Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

Biden Administration proposes limited increases in OSHA budget

Posted by Jon Elliott on Mon, Apr 08, 2024

On March 11, the Biden Administration issued its budget proposal for federal Fiscal Year (FY) 2025 (October 1, 2024 through September 30, 2025). The administration proposes a $655.5 million budget for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a 3.7% ($32.1 million) increase above OSHA’s adopted 2023 budget of $632.4 million (the Administration had proposed $701 million). OSHA is presently operating under the latest FY 2024 Continuing Budget Resolution (since no budget has been adopted for FY 2024 (I wrote about the Administration’s FY 2024 proposal HERE). Even if an FY 2025 budget is enacted, political differences make significant reductions from this proposal likely, but it’s worth reviewing the proposal as a reflection of the Administration’s ongoing environmental priorities. The remainder of this note summarizes the Biden Administration proposal.

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Tags: Health & Safety, OSHA, Safety and Health at Work, Cal/OSHA, FTE, Joe Biden, USA

Biden Administration again requests significant EPA budget increases

Posted by Jon Elliott on Wed, Apr 03, 2024

On March 11, the Biden Administration issued its budget proposal for federal Fiscal Year (FY) 2025 (October 1, 2024 through September 30, 2025). The administration proposes a $10.994 billion budget for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an 8.5% ($0.858 billion) increase above money allocated to EPA under the latest FY 2024 Continuing Budget Resolution (since no budget has been adopted for FY budget under continuing resolutions during FY 2024 (I wrote about the Administration’s FY 2024 proposal HERE). ctionsEven if an FY 2025 budget is enacted, political differences make significant reductions likely, but, it’s worth reviewing the proposal as a reflection of the Administration’s ongoing environmental priorities. The remainder of this note summarizes the latest proposal.

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Tags: Environmental, EPA, Environment, Environmental Policy, FTE, Joe Biden, USA

SEC adopts climate-related disclosure requirements for public companies

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Mar 26, 2024

On March 6, 2024 the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced new requirements that selected “public companies” (i.e, listed on national securities exchanges) provide “climate-related disclosures for investors” in their registration statements and annual reports. SEC is incorporating them into existing requirements to disclose “material information,” under the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. These new requirements are more limited than those proposed by SEC in March 2022 (which I wrote about HERE). The remainder of this note summarizes SEC’s new requirements.

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Tags: SEC, Environmental risks, Environmental, climate change, Environment, Climate

New Jersey will require electric vehicle battery recycling

Posted by Jon Elliott on Thu, Mar 21, 2024

On January 8, 2024, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed the Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Battery Management Act (Senate Bill (SB) 3723, Smith et al.; referred to as “the Act” below)), to create a statewide system to ensure recycling of “propulsion batteries” used for electric vehicles (EVs). This is the first such program in the United States (the European Union includes EV batteries within broader battery management and recycling regulations adopted in June 2023). The Act applies the “producer responsibility” model increasingly used in state laws to require recycling of commercial products and materials (I’ve written about such programs several times, including a general discussion HERE, and discussion of Maine’s program for packaging HERE).

The Act takes effect on January 8, 2025, after which a series of planning, implementation, and compliance deadlines will apply. The remainder of this note discusses this new legislation, which is to be administered by the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

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Tags: Environmental, Environment, Electric Vehicles, EV, DEP

EPA revises Accidental Release Prevention Rules

Posted by Jon Elliott on Thu, Mar 14, 2024

On March 1, 2024, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revised Accidental Release Prevention (ARP) program rules under the Clean Air Act (CAA). ARP was authorized by the 1990 Clean Air Act (CAA) Amendments, and is often known by its core requirement that targeted facilities prepare Risk Management Programs (RMPs) to prevent and respond to potential catastrophic releases of chemicals. The adoption finalizes an agency proposal from 2022 (it also recounts a long series of proposal dating back to 2014; I wrote about it HERE), in which the Biden-era EPA proposed to many of the narrowing amendments to RMP/ARP enacted in 2019 during the Trump Administration (I wrote about the 2019 changes HERE).

The rest of this note summarizes the new revisions, noting their differences from current rules.

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Tags: Health & Safety, EPA, CAA, chemical safety, Air Toxics, Clean Air Act, Toxics Release

Keeping safe in winter weather

Posted by Jon Elliott on Mon, Mar 11, 2024

This is the time of year when employers in many parts of the continent should be making focused effort to protect workers against winter weather. Occupational safety and health regulators include environmental and ambient hazards among those that employers must consider as part of their “general duty” to protect workers against recognized hazards. Requirements cover potential harm from extreme temperatures including cold, as well as slippery surfaces and other hazards from frozen and melting snow or other precipitation.

Agency regulations cover many specified types of situations, and guidelines are available for more. For example, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) is drawing attention to its “Winter Weather” webpage as a source of information. The rest of this note summarizes information from OSHA’s webpage and those of other occupational safety agencies.

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Tags: Health & Safety, OSHA, workplace safety, Winter, Weather

Saskatchewan extending workplace violence prevention requirements to all employers

Posted by Jon Elliott on Thu, Mar 07, 2024

Saskatchewan’s Employment Act (SEA) requires employers to take action to protect their employees against workplace violence. Since 1997, express requirements have applied to workplaces “prescribed” by regulations based on higher hazards; effective on May 17, 2024 these requirements apply in all workplaces, implementing SEA amendments enacted in 2023 by Bill 91 (“The Saskatchewan Employment (Part III) Amendment Act, 2022”). The rest of this summarizes workplace violence prevention (WVP) requirements set forth in the SEA, and in regulations issued and administered by the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Division of Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety.

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Tags: Health & Safety, Workplace violence, Safety and Health at Work, workplace safety, safety violations, OHS, SEA

EPA tightens national air standard for fine particulates

Posted by Jon Elliott on Fri, Mar 01, 2024

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on February 7. 2024 its decision to tighten one the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for particulate matter less than or equal to 2.5 microns; (PM-2.5; also call “fines” in contrast to larger particulates). This decision completes EPA’s reconsideration of a decision in 2020 not to adjust the PM-2.5 requirements (I wrote about that decision HERE); the change reflects in part the changed priorities between the Trump and Biden administrations. The rest of this note summarizes NAAQS issues as they apply to PM-2.5.

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Tags: Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, clean air, Air Toxics, Environment, Clean Air Act, Environmental Policy

Canada: Federal Court rejects listing of Plastic Manufactured Items as “Toxic Substances” under Canadian Environmental Protection Act

Posted by Jon Elliott on Mon, Feb 19, 2024

Among its many provisions, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) creates several lists of “toxic substances,” and empowers Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) to revise the list. In 2021, ECCC add “plastic manufactured items (PMI)” to one of these lists, but was sued by manufacturers seeking to void the addition.  Extensive CEPA amendments were enacted in April 2023 (“Strengthening Environmental Protection for a Healthier Canada Act” (Bill S-5)), including revisions to the toxic substance lists – including recodification of the listing of PMI – and left ECCC’s authority over toxic substances relatively unchanged, so the litigation continued. In November 2023, the Federal Court ruled that the CEPA amendments did not moot the issues in the litigation, and ruled that ECCC had exceeded its statutory and constitutional authority when listing PMI.

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Tags: Environmental risks, Environmental, Greenhouse Gas, climate change, Environment, Environmental Policy, Climate, ECCC, CEPA

Huge Clean Air Act settlement against truck emission cheater

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Feb 13, 2024

On January 10, 2024, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Justice, and the California Air Resources Board (ARB) filed a settlement agreement with Cummins, Inc. covering nearly one million Ram vehicles for which Cummins supplied diesel engines with illegal software-based “defeat devices” that produced misleading emission certification results compared with significantly higher emissions while the vehicles are in actual use. Cummins will pay the largest CAA penalties ever ($1,675 million in federal and state penalties), will fund environmental mitigation projects to compensate for excess nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions ($175 million), and will also recall 630,000 vehicles (model years 2013-2019) to remove the defeat devices (estimated costs $150 million, including warranty extensions). Cummins will also implement corporate governance, organizational, and technical process reforms to minimize the likelihood of future violations.

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Tags: Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, clean air, Environment, Clean Air Act, Environmental Policy