The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published in the Federal Register a final rule establishing the agency’s management of guidance documents consistent with the Executive Order 13891, “Promoting the Rule of Law Through Improved Agency Guidance Documents,” which will become effective on November 18. (more…)
On October 2, 2020, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) unveiled a discussion draft of its 2020 Mobile Source Strategy. The strategy incorporates the zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) goals set forth in the recent Executive Order issued by California Governor Gavin Newsom and sets out steps for achieving those goals, such as requiring manufacturers to support and promote advanced technologies and in-use requirements for advanced technologies. (more…)
On October 1, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a prepublication version of a final rule under the Clean Air Act that will allow major sources of hazardous air pollutants (HAP) to reclassify as area sources if the source reduces its potential to emit HAPs below the major source threshold (10 tons per year of any single HAP or 25 tons per year of any combination of HAPs). EPA had previously applied a “once in, always in” interpretation through a May 1995 policy memorandum issued by John Seitz, then-Director of EPA’s Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards. Under that policy, a facility designated as a major source on the first substantive compliance date of an applicable major source National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants rule had to retain its major source status regardless of whether the source subsequently reduced its potential to emit below major source thresholds. But on January 25, 2018, EPA withdrew the May 1995 policy, laying the groundwork for EPA’s action here.
On October 2, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule amending the national marine diesel engine program set forth in 40 C.F.R. Part 1042. Through the amendment, EPA is providing boat manufacturers additional lead time to install Tier 4 marine diesel engines in certain high-speed commercial vessels. Tier 4 standards — applicable to marine diesel engines at or above 600 kilowatts — were expected to be phased in between 2014 and 2017 and were based on achieving emissions reductions through aftertreatment technology, such as selective catalytic reduction. While these engines are mostly used in various types of large workboats and passenger vessels, certain engines are used in high-speed vessels that need compact and powerful engine designs. After the Tier 4 standards were fully in effect, some high-speed boat manufacturers informed EPA that they were unable to find certified Tier 4 engines with suitable performance characteristics for the vessels they needed to build.
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…)
On June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States decided United States Forest Service et al. v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association et al. (Cowpasture). In a 7-2 decision, the court authorized the U.S. Forest Service (Forest Service) to reinstate a special use permit under the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 (Leasing Act) to allow the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) to cross a portion of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (the Trail) that traverses the George Washington National Forest in West Virginia (GW Forest). The decision removes a significant obstacle to the ACP, but other legal roadblocks remain.
Earlier this week President Trump issued an executive order aimed at bolstering economic recovery as businesses reopen. This has potential for marked effects on environmental enforcement in light of how the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice have already been adapting environmental priorities in the face of the pandemic. (more…)
Three new rules issued by the Trump Administration may allow project developers to better plan future projects, and may encourage preservation and conservation efforts for both private and federal landowners. These rules, issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, revise how the federal government will address critical habitat designations, protections for threatened species and interagency coordination under the Endangered Species Act.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) (the Agencies), have issued three rules revising how the federal government will address critical habitat designations, protections for threatened species and interagency coordination under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Agencies’ decisions have not yet been published in the Federal Register, but prepublication versions can be found here. The regulations will become effective 30 days after publication.
The definition of waters of the United States is central to the CWA. At its core, the Act bans “the discharge of any pollutant” except in compliance with other provisions of the Act, such as the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”) permitting program. 33 U.S.C. § 1311(a). “Discharge of a pollutant” is defined in relevant part as “any addition of any pollutant to navigable waters from any point source,” where (i) “navigable waters” are “the waters of the United States,” and (ii) a “point source” is “any discernible, confined and discrete conveyance, including but not limited to any pipe, ditch, channel, tunnel, conduit, well, discrete fissure, container, rolling stock, concentrated animal feeding operation, or vessel or other floating craft, from which pollutants are or may be discharged.” See 33 U.S.C. §§ 1362(7), (12) and (14). (more…)