Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) published its much-anticipated proposal, updating the regulations governing permits for incidental take of bald and golden eagles, as well as take of their nests. This proposal is the culmination of efforts to improve the effectiveness of the eagle take permitting process, particularly for wind energy projects. The rule was last updated in 2016, but it was challenged by the Energy and Wildlife Action Coalition. In 2019, that challenge was settled with a commitment from the FWS to amend the rule. In September 2021, the FWS issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, seeking comments on potential revisions to the eagle take permitting process.

Continue Reading Fish and Wildlife Service Issues Long-Awaited Eagle Rule Proposal

The Biden administration has enormous climate and carbon management goals, which rightfully include the geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide as a core part of its climate adaptation strategy. The administration, to its credit, has worked with Congress to provide tax credits and billions of dollars of new funding for programs targeting the transportation and sequestration of carbon, but without equal commitment to the regulatory side of the house, the administration’s ambitious goals are at risk.

Continue Reading EPA UIC Class VI Program Administration Creates Potential Weak Link in Climate Adaptation Strategy

On September 14, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) issued a proposal to list the tricolored bat (Perimyotis subflavus) as an endangered species.

Continue Reading Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes to List Tricolored Bat as Endangered

Dave and Anna kick off a PFAS podcast series taped on location at the Missouri Water Seminar to provide an on-the-ground perspective of how state and local governments are dealing with the emerging regulatory framework for PFAS. Our first guest — Water Program Director Chris Wieberg of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources — explains how the “Show-Me” state uses data collection, collaboration, and risk communication to advance PFAS regulatory and management efforts statewide.

Continue Reading PFAS in Focus: Show-Me Insights From Chris Wieberg, Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Much ado is being made of recent amendments to the Clean Air Act (CAA) contained in the Biden administration’s budget reconciliation law passed in mid-August, commonly referred to as the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). And with good reason, as the law includes the most significant changes to the CAA since 1990, and the new sections formally define greenhouse gases (GHGs) as an “air pollutant,” consistent with the Supreme Court’s 2007 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA.

However, the IRA amendments to the CAA do not in fact make significant substantive changes in law. Legally speaking, they can’t, given that the IRA is merely a reconciliation bill through which Congress may only assign funding. More to the point, none of the IRA amendments to the CAA address in any way the limitations the Supreme Court recently placed on EPA’s authority to adopt climate change regulation in West Virginia v. EPA, notwithstanding some characterizations to the contrary.

Continue Reading Clean Air Act Amendments Minimally Impact EPA’s Authority to Pass Climate Change Regulation

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that Administrator Regan signed a proposed rule to designate two of the most widely studied per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). The proposed designation for PFOA and PFOS, if and when finalized, would provide EPA with powerful new tools to clean up existing contamination in hot spots across the country, while seeking to hold those responsible for the releases financially accountable. The designation would also increase EPA’s reporting and information gathering authorities as the agency continues to build its database of PFAS contamination.

Continue Reading First Major CERCLA Move for PFAS

On June 24, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) (together, the Services) issued a final rule that removes the definition of “habitat” from the Code of Federal Regulations, 50 C.F.R. § 424.02. The final rule follows the FWS’ proposal issued on October 27, 2021; the definition the agencies are now removing was adopted during the last months of the Trump administration.

Continue Reading Services Issue Final Rules Rescinding Trump-Era Habitat Definition and Critical Habitat Exclusion Rules

EPA’s standards for hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emissions from industrial boilers have been controversial for nearly two decades. Ever since EPA first proposed “maximum achievable control technology” (MACT) standards for boilers in 2003, which were then entirely vacated by the D.C. Circuit, each new iteration of the rule has raised new legal issues and often foundered in court.

Continue Reading EPA’s Final Industrial Boiler Rule Raises Controversial Topics

On June 28, a coalition of 11 environmental groups petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Administrative Procedure Act and the Clean Air Act to address the alleged failure of Texas Commission for Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to comply with and properly implement public participation and environmental justice requirements in its air permitting program. Specifically, the petition alleges that TCEQ violates the Clean Air Act and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act by: (1) restricting public participation in air permitting by limiting judicial review of permits; (2) allowing applicants to withhold public information during the permitting process; and (3) allowing facilities to operate under the state’s permits by rule (PBR) program, which provides no meaningful opportunity for public participation.

Continue Reading Environmental Groups Target Texas Air Permitting Program on Environmental Justice Grounds

On the last day of what was already an historic term, the Supreme Court issued another significant decision impacting EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change. As EPA embarks on a third attempt at a rule targeting CO2 emissions from existing power plants that will pass legal muster, the question now is how the Court’s decision will affect that new rule.

Continue Reading <i>West Virginia v. EPA</i>: The Supreme Court Speaks Again on Climate