Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took two actions related to mobile source emissions under the Clean Air Act that represent the agency’s continued focus on transportation, climate change, and environmental justice.
On March 7, 2022, EPA announced newly proposed emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles and engines, which would apply starting in model year 2027. The proposed standards would reduce allowed emissions of nitrogen oxides from heavy-duty gasoline and diesel engines and set more stringent greenhouse gas standards for certain commercial vehicle categories. Beyond numerical reductions in emissions, the rule also indicates EPA’s broader shift in focus to environmental justice. (more…)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took two important actions in late December 2021 related to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a class of chemicals receiving increasing legislative and regulatory scrutiny in recent years. The two actions relate to drinking-water monitoring data and to toxicity and human-health testing data. (more…)
Todd Kim, Assistant Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD), delivered remarks at the American Bar Association’s National Environmental Enforcement Conference on December 14, 2021. He provided insight into what DOJ plans to prioritize in environmental enforcement, centered on criminal enforcement, climate change, and environmental justice.
Kim emphasized that the purpose of enforcement is to ensure that businesses are properly incentivized to comply with the law through deterrence and to provide a level playing field, while protecting public health and the environment. He noted that DOJ has prioritized fighting corporate crime and is revising applicable polices, so ENRD will consider pursuing potential environmental and non-environmental crimes, as well as a business’s environmental and non-environmental track record in prosecution decisions.
Kim focused on methods of sector-wide enforcement, citing the Petroleum Refinery Initiative that involved settlements covering 112 refineries in 37 states since 2000. Kim also expressed an interest in more penetrating identification of all involved parties within a business, as well as in the full supply chain, where relevant. This focus could be especially impactful for importers of chemicals, pesticides, or wood products.
With these various tools in mind, Kim cited climate change and environmental justice as the two highest priority issues. For climate change, he indicated greater enforcement for air emissions from petrochemical plants and from facilities with refrigeration systems. For environmental justice, he provided a general assurance that ENRD is paying greater attention to potential violations in communities of color and low-income communities that may be disproportionately burdened by environmental hazards and harms.
Consumers and governments have applied greater scrutiny to environmental marketing claims. Enforcement for environmental marketing claims has typically come from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), under its Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims at 40 C.F.R. Part 260, also called the “Green Guides.” But last week the National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs issued a decision on environmental marketing, reminding manufacturers of actors outside the federal government that can affect environmental claims for products. (more…)
In an announcement that portends substantial regulatory changes, the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chemicals office announced a shift in policy to further regulate chemicals within manufactured goods or finished products. The change would mean that importers, manufacturers, and processors will need to know the chemicals in manufactured or finished goods and assess whether EPA restricts those chemicals. (more…)
Federal and state lawmakers continue to advance legislative efforts to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS have been used in a variety of consumer products and industrial processes and are often recognized for use in nonstick cookware, waterproof apparel, and fire-fighting foam. The U.S. House of Representatives voted this week to pass legislation that would further regulate PFAS. In a bipartisan vote of 241 to 183, lawmakers advanced HR 2467, the PFAS Action Act of 2021, which would impose federal requirements to address PFAS under many environmental statutes, including the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Clean Air Act (CAA), the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Toxic Substances Control Act.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled on July 16 that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must reconsider its 2019 targets under the renewable fuel standard (RFS) related to its potential effects on endangered species. In Growth Energy v. EPA, No. 19-01023 (D.C. Cir.), three groups of petitioners had challenged the rule: renewable energy producers, parties regulated by the RFS requirements, and a group of environmental organizations. (more…)
This month the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued two policy changes that will likely have substantial regulatory effects on chemicals and manufacturing sectors. First, EPA announced that it will reopen risk evaluations for certain high-priority chemicals that were completed under the last administration. Second, EPA announced changes to its new chemical review program to focus more on considering all conditions of use and worker protections for a chemical under review.
Earlier this month, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) proposed listing perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) as a carcinogen under California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, also known as Proposition 65. Under Proposition 65, OEHHA maintains a list of carcinogens and reproductive toxins, and businesses must generally provide “clear and reasonable” warnings prior to exposing anyone in California to a listed chemical, including through consumer, worker, or environmental exposures.
Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued new guidance related to its policy on Incentives for Self-Policing: Discovery, Disclosure, Correction and Prevention of Violations (the Audit Policy), 65 Fed. Reg. 19618 (April 11, 2000). The new guidance, titled EPA’s Audit Policy Program: Frequently Asked Questions (the 2021 FAQ), provides an update to interpretive guidance from 1997, 2007, and 2015 for self-disclosure of potential noncompliance.