The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), on August 29, 2023, issued a direct final rule amending the scope of “Waters of the United States” as defined in Clean Water Act (CWA) regulations. The final rule implements the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Sackett v. EPA, in which the Court held that only wetlands adjacent to Waters of the U.S. with a continuous surface connection to relatively permanent waters adjoining interstate navigable waters are to be regulated as jurisdictional waters.
Lithium-ion batteries are commonly used in a wide variety of applications, from medical devices to laptops — and now, increasingly, in electric vehicles (EVs). With the market for personal and commercial EVs growing, it is essential for U.S. manufacturers to have a secure, reliable supply chain of the critical minerals needed to produce EV batteries, including lithium, cobalt, nickel, and copper. Indeed, a recent study highlights the growing demand for these minerals — and the challenges the U.S. faces to meet this demand from mined sources.
On June 29, 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a framework for its approach to reviewing new per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and significant new uses of existing PFAS. Stakeholders in sectors such as food packaging, textiles, semiconductors, and aerospace industries that continue to rely on PFAS compounds should take note. In general, EPA’s approval of new PFAS or new significant uses of existing PFAS may require additional testing — with substantial additional testing in some cases.
On June 13, 2023, the Biden administration released the 2023 Spring Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions (Agenda). The Agenda lists federal agencies’ planned “short-term” regulatory actions to be taken over the next 12 months and “long-term” actions under development. The dates listed in the Agenda are based on publication dates in the Federal Register. Stakeholders should take note, as the Agenda provides a window into the administration’s priorities and strategies:
On May 31, 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule designed to tighten confidential business information (CBI) designations in submissions under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). EPA has touted this rule as providing “transparency” and providing the agency leeway to make “more health and safety data publicly available more quickly.” Given the sensitive nature of the data often provided in TSCA submission, regulated entities should carefully consider the provisions of the new rule and what steps they must take to ensure that confidential information is not subject to public disclosure.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued, on May 5, 2023, a request for information seeking input on the availability of zero-emission technologies in the heavy-duty vehicle and port sectors toward establishing funding programs under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). EPA requests comment from manufacturers, distributors, installers, fleet operators, and port operators about their products and experience with zero-emission technologies.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to approve Louisiana’s request for control over the permitting of carbon sequestration wells in the state. EPA’s approval would provide Louisiana authority under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) Underground Injection Control (UIC) program to administer a “Class VI” injection well program for the geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide, following similar such approvals for North Dakota and Wyoming. Stakeholders should take note of this proposed action because EPA approval of Louisiana’s program could advance carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) projects stymied by the backlog of permit applications pending before the EPA.
On April 13, 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) asking the public for input concerning potential designations of seven per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). Based on public input and data to be received, EPA will evaluate whether these PFAS may present substantial danger to the public health or welfare or the environment.
On March 19, 2023, in Texas et al. v. EPA, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas issued an order enjoining the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule in the states of Idaho and Texas. The injunction went into effect just one day before the WOTUS Rule was set to become final. Texas represents the latest in the multidecade saga of seeking to define the term “waters of the United States” in the context of the Clean Water Act (CWA). Moreover, Texas is just one hurdle EPA’s new WOTUS Rule faces, with a pending Supreme Court case (Sackett v. EPA) and potential congressional action to block the rule both on the horizon.
On March 14, 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed its long-anticipated National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) to limit six common types of PFAS in drinking water. This is the first time EPA has sought to establish legally enforceable national PFAS contamination levels for drinking water. This step represents the latest action under the Biden administration’s multistep plan to limit PFAS levels in the United States, building upon EPA’s October 2021 PFAS Strategic Roadmap and its pending proposal to designate certain PFAS as hazardous substances under CERCLA, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.