On June 19, 2020, the EPA released its final EPA methylene chloride risk analysis which concluded that workers working with the hazardous solvent face greater risk of both neurological issues, and cancer. The agency’s findings mean that it must propose some type of regulation by June 19, 2021 to reduce the risk. Under TSCA, the EPA has a number of options to address the unreasonable risk including a ban of commercial uses, or a training, certification, and limited access program for certain workers. For more information, contact Phillip Hoover.
The EPA is exploring whether it can offer some form of financial relief to manufacturers of 20 chemicals who are being required to pay chemical risk evaluation fees in 2020. In December of 2019, the EPA announced that it is requiring manufacturers of 20 priority chemicals to pay a total of $27,000,000 towards the EPA’s cost of evaluating those chemicals’ potential to injure people or the environment. In light of the economic impact of COVID-19 on the chemical manufacturing sector, five chemical trade associations requested that the reimbursement request be pushed to 2021. The EPA has expressed doubt as to… Read more
The EPA’s largest union is pushing back against the agency’s plans to start the process that could reopen some of its offices. The EPA announced last week that it has decided to take steps to reopen three of its 10 regional offices. Those offices are in Atlanta, Seattle, and Lenexa, Kansas. According to the agency, that decision is based upon local data about Coronavirus infection rates and conditions, and the agency intends to proceed carefully as more data is revealed. No precise date for reopening has been announced, but the EPA has decided to start the process based in part… Read more
SGR’s Sustainability Practice Group is proud to have provided the legal support to our client, Cherry Street Energy, in reaching a groundbreaking agreement with Emory University to install and operate 5.5 MW of solar energy across Emory’s Atlanta campus. Per Emory’s press release, found here, the Solar Energy Procurement Agreement (SEPA) establishing Cherry Street’s project will result in “one of the largest deployments of on-site solar power at a higher education institution in the Southeast.” SGR has represented Cherry Street Energy since it was founded to take advantage of the market created by the Solar Power Free Market Financing Act of… Read more
On March 12, 2020, the head of the Environment & Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced that the DOJ will no longer allow the use of supplemental environmental projects (“SEPs”) to offset the payment of civil penalties in the settlement of enforcement actions brought by the DOJ on behalf of the U.S. EPA. SEPs have long been utilized in the settlement of governmental enforcement actions—specifically, settling defendants have agreed to fund projects that provide environmental and community benefits to areas and natural resources impacted by the alleged violation of environmental laws in exchange for a… Read more
On April 23, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, a closely watched case regarding whether the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) applies to discharges of pollutants to groundwater which reach surface waters. In County of Maui, the plaintiff environmental organizations brought a citizen suit alleging that the defendant-county was in violation of the CWA in regard to the county’s decades-old practice of injecting partially treated wastewater into groundwater wells. The wells consistently leaked and tracer dye testing confirmed that over 60% percent of the wastewater injected into the wells wound… Read more
On April 15, 2020, a judge with the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana issued a decision in Northern Plains Resource Council v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which potentially has significant implications for linear construction and infrastructure projects and permitting for crossings of waters and wetlands throughout the country. The case involves the plaintiff environmental groups’ challenge to the well-known and controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline. In the April 15th decision, the court vacated the Army Corps’ Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP 12), which is utilized to provide streamlined approval under § 404 of the federal Clean Water… Read more
Consistent with OMB guidance, the EPA has authorized telecommuting and voluntary unscheduled leave for all of its eligible workers across the country in response to the corona virus pandemic. While the EPA acknowledges that it does not have any confirmed cases of employees at the agency’s headquarters with COVID-19, the decision to rollout telecommuting across the nation is consistent with guidance issued late Sunday from the White House. The EPA also stated that leaders at each office and region are holding daily calls and commuting with staff about region specific information regarding the virus. For more information, contact Phillip Hoover.
The Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act authorizes the EPA to make additional funds available in any year based on the demand for the funding. Due to high demand, the EPA announced last Friday that it is offering an additional $5,000,000 to recipients of its Brownfield revolving loan fund agreements in fiscal year 2020. Federal Brownfield funding contributes to the redevelopment of the underuse properties that may be contaminated by providing loans for site investigation and cleanup. For more information, please contact Phillip Hoover.
EPA’s Science Advisory Board (“SAB”) is reiterating its criticism of the EPA’s new Waters of the United States (“WOTUS”) rule claiming that the new rule fails to incorporate current science in its definition. The SAB notes in its commentary that the revised definition decreases protection for our nation’s waters, without providing a scientific basis in support of its restriction. The SAB criticism points out that the EPA and the Corps. finalized the new WOTUS after the SAB had finalized its commentary, but before it had been transmitted to either agency. For more information, contact Andy Thompson or Phillip Hoover.