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Environmental Trends

01 June 2021

EPA Formally Repeals Trump Administration Transparency in Science Rule

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or the Agency) has formally repealed regulations establishing how the Agency would consider the availability of dose-response data (“Strengthening Transparency in Pivotal Science Underlying Significant Regulatory Actions and Influential Scientific Information,” 86 Fed. Reg. 469) (the Science Rule). The Science Rule, which was finalized and went into effect immediately on January 6, 2021, related specifically to studies describing the quantitative relationship between the dose or exposure of a pollutant, contaminant, or substance and its effect; the rule required, among other things, that EPA identify and give greater consideration to studies constituting “pivotal science” (defined as “the specific dose-response studies or analyses that drive the requirements or quantitative analyses of EPA significant regulatory actions or influential scientific information”) and make public all science that served as the basis for a significant regulatory action. (more…)

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28 May 2021

U.S. Supreme Court Provides Procedural Victory to Defendants Seeking to Keep Climate Change Nuisance Litigation in Federal Court

On May 24, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated and remanded First, Ninth, and Tenth Circuit rulings that sent climate change litigation to state courts (Order List: 593 U.S. – May 24, 2021). The Supreme Court’s orders come fresh off its May 17, 2021, decision in Mayor and City Council of Baltimore v. BP P.L.C., et al., in which the Supreme Court addressed appellate court review of a district court’s remand orders.

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26 May 2021

Texas Legislature Passes Anti-ESG Bill

Earlier in May, the Texas Legislature passed a bill (SB 13) that would prevent Texas from investing in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) financial products that boycott Texas energy companies. If signed into law by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, SB 13 would require Texas’ public pension funds to “sell, redeem, divest, or withdraw all publicly traded securities of [any] financial company …” that “boycott[s] energy companies.” (more…)

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24 May 2021

President Biden Signs Sweeping Executive Order on “Climate-Related Financial Risk”

On May 20, 2021, U.S. President Joe Biden issued an executive order (EO) on “Climate-Related Financial Risk,” which established a comprehensive policy to advance disclosure and mitigation of climate-related financial risk in an effort to achieve the U.S. goal of net zero emissions by 2050.

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20 May 2021

EPA Rescinds Trump-Era Cost-Benefit Rule

On May 14, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rescinded a rule issued during the Trump administration that changed how EPA calculated and presented the costs and benefits of rules under the Clean Air Act (CAA). Advanced on the ground of providing greater transparency, the rule had required EPA to determine the benefits that a new regulation provided directly, while separately valuing the “co-benefits” that would accrue by reducing other pollutants not covered by the new regulation. Industry had argued that EPA regulations should be based solely on the value of reducing the emissions it was authorized to regulate — while opponents argued the rule would ignore obvious benefits and justify weakening regulation.

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18 May 2021

New Information Collection Request for Ethylene Oxide Air Emissions

On May 10, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a notice in the Federal Register requesting comments on a new request for information to the commercial sterilization and fumigation sector about the use of ethylene oxide (EO). The request, which was initially distributed to nine EO commercial sterilization facilities, is part of EPA’s technology review of the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Pollutants (NESHAP). EPA explained that “[w]hile [initial] data gathering efforts have been successful, there are still several important information gaps that should be filled prior to any final rulemaking activity.” (more…)

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13 May 2021

EPA Plans to Increase Reporting Requirements for Toxic Chemicals

On April 29, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it plans to add certain chemicals to companies’ annual release reporting requirements. The Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) established the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) to track releases of certain chemicals that EPA deemed a threat to human health and the environment. EPCRA requires certain facilities to issue annual reports showing their releases of chemicals so that such releases can be included on the TRI.

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11 May 2021

EPA Issues Memorandum Outlining Environmental Justice Enforcement Plans

On April 30, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Assistant Administrator for Enforcement, Lawrence Starfield, issued a memorandum outlining agency enforcement plans in communities with environmental justice concerns. Given the Biden administration’s focus on environmental justice both during the campaign and since the inauguration, this memorandum is not a surprise. The memorandum follows on Administrator Michael Regan’s message to EPA employees regarding the agency’s commitment to environmental justice, which was discussed on this blog on April 13.

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29 April 2021

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Announces Environmental Justice and Climate Action Initiatives

On April 23, the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Michael Regan, announced three new agency initiatives to support “community-driven solutions” for environmental justice and climate change in North America and across the world. The announcement came in conjunction with President Joe Biden’s Leaders Summit on Climate where the President pledged to cut nationwide net greenhouse gas emissions at least 50% to 52% by 2030 in comparison to 2005 levels. (more…)

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27 April 2021

U.S. Transportation Department Moves to Revive States’ Authority to Regulate Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions

On April 22, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a proposed rule that revokes the agency’s portion of the September 2019 rule, known as SAFE-1 Rule, which sought to preempt states, including California, from issuing their own tailpipe greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations and zero emission vehicle (ZEV) mandates. (more…)

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