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Superfund Reform, Part 2: Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

Last week, I offered less than fulsome praise of EPA Administrator Pruitt’s announcement that he was taking control of remedial decision for big Superfund sites. Now, he’s followed up with a memorandum announcing...more

Scott Pruitt Just Solved All of the Problems with Superfund. Not.

Last week, EPA Administrator Pruitt issued a memorandum requiring that all Superfund remedies estimated to cost at least $50 million be approved by the Administrator. I’m not optimistic that this will cure, or even...more

5/17/2017  /  CERCLA , EPA , Hazardous Substances , Superfund

It’s Wise to Make Certain that Contracts Properly Allocate Future Environmental Compliance Costs

Last week, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that AEP, which entered into a consent decree requiring it to install certain pollution controls at its Rockport 1 and 2 power plants, could not force the owner of those...more

Does Chevron Ever Permit EPA to Rewrite a Statute? EPA’s Release Reporting Exemptions Are Struck Down

On Tuesday, April 11, 2017, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia vacated EPA’s final rule governing reporting of air releases from animal feeding operations. The Court found that EPA had no statutory authority...more

Should Courts Defer to EPA’s Scientific Expertise if EPA Gets Rid of Its Expertise?

Earlier this week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected challenges to the Federal Implementation Plan EPA promulgated after finding that Arizona’s regional haze State Implementation Plan was inadequate. I think that the...more

The Latest Executive Order: Any Kind of Consistency Is the Hobgoblin of Little Minds

Make no mistake, the Executive Order signed by President Trump at EPA yesterday is a big deal. Time will tell whether the Administration’s U-turn on the Obama rules currently in litigation, such as the Clean Power Plan and...more

Promulgation of TMDLs Does Not Create a Non-Discretionary Duty to Require NPDES Permits

When EPA approved total maximum daily loads for the Charles River, but failed to require NPDES permits for persons discharging stormwater to the Charles, CLF sued. CLF alleged that EPA violated a non-discretionary duty when...more

Court Orders EPA to Promulgate Air Toxics Standards: A Taste of What’s to Come?

On March 22, 2017, federal Judge Christopher Cooper ordered EPA to promulgate emissions standards for 13 sources of hazardous air pollutants by June 30, 2020. EPA admitted that it missed statutory deadlines to do so; the...more

The Conservative Case for Chevron Deference, Chapter 3 (Plus an Auer Bonus!)

The conservative cases in support of Chevron deference keep arriving. This week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed EPA’s federal implementation plan for compliance with its regional haze regulations by the Navajo...more

Has EPA Region I Lost Its Treasured Independence?

Earlier this month, Trump transition team member David Schnare sent a memorandum to EPA Assistant Administrators and Regional Administrators. The one-paragraph memo directs AAs and RAs...more

The Executive Order on the WOTUS Rule: Will It Really Reduce Regulatory Uncertainty?

March 2nd, 2017, President Trump issued another executive order on the environment, this time directing EPA to revisit the EPA rule defining Waters of the United States under the Clean Water Act. It’s a curious order, for a...more

EPA Has a Nondiscretionary Duty to Review West Virginia’s Failure to Submit TMDLs

Acting in response to state legislation, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection ceased work on promulgation of total maximum daily loads related to ionic toxicity. Ionic toxicity is a consequence of...more

The Conservative Uphill Slog for a Carbon Tax

Earlier this week, the Climate Leadership Council rolled out The Conservative Case for Carbon Dividends (note the absence of the “T” word in that title!). It’s a serious proposal and, if we lived in a world of facts, rather...more

EPA Wins Another Round In PSD Litigation: More Evidence that the Program Is Flawed.

Last Monday, in a comprehensive, 189-page opinion, Judge Rodney Sippel ruled that Ameren Missouri had violated EPA’s PSD regulations by failing to get permits for upgrades in 2007 and 2010 at its Rush Island facility. As I...more

1/30/2017  /  EPA , Maintenance , Permits , PSD

The Conservative Case For Chevron Deference

With GOP control of Congress and the White House, conservatives appear to have Chevron deference in their crosshairs. Put simply, I don’t get it. There are at least two good reasons why conservatives should prefer Chevron...more

1/23/2017  /  Chevron Deference , Conservatives , EPA , NPDES , Water

The NSR Regulations Still Make No Sense: The 6th Circuit Reverses the DTE Decision Based on a 1-Judge Minority Opinion

Last week, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed – for the second time – a District Court decision granting summary judgment to DTE Energy in the United States’ case alleging that DTE Energy had violated EPA’s NSR...more

EPA Wins a Round Against CLF in Residual Designation Authority Litigation

Earlier this week, Judge Mary Lisi, of the District Court of Rhode Island, dismissed the Conservation Law Foundation’s Residual Designation Authority law suit against EPA. CLF had asked the Court to order EPA to require...more

EPA Adds Vapor Intrusion to Hazard Ranking. Can You Say “Deck Chairs on the Titanic?”

EPA has finally issued a final rule including vapor intrusion in the Hazard Ranking System. The good news is that this is appropriate, because VI is one of the few real hazards regulated by the Superfund program. The bad...more

Did Trump’s Election Increase the Odds of NPDES Delegation in Massachusetts? I Sure Hope So.

As I noted last spring, the Baker administration had filed legislation to support NPDES delegation to Massachusetts. At the time, I supported the delegation effort and pleaded with my friends in the environmental community...more

EPA Surrenders in the Regional Haze Dispute With Texas

As I noted when the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed EPA’s disapproval of Texas’s regional haze plan, EPA had pretty much no chance of winning. Although the parties then stayed the litigation to talk settlement, EPA...more

11/30/2016  /  Environmental Policies , EPA , Texas

Trump’s Impact on Environmental Law? Let the Speculation Begin!

What will a Trump Presidency mean for environmental law? I’m not sure my crystal ball if better than anyone else’s, but here are a few quick thoughts...more

EPA Must Evaluate Job Losses From Its Regulations: Blame Ralph Nader!

Last week, Judge John Preston Bailey ruled that EPA had violated a non-discretionary duty by failing comply with the requirement of § 321(a) of the Clean Air Act that it...more

EPA Eliminates “But For” Causation From the Exceptional Events Rule: Tort Professors Everywhere Get Excited

On Monday, EPA promulgated amendments to its “Exceptional Events” Rule. The rule is important, particularly in the Western states, and most particularly in connection with EPA’s latest iteration of the ozone NAAQS. EPA’s...more

A Lumber Mill Biomass CoGen Need Not Consider Other Fuels In Its BACT Analysis. Other Sources Should Be So Lucky.

Ever since EPA began considering how BACT analysis would be applied to greenhouse gas emissions, there has been concern that EPA would use its BACT authority to “redefine the source” – with the particular concern that BACT...more

A Foolish Consistency Is the Hobgoblin of Little Minds: So Said Emerson, So Says EPA

On Wednesday, EPA issued a final rule amending its “Regional Consistency Regulations.” The new rule provides that EPA will only follow adverse judicial decisions in the areas of the country where such judicial decisions are...more

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