U.S. EPA Adds 12 Chemicals to Toxics Release Inventory

On November 30, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule that adds 12 chemicals to the list of chemicals subject to Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reporting requirements.[1] Facilities that are covered by TRI and meet reporting requirements for these chemicals will now be required to report to EPA on quantities of these chemicals that are released into the environment or otherwise managed as waste. The first reports on these chemicals will be due to EPA July 1, 2024, for calendar year 2023 data.

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U.S. Endangered Listing for Northern Long-Eared Bat

On November 30, 2022, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a Final Rule reclassifying the northern long-eared bat as an endangered species pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and updating the bat’s range to 43 states. The Service did respond favorably to commenters’ request for guidance on activities that would or would not affect the bat and for additional resources to assist regulated entities and regulators with consultation and permitting activities. These include the following:

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California Air Resources Board Set to Finalize Ambitious Climate Plan

On November 16, 2022, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) released an updated version of its 2022 Scoping Plan for Achieving Carbon Neutrality. The plan sets ambitious goals for achieving carbon neutrality in California by 2045. Despite the plan’s being only a guiding document, it will likely lead to other agency actions that set stringent requirements related to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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Upcoming Decision From U.S. Supreme Court Could Further Restrain Authority of Administrative Law Judges

Two cases recently argued before the U.S. Supreme Court address the question of whether federal agencies have authority to mandate proceedings before administrative law judges (ALJs). The plaintiffs in these cases have challenged the constitutionality of ALJ proceedings and, depending on how broadly the resulting opinion is written, the Court’s decision could limit the authority of ALJs across the federal government including within the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

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U.S. EPA Proposes to More Than Double Toxic Substances and Control Act Fees

On November 16, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to raise its current Toxic Substances and Control Act (TSCA) fees, some of which would be more than doubled. This supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking modifies EPA’s proposal from January 11, 2021, which then aimed to increase the TSCA fees largely for inflation adjustment. TSCA allows EPA to collect fees from manufacturers, including importers, for the agency’s activities under TSCA Sections 4, 5, 6, and 14. Under the TSCA, EPA is required to adjust the fees “as necessary” every three years. In 2018, EPA promulgated a fee rule in 40 CFR part 700, subpart C, and set the current fees pursuant to that rule.

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Extensive Climate Disclosure Requirements Proposed for Federal Contractors

On November 10, 2022, the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council, composed of the Department of Defense, the General Services Administration, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and chaired by the Office of Federal Procurement Policy in the Office of Management and Budget, issued a proposed rule that would require certain federal contractors to disclose climate-related information to the System for Award Management (SAM) and, in certain instances, make such information publicly available on its website. (more…)

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U.S. SEC Deals With the Shadow of West Virginia v. EPA

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has missed its self-imposed October deadline for finalizing the proposed rule titled “The Enhancement and Standardization of Climate-Related Disclosures for Investors.” The commission had to reopen the public comments period for this rulemaking in October following a technical glitch that kept a number of public comments from reaching it. Adding to the delay is the significant number of comments that the commission has received relating to the proposal that, if finalized, would require companies to delineate how climate change would put their operations at risk and, perhaps more importantly, would require disclosures regarding Scope 3 emissions — emissions generated by their supply chain and customers when using their products. As proposed, the rule would impose an increased reporting burden starting with data collection as early as January 2023. When asked about this increased burden in a recent Senate hearing, SEC Chair Gary Gensler said that the commission is “trying to balance … out” the need for standardizing the reporting with the burden imposed by it. (more…)

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The Enforcement Angle: INTERPOL’s Pollution Crime Working Group

Many nations, including the United States, have an intricate system of laws, regulations, policies, and programs to respond to environmental and public health concerns. But some countries have lax or nearly non-existent environmental controls and enforcement, leaving them vulnerable to illegal discharges into their waterways, the air, and the ground. (more…)

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