U.S. EPA Publishes Supplemental “Transparency in Science” Proposed Rule

On March 18, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or the Agency) published a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking in its “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” rulemaking. EPA’s original “Transparency in Science” proposal, published in April 2018, proposed that “for the science pivotal to its significant regulatory actions, EPA will ensure that the data and models underlying the science is publicly available in a manner sufficient for validation and analysis.” (more…)

New U.S. Department of Justice Guidance Ends Use of Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) in Settlements

On March 12, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) issued guidance ending its decades-long practice of permitting private defendants in civil settlements to expend funds to provide environmentally beneficial goods and services to third parties in lieu of civil penalty payments. Defendants have long preferred to undertake supplemental environmental projects (SEPs) in lieu of paying larger penalties, and government enforcement lawyers saw SEPs as a valuable tool to encourage settlements. DOJ now finds that these SEPs violate the federal Miscellaneous Receipts Act, which requires federal officers receiving funds on behalf of the United States to deposit those funds into the United States Treasury. “Moving forward, [SEPs] will no longer be part of the suite of relief the Environment and Natural Resources Division seeks in its cases (unless specifically authorized by Congress), both in light of their inconsistency with law and their departure from sound enforcement practices,” according to ENRD’s memorandum. ENRD’s new policy is prospective and will not affect SEPs in existing settlements.

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FERC, NERC Provide Industry Guidance to Ensure Grid Reliability Amid Potential Coronavirus Impacts

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) announced yesterday they are taking steps to ensure that operators of the bulk electric system can focus their resources on keeping people safe and the lights on during this unprecedented public health emergency.

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The EPA Issues Final Rule on Inspections in Civil Cases

On March 2, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule providing the procedures for EPA inspections in civil cases. (more…)

The EPA Responds to Coronavirus with List of Approved Disinfectant Products

On Tuesday, March 3, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a list of antimicrobial disinfectant products that are currently approved to make limited efficacy claims against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The exact claims that can be made, and where they can be made, are specifically governed by the EPA’s 2016 Emerging Viral Pathogen guidance, which the agency activated on January 29 for SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19.

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Bipartisan Energy Bill Hits the U.S. Senate

On February 28, 2020, Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, introduced wide-ranging energy legislation that calls for enhanced energy efficiency and technological advancement. SB 2657, entitled the American Energy Innovation Act, is the result of a year of activity in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The bipartisan effort could move quickly in the Senate. (more…)

EPA Regulatory Guidance Database Goes Live

On February 28, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) online guidance database (available here) went live. EPA, along with other federal agencies, was required to make its guidance documents available through a single portal. (more…)