As part of his regulatory reform agenda, President Donald Trump instructed federal agencies to review their regulations to identify requirements that burden businesses and industry.  See EO 13771 and EO 13777.  In order to comply with these directives, on June 8, 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) requested public comments to identify statutes, rules, regulations, and interpretations in policy statements or guidance “that unjustifiably delay or prevent completion of surface, maritime, and aviation transportation infrastructure projects.”

Continue Reading DOT Requests Input Regarding Burdensome Regulatory Requirements

Yesterday, June 6, 2017, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced a one-year delay of EPA’s final designation of areas under the 2015 ozone standard.  The 2015 standard was issued on October 26, 2015 and tightened the existing 2008 standard from 75 ppb to 70 ppb.  In general, EPA is required to issue designations within two years of publication of a new standard. Designations for the 2015 standard were originally due by this October, and EPA would have been required to preview for the states its intended designations at least 120 days in advance of the October deadline – by this August.    Continue Reading EPA Extends Deadline for Final Area Designations under the 2015 Ozone NAAQS

In the Rose Garden of the White House, President Trump fulfilled a key campaign promise today by confirming that the United States will begin withdrawing from the Paris Climate Change Agreement (“Agreement”).  President Trump cited the Agreement’s potential financial and economic burdens as a key reason for the withdrawal. Continue Reading U.S. to Withdraw from Paris Climate Deal

Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued orders holding litigation challenging two major climate regulations in abeyance—the “Clean Power Plan” and the “Carbon Pollution Standards” for new and modified electric generating units.  Both rules were critical components of the Obama Administration’s climate change agenda by requiring steep cuts in CO2 emissions from existing and new power plants, respectively.  In the orders, the court granted EPA’s motion to hold the case in abeyance, but only for 60 days.  The court also ordered EPA to file status reports every 30 days.  The court further directed the parties to submit supplemental briefs by May 15th to address whether the cases should be remanded to EPA instead of held in abeyance.

The orders can be found at the following links:  Clean Power Plan & Carbon Pollution Standards.  For more information or questions on these cases, please contact Peter Glaser, Margaret Campbell, or Mack McGuffey.

On April 24th, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an order indefinitely delaying oral argument and holding in abeyance litigation over EPA’s 2015 Startup, Shutdown and Malfunction (SSM) Rule.  The order comes in response to EPA’s request for a continuance to allow it to review the SSM Rule for possible modification or repeal.  EPA must file status reports on its review of the SSM Rule at 90-day intervals beginning 90 days from the date of the order.  Within 30 days of EPA informing the court of what action it has or will take with respect to the rule, parties to the litigation must file motions to govern future proceedings.

Flanked by two dozen coal miners, Vice President Mike Pence, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, and joined by various coal state congressmen and industry executives, President Trump visited EPA headquarters yesterday to sign a long-anticipated Executive Order to end the previous administration’s so-called “war on coal.”

Continue Reading Trump Begins Rolling Back Regulatory Burdens on Fossil Fuel Energy Production

Yesterday, the EPA withdrew its request seeking data from the oil and gas industry on methane emissions from existing oil and gas operations, effective March 2, 2017.  The 2016 information collection request (ICR) required more than 15,000 owners and operators to provide detailed information about types of equipment, methane sources and emission control devices or practices at oil and gas facilities in the United States.  In a brief notice, EPA stated its desire to assess the need for the information targeted by the ICR and reduce burdens on businesses while assessing that need.  EPA also highlighted the receipt of a letter from nine state Attorneys General and the Governors of Mississippi and Kentucky expressing their concerns with the burdens imposed on businesses by the ICR. Continue Reading EPA Withdraws Oil & Gas Methane Information Request

Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reinstated an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforcement action against DTE Energy (DTE) for violating the New Source Review (NSR) program under the Clean Air Act.  This case stems from capital projects undertaken at DTE’s Monroe Power Plant in Monroe, Michigan during a three-month scheduled outage in 2010.  DTE had characterized the projects performed during the 2010 outage as routine maintenance, repair and replacement activities, which, if accurate, would exempt them from NSR.

Continue Reading Sixth Circuit Ruling Reinforces EPA’s Ability to Initiate NSR Enforcement Based on Projected Emissions Increases

Consistent with past changes in presidential administrations, on President Trump’s Inauguration Day, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus issued a “claw back” memo describing the process of reconsidering previously finalized regulations. Similar to memos issued by President Obama and President Bush, President Trump’s claw back memo speaks to three specific groups of rules:

Continue Reading New Administration Begins Reconsidering Rules with Publication of “Claw Back” Memo

On January 12, 2017, EPA published a final rule adjusting for inflation the civil monetary penalty amounts for the statutes it administers. This most recent adjustment follows on the heels of a major adjustment finalized in July 2016.  These adjustments are mandated by 2015 revisions to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act.  The new law required agencies to make initial “catch-up” adjustments by July 2016, followed by annual inflation adjustments beginning January 15, 2017.  In the past, EPA only adjusted penalty levels for inflation once every several years.

Continue Reading EPA Increases Maximum Civil Monetary Penalty Amounts