The GeoProfessional Business Association (GBA) – formerly known as ASFE – has released a new study on the standard of care for conducting Phase I environmental site assessments. This document is the fourth in a series of studies the organization has produced since the inception of the due diligence process in the early 1990’s. The study is an evaluation of approximately 200 Phase I reports from across the country, written between 2007 and 2010. The results of the study will be a valuable tool in determining whether a Phase I conducted during that time period meets the standard of care or not.
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 October 25, 2017, EPA Region 6 announced a settlement with Macy’s department stores for alleged violations of hazardous waste regulations. In the press release, EPA alleged that Macy’s generated thousands of pounds of hazardous waste between 2012 – 2015 and qualified as a small-quantity generator but failed to notify EPA and state authorities. EPA also alleged that Macy’s failed to meet the regulatory requirements for small-quantity generators and did not complete appropriate manifests. As part of the settlement, the company is required to pay a $375,000 civil penalty and, as a supplemental environmental project, develop an internal training and audit program. This settlement demonstrates that EPA Region 6 continues to pursue enforcement actions initiated under the former Administration using evidence from data mining of manifests and records related to hazardous waste generators, big and small. With this EPA action, the current Administration appears to be willing to continue its focus on retail hazardous waste enforcement. Troutman Sanders has extensive experience advising clients on retail hazardous waste management and enforcement. Please contact Greg Blount or Angela Levin for further information.
On August 15, 2017, EPA issued non-binding guidance providing insight of EPA’s expectations for states to assume regulation authority over coal combustion residuals (CCRs). Comments on this guidance are due September 14, 2017. Under the Water Infrastructure and Improvements for the Nation Act, states may develop their own CCR permit programs that are “at least as protective” as the federal CCR rule. EPA must review these programs at least every 12 years. Upon the submission of a program application by a state, EPA will have 180 days to act, which includes a period of public notice and comment. States may choose not to submit such a program, and instead opt to remain under the federal scheme.
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).
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.
Parties that are potentially responsible for residential environmental contamination in North Carolina face broad exposure and unpredictable outcomes. A recent appellate decision limiting damages commercial property owners can recover for environmental contamination to the diminution in value of the property greatly expanded the potential scope of liability for residential environmental claims. The decision recognized a personal use exception that could require responsible parties to pay well in excess of diminished value to remediate or repair residential property. When property claims are coupled with claims for non-economic injuries for diagnosed and undiagnosed conditions, the potential exposure for responsible parties in residential contamination cases can be considerable and vary greatly. A full summary of the decision is available here.
As part of its implementation of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, Public Law 114-182E reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act (“TSCA”), EPA recently published two proposed rules, including a proposed rule that would govern the process for active/inactive designations and a proposed rule that would establish the procedure for prioritizing chemicals for risk evaluation. Notably, although EPA has released a pre-publication of a third rule – proposing the process for performing a risk evaluation – that proposal appears to have been caught up in the Administration transition and has not yet been published in the Federal Register.
On January 12, 2017, EPA published a final rule adjusting for inflation the civil monetary penalty amounts for the statutes it administers. This most recent adjustment follows on the heels of a major adjustment finalized in July 2016. These adjustments are mandated by 2015 revisions to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act. The new law required agencies to make initial “catch-up” adjustments by July 2016, followed by annual inflation adjustments beginning January 15, 2017. In the past, EPA only adjusted penalty levels for inflation once every several years.