Environmental

    • 25 Nov 2015

    U.S. Energy and Environmental Policy and Law in the Making: The Clean Power Plan

    It was a busy week for the United States and the Obama Administration’s Climate Change Initiative. On October 23, 2015, the Clean Power Plan was published in the Federal Register, [subscribers can access an enhanced version of this rule: lexis.com | Lexis Advance ]. This official act triggered the rush to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the federal court to which all national Clean Air Act rulemakings...
    • 24 Nov 2015

    Proposal to Eliminate CSO Discharges in the Great Lakes Region

    Municipalities, public service districts and other operators of publicly-owned treatment works (“POTWs”) are closely monitoring a controversial and ill conceived provision in U.S. Senate’s Fiscal Year 2016 spending package for the Environmental Protection Agency. Section 428 of the spending package seeks to amend the Clean Water Act (“CWA”) by prohibiting both direct and indirect combined...
    • 17 Nov 2015

    EPA Enjoined From Enforcing New WOTUS Rules

    Last month, the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, [subscribers can access an enhanced version of this opinion: lexis.com | Lexis Advance ], pushed aside jurisdictional questions and issued a stay, effective nationwide, blocking implementation of the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule, [subscribers can access an enhanced version of this rule: lexis.com | Lexis Advance ],...
    • 12 Nov 2015

    How VW's Diesel Engine Debacle Will Impact Farmers

    Volkswagen (VW) has been in the news lately after university researchers discovered its "clean diesel" emissions were as much as 40 times higher than EPA regulations allowed. VW apparently programmed its engine control unit (ECU) software to run on a more efficient setting—meeting EPA emission standards—while undergoing testing. But in normal use the software runs a different setting, boosting performance...
    • 12 Nov 2015

    Clean Water Rule – Inconsistent Application

    The final Clean Water Rule redefining “Waters of the United States” was scheduled to go into effect August 28, 2015, [subscribers can access an enhanced version of this rule: lexis.com | Lexis Advance ]. There have been several suits challenging the rule filed since the rule was finalized. Among those actions include a consolidate action before the 6 th Circuit Court of Appeals in Ohio by Murray Energy Company...
    • 27 Oct 2015

    Clean Power Plan Published; Appeals Period Begins

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan was published in the Federal Register Friday, triggering a 60-day appeals period. Petitioners will have until December 22, 2015, to file appeals of the Clean Power Plan in the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia Circuit. Industry groups and at least 25 states, many with large coal interests, have already filed challenges to the Clean...
    • 27 Oct 2015

    EPA Enforcement Initiative

    EPA is currently pursuing six National Enforcement Initiatives. One of these initiatives is entitled, “Keeping Raw Sewage and Contaminated Stormwater Out of Our Nation’s Waters.” Over the past three years, civil penalties in cases settled under this initiative have ranged from zero to more than $400,000. Recently, however, Philadelphia’s municipal wastewater utility paid much more. The Delaware...
    • 26 Oct 2015

    Waters of the U.S. Rule on Nationwide Hold

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has stayed nationwide application of a controversial rule designed to clarify what water bodies and wetlands are subject to federal Clean Water Act regulation in a 2-1 decision, [subscribers can access an enhanced version of this opinion: lexis.com | Lexis Advance ]. Previously, appellate courts had blocked the "Waters of the United States" rule's application...
    • 22 Oct 2015

    Prompted by Independent Study, EPA Issues Notice of Violation to Volkswagen for Circumventing Federal Emissions Standards

    The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) issuance of a notice of violation to Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, and Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (collectively Volkswagen) appears to have further validated EPA’s and other federal agencies’ growing reliance on independent studies to pursue alleged violators of federal law. In our experience, such studies normally form the basis for nongovernmental organizations...
    • 20 Oct 2015

    Revisions to Key Definitions in Virginia Air Pollution Program Add Flexibility

    By Henry R. "Speaker" Pollard, V , Partner, Williams Mullen Changes to Virginia’s air program that recently took effect offer greater flexibility for manufacturers, electric utilities, and other major sources of air pollutants. These changes reduce the rigidity of two key Virginia program elements by, somewhat ironically, aligning key definitions with federal air program terms. However, these changes...
    • 20 Oct 2015

    Proposed Rules Seek to Cut Methane Emissions at Landfills

    By Ethan R. Ware , Partner, Williams Mullen EPA has issued a proposed rule and a supplemental proposal to a July 14, 2015 proposed rule that are designed to achieve additional reductions of landfill gas (LFG) and its components, including methane, by lowering the emissions threshold at which emission controls must be installed. This action is yet another step in the implementation of President Obama’s June, 2013...
    • 15 Oct 2015

    U.S. EPA Ordered to Pay Attorneys' Fee Sanction In Clean Water Act Lawsuit

    A federal district court judge in Texas has granted a developer’s motion for summary judgment against the United States, [subscribers can access an enhanced version of this opinion: lexis.com | Lexis Advance ], and ordered the Government to reimburse the developer’s legal fees incurred in defending the Government’s lawsuit as a result of conduct that the court characterized as being “oppressive...
    • 14 Oct 2015

    Is that Wetland Jurisdictional? A Practical Guide to the New Clean Water Rule

    By Channing J. Martin , Partner, Williams Mullen The Clean Water Rule recently issued by EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers defines the scope of federal jurisdiction over wetlands and other “waters of the United States.” It became effective on August 28, 2015, so you need to understand what it means for you. The new rule – issued, in part, as a result of the regulatory morass created by the U.S....
    • 13 Oct 2015

    New EPA and USACE Regulations Revise Definition of "Waters of the United States"

    By Mr. Ken Bogdan and Mr. Al Herson Under Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 404, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) must issue a permit for discharges of dredged or fill material into "waters the United States" (WOTUS). On June 29, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and USACE published its final rule defining "waters of the United States" for purposes of Section 404 and other sections...
    • 12 Oct 2015

    Environmental Protection Agency Modifies Air Quality Standards for Ozone

    On October 1, 2015 the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) adopted a more stringent air quality standard for ground-level ozone emissions that reduces the national standard from 75 parts per billion (“ppb”) to 70 ppb. By promulgating a new ozone standard, EPA says it aims to reduce smog from ground-level emission sources, including power plants, smoke stacks, and automobiles....
    • 5 Oct 2015

    Oil Spills At Sea: Better Prevention and Cleanup

    Some rare good news. Oil tanker spills into world oceans: there aren’t as many as there used to be, and they do not do as much damage as they used to do. According to the excellent newsletter of the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation , both the number of oil spills and the quantity spilled has gone down significantly over the last 10 years. This is great progress, although all oil spills do damage...
    • 29 Sep 2015

    Demand-Side Energy Efficiency in the Final Clean Power Plan

    By Jessica Wentz, Associate Director and Postdoctoral Fellow President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have unveiled the final version of the Clean Power Plan —the nation’s first ever federal regulatory standards to address carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) emissions from existing power plants. As noted by the President in a press conference at the announcement, this is “the single most important...
    • 23 Sep 2015

    WA Court Affirms Best Available Climate Science As Basis For Emissions Reduction Goals

    One year ago, eight young climate activists (ranging from 9 to 14 years old) petitioned Washington State’s Department of Ecology (“the Department”) to adopt and implement stricter greenhouse gas emissions regulations based on the most current and best available climate science. When the Department denied the petition last August, the petitioners sued to appeal the denial. The activists’ efforts...
    • 18 Sep 2015

    Federal Court Preliminarily Enjoins EPA and Army Corp Waters of the United States Final Rule

    On August 27, 2015, a federal district judge in North Dakota, [subscribers can access an enhanced version of this opinion: lexis.com | Lexis Advance ], preliminarily enjoined the final rule of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE), titled "Clean Water Rule: Definition of Waters of the United States," which was set to take effect on August 28, 2015. The U.S. District...
    • 17 Sep 2015

    EPA Proposes New Methane Emission Rules

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken another step in its bid to address climate change by issuing proposed rules aimed at reducing methane emissions.[1] By their nature, the proposed rules will predominantly impact the oil and natural gas industries and come on the heels of the Clean Power Plan's regulation of electric generators.[2] The proposed rules call for emission reductions in methane...
    • 16 Sep 2015

    Drought: Water Restrictions Reach Oilsands

    Unprecedented water use restrictions, due to widespread and extreme drought, are in force in western parts of the US and Canada. California is in its worst drought on record . Widespread water shortages have prompted state governor Jerry Brown to proclaim a State of Emergency and issue an executive order mandating a variety of water restriction measures and targets. Western Canada, too, is exceptionally dry. Here is...
    • 16 Sep 2015

    EPA Proposal Limits Emissions for Methane and Other Volatile Organic Compounds

    By Harry Weiss and Lorene L. Boudreau The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released proposed regulations that would set performance standards for emissions of methane and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from new and modified sources in the upstream and midstream oil and natural gas sectors. Section 111 of the Clean Air Act charges the EPA with developing standards of performance based on the “best...
    • 28 Aug 2015

    2015 RELX Group Environmental Challenge Winners Announced

    According to the World Health Organisation, at least 1.8 billion people globally use a drinking-water source contaminated with faeces, and by 2025, half of the world's population will be living in water-stressed areas. 2.4 billion people still do not have basic sanitation facilities such as toilets or latrines. The RELX Group Environmental Challenge is one way in which we can help address these issues. The 2015...
    • 27 Aug 2015

    Proposal to Revise Aluminum and Selenium Water Quality Criteria

    The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s (“WVDEP”) proposed rule revisions for consideration during the 2016 regular legislative session are now available on the WVDEP website, including long-awaited revisions being proposed to the state’s existing aluminum and selenium water quality criteria. The state’s water quality standards rule, 47 C.S.R., Series 2, [subscribers...
    • 25 Aug 2015

    Michigan v. EPA – Setting the Stage for The Clean Power Plan and WOTUS

    On June 28, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court filed its 5-4 ruling on the challenge to US EPA Mercury Air Toxics (MATS) rule. Michigan, et al. v. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 14-46 . http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/14-46_10n2.pdf . In short the decision reverses and remands the lower court, Court of Appeals of the D.C. Circuit, [subscribers can access an enhanced version of this opinion: lexis.com...