Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

EPA announces enforcement priorities for 2024-2027

Posted by Jon Elliott on Fri, Sep 15, 2023

On August 17, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a memorandum announcing its National Enforcement and Compliance Initiatives and continuing enforcement priorities for the upcoming fiscal years 2024-2027 (NECI memo). This announcement specifies existing initiatives that EPA will extend, and additional new ones. The NECI memo explains that EPA selected its priorities based on the following three criteria:

  • the need to address serious and widespread environmental issues and significant violations impacting human health and the environment, particularly in overburdened and vulnerable communities
  • a focus on areas where federal enforcement authorities, resources, and/or expertise are needed to hold polluters accountable and promote a level playing field
  • alignment with EPA’s Strategic Plan.

The remainder of this note summarizes the enforcement priorities expressed in the NECI memo.

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Tags: Environmental, EPA, Environmental Policy, NECI

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

FTC considering changes to environmental advertising “Green Guides”

Posted by Jon Elliott on Wed, Jan 04, 2023

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) administers longstanding protections against advertising that uses “false” or “misleading” advertising to induce consumers to buy products that do not perform as advertised, or that produce consequences different from those advertised. FTC’s rules include its “Guides for the use of environmental marketing claims” – generally called “Green Guides” (16 CFR part 260). FTC first issued the Green Guides thirty years ago in 1992 and revised them in 1996, 1998, and 2012. (I most recently discussed the Guides, and the FTC Act of 1914, HERE ). On December 14, 2022, FTC voted to seek public comment on the content and interpretation of meaning of the existing Guides, and the sorts of changes and updates that would enhance their ongoing value to consumers. The remainder of this note summarizes the existing Green Guides, and FTC’s questions for public comment.

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Tags: Environmental, Environmental Policy, FTC

Proposal to Require Climate Risks and Resilience Plans from Significant Federal Suppliers

Posted by Jon Elliott on Mon, Nov 28, 2022

On November 10, the Biden Administration announced a proposal to amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to require “major federal suppliers” and “significant federal suppliers” to disclose their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and assessments of climate-related risks, and to set targets for GHG emission reductions. The rest of this note summarizes this proposal.

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Tags: Environmental, Greenhouse Gas, ghg, CO2 Emissions, Environment, Environmental Policy, Climate, FAR, NASA, DOD

EPA releases data from latest mandatory greenhouse gas emission reports

Posted by Jon Elliott on Fri, Nov 18, 2022

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) (40 CFR part 98). The most recent reports were due in April 2022, covering 2021 emissions from more than 8,000 entities (I summarized these requirements HERE https://blog.stpub.com/mandatory-ghg-epa-reports-due-april-1-2022). EPA has now published summary compilations of these data, showing an overall 4% increase in emissions compared with 2020. EPA attributes the increases to economic expansion coming out of the COVID-induced downturn, and reminds readers that reported emissions are generally lower than in those first reported for 2010-2011.

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Tags: Environmental risks, Environmental, Greenhouse Gas, CO2 Emissions, Environmental Policy

US tightens federal standards for greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles

Posted by Jon Elliott on Mon, Jan 24, 2022

During the last decade, federal state authorities have sparred with themselves and with states over regulatory standards limiting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from automobiles. Nationally, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) share authority over fleetwide and individual vehicle standards. EPA applies authority under the Clean Air act (CAA) and NHTSA applies authority under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA) including Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standards. In addition, the state of California has unique CAA authority over vehicle emission; in recent years, Democratic presidential administrations generally produce federal-state cooperation, whereas Republican presidential administrations produce conflicts. (I’ve written about these issues several times, most recently HERE). True to this pattern, on December 21, 2021 EPA issued tighter vehicle emission rules covering Model Years (MY) 2023 through 2026, and NHTSA rescinded its (Trump era) rule preempting California’s stricter GHG emission standards. The remainder of this note discusses these new rules, within the context of ongoing rulemakings.

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Tags: Environmental, Greenhouse Gas, ghg, CO2 Emissions

Biden Administration Proposes to reverse most Trump Administration revisions to Federal Environmental Impact Assessment rules

Posted by Jon Elliott on Wed, Oct 20, 2021

The federal Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) has proposed to revise its regulations administering the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969. NEPA requires federal agencies to assess the environmental effects of their proposed actions, and incorporate this information into their decisions. Government-wide guidance is provided by the White House’s CEQ, established by NEPA and appointed by the President. CEQ issues formal regulations that agencies must follow, and guidance documents that provide additional advice.  CEQ also reviews agencies’ NEPA implementation programs, and publishes annual national Environmental Quality Reports.


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Tags: Environmental, EPA, NEPA, CEQ

Biden Administration proposes to expand EPA’s budget significantly

Posted by Jon Elliott on Wed, Jul 28, 2021

On May 28, the Biden Administration issued its budget proposal for federal Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 (October 1, 2021 through September 30, 2022). As anticipated based on statements from Mr. Biden while a candidate and since his inauguration, the proposal includes many dramatic changes from former president Trump’s proposed budgets. The administration proposes a 21.6 % ($2 billion) increase in the budget for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) budget above EPA’s adopted 2021 budget of $9.2 billion. Roughly 90 percent of this increase is related to climate controls and environmental justice, broadly defined.


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Tags: Environmental, EPA

South Coast Air Quality Management District to regulate warehouses’ indirect emissions

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Jul 13, 2021

The federal Clean Air Act (CAA) requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish and maintain national air quality standards, including criteria for permits and other authorizations issued to (potential) emission sources by state or local air quality management agencies (with EPA itself as the default regulator if other agencies fail). Forms of authorization include permits for specified stationary emission sources, and equipment/emission standards for mobile sources and some components of stationary sources. Almost all requirements apply to “direct sources” – the equipment or activity that directly produces emissions.

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Tags: Environmental, EPA, CAA, SCAQMD, emissions, warehouses, WAIRE