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 The 2020 rule, which amended 2012 and 2016 standards, rescinded methane-specific emissions limits and removed two segments (natural gas transmission and storage) that were subject to the prior standards.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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EPA Seeks Additional PFAS Data

On March 17, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or the Agency) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) seeking information related to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to support a potential Clean Water Act rulemaking. With respect to PFAS from manufacturers and formulators, EPA requests public comment on the Agency’s current information and data and solicits additional information and data from stakeholders.

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FERC Makes First Significance Determination on Greenhouse Gas Emissions

On March 22, 2021, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission) for the first time issued an order that assessed whether greenhouse gas emissions related to a natural gas pipeline certificate project would significantly contribute to climate change. FERC purported to perform the assessment pursuant to its obligation under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to take a “hard look” at a project’s environmental impacts.

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EPA Finalizes Cross-State Air Pollution Rule

On March 15, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or the Agency) published a final rule, pursuant to the good-neighbor provision of the Clean Air Act, which directs EPA and states to address interstate transport of air pollution that affects downwind states’ ability to attain and maintain compliance with the 2008 National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone. As we explained previously, the Revised Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) Update is EPA’s rulemaking in response to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit’s decision in Wisconsin v. EPA, in which the court remanded an earlier EPA CSAPR update rule.

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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.

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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.

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