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

The “major questions” doctrine is likely to substantially affect environmental law. The “major questions” doctrine provides that for “major policy question[s] of great economic or political importance, Congress must either: (i) expressly and specifically decide the major policy question itself and delegate to the agency the authority to regulate and enforce; or (ii) expressly and specifically delegate to the agency the authority to both decide the major policy question and to regulate and enforce.” As we noted in our last post touching on the “major questions” doctrine, we expect that the “major questions” doctrine may be a focus of other cases on the docket this year including a pending case involving U.S. Environmental Protection Agency greenhouse gas regulations.

Continue Reading Court Cites “Major Questions” Doctrine when Striking Down Biden “Social Cost of Carbon” Efforts

In a January 19, 2022, speech to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Michael S. Regan confirmed that “[f]or this EPA, environmental justice is not an add-on or an afterthought ― it is a central driving factor in all that we do.” Since his appointment as U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, Regan has repeatedly stressed that environmental justice will be a priority for EPA under his leadership. A press release issued a week ago outlined new concrete steps EPA will take to make good on that commitment.
Continue Reading EPA Administrator Michael Regan Emphasizes the High Priority EPA Places on Environmental Justice Issues

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 top U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Environmental official has put corporate employees on notice that DOJ is increasing its focus on prosecuting individuals for environmental crimes, including the threat of jail time. In a pre-recorded keynote address to the American Bar Association (ABA) National Environmental Enforcement Conference on December 14, 2021, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) Todd Kim stated, “Only individuals can go to jail, and we have found that criminal corporate accountability starts with accountability for individuals responsible for criminal conduct.”
Continue Reading DOJ Targeting Employees for Criminal Environmental Prosecution: Tips for Minimizing Exposure

On November 16, Illinois enacted the Reimagining Electric Vehicles Act (REV Act) which states that its purposes include “reduc[ing] carbon emissions, creat[ing] new good-paying jobs, and generat[ing] long-term economic investment in the Illinois business economy.”

The REV Act provides income tax credits for electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers, including EV parts suppliers such as battery and charging station manufacturers, tax credits for costs to train new or retained employees, and a suite of other tax incentives.

According to the Governor’s Office, the new law is intended to attract new manufacturers to Illinois while incentivizing existing manufacturers to invest in their Illinois facilities and employees in order to position Illinois as a national leader in EV and battery production.
Continue Reading Illinois Sets Course for EV Manufacturing in Illinois

On November 2, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposed rule involving three separate actions aimed at establishing a comprehensive and more stringent regulatory regime to reduce emissions from oil and gas operations across the United States (the Proposed Rules). The Proposed Rules seek to reverse the Trump Administration’s relaxation of methane standards for new, modified, or reconstructed sources, regulate so-called midstream (transportation and storage) sectors, and impose more stringent new source rules for methane and volatile organic compounds (VOC) (more stringent even than rules under the Obama Administration). We have previously covered the various iterations of methane regulation here, here, here, and here. Under the Proposed Rules, EPA also proposes to regulate existing oil and gas for the first time. Further information on each of these points is provided below.
Continue Reading EPA Proposes Sweeping Rule to Regulate Methane Emissions

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

“Climate change is an emerging threat to the financial stability of the United States.” So begins a recently issued Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) Report, identifying climate change as a financial risk and threat to U.S. financial stability and highlighting a need for coordinated, stable, and clearly communicated policy objectives and actions in order to avoid a disorderly transition to a net-zero economy.

Continue Reading New Report Highlights Need for Coordinated and Consistent U.S. Policy to Address Possible Impacts to Financial Stability Due to Climate Change

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