On September 14, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) issued a proposal to list the tricolored bat (Perimyotis subflavus) as an endangered species.

Continue Reading Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes to List Tricolored Bat as Endangered

Dave and Anna kick off a PFAS podcast series taped on location at the Missouri Water Seminar to provide an on-the-ground perspective of how state and local governments are dealing with the emerging regulatory framework for PFAS. Our first guest — Water Program Director Chris Wieberg of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources — explains how the “Show-Me” state uses data collection, collaboration, and risk communication to advance PFAS regulatory and management efforts statewide.

Continue Reading PFAS in Focus: Show-Me Insights From Chris Wieberg, Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Much ado is being made of recent amendments to the Clean Air Act (CAA) contained in the Biden administration’s budget reconciliation law passed in mid-August, commonly referred to as the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). And with good reason, as the law includes the most significant changes to the CAA since 1990, and the new sections formally define greenhouse gases (GHGs) as an “air pollutant,” consistent with the Supreme Court’s 2007 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA.

However, the IRA amendments to the CAA do not in fact make significant substantive changes in law. Legally speaking, they can’t, given that the IRA is merely a reconciliation bill through which Congress may only assign funding. More to the point, none of the IRA amendments to the CAA address in any way the limitations the Supreme Court recently placed on EPA’s authority to adopt climate change regulation in West Virginia v. EPA, notwithstanding some characterizations to the contrary.

Continue Reading Clean Air Act Amendments Minimally Impact EPA’s Authority to Pass Climate Change Regulation

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that Administrator Regan signed a proposed rule to designate two of the most widely studied per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). The proposed designation for PFOA and PFOS, if and when finalized, would provide EPA with powerful new tools to clean up existing contamination in hot spots across the country, while seeking to hold those responsible for the releases financially accountable. The designation would also increase EPA’s reporting and information gathering authorities as the agency continues to build its database of PFAS contamination.

Continue Reading First Major CERCLA Move for PFAS

On June 24, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) (together, the Services) issued a final rule that removes the definition of “habitat” from the Code of Federal Regulations, 50 C.F.R. § 424.02. The final rule follows the FWS’ proposal issued on October 27, 2021; the definition the agencies are now removing was adopted during the last months of the Trump administration.

Continue Reading Services Issue Final Rules Rescinding Trump-Era Habitat Definition and Critical Habitat Exclusion Rules

EPA’s standards for hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emissions from industrial boilers have been controversial for nearly two decades. Ever since EPA first proposed “maximum achievable control technology” (MACT) standards for boilers in 2003, which were then entirely vacated by the D.C. Circuit, each new iteration of the rule has raised new legal issues and often foundered in court.

Continue Reading EPA’s Final Industrial Boiler Rule Raises Controversial Topics

On June 28, a coalition of 11 environmental groups petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Administrative Procedure Act and the Clean Air Act to address the alleged failure of Texas Commission for Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to comply with and properly implement public participation and environmental justice requirements in its air permitting program. Specifically, the petition alleges that TCEQ violates the Clean Air Act and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act by: (1) restricting public participation in air permitting by limiting judicial review of permits; (2) allowing applicants to withhold public information during the permitting process; and (3) allowing facilities to operate under the state’s permits by rule (PBR) program, which provides no meaningful opportunity for public participation.

Continue Reading Environmental Groups Target Texas Air Permitting Program on Environmental Justice Grounds

On the last day of what was already an historic term, the Supreme Court issued another significant decision impacting EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change. As EPA embarks on a third attempt at a rule targeting CO2 emissions from existing power plants that will pass legal muster, the question now is how the Court’s decision will affect that new rule.

Continue Reading <i>West Virginia v. EPA</i>: The Supreme Court Speaks Again on Climate

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) regulations promulgated by the Trump administration (Trump ESA Rules) were challenged by environmental groups. While that challenge was pending, the Biden administration announced that those regulations would be revised. On July 5, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California vacated the Trump ESA regulations, not on the merits of the regulations but because they are in the process of being rewritten. This decision disregards the Biden administration’s request that the regulations remain in effect to preserve consistency and order during the revision process. Instead, the pre-Trump regulations (which were issued in the mid-1980s) have been reinstated and are now in effect until the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) (collectively, the Services) finalize new regulations.

Continue Reading Trump ESA Rules Vacated

On March 31, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia denied an appeal filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and other conservation groups seeking to overturn a National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) decision not to protect two types of river herring, alewife, and blueback herring under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The appeal sought to have NMFS list both species as threatened. A listing of river herring would have a significant impact on hydropower projects, as dams were identified as one of the primary threats to river herring populations. Continue Reading Conservation Group Efforts Seeking Greater Protection of River Herring Denied