Biden moves to restore safeguards under Clean Water Act
Associated Press – June 9
The Biden administration began legal action this Wednesday to set aside a regulation known as the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule, finalized in 2020 under former President Donald Trump, which ended federal protections for hundreds of thousands of small streams, wetlands, and other waterways. The WOTUS rule resulted in a 25% reduction in the number of streams and wetlands that are afforded federal protection, said Jaime Pinkham, acting assistant Army secretary for civil works. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Michael Regan has pledged to issue a new rule that protects water quality while not overly burdening small farmers.
EPA to close asbestos reporting loopholes under settlement
Courthouse News Service – June 7
The EPA will eliminate asbestos reporting loopholes and collect more data on how much of the material is produced, imported, and used in U.S products under a settlement announced Monday. Recognized as a carcinogen since the 1970s, asbestos exposure has been linked to cancers of the lungs, ovaries, and larynx. The EPA’s Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) rule, adopted in 2011, mandates that companies report asbestos levels in their products. But in July 2017, the EPA exempted companies from those requirements, finding that “reporting is not required for ‘naturally occurring chemical substances.’” California and a coalition of public health groups sued the EPA over that decision in 2019.
Biden administration moves to reverse endangered species rollbacks
The Hill – June 4
The Biden administration is reversing rollbacks to endangered species protections adopted in 2019 and 2020. In a statement last Friday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service said they would initiate rulemaking in the coming months to either rescind or revise rules that lessened protections for endangered species, or reinstate language that had provided additional protections for endangered animals and plants. Among the agencies’ targets are rules that limited protections for species that are considered “threatened,” limited the way in which factors like climate change can be considered in decisions whether to protect a species, narrowed the definition of the “habitat” of a protected species, and altered the review process for approval of projects within those habitats.
Hearing set for lawsuit aimed at halting dismantlement of San Onofre nuclear plant
The San Diego Union-Tribune – June 4
A June 16 date has been set in Los Angeles County Superior Court to hear a lawsuit filed by an advocacy group against the California Coastal Commission (Commission), seeking to stop dismantlement work at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, which was permanently shut down in 2012. One of the major contentions in the lawsuit, brought by the Samuel Lawrence Foundation (Foundation), pertains to a pair of wet storage pools at the facility. The Commission authorized Edison to demolish the pools, saying they are no longer needed since all the fuel assemblies of nuclear waste have been transferred to stainless steel canisters and placed in secure dry storage facilities onsite. The Foundation alleges that the pools need to stay in case anything goes wrong with the canisters.
Keystone pipeline canceled after Biden administration blocks permit
Los Angeles Times – June 9
Calgary-based TC Energy, the sponsor of the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline, said on Wednesday that it is terminating the controversial project after Canadian officials failed to persuade President Joe Biden to reverse his cancellation of its permit. The partially built line would have transported crude from the oil sand fields of western Canada to Steele City, Nebraska. Construction on the 1,200-mile pipeline began last year when then-President Donald Trump revived the long-delayed project, which had stalled under the Obama administration.
Mandatory water use restrictions approved for 2 million residents of Santa Clara County
The Mercury News – June 9
Santa Clara County on Wednesday became the most populous county in California to impose mandatory water use restrictions, saying that the worsening drought poses a significant threat to the local groundwater supplies that provide nearly half the drinking water for 2 million residents. The Santa Clara Valley Water District board declared a water shortage emergency and set a target of reducing water use 33% countywide from 2013 levels. The district, which serves as the county’s wholesale water provider, also urged cities and private water companies who buy its water to put in place water wasting rules and other mandates.