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EPA

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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26 March 2021

Congress Moves to Repeal First Trump-Era Rule

Yesterday, the U.S. Congress started a process that could repeal its first Trump-era regulation pursuant to the Congressional Review Act (CRA). Enacted in 1996, the CRA provides Congress an important oversight tool over federal agencies to rescind certain rules. Majority members in both the House of Representatives and the Senate introduced resolutions disapproving the Environmental Protection Agency’s September 2020 final rule on policy amendments to new source performance standards for the oil and natural gas sector. The 2020 rule, which amended 2012 and 2016 standards, rescinded methane-specific emissions limits and removed two segments (natural gas transmission and storage) that were subject to the prior standards. While EPA was directed by President Biden’s Executive Order 13990 to review the 2020 rule and propose a new rule by September 2021, members of Congress are seeking to accelerate this effort by using the CRA.

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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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16 February 2021

Environmental Protection Agency Approves Copper Alloy for Long-Lasting Efficacy Against the Novel Coronavirus

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved, for the first time, a pesticide product for long-lasting efficacy claims (also called residual efficacy) against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Unlike standard disinfectants, “residual efficacy” products are continually efficacious against viruses or other microorganisms over a period of hours (or even months) rather than just at point of use. Based on efficacy data, EPA expects the product approved last week—antimicrobial copper alloy that contains at least 95.6% copper—to eliminate 99.9% of SARS-CoV-2 within two hours, on an ongoing basis. However, EPA has only approved antimicrobial copper alloy for supplemental residual efficacy claims; these are products that do not meet EPA’s standards for a disinfectant, but are intended to supplement the use of EPA’s List N disinfectants. (List N contains those products EPA has approved for limited claims of efficacy against the novel coronavirus.) Accordingly, antimicrobial copper alloy has been added to EPA’s List N Appendix, which catalogues those products approved for supplemental residual efficacy claims.

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11 February 2021

New Guidance on Self-Disclosure of Violations Under EPA’s Audit Policy

Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued new guidance related to its policy on Incentives for Self-Policing: Discovery, Disclosure, Correction and Prevention of Violations (the Audit Policy), 65 Fed. Reg. 19618 (April 11, 2000). The new guidance, titled EPA’s Audit Policy Program: Frequently Asked Questions (the 2021 FAQ), provides an update to interpretive guidance from 1997, 2007, and 2015 for self-disclosure of potential noncompliance.

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