Monthly Archives: July 2017

Real Superfund Reform Would Not Place It At the Center of EPA’s Core Mission

Earlier this week, Scott Pruitt released the results of the Superfund Task Force he established in May.  Though skeptical, I was pleased at the creation of the task force and goals he established for it.  With the release of the report, my skepticism has returned.

First, the report and Pruitt’s memo about it repeat the claptrap about restoring “the Superfund program to its rightful place at the center of the agency’s core mission.”  Since he keeps repeating that statement,… More

State Programs to Encourage Zero-Emitting Generation are Really, Really, Constitutional

Hard on the heels of decision upholding the Illinois “zero-emission credit” program to prop up nuclear plants in that state, Judge Valerie Caproni of the South District of New York has now upheld a similar ZEC program in New York. There’s definitely a trend here.  So long as state programs do not directly interfere with wholesale markets, it looks as though they will be affirmed.

(Renewed caveat:  This firm represents,… More

State Programs to Encourage Zero-Emitting Generation Are Constitutional

Late last month, the 2nd Circuit Court of appeals rejected a challenge to Connecticut laws intended to encourage use of renewable energy.  Earlier this month, Judge Manish Shah, of the Northern District of Illinois, issued a companion decision, rejecting challenges to the Illinois Future Energy Jobs Act, which grants “Zero Emission Credits” to certain facilities, “likely to be two nuclear power plants owned by Exelon in Illinois.”

(Caveat:  This firm represents,… More

Reports of the Death of the SEP Have Not Been Greatly Exaggerated

Last month, Attorney General Sessions barred DOJ from entering into settlements that provide for payments to non-governmental persons not a party to the dispute.  At the time, I peered into my crystal ball and proclaimed that the practice of incorporating supplemental environmental projects into environmental settlements was “hanging by a thread.” For once, my speculation was accurate.

Yesterday, DOJ notified the District Court for the District of Columbia that the United States and Harley-Davidson had jointly agreed to modify a consent decree that had already been lodged with the Court. … More

EPA Fails to Justify Its Use of Surrogates for Certain Hazardous Air Pollutants

Yesterday, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals remanded EPA’s MACT standards for PCBs, polycyclic organic matter, and hexachlorobenzene to EPA.  Rather than setting specific MACT standards for these compounds, EPA regulated them through “surrogates,” commonly particulate matter.  The Sierra Club and others argued that EPA did not adequately justify the use of surrogates.

The three-part test for the adequacy of a surrogate is clear and worth repeating:

(1) the relevant hazardous air pollutant is invariably present in the proposed surrogate;… More

EPA Delays Compliance with Massachusetts MS4 Permit

On Thursday, EPA extended the compliance deadline for its General Permit for Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems for one year, until July 1, 2018.  The move almost certainly prompted a collective sigh of relief among both small municipalities directly subject to the rule and developers who would be indirectly impacted, as MS4s struggle to comply.

EPA gave several reasons for the delay:

  • The MS4 permit had been challenged,…
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NGOs 1, Trump EPA 0: The First Skirmish in the Great Environmental Rollback War Goes to the Greens

Earlier this week, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals handed environmentalists at least a temporary win in what I think was the first case to reach judicial decision in Scott Pruitt’s great environmental roll-back tour of 2017.  The Court rejected EPA’s effort to stay the effective date of the New Source Performance Standards for fugitive emissions from oil and natural gas operations, pending EPA’s reconsideration of certain aspects of the Obama-era rule.… More

State Programs to Encourage Renewable Energy Are Constitutional (In Case You Were Worried)

Last week, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a District Court decision rejecting a challenge to Connecticut statutes intended to encourage renewable energy development in Connecticut.  It’s a critical win, not just for Connecticut, but for many renewable energy programs in other states across the country as well.

(Important caveat.  These cases are bloody complicated and no blog could possibly summarize them without omitting important details. … More