On February 14, 2018, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA”) New Source Review (“NSR”) permitting program as an initial step towards NSR reform. See https://energycommerce.house.gov/hearings/new-source-review-permitting-challenges-manufacturing-infrastructure/. Six witnesses presented testimony at the hearing, with four in favor of and two against reform. There is wide anticipation that EPA will move to adopt some sort of reform of the NSR program, although exactly how and when is not known. The EPA Administrator this past December issued a Memorandum to the EPA regional administrators providing guidance on “Enforceability and Use of the Actual-to-Projected-Actual Applicability Test in Determining Major Modification Applicability,” and it is expected that further guidance or rulemakings may be forthcoming. In addition, it is expected that a new effort will be made to reform the program through legislation, with Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) having introduced two bills last June on that subject.
On October 10, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt signed a proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan (CPP). The CPP was one of the Obama Administration’s signature environmental regulatory initiatives, designed to reduce CO2 emissions from fossil-fueled electric generating stations. The repeal proposal asks for public comments within 60 days from the day it is published in the Federal Register. It is expected that it will be published relatively quickly in the coming weeks.
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 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).
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently initiated actions in response to multiple Executive Orders issued by President Trump directing major regulatory reforms. In a staff memo intended to facilitate compliance with the “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda” Executive Order, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt designated a Regulatory Reform Officer and established a Regulatory Reform Task Force to evaluate existing regulations and make recommendations regarding those that can be repealed, replaced or modified to reduce the burdens on the regulated community. Administrator Pruitt further directed the Offices of Air and Radiation, Land and Emergency Management, Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, Water, Environmental Information, Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations and Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization to provide the Task Force with recommendations for specific rules that should be targeted. Each of these offices must hold a dedicated public meeting and provide their recommendations by May 15th.
The federal appellate court hearing the appeal of EPA’s “Section 111(b)” regulations establishing a carbon capture and storage “new source performance standard” for new coal-fueled electric generating stations has today suspended the April 17, 2017 date for oral argument in the case. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said it was suspending the oral argument date pending its consideration of EPA’s motion to hold the case in abeyance in light of President Trump’s recent Executive Order ordering EPA to review the Section 111(b) rule and the Clean Power Plan. EPA’s abeyance motion was filed Tuesday night, and today all of the State and industry petitioners challenging the rule filed a response in support of the motion. States and environmental interest groups supporting the Section 111(b) rule have not yet filed formal oppositions to the abeyance motion but have indicated they intend to do so. The court’s action does not mean that it will grant EPA’s request to hold the case in abeyance, only that it does not wish to proceed with oral argument at this time while it considers the future of the case.
The court’s action also does not affect the parallel EPA motion to hold the Clean Power Plan in abeyance. No responses to that motion have yet been filed.
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.”
On Friday, February 24, 2017, President Trump signed another Executive Order (EO) aimed at identifying and eliminating federal regulations that burden businesses. Entitled “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda,” the EO states that “[i]t is the policy of the United States to alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens placed on the American people.” Continue Reading Trump Signs Another Executive Order Aimed at Deregulation
The Senate confirmed Scott Pruitt to be the new EPA Administrator on a vote of 52-46. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) crossed the aisle to vote in favor of his nomination and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) crossed the aisle to vote against the nomination. The vote followed 30 hours of debate, including an all-nighter last night, as Democratic Party senators voiced their vociferous opposition to his appointment.