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
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
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.
The EPA announced that it will not seek an en banc rehearing of an appellate court ruling declaring that the EPA must consider Legacy uses of chemicals in its TSCA evaluations of the potential hazards of the chemicals. The decision stems from a Ninth Circuit ruling last November where a challenge to the agency’s final rule on how it will conduct risk evaluations under TSCA was upheld. The Appellate court held that the EPA’s decision to preclude Legacy uses and associated disposal from its risk evaluation was unlawful. The EPA has until mid-February to decide if it will petition the… Read more
The EPA’s new rule which was unveiled on January 23 to replace the Obama administration’s Waters of the United States rule is expected to face major challenges in court as the Trump rule contains very little scientific justification for the change. The rule redefines which bodies of water are covered by federal antipollution laws, and is far narrower than the Obama administration’s version. The new policy excludes isolated wetlands and ephemeral streams that only flow after heavy rainfall. The 2015 Waters of the United States rule came with volumes of scientific justification, and the Trump administration will have to demonstrate… Read more
One hundred sixty (160) polyfluoroalkyls (“PFAS”) have been added to the list of chemicals requiring reporting under the Toxics Release Inventory (“TRI”) by the EPA. EPA gave official notice on December 31 to industry reporters that they must begin tracking and collecting data on PFAS starting on January 1, 2020. Reporting for those chemicals now on the list will be due to the EPA by July 1, 2021. The requirement mandating immediate additions to the TRI comes even as the EPA is continuing with its advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking released last December announcing possible PFAS additions to the TRI. … Read more
The EPA is dramatically reducing the amount of U.S. waterways that receive federal protection under the Clean Water Act (“Act”). The biggest change is a controversial move to rollback federal limits on pollution in wetlands and smaller waterways that were introduced less than five years ago by the Obama administration. Under the revised rule, bodies of water which form only after rainfall or only flow part of the year, are not subject to federal control. This exception also applies to waste treatment systems, groundwater, prior converted cropland and farm watering ponds. In announcing the new rule, EPA administration Andrew Wheeler… Read more
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