Previously, we reported on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (“USFWS”) issuance of the final ESA Compensatory Mitigation Policy (“ESA-CMP”), the first comprehensive treatment of compensatory mitigation under the Endangered Species Act. Endangered Species Act Compensatory Mitigation Policy, 81 FR 95316 (Dec. 27, 2016). The policy formalizes the Services’ shift from project-by-project to landscape-scale approaches to planning and implementing compensatory mitigation. We also reported on the Services’ issuance of a final revised Mitigation Policy in November 2016 intended to serve as an overall umbrella strategy under which more detailed Service sub-policies or guidance documents covering specific activities would be issued. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Mitigation Policy, 81 FR 83440 (Nov. 21, 2016). Both policies focus on using mitigation to achieve a “net conservation benefit.”
On August 11, 2017, the Office of the Federal Register published the third of EPA’s three rules implementing the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, the TSCA Inventory Notification (Active-Inactive) Requirements, 82 FR 4255 (Active/Inactive Rule). We reported on the two previously published rules as well as a pre-publication version of the Active/Inactive Rule here. As a reminder, the Active/Inactive Rule requires manufacturers and processers to submit notifications to EPA with regard to chemicals that have been manufactured or processed between June 21, 2006 and June 21, 2016. The Active/Inactive Rule also sets forth the logistics for submitting the notifications, potential exceptions from the notification requirements, and procedures for handling confidential business information (CBI).
On July 20, 2017, EPA published in the Federal Register two final rules intended to begin implementation of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (Lautenberg Act), which significantly reformed the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The two final rules are the Procedures for Prioritization of Chemicals for Risk Evaluation Under the Toxic Substances Control Act, 82 Federal Register 33753 (Prioritization Rule) and Procedures for Chemical Risk Evaluation under the Amended Toxic Substances Control Act, 82 FR 33726 (Risk Evaluation Rule). A third TSCA framework rule—the TSCA Inventory Notification (Active/Inactive) Requirements rule (Inventory Rule)—has not yet been published in the Federal Register, although a pre-publication version was released in June 2017 (we previously reported on all three proposed rules here). Together, these three rules will help the Agency implement the extensive reforms set out in motion by the Lautenberg Act.
The Prioritization Rule and the Risk Evaluation Rule will become effective on September 18, 2017. Upon publication of the Active/Inactive Final Rule in the Federal Register – which EPA has indicated will become effective upon publication – a 180-day clock will be triggered for affected manufacturers, and affected processors must comply within 420 days of publication.
Finally, EPA published the notice of availability of Guidance to Assist Interested Persons in Developing and Submitting Draft Risk Evaluations, a guidance document intended to assist stakeholders with developing and submitting their draft risk evaluations, and has uploaded draft scoping documents for the first ten chemicals for which EPA is required to perform risk evaluations under the Lautenberg Act to its website (EPA’s initiation of the risk evaluation for these ten chemicals was previously discussed here).
A recent case decided by the North Carolina Court of Appeals held that an entity involved only in post-closure activities at a site may still be considered an “operator” for purposes of 15A NCAC 13A .0109(h), making the entity subject to closure and post-closure standards for hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities.
As we previously reported, industry groups, including the American Chemistry Council, challenged the final Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule (“Final Rule”) in the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on February 24, 2017. The Final Rule was published in the Federal Register on November 28, 2016 (a discussion of the Final Rule and its potential impacts can be found here). Since our previous post, some updates have occurred in the pending challenge.
On April 5, 2017, the EPA responded to a request from industry stakeholders saying it will reconsider the Obama-era Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards for the Steam Electric Power Generating Point Source Category rule (“ELG Rule”) that set the first federal limits on how much toxic metal can be discharged with power plants’ wastewater. 80 Fed. Reg. 67838 (Nov. 3, 2015).
Following a short delay caused by the Trump Administration’s January 20, 2017 White House Memorandum halting implementation of several regulatory processes, the rusty patched bumble bee was officially listed as an endangered species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the “Service”) on March 21, 2017.
On February 24, 2017, industry groups challenged the final Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule (“Final Rule”) in the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The long-anticipated Final Rule was published in the Federal Register on November 28, 2016 (81 Fed. Reg. 85732). Pursuant to Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”) section 7006, petitioners have ninety days from that date to challenge the rule in the D.C. Circuit. Because the ninety-day deadline to challenge the rule expired on Monday, February 27, 2017, no more challenges may be filed. A previous discussion of the Final Rule and its potential impacts can be found here.
On March 1, 2017, the Senate confirmed Ryan Zinke as Secretary of the Interior. In grand fashion, Secretary Zinke arrived to his first day of work—at the invitation of the National Park Service (“NPS”) Park Police—riding an Irish sport horse. As Secretary of the Interior, Zinke’s responsibilities will include overseeing the management of national lands, waters and resources through the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”), the NPS, the Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”), the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and several other agencies. Secretary Zinke is a former Navy SEAL and a former Republican Congressman from Montana.
Last week, a federal judge granted a 60-day stay in litigation over critical habitat designation and policy pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (the “Services”)—the agencies charged with carrying out such designations pursuant to the ESA—asked for the delay in order to allow incoming Trump Administration officials time to become familiar with the case.