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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EPA Extends Deadline for High-Speed Commercial Vessels to Install Tier 4-Certified Marine Diesel Engines

On October 2, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule amending the national marine diesel engine program set forth in 40 C.F.R. Part 1042. Through the amendment, EPA is providing boat manufacturers additional lead time to install Tier 4 marine diesel engines in certain high-speed commercial vessels. Tier 4 standards — applicable to marine diesel engines at or above 600 kilowatts — were expected to be phased in between 2014 and 2017 and were based on achieving emissions reductions through aftertreatment technology, such as selective catalytic reduction. While these engines are mostly used in various types of large workboats and passenger vessels, certain engines are used in high-speed vessels that need compact and powerful engine designs. After the Tier 4 standards were fully in effect, some high-speed boat manufacturers informed EPA that they were unable to find certified Tier 4 engines with suitable performance characteristics for the vessels they needed to build.

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Massachusetts Finalizes New PFAS Drinking Water Standards and Water Systems Testing Schedules

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (“MassDEP”) has finalized its enforceable Maximum Contaminant Level (“MCL”) drinking water standards for a group of six per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”) after proposing similar regulatory provisions in December 2019. Under the new regulations, the MCL is set at 20 nanograms per liter (i.e., 20 parts per trillion) for the sum of the concentrations of these six distinct PFAS contaminants:  perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (“PFOS”); perfluorooctanoic acid (“PFOA”); perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (“PFHxS”); perfluorononanoic acid (“PFNA”); perfluoroheptanoic acid (“PFHpA”); and perfluorodecanoic acid (“PFDA”). No later than December 31, 2023, and every three years thereafter, MassDEP will review the science and state of PFAS analytical/treatment methodologies to determine whether these drinking water standards should be amended.

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California Governor Directs State to Develop Near-Future Zero-Emission Vehicle Sales and Operation Mandates

On September 23, 2020 California Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-79-20, expressing the goals that:

  • by 2035, 100% of all in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks will be zero-emission vehicles (“ZEV”);
  • by 2045, 100% of all medium-and heavy-duty vehicles in the state be zero-emission for all operations where feasible (and the same goal for drayage trucks by 2035); and
  • by 2035, the State will transition to 100% zero-emission off-road vehicles and equipment (where feasible).

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California Air Resources Board Hosts Advanced Clean Cars Workshop

Earlier this month, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) hosted an Advanced Clean Cars (ACC) II Workshop to obtain public input on CARB’s development of ACC II regulations. The ACC II rules would be meant to contribute to meeting California’s carbon neutrality targets, advancing zero emissions vehicle (ZEV) technology, and reaching ozone targets under California’s State Implementation Plan. The workshop materials note that CARB views a need for deep reduction to light-duty vehicle emissions to address climate and air quality issues.

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U.S. Legislators and Regulators Bring New Attention to PFAS

Late summer this year has brought a surge of activity related to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) research office reported at an industry conference last week that it was evaluating ways to divide PFAS compounds into categories for purposes of risk assessment and risk management. This aligns with the approach supported by industry groups but conflicts with demands from environmental advocates that EPA study each compound separately. Because of the complexity and number of individual PFAS molecules, which number in the thousands, categorization would likely expedite the review process.

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