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Environmental Trends

22 April 2021

House Introduces PFAS Action Act of 2021

On Tuesday, April 13, Reps. Debbie Dingell and Fred Upton, both D-Mich., introduced the PFAS Action Act of 2021, seeking further regulation of per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS). Most notably, the bill would require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take action to address two PFAS chemicals — PFOA and PFOS — through a number of regulatory provisions: designating PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, designating PFOA and PFOS as hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act, and requiring EPA to establish national drinking water standards for PFOA and PFOS. (more…)

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20 April 2021

Council on Environmental Quality Rescinds Trump-Era Rule on Guidance Documents

On Tuesday, April 13, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) rescinded a January 8, 2021, Trump administration rule that established guidance document procedures, procedures for the public to request withdrawal or modification of a guidance document, and procedures for significant guidance documents. (more…)

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15 April 2021

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Centers for Disease Control Update Surface Cleaning Guidance Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

In a recent science brief regarding surface transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded that while it is possible for people to be infected through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects, “the risk is generally considered to be low.” The principal mode by which people are infected by SARS-CoV-2 is through exposure to respiratory droplets in the air that contain the virus.

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13 April 2021

Administrator Regan Reaffirms Environmental Justice as a Top Priority of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

In an April 7 Agencywide memorandum, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or Agency) Administrator Michael Regan recommitted EPA to advancing environmental justice initiatives. Administrator Regan stated that it would be one of his “top priorities” to address environmental effects on communities whose residents are predominately of color, Indigenous, or low-income.

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18 March 2021

Ninth Circuit Affirms Special Power Rate for Cryptocurrency Miners

On March 11, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed a decision approving of Grant County, Washington’s, special power rate for cryptocurrency miners. In Cytline, LLC, et al. v. Public Utility District No. 2 of Grant County Washington, a group of cryptocurrency companies sued after a Grant County utility district created a special energy rate applicable only to cryptocurrency miners. The companies had moved to Grant County because the county had some of the lowest rates for electricity in the country. (more…)

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16 March 2021

Fifth Circuit Rejects Challenge to Texas LNG Project

On March 10, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit rejected a challenge to an opinion by the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) allowing a South Texas liquified natural gas (LNG) pipeline project to proceed. Sierra Club, et al. v. U.S. Department of Interior, et al. involved a proposed LNG pipeline that would pass through Cameron, Willacy, Kenedy, and Kleburg counties in south Texas. (more…)

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15 March 2021

EU Emissions Compliance Regulation Gaining Traction

Historically, the emissions standards for mobile sources promulgated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have been viewed as more ambitious than European Union (EU) standards. The United States’ stringent enforcement of mobile source emission standards may result in significant financial penalties; extensive injunctive relief, such as recalls and high-cost mitigation projects; corporate compliance requirements; and in some cases, criminal indictment.

On the other side of the Atlantic, in the EU, mobile emissions compliance regulations are becoming more robust. In particular, the EU appears to be adopting a stricter approach on emissions through a growing body of case law on the interpretation and application of existing emissions compliance regulations. In a judgment on 17 December 2020, in CLCV and Others, the Court of Justice of the European Union (Court) adopted a potentially broad interpretation on the definition of defeat devices and appeared to limit the scope of exceptions for their use in vehicles sold, registered, or put into service in the EU.1 This judgment is likely to set the benchmark for other proceedings on the admissibility of defeat devices in the EU.

Notably, there are at least six cases pending before the Court on mobile source emissions and the concept of defeat devices for light-duty passenger and commercial vehicles under Regulation (EC) No 715/2007 (Regulation).2

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28 January 2021

Supreme Court Agrees to Take Up CERCLA Suit Against U.S. Government

On January 8, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court took up a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) dispute involving the territory of Guam and the United States. At issue in Guam v. United States is who must pay for cleanup costs associated with a landfill formerly operated by the U.S. Navy, into which the Navy deposited spent munitions, chemicals, and other waste. Although Guam asked EPA to address the landfill under CERCLA, the agency proceeded under the Clean Water Act (CWA) instead, and in 2004, Guam entered into a consent decree under the CWA under which the territory agreed to close and remediate the landfill.

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