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Environmental Trends

12 November 2020

President-Elect Announces Climate Change Priority

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…)

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11 November 2020

Sierra Club and Others Challenge EPA Coal Ash Rule

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…)

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03 November 2020

U.S. Department of Interior Joins EPA in Revising Guidance Procedures

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.

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29 October 2020

International Maritime Organization Working Group Agrees to Emissions-Cutting Measures

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…)

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27 October 2020

EPA Finalizes Project Emissions Accounting Rule for New Source Review Permitting Determinations

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.

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20 October 2020

EPA Rule Establishing Requirements and Procedures for Guidance Documents Will Be Effective November 18

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…)

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08 October 2020

EPA Revises National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants General Provisions to Allow Major Sources to Reclassify as Area Sources

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.

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