Category Archives: EPA

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Some Problems With Superfund Settlement Premiums

When a party “cashes out” of its liability to the government under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), under Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidance in place since 1988 the settling party typically pays a premium over what would otherwise be its equitable share. Even though settlements have featured premiums for decades, … Continue Reading

New Lawsuit Challenges DOJ Policy Prohibiting SEPs

The ongoing battle over Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) – environmentally-beneficial, beyond-compliance projects that defendants agree to undertake for potential penalty mitigation in settlement of environmental enforcement actions – heated up last week when an environmental group sued the attorney general and others for violating the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) in issuing a legal memorandum effectively … Continue Reading

New DOJ Guidance Seeks to Limit Federal Enforcement under the Clean Water Act

On July 27, 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a policy memorandum designed to stay the federal government’s hand in enforcing the Clean Water Act where states have initiated a civil judicial penalty proceeding under analogous state laws on the same core of operative facts. The policy, “Civil Enforcement Discretion in Certain Clean … Continue Reading

EPA Commences Public Comment on Recycled-Content Product List – It May be More Relevant Than You Think

During the COVID-19 pandemic, as large and small businesses alike struggle to stay afloat while acting responsibly to protect public health, sustainability may not be top-of-mind. But the development and sale of sustainable products may provide struggling businesses with new sources of revenue and competitive advantage in the days ahead. The federal government promotes recycling … Continue Reading

EPA Inspector General Finds Declining Enforcement and Compliance Resources and Outcomes

An EPA Inspector General (IG) report issued on March 31 found that agency enforcement and compliance activity and resources have generally declined – substantially on certain measures – between Fiscal Year (FY) 2006 and FY 2018. (The EPA FY runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30.) The report, “EPA’s Compliance Monitoring Activities, Enforcement Actions, and … Continue Reading

Before Making Pandemic Response Products, Consider Environmental Regulations

Yesterday, March 26, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a memorandum titled COVID-19 Implications for EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Program. This guidance comes at a time when the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has upended ‘business as usual’ throughout the country and the world. Consumers empty shelves of hand sanitizer, health care workers … Continue Reading

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Issues Enforcement Discretion Policy to Address Civil Noncompliance during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a memorandum (Susan Parker Bodine, “COVID-19 Implications for EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Program,” U.S. EPA, March 26, 2020) (Discretion Memo) granting enforcement discretion for virtually all civil violations of federal environmental laws during the COVID-19 pandemic. Timing The policy will apply retroactively from March 13, 2020, the … Continue Reading

PFAS Update: EPA Begins Process of Developing Drinking Water Limits for PFOS and PFOA

On Feb. 20, 2020, roughly one year after announcing its comprehensive per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) action plan, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a preliminary regulatory determination under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) for the two most-studied of the chemicals, perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). This is the initial step in the process of … Continue Reading

Congress Takes Initial Steps to Address PFAS in the National Defense Authorization Act Conference Report

On Dec. 11, the House of Representatives passed S. 1790, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report. The Senate followed suit on Dec. 17, bringing an end to protracted negotiations on this annual must-pass legislation. In one of their final acts, conferees agreed to provisions addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Two major provisions … Continue Reading

EPA’s Final Risk Management Program Reconsideration Rule More In-Step with OSHA’s Process Safety Management Standards

The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced a final rule rescinding major amendments to the Clean Air Act §112(r) Risk Management Program (RMP) regulations that were promulgated at the end of the Obama Administration in 2017. The 2017 revisions were promulgated partially in response to a 2013 explosion at a fertilizer company in West Texas, which … Continue Reading

Is the Clock Ticking on Coal Ash?: Key Deadlines and Takeaways from EPA’s Recent CCR Rule Revisions

On November 4, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (the “EPA”) proposed to amend the 2015 coal combustion residuals (“CCR”) rule. The proposal is part of a multi-step effort by EPA to address CCR, including a second proposal announced on the same day addressing effluent guidelines coal-fired power plants. The EPA has already drawn sharp … Continue Reading

After Flint, EPA’s New Lead Rule Proposal May Not Satisfy Critics

In the wake of the drinking water crises in Flint, Michigan and elsewhere, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a rule on Oct. 10, 2019, that would impose new lead requirements on drinking water systems. If finalized, the new rule would mark the first change to the lead and copper rule (LCR) since 1991. … Continue Reading

United States Indicts Facility Owner Under Clean Air Act General Duty Clause

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to increase its enforcement role in industrial accidents, at times overshadowing the role traditionally played by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). EPA often takes tougher enforcement actions than OSHA and is more willing to bring criminal charges. This trend is reflected in a recent case affirming … Continue Reading

Government Repeals Obama-Era Waters of the U.S. Rule: Major Supreme Court Decision to Come, but ‘Regulatory Patchwork’ Remains

On Sept. 12, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army followed through on an early Trump administration promise to repeal a 2015 jurisdictional rule defining the scope of the government’s authority under the Clean Water Act. See Definition of “Waters of the United States”—Recodification of Pre-Existing Rules (pre-publication version). Dubbed … Continue Reading

Maryland Court of Appeals Limits Bases for Challenging CWA Permits under the Chesapeake Bay TMDL

A recent state appellate court decision sharply limited the bases on which Clean Water Act permittees may challenge permitting requirements imposed to comply with a federal Chesapeake Bay “Total Maximum Daily Load” (“TMDL”), often described as a watershed-wide “pollution diet.” The decision directly impacts municipalities with separate stormwater sewer (“MS4”) permits, as well as certain … Continue Reading

EPA Seeks Public Comment on Pesticide Applications for Hemp

The legalization of industrial hemp production in the 2018 Farm Bill is a likely boon for farmers grappling with the changing agricultural landscape. Given the strong economic forecasts for hemp production, pesticide registrants are intensifying their interest in gaining approvals for use of their products on hemp. Hemp farmers are also pressing for expanded crop … Continue Reading

EPA Expands RCRA Hazardous Waste Restrictions to a Broader Range of ‘Pharmaceuticals’ Including Dietary Supplements

If you are currently disposing of pharmaceuticals, including dietary supplements, into the dumpster or down the drain, you may want to reconsider that practice. New regulations promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) impact how health care facilities must dispose of unused pharmaceuticals. The new regulations treat … Continue Reading

FDA Findings on PFAS Chemicals in U.S. Food and Drinking Water Supply

This week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirmed it had conducted a study finding that certain types of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have entered American food and drinking water supplies; however, “[c]urrent FDA testing has found that most foods have no or very low levels of PFAS.” The FDA’s efforts are ongoing … Continue Reading

Contradicting the Department of Justice, EPA Changes Stance on Groundwater Discharges

Contradicting the argument raised by the United States in a recent amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the EPA finalized new guidance on April 12, 2019, concluding that the Clean Water Act “is best read as excluding all releases of pollutants from a point source to groundwater from NPDES … Continue Reading

Can a State Provide Oversight Under a Federal CERCLA Order or Decree?

Section 400(h) of the National Contingency Plan (NCP) contains an unremarked, yet problematic, last sentence. The NCP, of course, governs response actions under the federal Comprehensive Environmental, Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund); the government cannot recover costs incurred inconsistently with that regulation. 42 U.S.C. § 9607(a)(1-4)(A). Section 400(h) provides: (h) Oversight. The … Continue Reading

EPA Announces New Owner Audit Program Agreement for Oil & Natural Gas Exploration and Production Facilities

On March 29, 2019, the Environmental Protection Agency issued its final Oil & Natural Gas Exploration and Production Facilities New Owner Audit Program Agreement (Oil & Gas New Owner Audit Policy, or Policy). This voluntary program provides total civil penalty mitigation for qualified new owners of upstream oil and natural gas well sites (including associated … Continue Reading

In Honor of World Water Day…

March 22 is World Water Day! In honor of this day, here is a roundup of GT’s recent water-related insights: EPA Announces “Most Comprehensive Cross-Agency Action Plan for a Chemical of Concern” in History of EPA for PFAS New York to Propose Stringent Drinking Water Standards EPA’s New WOTUS Rule Recent Opinions Hold Differing Views … Continue Reading

EPA Announces “Most Comprehensive Cross-Agency Action Plan for a Chemical of Concern” in History of EPA for PFAS

Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced from Region 3 in Philadelphia, what EPA is describing as the most comprehensive cross-agency action plan for a chemical of concern in the history of EPA – the Action Plan for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The PFAS Action Plan has five primary components: … Continue Reading

EPA’s New WOTUS Rule

On Dec. 11, 2018, EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Agencies) released a proposal to revise the regulatory definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS), as found in the federal Clean Water Act (CWA). The proposal represents another chapter in the long-running debate over the scope of federal authority. The CWA … Continue Reading
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