U.S. Department of the Interior Releases Report on Federal Oil and Gas Leases

On November 26, 2021, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) issued a long-anticipated report on federal oil and gas leases. The report focuses on the fiscal terms, leasing process, and remediation requirements of federal oil and gas leases. Notably, however, it does not discuss the possibility of banning new leases.

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DOJ Launches First Environmental Justice Investigation Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act

On November 9, 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced its first environmental justice investigation under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits recipients of federal financial assistance from discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin. DOJ announced that the investigation initiated by DOJ’s Civil Rights Division’s Federal Coordination and Compliance Section, with the support of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Alabama, will focus on two issues.

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D.C. Circuit Denies Request to Stay Reconsideration of Lead and Copper Drinking Water Rule

On October 27, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied a motion filed by five Republican state attorneys general to stay EPA’s June 2021 rule delaying the effective date of the Lead and Copper Drinking Water Rule promulgated under the Trump administration until December 16, 2021, thereby extended the compliance deadline for the rule by 10 months to October 2024.

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Bureau of Land Management Announces Plans to Assess Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Oil and Gas Lease Sales

On October 29, 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced that state offices will solicit feedback from the public this week on proposed oil and gas lease sales to be held in early 2022 through draft environmental assessments. In addition to analyzing the effects of lease sales on air and water quality, wildlife habitats, and community impacts, these environmental assessments will also analyze greenhouse gas emissions on a national scale, including the social cost of carbon.

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EPA Grants States’ Petition for Reconsideration of Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards

Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted petitions to reconsider air quality standards for ground-level ozone pollution set under the Trump administration in December 2020. Petitions were filed by a number of states, including New York, California, and the District of Columbia as well as various environmental groups. Currently, both primary and secondary ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards remain at their 2015 levels of 70 parts per billion (ppb) over an eight-hour period.

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EPA to Initiate Rulemakings Addressing PFAS Under Resource Conservation and Recovery Act as “Hazardous Constituents”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or Agency) announced that it will initiate two separate rulemakings to address PFAS (per- and polyfluorinated substances) under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) — the law that provides EPA with authority to address hazardous waste from “cradle to grave.” EPA announced these policy proposals in response to a petition submitted to Administrator Michael Regan by New Mexico Gov, Michelle Lujan Grisham on June 23 requesting that the Agency take regulatory action to list PFAS either collectively or individually as “hazardous waste” under Subtitle C of the Act.

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PFAS Strategic Roadmap: EPA Releases Human Health Toxicity Assessment for “GenX” PFAS Chemicals

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or Agency) has released its final human health toxicity assessments for a subgroup of PFAS chemicals known as GenX (i.e., hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid and its ammonium salt). GenX is the trade name for a set of chemicals intended to replace another PFAS chemical called PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid).

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