TSCA and Asbestos—a New Approach or One That Reveals the Same Old Problems?

On November 29, EPA announced that it will review the hazard and exposure risks caused by asbestos. Asbestos will be one of the first ten substances to be evaluated under the TSCA amendments commonly referred to as the Lautenberg Act. As we have discussed elsewhere, TSCA now requires EPA to produce a risk evaluation work plan for these substances by June 2017 and complete its evaluation within three years following. If EPA determines any of these substances pose unreasonable risks, then EPA must take further action to mitigate any risks. Continue Reading

Asbestos Among First Ten Chemicals to be Reviewed Under the Amended TSCA

EPA announced on June 29, 2016, that asbestos and nine other chemicals will be reviewed for hazard and exposure risks under the new procedures of the Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act, the June 2016 amendment to the Toxic Substances Control Act. Now that the ten chemicals have been chosen, EPA must produce a risk evaluation work plan for the chemicals by June 2017 and must complete the evaluations within three years. If unreasonable risks are found, EPA must take action to mitigate the unreasonable risks. Continue Reading

Oregon Federal Court Allows Children’s Climate Change Suit to Proceed

On November 10, 2016, a federal district court in Oregon allowed litigation to proceed against the federal government based on its alleged failure to protect future generations against the threat of climate change. See Juliana v. United States, No. 15-1517, 2016 WL 6661146 (D. Or. Nov. 10, 2016). The decision represents the first time a court has determined that plaintiffs sufficiently alleged that the government’s conduct infringed their constitutional right to a clean and healthy climate system. Continue Reading

EPA Must Examine Effects of Clean Air Act Regulations on Jobs

Under a recent summary judgment decision from a federal district judge, the EPA must continuously examine the effects that certain Clean Air Act (CAA) regulations have on employment in the coal industry specifically and other industries more broadly. This means the EPA will be subject to increased requirements before taking action under the CAA. The ruling also suggests that additional requirements could be imposed on the EPA under similar provisions in other environmental statutes, such as the Clean Water Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Solid Waste Disposal Act, and CERCLA. Continue Reading

Methane Rule Update—Industry and Environmental Groups Seek Reconsideration

As we previously wrote on this blog, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized New Source Performance Standards for methane emissions from the oil and gas industry on June 3, 2016. Both industry and environmental groups later submitted petitions for reconsideration of certain aspects of these New Source Performance Standards (the Methane Rule), which are now pending for consideration by the EPA Administrator. Continue Reading

House Authorizes Smaller WRDA Bill, Future of Senate’s Coal Ash Provisions Unclear

This is an update to the September 23 article, Senate Opens the Tap on Water Infrastructure Spending and Creates New Coal Ash Permit Program.

On Wednesday, September 28, the House passed the Water Resources Development Act with a vote of 399-25, H.R. 5303. The Senate voted 95-3 in favor of its own version of the bill, S. 2848, on September 15. The headline feature of both bills is funding for cities dealing with lead emergencies like the one that affected Flint, Michigan, but both also contain provisions that are important to businesses in sectors including construction, transportation, and electric utilities. Though each chamber has now passed a version of the bill, important differences between the two will need to be resolved before it is signed by the President. Continue Reading

FWS Proposes New Endangered Species Listing: Should Farmers “Bee” Worried?

On Thursday, September 22, 2016, the Fish and Wildlife Service proposed a new rule to list the rusty patched bumble bee as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act.[1] The rule would likely mean new restrictions for farmers and other landowners in parts of the 13 states where the bees are currently thought to exist. Specifically, it would prohibit harming or harassing the bees, which could limit the use of certain pesticides and herbicides. These restrictions would be imposed despite uncertain science about current bee populations and threats facing the species. Interested parties now have until November 21, 2016 to comment on the proposed rule and underlying scientific data. Continue Reading

Clean Power Plan has its Day in Court

The Clean Power Plan, the Obama Administration’s attempt to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants, had its day in court on September 27. What a day it was!

Ten judges of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments addressing the validity of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan in this rare “once in a lifetime” case. (Judge Merrick Garland, a nominee to the Supreme Court, did not hear the case.) A dozen lawyers battled for nearly eight hours — far longer than the three hours the court had allotted — on issues ranging from the Plan’s constitutionality, obscure principles of statutory interpretation, congressional intent, states’ rights, and administrative procedure. Continue Reading

Senate Opens the Tap on Water Infrastructure Spending and Creates New Coal Ash Permit Program

On Thursday, September 15, the Senate voted 95-3 in favor of the Water Resources Development Act of 2016, S. 2848 (WRDA). The headline feature of the bill is funding for cities dealing with lead emergencies like the one that affected Flint, Michigan, but the bill also contains provisions that are important to businesses in sectors including construction, transportation, and electric utilities. It is unclear whether the House will consider the bill before the November election. Continue Reading

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