As reported in last week’s blog post, climate change is one of President-elect Joe Biden’s top four priorities post-inauguration. Implementing policies to accomplish Biden’s climate change goals, however, is unlikely to be an easy process. First, climate change has generally not been a bipartisan issue in the Congress. Hence, unless the Democrats prevail in both runoff races in Georgia, Biden may struggle just to get his nominee for EPA Administrator approved by a Republican-led Senate, let alone to advance legislation. Even a 50-50 split in the Senate would present significant challenges. Additionally, new environmental regulations may face increased hostility in the courts, as nearly a third of all federal appellate judges were appointed by President Donald Trump. If those judges interpret federal law narrowly, they could limit EPA’s authority to act by striking down new regulations as not specifically addressed by existing statutes.
On November 9, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published proposed amendments to the 2012 National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for Polyvinyl Chloride and Copolymers Production (PVC MACT). The proposed amendments, which are the result of industry and environmental group requests for reconsideration of the rule, propose to tighten certain maximum achievable control technology (MACT) limits, provide additional clarification about certain aspects of the rule, and eliminate waivers for excess emissions during a malfunction.
President-elect Joe Biden announced on his transition website that climate change is one of his top priorities post inauguration. That news comes as no surprise, given the president-elect’s comments during the campaign, but it is notable that climate change is one of only four areas highlighted as a priority (the others are COVID-19, economic recovery, and racial equity). (more…)
On November 2, 2020, several environmental interest groups including the Sierra Club and Earthjustice filed suits in the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Fourth and D.C. circuits challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent Steam Electric Reconsideration Rule (SERR), which rolled back certain Obama-era effluent discharge limitations on coal-fired power plants. (more…)
On October 26, 2020, the U.S. Department of the Interior (“DOI” or “The Department”) issued an interim final rule, which revises its guidelines for the development, review, and clearance of guidance documents. The Department’s rule follows the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s promulgation of a similar rule last month. Both rules implement the October 2019 Executive Order on Promoting the Rule of Law Through Improved Agency Guidance Documents directing Federal agencies to finalize regulations that set forth procedures for issuing guidance documents.
On October 23, 2020, a week of climate discussions by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Ships concluded with draft measures to cut carbon emissions from ships. The new measures would amend the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships (MARPOL Convention) and require ships to reduce their carbon intensity as part of IMO’s goal to reduce the carbon intensity of international shipping by 40% by 2030 from 2008 levels. If adopted, the amendments would require new ships to be built so that they are more energy efficient than the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) baseline. (more…)
On October 22, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a prepublication version of a final rule clarifying the process for existing air pollution sources to determine whether the New Source Review (NSR) permitting program applies to proposed projects. The new rule clarifies and confirms that project emissions accounting can be considered during Step 1 of the two-step NSR applicability test, meaning that both emissions increases and decreases from the proposed modification will be considered. The two steps of the NSR applicability test consist of a first step to determine whether a proposed project will cause a significant emission increase of a regulated NSR pollutant and, if it would, the second step determines if there will be a significant net emission increase of the same regulated NSR pollutant considering all other contemporaneous emissions increases and decreases.