Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

Circuit Court Strikes Down Bush-Era Reporting Exemptions

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, May 16, 2017

How long can a new President’s policy changes take? I’ve been writing about President Trump’s attempts to roll back environmental requirements, and cautioning that some changes can be fast (like immediate repeal of his predecessor’s executive orders regarding climate change) while others will require multi-year rulemakings to revise finalized regulations (like EPA’s review of the greenhouse gas emission limits under the Clean Air Act, both extremes appear in a recent Executive Order I discussed here). On April 11 the federal Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued a reminder that regulatory changes can take a long time. The Court revoked several environmental reporting exemptions adopted by EPA in the last month of George W. Bush’s administration (December 2008, effective on the day of President Obama’s inauguration January 20, 2009) – culminating a year-long rulemaking and setting of 8 years of administrative and judicial appeals. So this regulation-reducing effort took 9 years to fail.

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Tags: EHS, Environmental, Environmental risks, climate change

EPA’s “Back-to-Basics” Agenda

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, May 09, 2017

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has been on a tour to publicize his efforts to get EPA “back-to-basics.” He launched the tour with a visit to a Pennsylvania coal mine in April. The agency issued a press release about that visit, which also summarized its “Back-to-Basics Agenda.” The press release summarizes the Agenda as “Protecting the environment; engaging with state, local and tribal partners; and creating sensible regulations that enhance economic growth.” The Agenda provides a convenient rhetorical framework for the new Administrator’s efforts to re-boot EPA’s activities.

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Tags: EPA, Environmental, Environmental risks, climate change, ghg, Greenhouse Gas, Oil & Gas, clean water, Hazcom, tsca

The Latest Climate Change-Fighting Innovations

Posted by Jane Dunne on Tue, May 02, 2017

All over the world, our brightest and most creative minds are finding ways for us to produce fewer greenhouse gases and use renewable energy to its greatest potential with fascinating new technologies.

Sustainable Job Innovators

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Tags: climate change, clean water

Trump Executive Order Rolls Back Obama’s Climate Initiatives

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Apr 04, 2017

Candidate Trump promised to reverse President Obama’s climate initiatives, which he variously described as based on uncertain science and/or as a “war on coal.” Since taking office, President Trump has moved expeditiously to make good on those promises. On March 28 he issued an executive order (EO) “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth,” packaging a large set of repeals and re-directions to move US federal policies firmly away from climate change and toward domestic fossil fuels.

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Tags: Environmental, Environmental risks, EPA, climate change

The World Decides To Help The Climate By Helping The Ozone Layer

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Oct 25, 2016

Last month I blogged about basic provisions of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, and ongoing negotiations to expand it to require phaseout of chemicals that harm the stratospheric ozone layer and contribute to climate change (click here, and included links to early blogs on Montreal Protocol issues). At that time, proposals all focused on hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). At that point, global HFC use was increasing by roughly 10% annually, driven primarily by expanding use for air conditioning as hot developing countries sought to catch up with comfort levels in their developed counterparts. Proposed timelines and end-targets for reversing that expansion varied considerably.

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Tags: ghg, EPA, Environmental, Environmental risks, climate change

California Tightens Restrictions On High-Impact Short-Lived Climate Pollutants

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Oct 11, 2016

Attempts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are more complex than they first appear. Reports in the mass media tend to focus on carbon dioxide (CO2). The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Framework Convention) focuses primarily on six GHGs, including CO2 as well as methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). Climate change scientists have identified hundreds of GHGs, with widely varying sources, relative contributions to climate change (numerical “global warming potential (GWP)”, where CO2 is defined as 1.0), and total contribution based on emitted volumes.

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Tags: California Legislation, climate change, Greenhouse Gas, ghg, Hazcom

U.S. and China Renew Climate Change Vows to Jumpstart Paris Agreement

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Sep 27, 2016

In recent years, the United States and China have found a rare basis for cooperation in their joint efforts to accelerate international efforts to manage and reduce climate change. The first significant step in this cooperation was the two countries’ bilateral agreement in November 2014 to manage greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions within their boundaries (I blogged about it here). At the time, the two countries offered their commitments as a way to reinforce international climate change negotiations underway to replace the expiring Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. In December 2015, those negotiations produced the Paris Agreement, which established global mechanisms for countries to declare self-enforcing national GHG management commitments (I blogged about the Paris Agreement here).

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Tags: EPA, Greenhouse Gas, ghg, climate change

White House Guidance for Agency Consideration of Climate Change in Environmental Reviews

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Sep 20, 2016

On August 2, the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) issued guidance to assist federal agencies in their consideration of the effects of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and climate change when evaluating proposed federal actions. I refer to this documents as “the Guidance” below.

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Tags: EPA, CAA, ghg, Greenhouse Gas, CEQA, Environmental, Environmental risks, climate change

New Rules Tighten Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards for Heavy Duty Vehicles

Posted by Jon Elliott on Thu, Sep 15, 2016

The Clean Air Act (CAA) includes extensive regulatory requirements on “mobile sources,” which cover efficiency and emissions standards for a broad range of vehicles with internal combustion engines (automobiles, buses, aircraft), “nonroad engines and vehicles” (including lawnmowers, bulldozers and marine vessels), as well as motor fuel standards intended to promote cleaner burning fuels. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses CAA authority to set emission limits from engines, for CAA-regulated air pollutants, including carbon dioxide (CO2) regulated for its greenhouse gas (GHG) aspects.

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Tags: EPA, ghg, Greenhouse Gas, climate change, Environmental, Environmental risks, Transportation, CAA, California Legislation

Extending the Montreal Protocol to Address Climate Change

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Sep 13, 2016

The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer provides the international framework for protecting the earth’s stratospheric ozone layer, by identifying and minimizing emissions of ozone depleting substances (ODSs). The original Montreal Protocol was initialed in September 1987 (I summarized it here). It is widely considered an effective example of international cooperation (I blogged about the healing of the “ozone hole” here), in contrast with ongoing struggles to reach binding international agreements to address climate change. In fact, during 2016 efforts are underway to build on the Montreal Protocol’s strengths by amending it to address additional chemicals that may harm ozone and contribute to climate change.

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Tags: ghg, EHS, EPA, climate change, Greenhouse Gas