EPA rescinds previous administration’s guidance on Clean Water Act permit requirements
Water & Wastes Digest – September 21
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is rescinding its guidance document: “Applying the Supreme Court’s County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund Decision in the Clean Water Act Section 402 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit [NPDES] Program.” The guidance, issued in the final days of the Trump administration, relied on an interpretation of the Supreme Court’s County of Maui decision as a basis for allowing regulation of certain groundwater resources through NPDES permits that hitherto had only been applicable to surface water discharges. EPA explained that it was rescinding the guidance based on a reevaluation of the County of Maui decision and the requirements of the Clean Water Act itself.
State court strikes down regional air district's monitoring exemptions for Central Valley refineries
The Bakersfield Californian – September 22
A court ruling this Wednesday will require Central Valley air quality regulators to rewrite rules that had exempted local petroleum refineries from a state law requiring that their emissions be monitored and made public. The ruling in Fresno County Superior Court concludes a lawsuit filed by a coalition of environmental groups that accused the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District of arbitrarily and capriciously exempting all four refineries under its jurisdiction, including those in Kern County, from monitoring requirements imposed by Assembly Bill 1647, passed by the state Legislature in October 2017.
Newsom signs $15 billion package to fight climate change, wildfire, and drought
Los Angeles Times – September 23
Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday signed a $15 billion climate package for California, the largest such investment in state history. Big-ticket items in the package include $5.2 billion for drought response and water resilience; $3.7 billion for issues like extreme heat and sea level rise; $3.9 billion for electric vehicle investment and infrastructure; $1.5 billion for wildfire response and forest resilience; and $1.1 billion for sustainable agriculture.
Judge tosses out lawsuit to stop San Onofre nuclear plant dismantlement
The San Diego Union-Tribune – September 20
Deconstruction work at the now-shuttered San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station will continue after a judge in Los Angeles County Superior Court ruled against an advocacy group looking to halt the process. Judge Mitchell Beckloff ruled last week the California Coastal Commission acted properly when it granted a permit in 2019 to plant operator Southern California Edison to proceed with dismantlement efforts. The Samuel Lawrence Foundation filed the suit, arguing the commission had violated its own regulations and provisions by issuing the permit.
EPA moves to limit potent gases used in refrigerators and air conditioners
NPR – September 23
In what officials call a key step to combat climate change, the EPA is sharply limiting domestic production and use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), highly potent greenhouse gases commonly used in refrigerators and air conditioners. The new rule, which follows through on a law Congress passed last year, is intended to decrease U.S. production and use of HFCs by 85% over the next 15 years, part of a global phaseout designed to slow climate change.
District attorneys settle with Ulta Beauty over improper hazardous waste handling
NBC Bay Area – September 20
Nearly a dozen district attorneys in the greater Bay Area this Monday announced a settlement with Ulta Beauty for improperly storing, handling, and disposing hazardous materials, such as cosmetics, fragrances, nail polish, and electronics. The company allegedly improperly disposed of the materials in standard trash containers and dumpsters rather than transporting them to a designated, legal hazardous waste facility. As part of the settlement, Ulta will be required to pay $752,000 in fines and implement a compliance program.