EPA Issues Proposed Rule Addressing Greenhouse Gas Emissions From U.S. Aircraft

On July 22, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or the Agency) Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) to promulgate regulations governing carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide (collectively, GHGs) emissions from American aircraft under the Agency’s Clean Air Act (CAA) section 231 authority. This is the first such rule from the Agency covering aircraft GHG emissions. The ANPR proposes GHG standards for U.S. aircraft that are consistent with those adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in 2017, which EPA and the Federal Aviation Administration helped to develop. EPA does not anticipate that the proposed standards will reduce fuel burn or GHG emissions beyond the current baseline because existing or expected aircraft fuel efficiency technologies that formed the basis of the 2017 ICAO standards already demonstrate technological feasibility.

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EPA Approves First Surface Disinfectants for On-Label Efficacy Claims Against the Novel Coronavirus

Updated July 31, 2020

As of July 31, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or the Agency) has approved 15 surface disinfectant products to make on-label claims of efficacy directly against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. This marks the first time since the novel coronavirus pandemic began that EPA has reviewed and approved testing data on the SARS-CoV-2 virus itself. The registrants of these products, which include dilutable, ready-to-use, and wipe formulation types, can now update the product labeling registered with EPA to include directions for use and claims directly against SARS-CoV-2. The registrants will also be permitted to market and advertise their efficacy against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, consistent with all applicable EPA regulations. EPA has indicated that it is planning to review and approve on a rolling basis additional products for on-label claims against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It has been processing these on an expedited basis since May.

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Washington State Identifies Products Subject to Safer Chemicals Law

Washington state’s Department of Ecology has identified 11 categories of products that are subject to the Safer Products for Washington program under Chapter 70.365 RCW, passed in 2019. Washington state has been among the most active states in the field of “green chemistry laws,” whereby state agencies seek to promote the transition to safer alternatives of toxic substances. The law potentially applies to any consumer product, defined as “any item, including any component parts and packaging, sold for residential or commercial use.” Exemptions are provided for inaccessible electronic components, motorized vehicles, food, drugs, chemicals used to produce agricultural commodities, and certain other goods.

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New Restrictions on Certain PFAS May Affect U.S. Imports

As part of the increased of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed new use restrictions that may limit imports of certain products into the United States.

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EPA Proposes Amendments to Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional Boiler and Process Heater Standards

On July 8, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published proposed amendments to the 2013 National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional Boilers and Process Heaters. The proposed amendments, the result of three remands issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, revise certain maximum achievable control technology (MACT) limits and provide more explanation about other aspects of the rule.

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Tenth Circuit Rejects EPA’s Position on Renewal of Clean Air Act Permits

On July 2, 2020, in Sierra Club v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit rejected the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) interpretation of the scope of its obligations to review permits under Title V of the Clean Air Act (CAA). The court found that the plain language of EPA’s regulations requires EPA to review whether a state-issued Title V permit complies with all applicable CAA requirements, not only the requirements the state included in the permit. The issue may end up in the U.S. Supreme Court, as it diverges from a recent ruling by the Fifth Circuit.

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Fourth Circuit Rejects NEPA Challenge as Untimely

On July 1, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit dismissed Howard County, Maryland’s, petition to review the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval (FAA) of construction at Baltimore-Washington International (BWI) Airport as inconsistent with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). NEPA requires the federal agencies to conduct environmental assessments of federally licensed projects to determine whether the project will have significant environmental effects. In 1994, Congress provided for a 60-day limitations period covering challenges to certain projects. This limitations period includes challenges to the adequacy of the NEPA review (NEPA does not contain a statute of limitations provision). 49 U.S.C. § 46110(a).

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Court Shuts Down Dakota Access Pipeline

On July 6, 2020, Judge James E. Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia vacated the easement that had been granted to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) under the Mineral Leasing Act and ordered DAPL to be shut down in 30 days. (more…)

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EPA Amends Its COVID-19-Related Temporary Enforcement Guidance

On June 29, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) amended its COVID‑19‑related temporary enforcement policy. As previously reported, EPA issued temporary COVID-19 Enforcement Guidance on March 26, 2020, providing guidelines on how EPA will, in certain cases, exercise discretion in enforcing environmental legal obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic. (more…)

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District Court: Risk Assessment Not Required Every Time EPA Revises Clean Air Act Technology-Based Standard

On June 26, 2020, a federal district court ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not required to perform a risk assessment every time it revises its technology-based standards for a hazardous pollution source. Rather, the EPA is required to conduct a risk assessment only in connection with its initial adoption.

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