Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

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 issues Strategic Civil-Criminal Enforcement Policy

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, May 14, 2024

On April 17, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a memorandum announcing its Strategic Civil-Criminal Enforcement Policy (“the Policy”). The Policy provides direction to EPA’s civil and criminal enforcement staffs, seeking to ensure that the two sometimes-disjoint groups coordinate training, procedures, and enforcement choices. The remainder of this note summarizes this new Policy.

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Tags: EPA, Environmental Policy, environmental law, Civil-Criminal Enforcement Policy

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

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

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

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

Federal Agencies Adjusting Civil Penalty Levels for Inflation

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Feb 06, 2024

Many laws provide for civil – and sometimes even criminal – penalties for noncompliance. New legislation typically sets penalty levels (“XXX dollars per day of violation” for example), at levels intended to provide meaningful deterrence and punishment for noncompliance. But over time, the relative sting of these penalties declines with inflation. To counteract the possibility that less painful penalties reduce incentives for compliance, most U.S. federal agencies are required to make annual “cost of living” adjustments to maximum available civil penalty levels (criminal penalties are not affected).

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Tags: EPA, 2020 US Presidential election, Inflation, CPI, Federal Agencies, Penalties, GAO

Nearly time for hazardous waste biennial reports

Posted by Jon Elliott on Thu, Feb 01, 2024

Federal laws (commonly referred to as RCRA, after the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976) provide comprehensive management requirements for parties involved in hazardous waste management, from “cradle to grave” covering generators, transporters, and offsite management facilities. Among these many provisions are requirements that “large quantity generators (LQGs)” submit biennial reports to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or delegated states in March of every even-numbered year. March 2024 is the next such deadline, so now is a good time to review biennial report requirements to ensure compliance at qualifying facilities.

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Tags: EPA, RCRA, Hazardous Waste, AHW, LQG