Monthly Archives: January 2013

MassDEP Tightens TCE Indoor Air Regulation: The $64,000 Question? What About Closed Sites?

Last week, MassDEP released new guidance on how it is assessing exposures to TCE in light of EPA new assessment of TCE risks released in September 2011.  The biggest issue is that concerns about fetal exposure have caused MassDEP to tighten the imminent hazard threshold for indoor air exposures to 2 ug/m3.  That’s an order of magnitude reduction from the prior standard of 20 ug/m3.

MassDEP has apparently thus far taken the position that it is not planning on reopening closed sites based on the new IH criterion. … More

What Makes One Invalid Rule More Valid Than Another? The Court of Appeals Declines to Rehear CSAPR, and Leaves CAIR In Place

Today, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia declined EPA’s petition for rehearing en banc in EME Homer City Generation v. EPA, leaving the original panel decision striking down EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule in place.  Environmental groups had hoped for a rehearing based on Judge Rodger’s emphatic dissent, but a request for en banc review is always an uphill battle.… More

Reverse Coverage Suits: What Happens When Policyholders Agree to Defend and Indemnify Their Insurers

Increasingly, when settling coverage disputes,  insurers require policyholders to agree to defend and indemnify the insurer against any additional claims asserted against the insurer.  This produces the curious result that the policyholder and insurer functionally switch places.  For example, Hartford Fire Insurance Company recently sued its policyholder, Lanxess Sybron Chemicals Company.   Lanxess had settled a coverage dispute with Hartford concerning the Kearny Superfund Site in New Jersey.  As part of that settlement,… More

EPA Loses Another PSD Case: The Clean Air Act is “Extraordinarily Rigid”

In Sierra Club v. EPA, issued today, The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected EPA’s rules governing “significant impact levels” and “significant monitoring concentrations” for determining PSD permitting requirements for new sources of PM2.5.  Both the SIL and SMC provisions provided important exemptions from the PSD permitting regime. The Court ruled that neither provision was justified given the inflexible language of the Clean Air Act.… More

EPA Splits the Baby on Backup Generators: Still Allows 100 Hours Use, But Now Requires Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel

Yesterday, EPA finalized revisions to the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for stationary reciprocating internal combustion engines, or – one of my new favorite acronyms – RICE.  The biggest dispute over the rule was the extent to which it would allow backup diesel generators to run for demand response purposes.

As we had noted previously, EPA proposed last May to allow backup generators to run for up to 100 hours for demand response purposes without being subject to emissions limits. … More

MassDOT Issues Its 21st-Century Transportation Plan: Brother, Can You Spare $13 Billion?

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation today released The Way Forward:  A 21st-Century Transportation Plan.  The Plan summarizes steps that MassDOT has already taken to implement reforms, describes transportation needs over the next ten years, and discusses options for attaining the funding necessary to address the identified needs.

The needs include a number of proposals that have been mentioned previously, including South Coast Rail, train connection from Boston to Springfield,… More

EPA Formally Withdraws Numeric Turbidity Standards from Its Stormwater Rule for Construction and Development Sites

Daily Environment Report announced yesterday that EPA notified BNA that, late last year, EPA reached a settlement with the Utility Water Act Group and the National Association of Home Builders resolving litigation over EPA’s rule imposing effluent limitations on the “Construction and Development Point Source Category” and over its Construction General Permit.

The most contentious aspect of EPA’s regulatory efforts in this area was EPA’s inclusion of numeric turbidity limits. … More

Dog Bites Man: Supreme Court Edition

In a curious, but unsurprising, decision yesterday, in Los Angeles County Flood Control District v. NRDC, the Supreme Court held that the flow of water containing pollutants from part of a river that has been culverted into a part of the river which still maintains natural banks is not a “discharge of a pollutant” within the meaning of the Clean Water Act.  The decision appears to be controlled by the Court’s prior decision in Florida Water Management District v.… More

More Than Four Years Later, the Bush EPA Is Still Losing Court Decisions

On Friday, the Court  of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected EPA’s approach to implementation of the PM2.5 NAAQS.  The fine particulate NAAQS was first published in 1997, and EPA issued implementation rules in 2007 and 2008.  Those rules specified that EPA Subpart 1 of Part D of title I of the CAA – the general implementation provisions – rather than Subpart 4, which applies specifically to PM10. … More

Can Wind Energy Serve As Baseload Power? The First Circuit Agrees with the NRC That, For Now, The Answer Is “Not Yet.”

In an interesting decision issued last Friday, the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, in Beyond Nuclear v. NextEra Energy Seabrook, affirmed the decision by the NRC rejecting a challenge to Seabrook’s relicensing posed by a coalition of environmental groups.  The decision seems clearly correct, but raises an important policy issue that is likely to recur as renewable energy technologies advance,… More