Batteries play a fundamental role in energy storage, and currently nearly 99 million lead acid batteries are manufactured each year. This past Wednesday, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposed rule in the Federal Register relating to air emissions controls for lead acid battery manufacturers. Highlights of the proposed rule are more stringent lead emission limits for grid casting, paste mixing, and lead reclamation operations under both the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) (for new and existing sources) and new New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for lead acid battery facilities that begin construction, reconstruction, or modification after February 23, 2022.

Continue Reading EPA Issues Proposed Rule Imposing More Stringent Air Emissions Controls for Lead Acid Battery Manufacturing

Environmental justice remains a top concern for the Biden Administration. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) recently highlighted in its 2022-2026 Strategic Plan (Strategic Plan) that it intends to enhance use of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to “embed environmental justice and civil rights in the Agency’s core work” and to “strengthen civil rights enforcement in communities overburdened by pollution.”

Continue Reading EPA Places Environmental Justice Front and Center

As illustrated by our previous coverage here, here, and here, the scope of the federal government’s enforcement power under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) has been an ever-evolving source of litigation and confusion for industries across the country.
Continue Reading Fish and Wildlife Service Seeks Input on Developing Migratory Bird Permit Program

Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took a preliminary step toward requiring limits on some National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) discharges of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) into surface water. On March 17, EPA issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking pursuant to the Clean Water Act (CWA), which seeks public comment on data EPA has collected about certain PFAS discharges to surface water and requests additional information about businesses that make or use these substances (the ANPRM). The public has until May 17, 2021, to submit comments.
Continue Reading EPA Considering Revised Effluent Limitations Guideline Relating to PFAS

On August 31, 2020, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the pre-publication notice of a final rule that revises two aspects of the technology-based effluent limitations guidelines and standards (ELGs) for the steam electric power generating industry set by the Obama Administration in 2015. The final rule takes effect 60 days after EPA publishes it in the Federal Register. Its revisions apply to two waste streams, flue gas desulfurization (FGD) wastewater and bottom ash (BA) transport water, and may afford certain power plants increased flexibility to achieve compliance.
Continue Reading EPA Finalizes Revised Effluent Limitation Guidelines for Power Plants

A landmark Clean Water Act (CWA) decision by the U.S. Supreme Court presents an entirely new test to use to determine if a discharge requires federal permitting. Under the April 23 decision in Hawaii Wildlife Fund v. County of Maui, a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit is required for groundwater discharges to “navigable waters” when the groundwater discharge is the “functional equivalent of a direct discharge” from a point source.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Applies Entirely New Test to Determine Clean Water Act Applicability in Highly Watched Case

In recognition of the impact the COVID-19 outbreak is having on every facet of life, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a temporary enforcement discretion policy to excuse certain civil violations occurring during and due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the EPA expects regulated facilities to maintain compliance, the agency does not expect to seek penalties for noncompliance for routine environmental monitoring and reporting obligations provided certain conditions are met. Other activities, such as the reporting of accidental releases of pollutants, will not be subject to discretion. Importantly, the EPA will not be seeking enforcement of violations occurring while the policy is in effect, even after the COVID-19 crisis subsides and the policy is terminated. The policy is retroactive to March 13, 2020.
Continue Reading EPA to Relax Civil Enforcement for Non-Compliance Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

Under a new rule effective on Monday, March 23, 2020, owners and operators of stationary sources are required to report qualifying accidental releases to the ambient air of hazardous substances to the federal Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB). While many companies are currently consumed with handling operations and logistics related to the coronavirus pandemic, compliance will still be expected going forward. Importantly, however, the CSB’s preamble to the new rule expresses a one-year grace period from the effective date of the rule, during which it will refrain from referring reporting violations for enforcement absent a knowing failure to report.

Continue Reading Requirement to Report Accidental Releases to Chemical Safety Board Takes Effect

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the latest step in implementing its February 2019 “Action Plan” for regulating a group of synthetic chemicals called per- and polyflouroalkyl substances (PFAS) last week. While PFAS have long been used in a wide array of consumer and industrial products, they have recently become an emerging area of focus for environmental law and policy at both the state and federal level. The EPA’s latest Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Notice) proposes adding PFAS to the list of chemicals for which facilities must report their annual manufacturing, processing, or use under the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA).

Continue Reading EPA Announced Latest Step in PFAS Action Plan

Last week, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit unanimously rejected challenges by environmental and industry groups to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Water Act (CWA) cooling water intake structure permit rule (Rule) in Cooling Water Intake Structure Coalition (CWISC), et al., v. EPA, et al. The panel’s ruling upholds the Rule and affirms broad deference to the EPA and wildlife agencies on both their factual findings and legal interpretations.
Continue Reading Court Upholds CWA Intake Structure Rule