On July 29, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a long-anticipated proposal to amend EPA’s 2015 Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) rule.

EPA’s proposal includes a number of changes, including the establishment of an alternate risk-based groundwater protection standard for boron, revisions to the annual groundwater monitoring and corrective action report requirements, and revisions to the CCR website requirements. The proposal also includes changes in response to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit’s August 21, 2018 remand of certain CCR rule provisions. These amendments address the “beneficial use” definition and CCR pile requirements.
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On June 11, 2018, the Supreme Court summarily affirmed the Ninth Circuit’s opinion in United States v. Washington through a 4-4 split, with Justice Kennedy taking no part in the decision due to his involvement in similar cases during his time as a circuit judge on the Ninth Circuit.  The immediate effect of the high court’s decision will be to require the State of Washington to replace or modify, at the State’s expense, several hundred culverts placed in streams under roads and bridges throughout the State. In the longer run, however, the decision could have much more far-reaching impacts related to federal and state obligations to protect against habitat degradation of salmon and other aquatic species pursuant to their obligations under several Nineteenth Century treaties reached with Native American Tribes in the Pacific Northwest.

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In a Wall Street op-ed piece yesterday, House Majority leader Kevin McCarthy announced that the House intends to pass resolutions next week under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to kill two prominent Obama Administration environmental initiatives, the Interior Department’s Stream Protection Rule (which applies to coal mining) and EPA’s methane performance standards for oil and gas facilities.  Under the CRA, Congress can void agency regulations upon a bare majority vote of each chamber.  Sixty votes are therefore not needed in the Senate to kill a regulation.  Once a CRA resolution is signed by the President, the agency is prevented from adopting a substantially similar regulation.
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