Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

Study compares environmental enforcement during Trump administration with predecessors

Posted by Jon Elliott on Wed, Oct 28, 2020

I’ve written numerous times in this space about specific efforts by the Trump administration to reduce environmental regulation and enforcement. A new study from the University of Michigan Law School quantifies reductions in the administration’s criminal enforcement levels. The report is part of the school’s “Environmental Crimes Project,” and includes the first two years of the Trump Administration as the latest in a 14-year series of federal environmental enforcement data. Readers should note that federal criminal environmental enforcement is brought by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) on behalf of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); EPA and delegated state agencies bring their own civil cases, and most state criminal enforcement is brought by state prosecutors on behalf of state regulatory agencies (I summarized agency enforcement in the first year of the Trump administration HERE).

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Tags: OSHA, EPA, RCRA, CAA, DOJ, CWA, Environment, ESA, SWMA

Environmental policy: what are the Democrats promising

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Oct 20, 2020

As the 2020 Presidential election approaches its close, both major parties’ major environmental proposals have been formalized. As the incumbent party, the Republican National Committee decided not to adopt a formal election platform, and instead adopted a resolution promising continuity, the most substantive provision of which is “That the Republican Party has and will continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda.” (I summarized candidate Trump’s 2016 proposals HERE, and have written dozens of blogs summarizing specific actions since that election).
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Tags: climate change, Environment, Clean Air Act, Republican Party, 2020 US Presidential election, Clean Energy, Democratic Party

British Columbia Supreme Court Finds Human Rights and Workers Comp Claims are not Mutually Exclusive

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Oct 13, 2020

A variety of laws and regulations each prohibit sexual harassment in workplaces. These include:

· Human rights laws prohibit employers from committing or condoning discrimination, including sex discrimination which includes sexual harassment.

· General labour statutes find that harassment can alter terms of employment and even trigger constructive dismissal.

· Occupational health and safety laws protect workers from workplace hazards, which increasingly including bullying and harassment.

· Workers compensation laws provide an insurance system to compensate workers for occupational injuries and illness.

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Tags: Employee Rights, Discrimination, BC Human Rights Tribunal, Sexual Harassment, BC Human Rights Code

Trump administration guidelines for easing enforcement

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Oct 06, 2020

During 2020, the Trump Administration has seized on the economic disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic as the latest of its many rationales for easing environmental regulations. In May, the President issued an executive order (EO) directing agencies to “support the economic response to the COVID–19 outbreak” (EO 13924 “Regulatory Relief To Support Economic Recovery”; I discussed it HERE). That EO included directions to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to receive reports from individual federal agencies about their regulatory and enforcement responses, and authorized OMB to issue guidance. On August 31, 2020, OMB issued a “Memorandum for the Deputy Secretaries of Executive Departments and Agencies – Implementation of Section 6 of Executive Order 13924” (Memorandum M-20-31; called “the Memo” below) offering this guidance. 

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Tags: Health & Safety, Coronavirus, Covid-19, OMB, Executive Order, Memorandum M-20-31, Economy, Administration Guidelines, EO 13924

Cleaning up after wildfires

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Sep 29, 2020

Western North America is suffering from huge wildfires this year. I’ve written pieces discussing ways to protect workplaces from fire (HERE) and to protect workers during wildfires (HERE). Today’s note discusses worker safety during cleanup after wildfires. I synthesize guidance from the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), California EPA (CalEPA), and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

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Tags: OSHA, EPA, CDC, workplace safety, Wildfire, Cal-Fire, California, CalEPA, CDPH

CERB and EI changes: What employers and workers need to know

Posted by BLG’s Labour and Employment Group on Tue, Sep 22, 2020

On August 20, 2020, the federal government announced its transition from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to a simplified Employment Insurance (EI) program to provide income support to those unable to work due to COVID-19.

In addition to simplifying access to EI, the government will introduce three new temporary recovery benefits: the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit and the Canada Recovery Benefit.

Subject to parliamentary approval, these programs will be effective starting September 27 and available for one year.

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Tags: Business & Legal, Employee Rights, Covid-19, Employment Law, Labour & Employment, Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, Canada Emergency Response Benefit, Employment Insurance, Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit

California regulates Air Toxics “Hot Spots”

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Sep 15, 2020

In 1987, California adopted the Air Toxics “Hot Spots” Information and Assessment Act, responding to increasing concern over toxics in the air (AB 2588 (Connelly, Sterling)).  This law complements California’s enforcement of national requirements governing stationary source emissions of air toxics. The federal Clean Air Act (CAA) required the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish and maintain a list of air toxics, named as Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs), and to set emissions standards (National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPs) for many HAP emission sources; California incorporates HAP/NESHAP requirements into the state’s Toxic Air Contaminant (TAC) / Airborne Toxic Control Measure (ATCM) program. (I discussed these requirements HERE).

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Tags: OSHA, CAA, Cal/OSHA, California, Air Toxics, NESHAPs, TAC, ATCM, Hot Spots Act, OEHHA, BAAQMD, HAPs, ARB

Regulating routine emissions of air toxics

Posted by Jon Elliott on Fri, Sep 11, 2020

The federal Clean Air Act (CAA) requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish and maintain a list of air toxics, named as Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs), and to set emissions standards for many sources of such pollutants. HAPs include heavy metals, organics, and other airborne pollutants that are not otherwise regulated as “criteria” air pollutants (such as carbon monoxide, particulate matter, and ground level ozone). This note summarizes requirements applicable to stationary sources.

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Tags: OSHA, CAA, mact, Air Toxics, NESHAPs, GACT, HAPs, ADI

As Americans with Disabilities Act turns 30, it’s a good time to review accommodations

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Sep 01, 2020

It’s been 30 years since President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law. ADA does more than just add “persons with a disability” to the list of groups protected against discrimination by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (based on race, sex, etc.). It is designed not just to protect these individuals’ employment opportunities, but also to ensure their access to public services and accommodation. The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 repudiated several U.S. Supreme Court decisions that had interpreted ADA narrowly, and clarified related issues highlighted by rulemakings and litigation up to that time.


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Tags: Business & Legal, Employee Rights, EEOC, DOJ, ADA, Disability

Protecting your workplace from wildfires

Posted by Jon Elliott on Wed, Aug 26, 2020

Summer is wildfire season in many areas, although its importance to your workplace obviously varies. We worry more here in California than folks in New England -- as I started this note my home region around San Francisco Bay had the worst air quality on the planet  during a siege of wildfires from lightning strikes. If your workplace is a downtown high rise, wildfire risks are less than if it's in a suburban office park – and if you’re telecommuting during the COVID pandemic, it may depend less on your employer’s location than where you’ve set yourself up.

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Tags: OSHA, Covid-19, workplace safety, Wildfire, Cal-Fire, California, Summer