Thursday, July 31, 2014
Mid Day E-mail
(Daily News)
Thursday, 31 July 2014

The Obama administration is touting EPA's proposed climate existing source performance standards (ESPS) for utilities as part of talks with other countries on greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals ahead of international climate negotiations slated for 2015, saying the rule shows the United States' commitment to cutting GHGs.

(Daily News)
Thursday, 31 July 2014

A prominent Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) attorney is questioning whether Congress and stakeholders should continue pushing long-stalled efforts to reform the 38-year-old statute, which many have long criticized for failing to adequately control industrial chemicals or instill confidence in its controls.

(Daily News)
Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Wisconsin policymakers are preparing to seek EPA approval on a potentially precedent-setting variance from its strict phosphorous limits, which requires point source dischargers that qualify for the waiver to pay fees to finance local county conservation programs aimed at reducing nutrient loads from nonpoint sources.

(Daily News)
Wednesday, 30 July 2014

As EPA holds two days of hearings on its latest assessments of trichloroethylene (TCE), the chemical industry is pointing to newly acknowledged errors in a controversial study of the substance to bolster its opposition to two assessments, charging that the errors preclude adequate analysis and interpretation of study results needed to support a cardiac birth defects risk for TCE.

(Daily News)
Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Members of a House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee panel are seeking to improve EPA's policy for integrating municipalities' wastewater and stormwater planning requirements but at a July 24 hearing the panel faced competing calls from municipal and utility officials who are pushing three different bills for how to address the issue.

(Daily News)
Tuesday, 29 July 2014

As EPA begins a series of hearings on its proposed greenhouse gas (GHG) rule for existing power plants, top White House officials are pushing back against critics who say the administration should not have counted the global climate benefits of the proposal to justify it, with officials saying that doing so is appropriate due to the global nature of climate change.

(Daily News)
Monday, 28 July 2014

Even though Congress may not fund the recently enacted water infrastructure financing pilot program in the upcoming fiscal year, EPA officials are identifying a series of administrative challenges they face in implementing the program and are gathering input from municipal and utility officials on how to interpret the legislative language.

(Daily News)
Monday, 28 July 2014

Energy industry groups are warning that EPA suggestions that it is considering crafting a federal implementation plan (FIP) for curbing emissions from existing minor sources at oil and gas sites on tribal lands -- largely in Western shale plays -- would be unlawful and EPA must instead address those sources on a case-by-case basis.

(Daily News)
Friday, 25 July 2014

A broad spectrum of environmental justice advocates are warning that EPA's landmark proposed rule to limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing power plants does not adequately protect economically disadvantaged communities and minorities.

(Daily News)
Friday, 25 July 2014

EPA has sent for White House pre-publication review its revised proposal responding to environmentalists' petition asking the agency to scrap provisions from 36 states' air quality plans that exempt industrial emissions violations during startup, shutdown and malfunction (SSM) periods from counting toward their Clean Air Act compliance.

(Daily News)
Thursday, 24 July 2014

EPA is facing doubts over whether its plan for limiting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at coal-fired power plants that undergo major modifications can serve as a "legal backstop" for its GHG regulatory program if its separate proposal for new plants falls to legal challenges.

(Daily News)
Thursday, 24 July 2014

EPA's Inspector General (IG) is pressing EPA to further strengthen its program for speeding state spending of unliquidated obligations (ULOs) from their drinking water state revolving fund (SRF) monies, a program officials created to prevent Congress from rescinding already appropriated funds because of slow spending by California and other states.

(Daily News)
Wednesday, 23 July 2014

A top EPA research official says the agency will need three to five more years to fully integrate all National Academy of Sciences (NAS) advice for improving its Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program, though a public interest official says prolonged reform efforts are depriving the public of crucial information on chemicals' risks.

(Daily News)
Wednesday, 23 July 2014

EPA officials at the highest level will need to consider the recommendation in the latest National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report to EPA that its Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program should report risk ranges, rather than point estimates of risk, an IRIS official said at a meeting of agency advisors.

(Daily News)
Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Citing concerns from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), environmentalists are asking a federal court in Kentucky to add Endangered Species Act (ESA) claims to their suit challenging EPA's approval of the Bluegrass State's precedent-setting fish-tissue based water quality standard for selenium, as well as its revised nutrient standard.

(Daily News)
Tuesday, 22 July 2014

An industry coalition is urging EPA to overhaul its draft risk method for determining whether to regulate lead paint exposures from renovation of public and commercial buildings (P&CBs), charging it inappropriately skips steps that Congress requires before the agency issues new rules, though Georgia officials says further review would cause unnecessary delay.

(Daily News)
Monday, 21 July 2014

A key official with PJM Interconnection says that regional transmission organizations (RTOs) will likely press EPA to add a "safety valve" to its proposed existing source performance standards (ESPS) to limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the existing power sector, noting that there is a need to have "insurance" to protect electric reliability and energy costs.

(Daily News)
Monday, 21 July 2014

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is agreeing to conduct an environmental impact statement (EIS) that analyzes the potential impacts from hydraulic fracturing at two disputed oil and gas well leases in California, in a legal settlement with environmentalists that could set a precedent for when and how BLM crafts such reviews in other cases.

(Daily News)
Friday, 18 July 2014

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) scientists have published a new toxicological study that finds a tie between very low exposures of arsenic and lung tumor formation, relying on an unusual study design and likely aiding EPA in its long-running assessment of arsenic's human health risks.

(Daily News)
Friday, 18 July 2014

The Justice Department (DOJ), former EPA air chief Jeff Holmstead and the power company for whom he is testifying all face risks in DOJ's bid to disqualify Holmstead's expert testimony in a pending new source review (NSR) enforcement case due to the alleged conflict of interest stemming from Holmstead's access to privileged data while at EPA, legal experts say.

(Daily News)
Thursday, 17 July 2014

DALLAS -- State energy regulators and industry lawyers are warning that EPA faces major legal hurdles if it is forced to impose federal requirements on states that fail to fully implement its landmark greenhouse gas (GHG) standards for existing power plants, arguing such actions could infringe on state regulatory power and could invite conservative states to test the limits of EPA's authority.

(Daily News)
Thursday, 17 July 2014

EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe, who served as acting administrator in 2013 after Lisa Jackson left the agency and who has played a key role in defending controversial agency policies, will depart in early August, EPA announced July 17 -- adding to the list of vacancies requiring Senate confirmation despite Democrats' inability to advance environmental nominees.

(Daily News)
Wednesday, 16 July 2014

A handful of states are conducting their own assessments of the risks posed by the drycleaning solvent perchloroethylene (perc), a ubiquitous contaminant at hazardous waste sites, in part because of uncertainties stemming from EPA's two-year-old assessment, which contains two different inhalation cancer risk estimates.

(Daily News)
Wednesday, 16 July 2014

EPA, water utility groups and private investment firms are boosting calls for municipalities to enter into public-private partnerships (P3s) as a new means of financing water infrastructure projects, with the agency's increasingly limited state revolving funds (SRFs) often being used as critical loan guarantees -- rather than direct loans -- to help limit project borrowing costs.

(Daily News)
Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Several companies are challenging EPA Region IX's strict action levels and strengthened sampling strategies that California regulators have implemented at some Superfund sites to address vapor intrusion from trichloroethylene (TCE), arguing that neither the Region nor EPA headquarters has formally adopted the novel approach.

(Daily News)
Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The White House is examining options for reversing EPA's proposed cuts to several renewable fuel standard (RFS) production targets in order to promote biofuels that create fewer greenhouse gases (GHGs) than conventional fuels, informed sources say, as part of the Obama administration's broader efforts to combat climate change.

(Daily News)
Monday, 14 July 2014

DALLAS -- EPA is encouraging the formation of multi-state partnerships to work on greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction plans for complying with the agency's existing source performance standards (ESPS) for power plants, offering states more time to craft the plans and saying they could be more cost-effective and accurate than state-specific compliance plans.

(Daily News)
Monday, 14 July 2014

House Republican lawmakers are floating fiscal year 2015 budget bill report language that recommends blocking funding for a slew of EPA programs ranging from a ballast water rule to using controversial social cost of carbon (SCC) estimates in its rulemakings, while also directing the agency on how to spend major waste and water funds.

(Daily News)
Friday, 11 July 2014

A federal appellate court has upheld controversial EPA policies for permitting mountaintop mining operations, though the three-judge panel, in its unanimous ruling, limited the policies' application, saying state permit writers are "free to ignore" the agency's advice when crafting discharge permits and EPA may not use the policies to justify enforcement actions.

(Daily News)
Friday, 11 July 2014

Environmentalists are urging EPA to pursue a formal data collection on air toxics from oil and gas drilling that they say could inform stricter pollution limits for the sector on several hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) such as benzene, and also help justify first-time limits on unregulated drilling HAPs such as trichloroethane and vinyl chloride.

(Daily News)
Thursday, 10 July 2014

The Edison Electric Institute (EEI), which represents investor-owned utilities, is urging EPA to correct dozens of potential inconsistencies, errors and areas in need of clarification in the agency's proposed existing source performance standards (ESPS) to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing power plants.

(Daily News)
Thursday, 10 July 2014

Appellate courts have found for the first time that the Superfund law's statute of limitations for bankrupt companies seeking contribution claims begins to run as soon as a bankruptcy court has approved the agreement settling a government entity's cleanup claims, and not at later dates, such as when the company's reorganization plan becomes effective.

(Daily News)
Wednesday, 09 July 2014

Chemical conglomerate W.R. Grace is pressing EPA to incorporate a trio of new studies the company funded into its ongoing assessment of Libby amphibole asbestos' (LAA) human health risks in an effort to get the agency to select a different health endpoint and ease its proposed risk value that is expected to drive costly cleanups around the country.

(Daily News)
Wednesday, 09 July 2014

EPA is considering shorter monitoring periods and more selective criteria for selecting contaminants in the next iteration of its unregulated contaminant monitoring rule (UCMR) under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), and has added new contaminants to the list of contaminants under consideration for the new regulation.

(Daily News)
Tuesday, 08 July 2014

House Republicans' fiscal year 2015 appropriations bill for EPA would cut its budget by $717 million, or 9 percent, down to $7.5 billion compared to its existing $8.2 billion funding level, and would also bar EPA from implementing key policies, including its utility greenhouse gas (GHG) rules and Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction rule.

(Daily News)
Tuesday, 08 July 2014

A host of state and industry groups is welcoming EPA's draft water quality criteria for selenium given its use of fish-tissue concentrations as one means for assessing threats to aquatic life, but they are concerned that the plan's strict protection values, limits on exceedances and other measures will undercut any flexibility they may have hoped to gain.

(Daily News)
Monday, 07 July 2014

EPA's proposed utility climate existing source performance standards (ESPS) sends "mixed messages" for the biomass sector, observers say, because it identifies biomass as a renewable energy source but does not resolve the long-running issue of how the agency plans to account for greenhouse gases (GHG) from burning biomass due to regrowth.

(Daily News)
Monday, 07 July 2014

Appellate court judges at recent oral arguments were dismissive of EPA policy arguments that the agency will face tougher challenges in achieving cleanups at Superfund sites unless the court clearly rules that parties who sign consent agreements with the agency are barred from bringing cost recovery claims under section 107 of the Superfund law -- with one of the judges emphasizing the ruling will be based on application of the law rather than policy objectives.

(Daily News)
Thursday, 03 July 2014

Utility companies are urging EPA to delay part of New Mexico's revised regional haze reduction plan for a coal-fired power plant in the state, saying they need more time to analyze the potential cost impacts of the agency's proposed climate rule for existing utilities and the implications of that rule on the haze plan for the utility at issue.

(Daily News)
Thursday, 03 July 2014

Idaho will likely need to strengthen its water quality standards as it prepares to take over issuing Clean Water Act (CWA) discharge permits from EPA, due to the likely terms of a pending settlement between EPA and environmentalists as well as neighboring Washington state's ongoing efforts to tighten water quality criteria, but one industry sources says stricter state-issued permits are still preferable to EPA's current permitting backlog.

(Daily News)
Wednesday, 02 July 2014

Industry is still seeking a lawsuit that could act as a vehicle to test arguments in favor of overturning the wide deference courts grant EPA and other agencies to interpret their rules, after the Supreme Court let stand a closely watched labor ruling that raised the deference question -- potentially clearing a path for two pending Clean Water Act (CWA) suits that have been seen as likely test cases.

(Daily News)
Wednesday, 02 July 2014

Environmentalists are arguing that EPA and the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) recent draft fish consumption advice urging women and children to eat a first-time minimum amount of fish to gain its developmental benefits ignores recent science on health risks from mercury and inadequately defines low-mercury fish species.

(Daily News)
Tuesday, 01 July 2014

EPA is urging a federal district court to reject a coal mining company's suit trying to force the agency to conduct a Clean Air Act-mandated review of agency air rules' impacts on employment, saying the statutory requirement is discretionary and EPA should have deference on when to start the analysis and the scope of the review.

(Daily News)
Tuesday, 01 July 2014

Water utility officials are concerned that EPA's recently proposed greenhouse gas (GHG) standard for existing power plants will increase effluent treatment costs by driving up utility energy prices in tandem with a suite of water rules that will also increase costs while hiking GHG emissions as water facilities expend more energy to comply.

(Daily News)
Monday, 30 June 2014

Some natural gas utilities and turbine producers are urging EPA to set a new, weaker greenhouse gas (GHG) limit for new gas-fired power plants that serve as backup to renewable generation in its proposed new source performance standards (NSPS), arguing that the plants cannot achieve the current proposed limit because those facilities must ramp up and down quickly to fill in when renewable energy is unavailable, boosting emissions.

(Daily News)
Monday, 30 June 2014

The Supreme Court has declined to hear fuel industry groups' appeal of a ruling rejecting their claims that California's low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS) violates the Constitution's commerce clause, a decision that could bolster states looking to craft low-carbon renewable energy programs to comply with EPA's utility greenhouse gas (GHG) rule.

(Daily News)
Friday, 27 June 2014

Senate Democratic leaders are delaying floor votes on pending EPA and other environmental nominees because they lack the votes from vulnerable Democrats who are unwilling to back the nominees so soon before the midterm elections in the face of Republicans' push to make any vote a referendum on agency climate, clean water and other policies, congressional and other sources say.

(Daily News)
Friday, 27 June 2014

California wastewater utilities are suing EPA to vacate a series of letters to state officials that they say mandate burdensome new toxic testing procedures in Clean Water Act (CWA) discharge permits -- a suit that could test the reach of a landmark 2013 appellate decision that said agency letters are open to challenge when they set new regulatory mandates.

(Daily News)
Thursday, 26 June 2014

The Supreme Court is poised to consider whether to hear a challenge to an appellate decision upholding California's low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) as complying with the Constitution's commerce clause, and some sources say a successful challenge could undercut EPA's greenhouse gas (GHG) rule for existing power plants which assumes states' use of renewable portfolio standards (RPS) that face similar constitutional concerns as the LCFS.

(Daily News)
Thursday, 26 June 2014

EPA in a memo to top agency officials is suggesting that climate change policies such as its proposed greenhouse gas (GHG) rule for existing utilities will be a fiscal year 2016 budget priority, prompting caution from state air regulators who are warning against diverting core air program funds to pay for implementing GHG rules.