Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

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

California enacts two new climate-related reporting laws

Posted by Jon Elliott on Thu, Dec 14, 2023

On October 7, 2023, California’s governor Gavin Newsom signed two important bills expanding climate-related reporting requirements for targeted organizations doing business in the state – SB 253 (Wiener) (Climate Corporate Data Accountability Act) and SB 261 (Stern). These requirements will be administered by the California Air Resources Board (ARB), which already includes most state greenhouse gas (GHG) regulatory requirements within its extensive air quality and climate authority (centered on the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32). The remainder of these note discusses these new requirements.

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Tags: Environmental, Greenhouse Gas, ghg, California, Environment, Environmental Policy

California begins to regulate carbon offset claims

Posted by Jon Elliott on Fri, Nov 24, 2023

Regulatory and market-based programs are steadily increasing opportunities for entities to contract with projects that reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (GHGs), and to claim credit for those “carbon offsets.” Some such claims are used to satisfy formal air quality and GHG reduction requirements, while others are touted to enhance entities’ “green” credentials. Programs around the globe compile such claims, and some provide third party validations – but possible “greenwashing” of unjustified claims remains a significant concern. To address these concerns, California has just enacted legislation to regulate Voluntary Cabon Market Disclosures and penalize noncompliance (Assembly Bill (AB) 1305, Gabriel). These requirements synthesize the most thorough voluntary disclosure programs, and are intended not only to protect California consumers but to codify disclosure standards. The rest of this note summarizes carbon offsets, and AB 1305 requirements.

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Tags: Environmental, Greenhouse Gas, greenhouse, California, Environment, Environmental Policy, environmental protection

EPA tightens Toxics Release Inventory reporting requirements for PFAS “Forever chemicals”

Posted by Jon Elliott on Mon, Nov 20, 2023

On October 31, 2023 the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tightened its reporting requirements for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) – frequently called ‘forever chemicals” because they biodegrade very slowly – under its Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) program. These changes finalize a proposal issued in (which I wrote about HERE), and reflect EPA’s agency-wide efforts to tighten controls on PFASs proposed in December 2022 (I wrote about these efforts HERE). The new TRI revisions apply to reports beginning in calendar year 2024. The remainder of this note summarizes these changes.

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Tags: Environmental, EPA, Environment, Environmental Policy, TRI, PFAS

EPA proposes management requirements for equipment containing HFCs

Posted by Jon Elliott on Mon, Nov 06, 2023

On October 19, 2023, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to establish requirements for the management of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) potentially released from equipment during maintenance or other services, and manage spent HFCs.. These rules support US efforts to implement the 2016 Kigali Amendment to the United Nations-sponsored Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (which I wrote about HERE), and codified in the December 2020 coronavirus relief bill (American Innovation and Manufacturing Act of 2020 (AIM Act; which included dozens of unrelated provisions within its 5,593 pages). EPA adopted its over-arching HFC phase-down rules in September 2021 (I wrote about them HERE), and continues to adjust and refine their requirements. The remainder of this note summarizes EPA’s new proposal, which would impose requirements using authority under the Clean Air Act (CAA) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

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Tags: EPA, RCRA, Environment, HFCs, Environmental Policy, CCA, environmental protection, CFC

Pollution Prevention Plan requirements under Canadian Environmental Protection Act

Posted by Jon Elliott on Wed, Sep 27, 2023

The Canadian Environmental Protection Act of 1999 (CEPA) provides a variety of federal environmental protection provisions throughout Canada. The Minister of the Environment and Climate Change (the Minister; who oversees Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), and to which I attribute CEPA authorizations in this note) prepares regulations (including lists of chemicals regulated in different circumstances), and conducts additional planning, regulatory and enforcement activities. In particular, CEPA authorizes the Minister to issue Pollution Prevention Notices (P2 Notices) directing targeted entities to prepare P2 Plans to improve management of any listed “Toxic Substance” in order to reduce environmental impacts. The rest of this note summarizes P2 requirements, which will be revised to conform with CEPA amendments adopted this summer by Bill S-5, the “Strengthening Environmental Protection for a Healthier Canada Act” (S-5), which received Royal Assent on June 13, 2023.

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Tags: Environmental, Environment, Environmental Policy, Pollution, CEPA, environmental protection

EPA’s Climate Smart Brownfields Manual

Posted by Jon Elliott on Fri, Sep 22, 2023

Several national laws empower the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set standards for the cleanup of contamination that resulted from accidental or deliberate releases of chemicals and other materials onto land or into water. EPA’s actions include direct requirements for cleanup by responsible parties, and also inform other parties’ evaluations of if and how to prepare contaminated areas for reuse – often referred to as “brownfields” since they’re assumed to be dirtier than never-used “greenfields.” The remainder of this note discusses EPA’s 73 page “Climate Smart Brownfields Manual,” issued by the agency in 2021

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Tags: Health & Safety, EPA, chemical safety, Hazardous Waste, Environment

Canada identifies possible provisions for a Federal Plastics Registry

Posted by Jon Elliott on Thu, Jul 20, 2023

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) is developing a Federal Plastics Registry, in support of the government’s goal of zero plastic waste by 2030. The proposed Registry will create a consistent national framework of reporting requirements. On April 23, 2023, ECCC published a Technical Paper with “technical details and reporting requirements” for the Registry, reflecting several years of development –a discussion paper published in October 2020, a “What We Heard” summary of comments received on that paper, a Consultation Paper published in July 2022, and comments received on that document. ECCC intends to formally propose requirements for the Registry by the end of 2023, and to require reporting beginning in 2025.

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Tags: Environmental, Environment, pollutants, plastics, ECCC

EPA proposes to update and expand mandatory greenhouse gas emission reporting requirements

Posted by Jon Elliott on Fri, Jul 14, 2023

For over a decade, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has required thousands of facilities and organizations to report annual emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), in what it refers to as its Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP) (40 CFR part 98). On May 22, 2023, EPA published an extensive set of proposals to update and expand existing requirements. These proposals supplement and supersede proposals published in June 2022 but not acted on by the agency. The remainder of this note summarizes these proposals, focusing not on the many technical revisions to existing requirements but on proposals to target additional activities with reporting requirements. (I’ve written about EPA’s mandatory GHG reporting program several times, including HERE).

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Tags: Environmental, EPA, Greenhouse Gas, Environment