Earlier this month, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden announced multiple picks for the transition team with an environmental justice (EJ) focus. Leading the transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is Patrice Simms, who is vice president for healthy communities at Earthjustice. Simms has advocated for environmental enforcement focused on low-income communities and communities of color, and he has critiqued the Trump administration on the same topic. The transition team also includes alumni of the Obama administration with a reported record on EJ issues.
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.
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…)
With the market evolving rapidly, we are pleased to provide you with the following enforcement updates:
- FERC extends deadlines for filing EQRs and Form No. 552 to June 1, 2020.
- Trading company challenges PJM FTR forfeiture rule.
- PJM submits tariff revisions to enhance rules for evaluating and managing credit risk.
- FERC establishes paper hearing to evaluate proposed rejection in bankruptcy.
- Parties file summary judgment motions and reply briefs in FERC v. Coaltrain Energy.
- Kraft conditionally withdraws its motion for sanctions in CFTC v. Kraft Food Group, Inc.
- Settlement discussions continue in FERC v. Richard Silkman et al.
- Comments filed on the request for technical conference and petition for rulemaking to update credit and risk management in the ISO/RTO markets.
- FERC issues Order 860-A on Connected Entity Information.
- Fourth Circuit finds FERC’s action timely in FERC v. Powhatan Energy Fund, LLC.
- CFTC approves proposed rule on position limits for derivatives.
- FERC issues notice of intent to revoke MBR authority to thirteen entities for failure to file EQRs.
- FERC approves a Stipulation and Consent Agreement between the Office of Enforcement and Emera Energy Incorporated.
Earlier this summer, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) criminal office announced criminal charges against employees of an oil and gas operation for tampering with and disabling pollution controls and on-board diagnostic (OBD) systems on the company’s truck fleet. DOJ and EPA charged five employees of Rockwater Northeast LLC, a company that services the hydraulic fracturing industry, for modifying emission control and OBD systems on approximately 30 of the company’s heavy-duty diesel trucks. (more…)
*This article originally appeared on the WLF Legal Pulse at wlflegalpulse.com on November 22, 2017.
Can an environmental organization file suit under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act’s (“RCRA”) citizen-suit provision claiming harm from stormwater runoff which could be, but was not, subject to limits under a Clean Water Act (“CWA”) permit? In a November 2, 2017 decision, Ecological Rights Foundation v. Pacific Gas and Electric Company, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that it could. The ruling, which also rejected the defendant’s arguments opposing Article III standing, is a portentous development at a time when environmental groups are actively seeking out litigation opportunities to enforce federal regulations.
This Environmental Year in Review summarizes many of the significant court rulings, regulatory changes and policy developments that occurred during 2016. As 2016 was the final year of the Obama administration, change is in the air. The commencement of the Trump administration promises to bring with it shifts in policy focus, rule changes and inevitably litigation. (more…)
This week’s enforcement update covers:
- Fifth Circuit schedules oral argument, and FERC and TOTAL file pleadings regarding Appointments Clause;
- Plaintiffs in class action against TOTAL file response related to oral argument;
- CME Group Exchanges expand reach of manipulation and fraud rules;
- FERC and Silkman file joint discovery plan in district court, and court sets scheduling conference; and
- Judge holds motion hearing in FERC district court case against Barclays.
The Texas-based oil and natural gas equipment company National Oilwell Varco, Inc., and its subsidiaries Dreco Energy Services, Ltd. (Dreco), and NOV Elmar (Elmar) (collectively NOV) recently settled potential civil penalties with the U.S. Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) and executed a nonprosecution agreement (NPA) with the U.S. Department of Justice (U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas). NOV, which did not voluntarily disclose the alleged violations to the government, will pay a total of US$25 million to resolve the charges.
On Tuesday, October 11, 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) revealed a pipeline civil penalty framework on its website. PHMSA will allow a respondent in an enforcement case to request a proposed civil penalty calculation related to its case.
PHMSA’s current caps for administrative civil penalties occurring on or after August 1, 2016, are $205,638 per day and $2,056,380 for a related series of violations. PHMSA states that its penalties may exceed the guideline amounts to “serve as a strong deterrence, driving down incident risk.”
PHMSA’s guidelines provide the following “assessment considerations” for determining penalty amounts: nature; circumstances; gravity; culpability; history of prior offenses; good faith; and other matters as justice may require.