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 amount 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

Oct 15, 2019

Wind Power Industry Requests U.S. Tax Credits

Tax Credit for Wind Power

A little over a year ago, the U.S. Wind Energy agreed to let its production tax credit lapse in 2020. Accord to representatives of the Washington-based American Wind Energy Association, the tax credits are now needed for the industry to maintain its cost advantage against competitive sources such as solar and natural gas. Citing President Donald Trump’s import tariffs on steel and other wind farm components, industry representatives claim that construction costs for on and offshore wind farms have risen by 28%. Wind Energy Association has indicated that it will lobby for the investment tax credit for wind energy to… Read more

Oct 8, 2019

Trump Administration Withdraws Tariff Exemption for Bifacial Solar Panels

The Trump Administration announced that effective October 28, it will be eliminating a loophole granted four months ago on tariffs for bifacial solar panels. The panels will now be subject to the 25% tariff on imported solar cells and modules that the Trump Administration announced in early 2018. The tariffs on imported solar equipment, introduced in January 2018 at 30% and stepping down by 5% every year until they expire in 2022, were part of the Trump Administration’s trade tariffs targeted against China, the current global leader in solar panel manufacturing. While the rescission is expected to benefit American panel… Read more

Oct 2, 2019

DC Circuit Provides Split Guidance on Wehrum Memo

In an August 20 opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled 2-1 that an EPA guidance document (the “Wehrum Memo”) providing that “major” sources of toxics air emissions can be reclassified as “area” sources if they reduce their emissions below the “major” source threshold is unreviewable in court because it is not a final agency action. Writing for the majority, Judge Robert Wilkins stated that the issue is governed by the two-prong test established by the 2016 Supreme Court opinion in United States Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co.  To be reviewable in… Read more

Sep 18, 2019

EPA Repeals 2015 Clean Water Rule

On September 12, 2019, the EPA signed a final rule repealing the Obama-era 2015 Clean Water Rule, temporarily reinstating the pre-2015 regulatory framework for determining which bodies of water are considered “Waters of the United States” qualifying for federal anti-pollution protections under the Clean Water Act. The pre-2015 regulations are currently in place in more than half the states, due to litigation over the Obama era rule. According to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, the Trump administration is working on a replacement WOTUS rule, which is expected to take effect next year. Both the repeal and the anticipated new rule are… Read more

Sep 10, 2019

U.S. Gas Plants will be Outperformed by Wind and Solar by 2035

Wind and Solar Power

Natural gas-fired power plants, which are largely responsible for undermining the economics of coal-fired plants, are expected to be undercut by renewable power by 2035. According to a September 9 report from the Rocky Mountain Institute, analysis performed on the cost of construction, fuel, and anticipated operations for 68 gigawatt gas plants compared to the cost of building a combination of solar farms, wind plants, and battery systems indicate that it will be more expensive to run 90% of the gas plants being proposed in the U.S. compared to sustainable energy plants. As gas plants lose their viability and power… Read more