On April 19, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a pre-publication version of the long-awaited final rule designating two per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as “hazardous substances” under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Cleanup, and Liability Act (CERCLA). This final rule comes right on the heels of EPA’s April 8 announcement of the final rule setting maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for six PFAS under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Our detailed summary of the MCL final rule is available here.

Continue Reading PFAS Designated as CERCLA Hazardous Substances

On April 8,  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan signed a final rule regulating six per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The final rule, which will become effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, sets individual maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for PFOA and PFOS at 4.0 nanograms per liter (ng/L), and for PFHxS, PFNA, and HFPO-DA at 10 ng/L. In addition to these individual MCLs, the rule establishes a hazard index (HI) of one (unitless) as the MCL for any mixture containing two or more of PFHxS, PFNA, HFPO-DA, and PFBS. Under the rule, regulated public water systems (PWS) must conduct and report their initial monitoring within three years after publication, and make any necessary capital improvements to comply with the MCLs within five years after publication.

Continue Reading PFAS MCL Summary

On March 27, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) (collectively, the Services) issued three sets of final rules revising the Endangered Species Act (ESA) regulations. The effective date of the regulations will not be known until the regulations are published in the Federal Register. In the meantime, the final regulations can be found on the FWS website.

Continue Reading Final ESA Rules Include Fundamental Shift in RPMs

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) continues to focus on protections for bat species that have been ravaged by white-nose syndrome. In 2023, the Northern Long-Eared Bat (NLEB) was uplisted to endangered status. The FWS proposed to list the Tricolored Bat (TCB) as endangered in 2022, with a target date of September 2024 to finalize the listing. However, on April 1, FWS issued a series of guidance documents covering both NLEB and TCB, suggesting that the TCB endangered listing may be accelerated. Like the NLEB, the TCB has extensive habitat throughout the U.S. (37 states for NLEB, and 39 states for TCB). Accordingly, these listings have significant impacts on projects that involve tree clearing.

Continue Reading FWS Prepares for Tricolored Bat Listing With New Guidance

On March 11, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the long-awaited Safer Communities by Chemical Accident Prevention Rule (Final Rule), which concluded a nearly decadelong process — spanning three administrations — to update EPA’s Risk Management Program (RMP) under the Clean Air Act (CAA).

Continue Reading EPA Makes Major Changes to Risk Management Program Under Clean Air Act

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued its long-awaited climate reporting requirements, making it mandatory for the largest publicly traded companies in the U.S. to annually disclose both greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and their material climate risks, with some requirements kicking in as early as 2025. On March 6, the SEC voted 3-2 along party lines to pass a pared down version of its March 2022 proposal, giving regulated companies the final word on the much-anticipated rule.

Continue Reading SEC Issues Final Climate Disclosure Rules, Paring Down Its 2022 Proposal, With Implications for Greenwashing Claims

Effective April 12, a new eagle take permitting regime will be in place. The eagle take permitting scheme has been criticized because of its overly conservative and burdensome requirements. These concerns culminated in a lawsuit filed against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Debra Shearwater et al. v. FWS, Case No. 14-CV-02830 (N.D. Cal 2015). The changes to the permitting regulations published on February 8 are the outcome of that litigation.

Continue Reading Changes to Eagle Take Permitting Finalized by Fish and Wildlife Service

Exercising one of its most important and far-reaching powers under the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has lowered the primary annual National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) from 12 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3) down to 9 ug/m3, changing the game on air quality permitting for much of the U.S. EPA’s February 7, 2024 final rule, which will become effective 60 days following its publication in the Federal Register, represents a reversal of the Trump administration’s decision to retain the PM2.5 standard of 12 ug/m3 set under the Obama administration in 2012. The lower standard will set off a chain reaction of additional requirements for state air agencies, and ultimately industrial sources, in places designated as nonattainment with the new standard, but one impact of the new standard will be felt almost immediately: increased difficulty in obtaining air permits.

Continue Reading EPA Lowers Annual PM2.5 NAAQS, With Immediate Impacts for Air Permitting

At the end of January, a federal judge issued a ruling in a high-profile environmental justice case, Louisiana v. EPA, brought by Louisiana against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The ruling temporarily blocks EPA and DOJ attempts to enforce disparate-impact regulations promulgated under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act against Louisiana state agencies. Beyond that, the decision has potentially significant ramifications for the Biden administration’s ongoing environmental justice initiatives.

Continue Reading <em>Louisiana v. EPA</em>: A Turning Point for Title VI and Environmental Justice?

For anyone involved in the first round of the Clean Air Act regional haze program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) action on the first business day of 2024 came as no surprise: EPA proposed to disapprove the regional haze plan for Kansas. If the past is any indication of the future, this proposal foreshadows what will likely be many more regional haze state plan disapprovals over the next 12 months, given that EPA has already been hauled into court once again to force it back on schedule.

Continue Reading And so It Begins…EPA Issues First Disapproval of Regional Haze Round Two