Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

EPA updates and expands mandatory greenhouse gas emission reporting requirements

Posted by Jon Elliott on Mon, May 06, 2024

On April 25, 2024, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published very extensive technical revisions to its Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP), which requires thousands of facilities and organizations to report annual emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) (40 CFR part 98). These revisions finalize proposals published in June 2022 and May 2023. (I wrote about the second set HERE). The remainder of this note summarizes these changes. (I’ve written about EPA’s mandatory GHG reporting program several times, including HERE).

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Tags: Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, Greenhouse Gas, ghg, greenhouse, Environment, GHGRP

EPA requires worst case release planning by onshore facilities

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Apr 23, 2024

On March 28, 2024, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) adopted requirements that qualifying onshore non-transportation-related facilities prepare Facility Response Plans (FRPs) to address possible “worst case” discharges of hazardous substances into navigable waters or related areas. These new requirements fulfill a mandate imposed in 2020 after environmental groups successfully sued EPA for failing to issue such rules in the 30 years following 1990 amendments to the Clean Water Act (CWA) directed EPA to do so (Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform, et al. v. EPA). The rest of this note discusses these new requirements, in the context of CWA facility preparation requirements.

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Tags: Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, CWA, Clear water, Hazardous Waste, Environment, Environmental Policy

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 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

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