Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

OSHA provides flood preparation guidance

Posted by Jon Elliott on Thu, Jul 18, 2024

In June, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other federal agencies reacted to flooding in Florida by re-highlighting existing guidance to support preparation for potential flooding this summer, and to respond when it occurs. OSHA’s guidance is directed at employers, while the National Weather Service (NWS) provides more generalized guidance and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) target families. The rest of this note summarizes this timely information, centering on OSHA’s offerings.

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Tags: OSHA, Environmental risks, Environmental, CDC, Environment, Environmental Policy, NWS

EPA designates two perfluoro “forever chemicals” as Superfund hazardous substances

Posted by Jon Elliott on Mon, Jul 01, 2024

On May 8, 2024, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published rule revisions adding two perfluoro chemicals -- Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonic Acid (PFOS) – as hazardous substances under the federal Superfund law (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA)). This listing is the latest regulatory action by EPA tightening controls on per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAs); the initiatives are covered under the agency’s “PFAs Strategic Roadmap: EPA’s Commitments to Action 2021—2024,” promulgated in October 2021. The remainder of this note describes the latest action, which finalizes a proposal issued in August 2021 (which I wrote about HERE).

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Tags: Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, chemical safety, CERCLA, Environment, PFAS, PFOS

US Government issues policy and principles for voluntary carbon markets

Posted by Jon Elliott on Thu, Jun 27, 2024

On Mrbonbonay 28, the Biden administration issued a “Joint Statement of Policy and new Principles for Responsible Participation in Voluntary Carbon Markets, presenting the U.S. government’s approach to advancing Voluntary Carbon Markets (VCMs). The new document was signed by the Treasury Secretary, Agriculture Secretary, Energy Secretary, Senior Advisor for International Climate Policy, National Economic Advisor, and National Climate Advisor, whose responsibilities are most relevant. 

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” or “carbon credits.” 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. The new VCM Policy and Principles provide federal guidance and expectations. The remainder of this note summarizes the policy perinciples presented in the new Policy.

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Tags: Environmental risks, Environmental, ghg, Environment, Environmental Policy, Joe Biden, VCMs, Carbon markets

EPA announces final phase-outs of commerce in remaining asbestos-containing products

Posted by Jon Elliott on Mon, May 20, 2024

On March 28, 2024, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published phase-out schedules leading to a ban on the remaining permissible uses of chrysotile no later than December 31, 2037. EPA applies expanded authority provided as part of amendments adopted to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in 2016; EPA first attempted to ban asbestos products in 1989 but was partially blocked by litigation. These rules finalize a proposal from April 2022 (which I wrote about HERE). The remainder of this note discusses the rule, and the history of this round of rulemakings since 2016.

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Tags: Environmental, EPA, tsca, Toxic, Toxics Release, asbestos

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