On January 11, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that, effective immediately, the Agency’s review of applications for new pesticide active ingredients (AI) pursuant to the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) will uniformly incorporate analysis under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) with the intention of prioritizing protection for listed species as much as possible. The new policy applies to AI applications already submitted for consideration as well as incoming applications, and it does not immediately implicate any pending litigation regarding established AIs. Under the new policy, before registering any new conventional AI, the agency will evaluate the potential effects of the AI on federally listed threatened or endangered species and their designated critical habitats, and initiate ESA consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Services (the Services) as appropriate.
Continue Reading EPA Announces Policy Aimed at Uniformly Incorporating Endangered Species Act Requirements into New Pesticide Registration Determinations

On January 5, EPA added 1-bromopropane (1-BP), which is also called n-propyl bromide, to the list of Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAP) under the federal Clean Air Act. 1-BP is used as a substitute for other HAPs in dry cleaning and other industries. This marks the first addition to the list since it was established as part of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. The addition was prompted by petitions to list 1-BP by the Halogenated Solvents Industry Alliance and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

EPA is expected to issue additional guidance and regulation under the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) that will further govern the emission of the 1-BP; in the interim, companies that emit 1-BP need to consider how the addition of 1-BP to the list of HAPs will affect their permitting, emissions reporting, and regulatory compliance.
Continue Reading EPA Expands the List of Clean Air Act Hazardous Air Pollutants

On December 7, 2021, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) filed proposed amendments to Illinois’ groundwater quality standards with the Illinois Pollution Control Board (Board). The proposal includes Class I and Class II groundwater quality standards for six per- and polyfuoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS), perfluorobutanesulfonic acid (PFBS), and hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid (HFPO-DA).  Illinois follows several states that are choosing to regulate PFAS constituents while federal regulation of the constituents is pending. Ubiquitous, PFAS can be found in a variety of consumer products, industrial processes, and fire-fighting foams, and can come to be located throughout the environment.

Continue Reading Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Proposes New PFAS Standards

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently made several announcements regarding its goals for investigating, regulating, and remediating Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), a group of chemicals used in a variety of consumer and industrial products since the early 1940s. In the environment, PFAS can be found in soil, groundwater, surface water, and the air. PFAS are ubiquitous in the environment due to their widespread use, their ability to travel long distances, and the long length of time it takes for them to break down. Although they have been subject to study for some time under the Safe Drinking Water Act, PFAS, known as “emerging contaminants,” are not comprehensively regulated at the federal level. EPA’s announcements demonstrate its intent to develop regulation of this category of chemicals.
Continue Reading EPA Makes PFAS Announcements, Issues PFAS Strategic Roadmap and Planned RCRA Hazardous Waste Designations

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

The U.S. Supreme Court recently decided Atlantic Richfield v. Christian, a Superfund case involving landowners who sought to use state law claims to compel Atlantic Richfield, the successor by merger to a copper smelting company, to perform a more extensive cleanup than federal regulators had required under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). While formally remanding the landowners’ claims to state court for further evaluation because the claims require the federal EPA’s permission to meaningfully proceed, the decision emphasizes the EPA’s continued primacy in remedial decision making. The decision should give a measure of comfort to parties performing federally supervised cleanups. But parties still may be vulnerable to state court claims by landowners that convince the EPA that the remedies they request do not threaten overall cleanups.
Continue Reading Three Takeaways from Atlantic Richfield Supreme Court Decision Emphasizing EPA Primacy in Remedial Decision Making

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 last week its latest step in the implementation of its Action Plan—a preliminary regulatory determination regarding two per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)—perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). The Action Plan was issued in February 2019 and outlined the agency’s efforts to address PFAS contamination in groundwater. This latest step comes on the heels of the EPA’s November 2019 proposal to add PFAS to the list of chemicals for which facilities must report use under the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA).

Continue Reading EPA Takes One Step Closer to Regulating PFAS in Drinking Water

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

Environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are pursuing litigation against EPA to force companies that have never intentionally used asbestos in a product to file reports linking their products to asbestos. Manufacturing and chemical companies should keep an eye on Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization v. Wheeler – currently pending in California federal court – where the NGOs seek to dramatically increase companies’ obligations to disclose that their products contain asbestos – even where it is just present as an impurity.
Continue Reading District Court Decision on EPA Reporting Could Affect Asbestos Litigation