Nov 8, 2021

EPA Proposes Clean Air Rule to Cut Methane Emissions from Oil and Natural Gas Industry

Methane Emissions

On November 2, the U.S. EPA announced comprehensive new protections to sharply reduce pollution from the oil and natural gas industry through regulation of methane emissions. The proposed regulations will, for the first time, seek reductions from existing sources nationwide. The proposed rule would eliminate 41 million tons of methane emissions from 2023 to 2025. It will accomplish this through updated and broadened methane and VOC emission reduction requirements for new, modified, and reconstructive oil and gas sources, by requiring states to develop plans to limit methane emissions from hundreds of thousands of existing sources. The EPA will take public… Read more


Oct 27, 2021

EPAs PFAS Regulation Plan Puts Companies on Notice

forever chemicals

The EPA’s new plan to regulate “forever chemicals” sends a strong message to companies to know if PFAS chemicals are in their products, and to start looking for alternatives. Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, includes thousands of chemicals present in industrial and consumer products from electrical wiring to waterproof jackets. PFAS have been dubbed “forever chemicals” because some can linger for many years in the human body and for generations in the environment. The Biden administration has indicated that it will coordinate efforts across eight federal agencies to reduce PFAS pollution in the air, water, food, and land, with the… Read more


Oct 13, 2021

EPA Misses Deadline to Respond to RCRA, PFAS Petition

Hazardous chemicals

The EPA missed the September 21, 2021 deadline to respond to a Petition filed by the State of New Mexico to designate all per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as hazardous waste under RCRA. The EPA had 90 days to respond to the state’s petition, and failure to respond has now opened the door to litigation. Regulation under RCRA would have subjected PFAS substances to the “cradle to grave” regulation under the federal waste law. RCRA listing would have subjected the chemicals to broad, cradle to grave waste management, including strict storage, transfer, and disposal requirements. In addition, such listing would… Read more


Sep 28, 2021

OSHA Announces Expanded Measures to Protect Workers from Extreme Heat

On September 22, the White House announced enhanced and expanded efforts being taken by the U.S. Department of Labor to combat the hazards associated with extreme heat – both indoors and outdoors. In response to concerns over warmer working conditions, OSHA implemented an intervention and enforcement initiative designed to prevent and protect workers from heat-related illness and deaths. The initiative prioritizes heat-related interventions and inspections on days when the heat index exceeds 80° Fahrenheit. OSHA area directors across the nation are expected to institute the following: Prioritize inspections of heat-related complaints, referrals, and employer-reported illnesses and initiate onsite investigations where… Read more


Sep 9, 2021

EPA Extends Deadline to Comply with TSCA Chemical Ban

Toxic Chemicals & State Chemical Regulation

The EPA has extended the compliance date for industries that produce, distribute or import computers, appliances, and many other commercial products containing phenol, isopropylated phosphate (PIP) – a plastic softener and flame-retardant chemical until March 8, 2022.  When used in electronic equipment, PIP softens the plastic surrounding wires which prevent fire-causing short circuits.  Pursuant to the 2016 TSCA Amendments, the EPA has been reviewing the hazards presented by a number of toxic chemicals widely used in commercial products, and in January 2021, issued a final Order banning the manufacture, distribution, or importation of products containing PIP.  The EPA’s ban on… Read more


Sep 1, 2021

8th Circuit Confirms Retroactive, New Source Review Enforcement Power

GA Appeal Court

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit has ruled that the EPA may pursue injunctive relief against emission sources for past violations of new source review (NSR) permit requirements under the Clean Air Act. In the suit, the EPA was pursuing Ameren, Missouri, a coal-fired power plant, for the company’s failure to obtain a prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) permit for “major” modifications to its Rush Island power plant. The EPA argued that Ameren should have conducted a PSD permit review, and based on projected emission increases, that the facility should have applied the “best available control technology… Read more


Aug 17, 2021

EPA to Increase Air Enforcement at Scrap Metal Facilities

Air Pollution

The EPA has issued an enforcement alert notifying facilities that operate large shredders that they are priority targets for potential enforcement actions for emission violations. The shredders in question are those typically utilized to shred cars and appliances, and the EPA estimates that there are approximately 250 permitted facilities in the US. The alert was issued in response to both EPA and state findings that emissions violations at several facilities are occurring, some of which are located in densely populated areas. The alert is intended to notify the operators of Clean Air Act requirements that may apply, depending on the… Read more


Aug 4, 2021

Infrastructure Bill to Streamline Permitting

The Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure bill contains several provisions designed to streamline the nation’s environmental permitting processes. One provision of the bill would permanently reauthorize part of the 2015, Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, which expedites permitting for infrastructure projects including mines, energy generation and physical infrastructure. Other provisions of the bill eliminate the requirement for federal agencies to conduct environmental reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act for activities such as applying pesticides and timber cuts on parcels of land up to 3,000 acres. The bill would also reestablish and codify a 2017 executive order by President Donald Trump which… Read more


Jul 20, 2021

Federal Ruling Requires CWA Permit for Injection Wells

Groundwater Testing

In a ruling July 15, U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway ordered Maui County to obtain a permit under the Clean Water Act (CWA) consistent with the analysis established by the Supreme Court’s April 2020 ruling that injection wells could fall under the CWA. The District Court decision marks a first-time application of the Supreme Court’s landmark test on when pollutants that travel through the groundwater require a permit. The Court reasoned that the discharge from the county’s injection wells into the groundwater, and ultimately into the ocean, is the functional equivalent of a direct discharge such that it triggers… Read more


Jul 7, 2021

White House CEQ to undo Trump Permitting Changes

SEPs

On June 28, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) announced an interim final rule that would give agencies until September 14, 2023, to propose revisions to their National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations.  The CEQ is targeting Trump Era changes which limited the scope of agency permit reviews for large projects, such as highways and bridges, to avoid consideration of cumulative impacts.  Cumulative impact analysis is commonly understood to refer to climate change when considering permit applications.  CEQ personnel are currently reviewing and analyzing the Trump Era changes for consistency with Biden’s January 25 executive order telling agencies to… Read more