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Environmental Trends Contributors

15 September 2020

EPA Enforcement Priorities in U.S. Pesticide Law

An ELI & Sidley Austin LLP Co-Sponsored Webinar

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has long governed federal pesticide law under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). FIFRA has a broad reach, overseeing conventional insecticides, but also plant growth regulators, antimicrobial surface disinfectants, pesticide “devices” like germicidal ultraviolet light systems or ozone generators, and more. Currently, EPA has continued to stress FIFRA as a leading priority area in national enforcement guidance.

Under FIFRA, EPA has specific authority to regulate products meant to provide surface disinfection from bacteria, microbes, and viruses. Indeed, products making claims to mitigate SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19, have fallen under intense scrutiny from EPA recently. Meanwhile, the focus on FIFRA compliance issues is increasingly intersecting with EPA’s growing scrutiny of imports to the U.S. Import reviews target traditional pesticide products, and now also center on nontraditional items such as UV lights and air purifiers.

Given these trends, questions are arising over EPA’s enforcement priorities in U.S. pesticide law. What are EPA’s strategies for enforcing federal pesticide law? What new or unexpected directions is the agency focusing on, especially in regards to compliance of nontraditional products, including those created in response to COVID-19? Expert panelists will address these questions, provide practical guidance on compliance with FIFRA, and explore FIFRA enforcement priorities.

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10 September 2020

EPA Issues Final Power Plant Wastewater Rule

On August 31, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a final rule addressing effluent concentration limits for certain metals in power plant wastewater under the Clean Water Act. The Steam Electric Reconsideration Rule (SERR) changes several aspects of the coal-fired power plant effluent limitations included in the 2015 Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards rule, including the limits for two waste streams: flue gas desulfurization (FGD) wastewater and bottom ash (BA) transport water. (more…)

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08 September 2020

EPA Publishes Toxic Substances Control Act Risk Evaluation Scope Documents and List of Businesses Subject to Fees

On September 4, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published scope documents for 20 high-priority chemicals that will undergo risk evaluation under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The scope documents set frameworks for evaluating these 20 chemicals in light of their conditions of use, hazards, exposures, and potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulations. TSCA directs EPA to complete risk evaluations for these 20 chemicals over the next three years.

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03 September 2020

California NOx Omnibus Regulation Requires 90 Percent NOx Reduction by 2027

On August 27, 2020, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved the Heavy-Duty Low NOx Omnibus Regulation (Omnibus Regulation), which requires heavy-duty truck manufacturers to achieve stringent nitrogen oxide (NOx) emission standards. The Omnibus Regulation follows the board’s June 2020 approval of the Advanced Clean Trucks regulation, which requires medium- and heavy-duty truck manufacturers to increase the sales of zero-emission models. Both rules require that certain compliance milestones be met by 2024.

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01 September 2020

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Approves First Small Modular Reactor Design

On August 28, 2020, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved the first-ever design certification application for a small modular reactor (SMR) through its issuance of a final safety evaluation report that outlines the agency’s multiyear, six-phased technical review. The agency approval represents a milestone for the U.S. nuclear sector and advanced nuclear technologies.

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27 August 2020

Senate Democrats Release “Climate Roadmap”

On August 25, 2020, U.S. Senate Democrats released a “climate roadmap” detailing their legislative goals if the November elections give the party a majority in the Senate. The report, provided by the Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis, sets out goals to achieve net-zero carbon emissions, globally, by 2050, such as promoting the use of renewable generation, electrified vehicles, and low-emission cement and steel. (more…)

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25 August 2020

Judge Defers to Bureau of Land Management on National Environmental Policy Act Analysis of Cumulative Impacts on Climate Change

On August 18, 2020, a U.S. district court judge for the District of New Mexico upheld the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) analysis of climate impacts under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The case concerned BLM’s decision to authorize the lease of 68,000 acres of land in New Mexico for oil and gas development. (more…)

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20 August 2020

EPA’s Proposal to Freeze Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards Issued in Anticipation of Criticism

On August 14, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its proposal to retain the existing ozone national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS). The proposal sets an October 1 deadline for public comment and schedules two virtual hearings, for August 31 and September 1, 2020. The current ozone NAAQS were established in 2015 and set 70 parts per billion for both primary and secondary standards.

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18 August 2020

EPA Revises Oil and Gas Regulations, Spurring Divergent Reactions

On August 13, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) completed its reconsideration of the agency’s 2016 oil and gas regulations when Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a pair of rulemakings that revise the new source performance standards  for new oil and gas sources. EPA describes the revisions as reducing undue regulatory burdens and providing substantial cost savings without increasing emissions. Several environmental groups argue the revisions unlawfully reduce regulation of methane emissions and immediately pledged to file suit to challenge the new rules.

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13 August 2020

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service Propose Definition for “Habitat”

On August 5, 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) (collectively the Services) published a proposed rule to define “habitat” as that term is used in the context of critical habitat designations under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973. One of the tools under the ESA to conserve listed species is the designation of critical habitat to identify areas that are essential to a species’ recovery. (more…)

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