA-California Tensions Over GHG Standards Increase with Preemption Challenge

Disagreements between California and the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) over greenhouse gas (GHG) standards for automobiles have been simmering since 2018, but tensions between the two sides have recently increased after California entered into a voluntary agreement on GHG standards with a group of major automakers, followed swiftly by US EPA’s withdrawal of California’s authority … Continue Reading

Potential Settlement Creates Uncertainty for US Supreme Court Case Regarding Clean Water Act Liability for Indirect Groundwater Discharges

On September 20, 2019, Maui County Council (Council) voted to settle the County’s pending appeal before the US Supreme Court of the Ninth Circuit’s decision in County of Maui v. Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund, et al. As previously reported here, the Ninth Circuit’s ruling held that the eventual migration of pollutants from permitted underground injection wells … Continue Reading

Offshore Wind Development in the US: Getting Your Supply Chain Right

In recent years, offshore wind costs have tumbled, leading to significant potential growth in the industry.  However, US offshore wind developers setting up their supply chains need to be prepared to navigate a complicated regulatory scheme involving overlapping federal and state laws, and adequately protect themselves with contracts that reflect the unpredictability of building wind … Continue Reading

US District Courts Start Applying Kisor v. Wilkie; Is Auer Deference Now a “Paper Tiger”?

As we’ve covered extensively on this blog, the administrative state responsible for implementing environmental, health, and safety policy in the United States is in flux. A few months ago in Kisor v. Wilkie the US Supreme Court upheld but significantly narrowed Auer deference. Auer instructs that courts must defer to an agency’s construction of its … Continue Reading

Groundwater Contaminant Regulation in California: State Water Board Lowers Notification Levels and Announces First Step Towards Developing an MCL for Certain Compounds

In June of 2018, the California State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) Division of Drinking Water (DDW) provided recommendations for PFOA and PFOS notification levels.  On July 13, 2018, the State Water Board released guidelines based on DDW’s recommendations for testing and reporting on two PFAS compounds—PFOA and PFOS. The interim notification level for … Continue Reading

It Has Been A Busy Year For the TSCA Risk Assessment Process

As 2019 moves into its closing months, US EPA activity under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) remains front and center.  As part of US EPA’s three-step process of prioritization, risk evaluation and risk management for existing chemicals, as we previously reported, EPA began in 2016 by identifying the first ten chemicals for  risk … Continue Reading

Report Recommends Changes to US EPA’s General Permit for Industrial Stormwater Discharges Ahead of Reissuance

Stormwater permitting requirements for many industrial facilities are set forth in US EPA’s Multi-Sector General Permit for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Industrial Activity (MSGP) or state permits based on the MSGP.  US EPA last issued the permit in 2015, which expires on June 4, 2020.  While the current Administration does not appear to be predisposed … Continue Reading

US EPA Proposes Rule Narrowing States’ Ability to Block Pipeline Projects

On August 7, 2019, US EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed the Agency’s newest proposal to amend the Clean Water Act (CWA) to streamline permitting of energy projects. Specifically, the proposed rule would amend the regulations concerning Section 401 of the CWA. It represents US EPA’s first comprehensive effort to promulgate federal rules governing the implementation … Continue Reading

US EPA Proposes to Roll Back Requirements to Control Oil & Gas Industry Methane Emissions

Today, US EPA proposed a rule to roll back the Obama Administration’s rule to control methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. Methane emissions from the oil and gas industry are equivalent to the emissions of one-quarter of all cars in the US, according to US EPA data. Methane emissions are also known to … Continue Reading

Is the U.S. Endangered Species Act Itself Now Threatened or Endangered?

On August 12, 2019, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) unveiled three final rulemakings that will have a significant impact on the future implementation of certain portions of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). According to DOI, the new regulations are “designed to increase transparency and effectiveness and bring the administration of the [ESA] into the … Continue Reading

Why Are We Still Talking About California Prop 65?

For readers who have been following us, you have likely seen our posts tracking California’s consumer right to know law, Prop 65, along with its new amendments and significant litigation. You may think, what more is there to write about a law that is only effective in one state? As it turns out, quite a … Continue Reading

US Supreme Court Schedules Oral Argument Regarding Clean Water Act Liability for Indirect Groundwater Discharges

Earlier this month, the US Supreme Court scheduled oral argument for November 6th in its review of the Ninth Circuit’s decision in County of Maui v. Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund, et al. The case has significant implications for the scope of the Clean Water Act (CWA), with the Ninth Circuit having ruled that the eventual migration … Continue Reading

DC Circuit Upholds US EPA Decision Not to Issue New Financial Assurance Requirements for the Hardrock Mining Industry

On July 19, 2019, the D.C. Circuit issued its decision in Idaho Conservation League v. Wheeler, upholding US EPA’s decision not to issue financial responsibility requirements for the hardrock mining industry under Section 108(b) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).  The requirements, if adopted, would have cost the hardrock mining industry … Continue Reading

US EPA Announces Policy To Enhance State Partnerships in Civil Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Work

On July 11, 2019, US EPA announced its new policy on Enhancing Effective Partnerships Between the EPA and the States in Civil Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Work (the Policy). The Policy was communicated as a memorandum from Assistant Administrator Susan Parker Bodine to the regional administrators. To date, the Policy is US EPA’s most comprehensive statement … Continue Reading

US Supreme Court Affirms Tweaked Auer Deference, But Is It Now a “Paper Tiger”?

In our prior coverage of Kisor v. Wilkie, we predicted that the Court would impose “greater scrutiny” on “administrative agencies’ . . . interpretation of their regulations.”  And the Court did.  The Court’s decision will affect every aspect of the federal government’s regulation of environmental, safety, and health. At the end of its term, the … Continue Reading

Ohio Appeals Dismissal of the State’s Complaint Against Rover Pipeline LLC Due to Ohio EPA’s Failure to Timely Respond to Request for CWA Section 401 Certification

On March 12, 2019, Judge Kristin G. Farmer for the Stark County Court of Common Pleas dismissed the State of Ohio’s Third Amended Complaint against Rover Pipeline. The State alleged that Rover had committed widespread environmental violations during the construction of its 713-mile interstate natural gas pipeline. The court dismissed the complaint on the grounds that … Continue Reading

US EPA Formally Proposes Repeal of “Once In, Always In” Policy

On June 25, 2019, US EPA issued a proposed rule that would reverse the “once in, always in” policy for sources of hazardous air pollutants (HAP) that has been in place for more than 20 years. The rulemaking formalizes a January 2018 US EPA memorandum repealing the policy, an action that was challenged by environmental groups and … Continue Reading

Mobile Sources Face an Increased Risk of Agency Enforcement and Citizen Suits

On June 12, 2019, the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) announced its seven enforcement and compliance assurance priority areas for fiscal years 2020-2023. One of the National Compliance Initiatives includes “Stopping Aftermarket Defeat Devices for Vehicles and Engines.” Specifically, the Agency expressed that it will have a focus on reducing aftermarket defeat device manufacture, … Continue Reading

Asbestos Receiving Renewed Attention in Light of Additional US EPA Assessments under TSCA and Potential Ban by Congress

Asbestos is in the hot seat these days and is receiving significant attention from both US EPA and Congress.  In particular, US EPA continues to evaluate asbestos risks under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and has imposed additional regulations, while Congress is currently considering an outright ban on the substance. On April 25, 2019, … Continue Reading

US EPA Extends Date For Designation of Inactive Substances on the TSCA Inventory to August 5, 2019

US EPA has announced that the formal designation of substances as inactive on US EPA’s Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory will become effective on August 5, 2019. (84 Fed. Reg. 21773 (May 15, 2019)). US EPA’s action gives companies an additional three months to continue to manufacture, import and process substances, even though the … Continue Reading

Springtime Showers Brings State Legislation in the US Friendly to Solar and Wind Energy

During the spring’s customarily dreary weather, many states have been seeking out sunshine and wind. In the months of March and April alone, eight states in the US passed legislation in an attempt to either make the permitting process easier for solar and wind power or to commit to the use of renewable power by … Continue Reading

Local Control in the US Gaining Steam … Again?

On Tuesday, April 16, 2019, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed Senate Bill 19-181 (SB19-181) into law.  SB19-181 was a controversial bill as it made its way through the Colorado Legislature, and it is now a controversial piece of legislation.  Indeed, SB19-181 passed the Colorado Legislature strictly along party lines, and it has now pitted some … Continue Reading

US District Court Blocks Trump Administration Effort to Revoke Obama-Era Mineral Leasing Withdrawals

On March 29, 2019, the US District Court for the District of Alaska blocked the Trump Administration’s efforts to revoke the Obama Administration’s prior withdrawal of portions of the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans from mineral leasing under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA).  The court’s decision is noteworthy, not just for its implications for … Continue Reading

President Trump Signs Drought Contingency Plan for Colorado River

Months ago, in the face of “unacceptably high” risk to the Colorado River’s complex system of reservoirs, US Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner, Brenda Burman, indicated that if the seven Colorado River Basin States could not agree to a drought contingency plan (DCP), then the federal government would post a notice in the federal register seeking … Continue Reading
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