On November 7, EPA filed a motion asking the D.C. Circuit to remand certain provisions of the CCR Rule for the Agency’s reconsideration. As background, on September 13, EPA granted USWAG’s and AES Puerto Rico’s petitions for reconsideration of the CCR Rule stating that it was “appropriate and in the public interest” for the Agency to reconsider parts of the regulation. EPA’s decision was largely based on the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, which alters the self-implementing nature of the Rule to one implemented through enforceable permit programs.
On April 10, the D.C. Circuit heard oral argument in an appeal filed by Sierra Club and other environmental groups seeking to force EPA to release utility effluent treatment data that the agency used to inform its Steam Electric Effluent Limitations Guidelines (ELG) rule. The environmental groups are requesting that the D.C. Circuit overturn the district court’s ruling, which sides with EPA. EPA collected the data from electric utility companies on their wastewater treatment technologies, pollutants, and incremental costs. The environmental groups plan to use the data to support their appeal of the ELG rule, which is pending in the 5th Circuit.
On January 11, EPA proposed Superfund financial assurance regulations for the hardrock mining industry. The proposal requires owners and operators of certain types of hardrock mines and mineral processing facilities to give financial assurances of their ability to pay for potential releases of hazardous substances from their facilities, including Superfund cleanup costs, health assessment costs and natural resource damages (NRD).
On December 16, 2016, President Obama signed the Water Infrastructure Investment for the Nation Act (WIIN) (S. 612). As one of the last pieces of legislation by Congress this session, the Act gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authority to approve state permitting programs for coal combustion residuals units (CCR units). The Act also affects other areas of water resources, ranging from the remediation of lead piping in Flint, Michigan to studies addressing the California drought.
EPA has released “EJ 2020 Action Agenda,” its action plan for addressing environmental justice (“EJ”) for 2016 through 2020. The Agenda builds on the foundation established in its last EJ strategic plan, Plan EJ 2014, which laid the groundwork of EJ practices with guidance and tools to integrate EJ in EPA’s programs and policies. The Agenda is framed by three overarching goals with priority areas and examples of key actions for each goal, as well as measures to evaluate progress.
In 2011, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for stricter federal hazardous waste law listing criteria for corrosive dust. Specifically, PEER asked EPA to revise the regulatory value for defining waste as corrosive, moving it from a pH of 12.5 to 11.5. PEER argues that the 11.5 mark is a standard successfully employed by many other international and domestic regulatory programs. PEER also requested a broadening of the scope of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) corrosivity definition to include nonaqueous wastes, as well as aqueous wastes. PEER believes that the current standard is far less stringent than the presumed safe levels set for alkaline corrosives by other international bodies. As evidence, PEER cited injuries suffered by first respondents in the aftermath of the 2001 World Trade Center (WTC) attacks. Continue Reading EPA Extends Comment Period On RCRA Corrosive Dust Decision
EPA sent its final hazardous waste generator improvements rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. EPA released a proposed version of the rule on August 31, 2015. The proposal includes several changes to EPA’s current hazardous waste regulations. Continue Reading The White House Receives EPA’s Final Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule
EPA defines “environmental justice” as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” On June 7, 2016, EPA released its final version of the Technical Guidance for Assessing Environmental Justice in Regulatory Analysis (EJ Technical Guidance). EPA previously released a draft version of this guidance on May 9, 2013. The new guidance complements EPA’s Guidance on Considering Environmental Justice During the Development of Regulatory Actions, issued in May 2015, which provides direction on when EJ should be considered during the development of a “regulatory action,” and begins to address the issue of how to do so in an analytical fashion. A “regulatory action” is “any substantive action by an agency (normally published in the Federal Register) that promulgates or is expected to lead to the promulgation of a final rule or regulation, including notices of inquiry, advance notices of proposed rulemaking, and notices of proposed rulemaking.” Continue Reading EPA Releases Final Environmental Justice Technical Guidance
In 2014, EPA issued a revised definition of solid waste rule (“Final DSW Rule”). The Final DSW Rule revised certain RCRA recycling exemptions that were first promulgated as part of a 2008 rulemaking (“2008 DSW Rule”). One of the revisions mandates the use of all of the following four factors for determining whether a recycling activity is legitimate: Continue Reading EPA’s “Legitimacy Determination” for Recycling Activities Challenged
The Georgia Department of Environmental Protection (“EPD”) released a draft “Coal Combustion Residuals” rule on May 12, 2016 (“draft State CCR Rule”). EPD solicited comments on the draft rule until May 24, 2016. The draft State CCR Rule builds on the federal Coal Combustion Residuals Rule (“federal CCR Rule”), which was released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) last spring. Continue Reading Georgia’s Draft Proposal to Regulate Coal Combustion Residuals