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

Supreme Court decision provides Superfund Responsible Parties with some relief

Posted by Jon Elliott on Mon, Jul 27, 2020

Forty years ago, the federal “Superfund” law -- Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) – was enacted to provide legal requirements and procedural methodologies to speed identification and cleanup of contamination. Today, cleanups continue and the requirements and procedures continue to evolve. In April, the United States Supreme Court issued its latest decision interpreting a Superfund provision, this one defining clearer limitations on when the owners of contaminated land can force Responsible Parties for that contamination to pay for cleanup more extensive (and expensive) than cleanup ordered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The case is Atlantic Richfield Company v. Christian.

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Tags: EPA, RCRA, clean water, Supreme Court, Superfund law, CERCLA, The Montana Supreme Court

Chemical Safety Board Proposes Accident Reporting Regulations

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Jan 14, 2020

The federal Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board – which usually refers to itself as the Chemical Safety Board or CSB – began operations in 1998. CSB conducts independent investigations of major chemical accidents, issues accident-specific findings, and offers specific or general recommendations for improved chemical handling and regulation (I wrote about one set of proposals here). Since its authorization in the 1990 Clean Air Act (CAA) Amendments, CSB has also had authority to establish chemical accident reporting regulations.

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Tags: Environmental risks, Environmental, Hazcom, RCRA, CAA, CSB

EPA Adds Aerosol Cans to Universal Wastes

Posted by Jon Elliott on Thu, Dec 19, 2019

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) assigns the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to define and then regulate “hazardous wastes.” RCRA provides EPA considerable discretion, and one way the agency applies that discretion is by separating hazardous wastes into categories that are subject to distinct waste management requirements. One basis for these categorizations is relative risk – since 1995, EPA has defined a limited set of lower-risk wastes as “universal wastes” subject to special rules intended to encourage recycling (40 CFR part 273).

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Tags: Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, Hazcom, RCRA

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

Do You Generate Universal Wastes?

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, May 21, 2019

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) assigns the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to define and then regulate “hazardous wastes.” EPA applies its considerable discretion to separate hazardous wastes into categories subject to distinct waste management requirements. One basis for these categorizations is relative risk – the more hazardous the waste the greater the controls required, and the smaller the threshold quantities necessary to trigger regulation. Beginning in 1995, EPA has defined a limited set of very common lower-risk wastes as “universal wastes,” and made them subject to special rules intended to encourage recycling (40 CFR part 273). The rest of this note summarizes universal waste requirements.

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Tags: Health & Safety, Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, Hazcom, RCRA

EPA Adopts Pharmaceutical Waste Management Requirements

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Mar 12, 2019

After a long rulemaking, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just promulgated rules defining certain waste pharmaceuticals as “hazardous wastes” under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and establishing standards for their management by selected healthcare and “reverse distribution” waste management facilities. These regulations replace general RCRA generator and treatment requirements otherwise applicable to hazardous wastes.

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Tags: Health & Safety, EPA, Hazcom, RCRA, pharmaceuticals

EPA Repeals Vacated Secondary Waste Management Rules

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Jul 10, 2018

On May 30, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) repealed a number of regulations governing recycling of secondary materials, which EPA adopted as parts of a major rulemaking effective July 2015, but which were rejected by a federal court in decisions issued in July 2017 and March 2018. These rules apply the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) by creating exemptions from the “Definition of Solid Waste” to define a number of potentially hazardous wastes as “hazardous secondary materials”, and to establish special rules to allow generators and qualified third parties to recycle and recover qualifying materials. (I summarized the larger 2015 rules here). The remainder of this note identifies EPA’s latest changes.

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Tags: Environmental risks, Environmental, Hazcom, RCRA

The US Green Building Council’s New LEED v4 Rating System

Posted by Rebecca Luman on Thu, Dec 15, 2016

The US Green Building Council (USGBC), founded in 1993, is a consensus-based nonprofit organization with more than 12,000 national members representing the entire building industry. USGBC plays an important role in providing leadership and integration for the building industry in driving sustainable building.

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Tags: Health & Safety, Environmental risks, Environmental, EHS, RCRA

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Criticizes EPA’s Environmental Justice Efforts

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Oct 18, 2016

In September 2016, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (Commission) issued its annual “Statutory Enforcement Report for 2016”; this year’s topic is the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) efforts to protect and promote “Environmental Justice.” The Commission reviews decades of EPA efforts, and criticizes longstanding inadequacies.

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Tags: Health & Safety, Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, ghg, Hazcom, RCRA