Jan 22, 2020

Solar Tariffs Harm U.S. Industry

On January 22, 2018 the Trump administration placed $8.5 billion in tariffs on imports of solar modules and cells in an attempt to shield U.S. industry from unfair global competition from China and South Korea. The Solar Energy Industry Association has released a report laying out the estimated economic impact of the tariffs.  According to the report, Chinese solar modular makers have set up factories in Malaysia and Vietnam to avoid the tariffs, so the modular brands entering the U.S. market are much the same as before, but at higher prices.  In addition, an estimated 62,000 jobs were lost or… Read more

Jan 15, 2020

Coal Ash Permit Rule to Target “High Hazard” Sites

The EPA has proposed a rule that would require only “high hazard” coal ash disposal sites to seek permits immediately under its Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”) rule establishing a nationwide permit program for disposal facilities.  Other, less high priority sites will have permitting requirements deferred to an unspecified point in the future.  The EPA’s program will apply in all states other than those authorized to administer their own programs.  So far, only two states have received approval from the EPA to administer the programs – Oklahoma and Georgia.  Under the nationwide rule, there will be three types of… Read more

Jan 7, 2020

States Seek PFAS Help Advisories Rather Than Toxicity Values

Blog_Water Testing

Some state officials are pressing the EPA to develop nonbinding health advisory levels for some PFASs in drinking water arguing that the toxicity values the EPA is currently developing are of little use to state regulators.  Toxicity values, are a precursors to health advisories, and can’t be used by states attempting to set safety and remediation standards.  A binding health advisory, on the other hand, can be adopted by most states and incorporated into their drinking water and cleanup standards.  According to the U.S. EPA, the calculation to get to a health advisory level is very straight forward, but outlining… Read more

Dec 18, 2019

House and Senate Fail to Reach Agreement on Regulating PFAS in 2020 Spending Bill

Blog_Regulating PFAS

House and Senate members failed to agree on language which would require the EPA to set enforceable limits for “forever chemicals” in the fiscal year 2020 appropriations package. The language would have directed the EPA to set maximum contaminant levels (“MCLs”) over the next two years for perfluorooctanoic (“PFOA”) and perfluorooctanoic sulfonic acid (“PFOS”) in drinking water, creating the first federal, legally binding limits for the chemicals. The disagreement occurred over whether a cost-benefit analysis would be required by law in setting the MCL. Republicans sought language to direct the EPA to conduct a cost-benefit analysis on the MCL which… Read more

Dec 11, 2019

National Defense Authorization Act Approved After Agreement to Exclude Regulation of “Forever Chemical”

Blog_Drinking water test

The House of Representatives and Senate impasse over how strongly to regulate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”) in drinking water and as hazardous substances under CERCLA has been resolved. The differences arose over negotiations for the reauthorization of the National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”).  Democrats in the house were reluctant to compromise with Senate republicans over two provisions which would have set a drinking water standard for PFOA and PFOS, and would have listed any number of thousands of PFASs under CERCLA as hazardous substances.  The resulting compromise to the NDAA directs the defense department to reduce its use of… Read more

Dec 4, 2019

Supreme Court Set to Hear Montana Superfund Case

On December 3, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument on a case to determine if PRPs at a superfund site can pursue state causes of action while the EPA is actively pursuing remediation under federal superfund law. Copper smelting operations by Atlantic Richfield Co. were responsible for contaminating approximately 100 landowners’ property in Opportunity, Montana. Atlantic Richfield and the EPA have spent more than 30 years cleaning up the 300 square mile Anaconda Smelter Superfund Site, but the landowners claim that harmful amounts of heavy metals remain. The landowners went to state court to force Atlantic Richfield to pay… Read more

Nov 20, 2019

Congressional Task Force to Consider Ethylene Oxide Emission Limits

Ethylene Oxide Emission

A bipartisan group of legislators is set to establish a task force on November 20 to consider the potentially harmful effects of ethylene oxide, a harmful, combustible gas that elevates cancer risk in humans. The task force will consider the introduction of legislation to impose limits on ethylene oxide emissions from manufacturing and medical sterilization facilities. Ethylene oxide is used to sterilize about 50% of medical devices nationwide and helps make a range of products including adhesives, textiles, and antifreeze. The bipartisan group will focus on public health, federal air quality, environmental enforcement, and the impact on the medical device… Read more

Nov 13, 2019

Energy Companies Consider Petitioning Supreme Court to Review Obama Era Ozone Standards

Blog_Energy Co solicits Supreme Court

A coalition of energy companies and business groups petitioned Chief Justice John Roberts for extra time to weigh whether or not to appeal a lower court’s decision that largely upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA”) 2015 ozone caps. In August, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld the Obama administration’s primary ozone standard of 70 ppb, which industry representatives maintain is too stringent. The industry challenge focused on two arguments: (1) that pollution standards should be looser to account for “background ozone” from natural sources; and (2) that the EPA should have considered “adverse economic, social,… Read more

Nov 6, 2019

EPA Proposes Relaxed Standards for Coal-Fired Power Plant

Blog_Coal Power Plant

On November 4, the U.S. EPA announced its proposal that would rollback Obama administration regulations outlining the types of technology that coal-fired power plants must use to capture and treat wastewater that flows out of their facilities.  In addition, the agency is also proposing delays to the closure requirement of coal ash ponds and landfills, allowing them to continue using the ponds through August of 2020.  For more information on the EPA’s proposed coal combustion residue rules revisions, please click here. If you have any questions, please contact Phillip Hoover.

Oct 23, 2019

Repeal of Obama-Era Clean Water Rules Sparks Litigation

Clean water repeal

As expected, the Trump administration’s appeal of the Obama Clean Water Rule, which took effect on October 22, has already sparked a number of legal challenges.  The bulk of the anticipated litigation is expected to come from environmental groups and democrat led states accusing the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers of improperly narrowing the scope of the Clean Water Act.  With the repeal of the Obama-Era rule, the definition of “Waters of the U.S.” revert back to the 1986 regulation which excludes most intermittent waterbodies.  The Trump administration is expected to issue its own rule… Read more