CARB Proposes 2040 Zero Emissions Mandate for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Trucks

On September 9, 2021, the California Air Resources Board (CARB or the Agency) released a draft proposal for the Agency’s Advanced Clean Fleets (ACF) regulation, which would mandate zero emissions for all new medium- and heavy-duty trucks sold in the state beginning in 2040. The draft proposal provides an exemption for authorized emergency vehicles.

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EPA Targets PFAS and Environmental Justice in Proposed Effluent Guidelines

On September 8, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or the Agency) released Preliminary Effluent Program Plan 15 (Preliminary Plan 15), which outlines the Agency’s 2020 annual review of effluent guidelines and pretreatment standards (ELG), identifies new or existing industrial categories for ELG rulemaking, and provides an update on the Agency plan to improve its annual review and biennial planning process.

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VW Cert Petition Raises Clean Air Act Circuit Split

On August 27, 2021, Volkswagen AG and several affiliates (petitioners) filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States seeking to overturn a decision of the Ohio Supreme Court that held the Clean Air Act (CAA) did not preempt state antitampering law. Petitioners assert that the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision was wrong because the CAA preempts state laws regulating emission controls. In support of their request to the U.S. Supreme Court, petitioners argue that there is a growing split among lower courts on the issue of CAA preemption, with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (and now the Ohio Supreme Court) holding that the CAA does not preempt state emission control laws and the Alabama Supreme Court and intermediate appellate courts in Tennessee and Minnesota holding that it does.

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Biden Administration Proposals: Sustainable Fuels, Greenhouse Gas Reductions in the Aviation Industry

U.S. President Joe Biden unveiled an initiative to promote the production and use of sustainable fuel in the aviation industry on Thursday, September 9. This initiative includes a goal to cut emissions in the aviation sector by 20% by 2030 and is part of the Administration’s goal to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

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EPA Publishes Landmark Study on the Effect of Climate Change on Socially Vulnerable Populations

On September 2, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or the Agency) released a 100-page report, entitled “Climate Change and Social Vulnerability in the United States,” that analyzes the impact of projected climate change on four population groups within the United States. This report represents the Agency’s latest effort to further the Biden administration’s agenda to advance environmental justice and address the effects of climate change on vulnerable populations, as outlined in Executive Order 14008 on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.

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EPA Announces Analytical Method for Testing for PFAS

On September 2, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the publication of a laboratory-validated analytical method (Draft Method 1633) for testing for per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) substances. EPA reported that its Office of Water developed Draft Method 1633 in conjunction with the Department of Defense. The method is reportedly able to test for 40 PFAS compounds in eight different media, including wastewater, surface water, groundwater, soil, biosolids, sediment, landfill leachate, and fish tissue.

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Ninth Circuit Sends San Joaquin Valley Ozone Plan Back to EPA

On Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit granted a petition for review of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) final rule approving the State of California’s plan for meeting the ozone air quality standard in the San Joaquin Valley and remanded the plan to EPA for further consideration. EPA approved the plan in 2019, which included a single contingency measure that would be activated if the plan did not achieve reasonable further progress toward meeting the ozone standard. A local environmental group, the Association of Irritated Residents (AIR), challenged the approval and argued that the single contingency measure was arbitrary and capricious because it provided for only nominal emissions reductions.

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