Jul 17, 2019

EPA Announces Six National Compliance Initiatives for 2020-2023

New EPA Compliance Initiatives

In June 2019, the U.S. EPA’s Office of Enforcement & Compliance Assurance announced that it has selected six National Compliance Initiatives (“NCIs”) for fiscal years 2020 through 2023.  The six priorities are (1) reducing excess air emissions of harmful pollutants from stationary sources; (2) reducing toxic air emissions from hazardous waste facilities; (3) reducing risks of accidental releases at industrial chemical facilities; (4) stopping the manufacture, sale, and installation of aftermarket defeat devices for emission controls on vehicles and engines; (5) reducing “significant noncompliance” with wastewater discharge permits; and (6) reducing noncompliance with drinking water standards at community water systems…. Read more

Sep 22, 2015

Federal Appellate Court to Review CERCLA Air Emissions Case

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently agreed to allow an interlocutory appeal of a novel air emissions case under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation & Liability Act (CERCLA). The Ninth Court of Appeals will review a decision from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington in the case of Joseph Pakootas, et al. v. Teck Cominco Metals. In denying the defendant smelter’s motion to dismiss, the district court concluded that air emissions from a lead/zinc smelter in Canada, which were transported by wind and deposited at a CERCLA site in the State… Read more

Mar 23, 2015

Federal Court Rules That CERCLA Prevents Federal Nuisance Claims for Hazardous Materials Contamination

Following the reasoning of the Supreme Court in Connecticut v. American Electric Power Co., Inc. (AEP), 546 U.S. ___ (No. 10-174, S. Ct. 2011), the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington ruled in January that federal common law nuisance claims filed by Washington residents living downstream and downwind of a Canadian metal smelter and fertilizer manufacturing facility must be dismissed, because CERCLA displaces the federal common law of nuisance. Barbara Anderson, et al. v. Teck Metals, 2015 BL 1624 (E.D. Wash. No. 13-CV-420, 1/5/15). Former and current residents of Northport, Washington filed a class action alleging that air… Read more

Nov 8, 2013

Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Case Challenging EPA’s Disapproval of Texas SIP

The petition for review filed by major power companies for the Supreme Court review of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit’s decision regarding Texas State Implementation Plan (SIP) under the Clean Air Act (Act) has been denied.  SIP would have provided a civil penalties defense for excess air emissions during planned startup, shutdown and maintenance activities; however, the EPA disapproved the section of the SIP creating the affirmative defense to exceedences occurring during these events.  The Supreme Court was presented with two questions by Petitioners.  First, can the EPA, under the Act, disapprove a state plan for… Read more

Jul 11, 2013

EPA Extends Six Enforcement Priorities to 2016

The U.S. EPA announced that it intends to extend its six, sector-based enforcement priorities through 2016.  The agency has been prioritizing the same six enforcement initiatives since fiscal year 2011, which include targeting air emissions from the largest sources, and ensuring that energy extraction efforts comply with environmental regulations.  While the agency acknowledges that it has made considerable progress to reduce air emissions from large sources that modify their facilities without installing pollution controls, including coal-fired power plants, cement kilns, glass manufacturing facilities, and acid facilities, it acknowledged that it has much more work to do.  Aside from reducing air… Read more

Dec 3, 2012

New EPA Rules in the Coming Months

With the elections now over, the EPA is expected to release a host of new rules governing air emissions and storm water runoff.  The EPA is expected to begin the release of pending air regulations in the coming weeks and months which will finalize particulate matter standards and air toxics standards for cement kilns. These new regulations are expected by mid-December. The EPA is also on track to propose rules for storm water runoff for concentrated animal feeding operations. It is also expected that the U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers will finalize guidance clarifying federal jurisdiction over the nation’s waters… Read more