Oct 20, 2015

EPA to Issue Guidance for New Ozone Standard

On October 1, 2015, the U.S. EPA issued a final rule (RIN2060-AP38), revising the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone from 75 ppb to 70 ppb (46 ER 2899, 10215). In a memorandum published simultaneously with the rule, the U.S. EPA indicated its intention to issue guidelines to assist states as they begin the process of implementing the agency’s new ozone standard. One area that will be covered by the guidance is the issuance of permits under the new source review program, which applies to new and modified industrial facilities. Although nonattainment designations under the 2015 ozone standards will not… Read more

Sep 29, 2015

U.S. EPA Sends Notice of Violation to Volkswagen

On Friday, September 25, the U.S. EPA released a letter sent to Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, and Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. asserting that the companies were in violation of the Clean Air Act for model years 2009-2015 for certain four-cylinder Audi and Volkswagen diesel cars.  The allegations in the letter state that the cars were equipped with software that circumvented the EPA’s emission standards.  The software, known as a “defeat device” was designed to turn off emission controls under normal operating condition, and to turn them on when the car is undergoing emissions test.  The software allowed the cars… Read more

Sep 14, 2015

Clean Power Plan Emphasizes Carbon Trading

The EPA’s Clean Power Plan (RIN2060-AR33), released August 3, 2015, sets individual state emissions targets allows states to craft their own plan to meet those requirements.  In the rule, the EPA has also proposed a model federal plan which it will impose on states that choose not to submit their own. The federal plan focuses entirely on emissions trading, and it is widely anticipated that states that choose to implement their own plan will follow suit.  The EPA has previously enacted trading schemes for emissions of conventional pollutants, such as sulfur and nitrogen, but those programs were established under separate… Read more

Jul 27, 2015

White House To Review Plan To Issue Guidance To States On Clean Power Compliance

The Environmental Protection Agency’s soon to be finalized Clean Power Plan has been sent to the White House for review. The EPA views the federal plan as an interim measure to ensure that congressionally mandated emission standards under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act are fully implemented until such time as states assume their role as the preferred implementers of the emission guidelines issued by the EPA.  The implementation plan, which was sent to the OMB on July 2, also serves as a model for the EPA to implement measures to achieve emission standards in states that elect not… Read more

Jul 13, 2015

WOTUS Rule Challenges

As previously reported in the Smith, Gambrell & Russell Environmental & Sustainability Newsletter, on June 29, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released their final rule defining the “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) and the jurisdictional scope of the Clean Water Act. The rule is in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2006 decision in Rapanos v. United States, 547 U.S. 715 (2006), and will go into effect on August 28, 2015. The rule is expected to have significant impact on a number of industries, including farming, energy transmission, transportation, construction, and agriculture. On… Read more

Jul 6, 2015

Vapor Intrusion Guidance Issued by EPA

On June 11, EPA released two long-awaited guidance documents on addressing the potential for vapor intrusion at contaminated sites.  Vapor intrusion is the potential for vapors from groundwater contamination to enter occupied buildings.  One guidance document, EPA’s “Technical Guide for Assessing and Mitigating the Vapor Intrusion Pathway from Subsurface Vapor Sources,” applies to all sites being investigated under cleanup programs such as Superfund, RCRA corrective action, and state-led Superfund sites.  It applies to contaminants other than petroleum, to mixed petroleum and other contaminant sites, and to petroleum contamination sites other than underground storage tanks (USTs).  It can be found here…. Read more

Jun 30, 2015

Supreme Court Overturns D.C. Circuit Opinion on EPA MATS Regulations

On Monday, June 29, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-4 opinion in Michigan v. EPA, holding that the EPA must consider costs to the regulated industry in determining whether limiting mercury in power plant emissions is “appropriate and necessary”, in the words of the Clean Air Act. The decision reverses a ruling of the D.C. Circuit Court upholding EPA’s mercury regulation and sends the litigation back to the Circuit Court for further proceedings. The specific regulation at issue is known as MATS (mercury and air toxics standards) and requires power plants to comply with emission limits on mercury… Read more

Jun 15, 2015

New EPA Rule Requires 36 States To Revise Implementation Plans Disallowing Affirmative Defense To Clean Air Violations

In a final rule issued on May 22, the EPA has given 36 states until November 22, 2016 to revise their state implementation plans (“SIPs”) to remove provisions allowing a defense to enforcement actions under the Clean Air Act for violations that occur during start up, shut down and other emergency situations. The rule, which amends 40 CFR part 52, requires the 36 affected states to do away with affirmative defenses for excess air admissions during equipment malfunctions, and during the start up and shut down operations when air emissions tend to be higher than during normal operations. In the… Read more

Jun 8, 2015

EPA Developing Best Practices To Report Industrial Chemical Discharges

Plans to develop best management practices for Clean Water Act permit writers and pretreatment coordinators are underway as The Environmental Protection Agency responds to a September 2014 report by the EPA Inspector General that criticized the agency for being ineffective at regulating discharges of hazardous chemicals to and from wastewater treatment plants. The agency also plans to clarify reporting guidelines under 40 C.F.R. 403.12(j) and 403.12(p) that spell out reporting procedures for industrial users that discharge chemicals to treatment plants. Updates to a variety of pretreatment guidance documents including a 1994 manual for industrial users to conduct inspection and sampling… Read more

Jun 3, 2015

Nanomaterials: Comments on Proposed Data Collection Rule Due July 6

EPA released a significantly revised proposed data collection rule under Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 8(a) for nanomaterials on April 6 and is accepting comments on the proposed rule until July 6. The rule would establish a one-time reporting requirement of data on nanomaterials meeting the specifications of the rule, due 6 months after issuance of the final rule. If a company intends to manufacture a substance that would have been subject to the reporting requirement but does not begin manufacture until after the effective date of the rule, it would have to submit its data at least 135… Read more