Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

EPA Replaces Obama-Era Rules For Coal Fired Power Plants

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Aug 06, 2019

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just issued rules that repeal and replace one of the Obama-era EPA’s signature efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Effective September 6, EPA’s new “Affordable Clean Energy Rule” (ACE) will replace the “Clean Power Plan” adopted in 2015 but stayed by litigation (I wrote about the proposed CPP here). As anyone who has compared the Obama and Trump Administrations' approaches to climate change would expect, the new rule reduces the old rule’s requirements. It softens the mandates in the earlier rule, and offers states more flexibility to design their own efforts to control GHG emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired electricity generating units (EGUs) by eliminating CPP requirements that states consider operational changes “outside the fenceline” of the regulated EGUs.

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Tags: Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, Greenhouse Gas, ghg

Canada—Federal Employers: Prepare for a Wave of Change in Workplace Harassment Obligations

Posted by Maryse Tremblay on Tue, Jul 30, 2019

In the last few years, and particularly with the advent of the #MeToo movement, some employers may have seen a rise in the number of harassment complaints in the workplace, including sexual harassment complaints. Employers under federal jurisdiction have been affected as well.

However, the current legal framework surrounding harassment and violence in federally regulated workplaces is fragmented. The results of many public consultations have shown that this framework is not currently designed to adequately address occurrences of sexual harassment and sexual violence.

In that context, in the past 18 months, significant changes have been proposed to the current legislation to address workplace harassment situations.

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Tags: Business & Legal, Employer Best Practices, Health & Safety, Employee Rights, Workplace violence, Canadian

Creating an Enforceable Online Contract: Best Practices

Posted by Linda Norbut on Tue, Jul 23, 2019

“I AGREE.” Anyone who engages in online commerce has likely had to click on that button countless times. The question is whether contracts made under these and similar circumstances are enforceable. The typical lawyer’s answer would likely be “it depends,” but those drafting online agreements, such as privacy policies, terms and conditions (T&C), and end-user license agreements (EULA), can take certain measures to make certain such agreements are ultimately enforceable.

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Tags: Business & Legal, Internet

Reporting EHS Releases – Responsibilities Continue Except For Some Farm Emissions

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Jul 16, 2019

Among its many provisions, the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA, in this case Section 304) requires facilities to report releases of specified hazardous and extremely hazardous substances, if the release exceeds an applicable threshold reportable quantity (RQ). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administers these requirements, and has just approved an exemption for emissions from animal wastes at farms (this exemption tracks one amended into the Superfund law (CERCLA) in 2018). Other types of facilities and activities are still subject to these reporting requirements, so it’s a good time to review them.

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Tags: Health & Safety, Environmental risks, Environmental, EHS, EPA, Greenhouse Gas, ghg, Hazcom

EPA Takes Another Step To “Reform” Benefit Cost Analyses

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Jul 09, 2019

Since President Trump took office, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken a number of steps to narrow benefit-cost analyses, reversing expansive approaches used during the Obama Administration and narrowing the scope of “justifiable” environmental and health regulations. The latest such step appears in a May 13 memorandum from EPA Administrator Wheeler to his Assistant Administrators.

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Tags: Business & Legal, Environmental risks, Environmental, EHS, EPA

Status of Trump Administration Environmental Regulatory Rollbacks

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Jul 02, 2019

Since President Trump took office, I’ve written in this space a number of times describing specific executive and regulatory initiatives to freeze or reverse environmental regulations. They’ve largely conformed with the President’s antipathy for such regulations, and his appointees’ vigor. Environmental and health advocates have challenged all these changes, continuing to yield court decisions confirming the limits of executive and administrative authority to impose changes (In January 2017 I summarized the limits on various approaches here).

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Tags: Health & Safety, Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, Oil & Gas, clean water

It’s Time To Submit Annual Toxic Release Inventory Reports

Posted by Jon Elliott on Thu, Jun 27, 2019

Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA, also referred to as SARA Title III) requires selected facilities to file toxic chemical release inventory reports with EPA and their state, on one of two forms (Form R or Form A). This program is often referred to as the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) program. Filings are due every July 1, so facilities that know or suspect they’re covered should be preparing their annual submissions. The remainder of this blog summarizes TRI requirements.

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Tags: Business & Legal, Health & Safety, Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, Hazcom

Global Rules Coming For Plastic Import-Export

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Jun 25, 2019

International controls on shipments of plastic waste will increase effective January 1, 2021. Parties to the 1989 Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (Basel Convention) have just adopted amendments to add “plastic waste” to the materials governed by the Convention. The European Union and 186 nations are parties to the Basel Convention; President George Bush signed it on behalf of the United States in 1989, but in the ensuing three decades the U.S. Senate has not yet ratified it. However, the U.S. is subject to requirements adopted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which reflect Basel Convention requirements. Besides, most countries that might receive exports are Basel Convention signatories and should enforce its terms.

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Tags: Business & Legal, Health & Safety, Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, Hazcom

OSHA Unlocks Review of Its Lockout/Tagout Standard

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Jun 18, 2019

Among its many workplace health and safety standards, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to protect employees during equipment servicing and maintenance, to prevent “unexpected” equipment energization, start up, or release of stored energy. OSHA’s Control of Hazardous Energy Standard—more often called the Lockout/Tagout or “LOTO” Standard after its primary compliance requirements—requires employers to establish and implement safety procedures to control such hazardous energy. The LOTO Standard has changed very little since OSHA adopted it in 1989, but the agency has just published a formal request for information – public comments – about two changes in workplace equipment over the past 30 years that might affect energy hazards and justify revisions to the LOTO Standard. The rest of this note summarizes existing requirements and discussed OSHA’s review of control circuits and workplace robotics.

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Tags: Business & Legal, Employer Best Practices, Health & Safety, OSHA, Employee Rights, Hazcom

California Proposes Universal Wastes Rules For Photovoltaics

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Jun 11, 2019

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) assigns the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state hazardous waste agencies regulate “hazardous wastes,” including categories defined as “universal wastes” that are subject to reduced management requirements. EPA defines five categories, but also allows states to define additional categories (I wrote about this here). California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has just proposed to add a new category of state-regulated universal waste covering “photovoltaic [PV] modules” to its regulations under the state’s Hazardous Waste Control Law (HWCL). The remainder of today’s blog summarizes these proposed universal waste PV requirements.

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Tags: California Legislation, Environmental risks, Environmental, EHS, EPA, Hazcom, RCRA