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By March 1, 2024, all establishments that produce pesticides, devices, or active ingredients for pesticides must file their annual production reports for the 2023 reporting year pursuant to Section 7 of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). 7 U.S.C. § 136e(c)(1). Last year, EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance reminded stakeholders that the agency is poised to take action against companies that violate FIFRA and noted that non-compliance with the requirements related to producing pesticides and devices by EPA-registered establishments is increasing.

Continue Reading Mark Your Calendar: FIFRA Annual Production Reports Must Be Filed with EPA by March 1, 2024
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On February 12, 2024, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS or the Service) published a final rule revising the regulations governing the issuance of eagle take permits (ETPs) under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.  89 Fed. Reg. 9920 (Feb. 12, 2024).  The rule revises certain requirements for individual permits – referred to as “specific” permits in the rule – and creates a new program of general permits covering certain activities.  Activities for which general permits will be available include (i) incidental take of bald and golden eagles associated with qualifying wind energy projects, (ii) incidental take of bald and golden eagles associated with power line infrastructure, (iii) certain activities that may cause bald eagle disturbance take, and (iv) certain categories of bald eagle nest take.  We previously reported on the proposed version of the rule, which was published in September 2022.

Continue Reading USFWS Issues Rule Revising Eagle Take Permit Regulations and Establishing General Permits for Take of Bald and Golden Eagles at Wind Projects and for Certain Other Activities
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EPA’s plans to investigate – and eventually establish limits on and liability for – PFAS in wastewater discharges and biosolids crossed a significant milestone on January 31, 2024, with the completion of two new analytical methods to detect these ubiquitous contaminants. The most significant of the two is Method 1633, which provides a standardized quantitative method for laboratories to detect 40 different PFAS compounds, at very low levels, in wastewater, surface water, groundwater, soil, biosolids, sediment, landfill leachate, and fish tissue. Method 1621 is a low-cost screening method for the presence of fluorine-containing organic compounds, which could lead to use of the more sensitive Method 1633 to further characterize any PFAS in the sample. EPA’s public statements provide no timeline for seeking approval of these methods for PFAS monitoring of wastewater discharges as part of 40 C.F.R. Part 136, but a Method Update Rule is likely to be proposed before the end of the year.

EPA has big plans for the PFAS data that these two new methods will generate.

Continue Reading Finalizing PFAS Detection Methods, EPA Moves Closer to Locating and Limiting Further PFAS Releases and Requiring Their Cleanup
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For federal agencies seeking to complete rulemaking before the end of the Biden Administration, the clock is ticking, and a number of important deadlines are fast approaching. One of the most important deadlines could be the Congressional Review Act’s (CRA’s) so-called “look-back” provision.

The CRA mandates agencies provide Congress an opportunity to review and possibly overturn rules. To overturn a rule, both houses of Congress must pass a joint resolution of disapproval, and it must be signed by the President. If a CRA resolution is enacted, it invalidates the rule in question and bars the agency from issuing another rule in “substantially the same form” as the disapproved rule. 5 U.S.C. § 801(b)(2). If a rule has already taken effect by the time it is set aside via the CRA, it will no longer be in effect and “shall be treated as though such rule had never taken effect.” 5 U.S.C. § 801(f).

Continue Reading Federal Agencies Face Looming Congressional Review Act Deadline
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On February 1, 2024, EPA released two proposed rules under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) that will advance EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap. These two actions would subject certain PFAS—and potentially other emerging contaminants—to RCRA corrective action and may also be a precursor to EPA listing certain PFAS as hazardous waste under RCRA. Once published in the Federal Register, comments on the Definition Rule will be due in 30 days, and comments on the PFAS Hazardous Constituent Rule will be due in 60 days.

Continue Reading EPA Takes Action Under RCRA, Advancing the Agency’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap
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In December 2023, federal agencies released their “Fall 2023” Regulatory Agendas that provide an outlook for numerous upcoming regulatory actions on chemicals that could have significant implications for the regulated community. Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP’s chemical regulatory team has provided analyses of these upcoming regulatory actions:

Continue Reading The Home Stretch: Recent Regulatory Agendas Show Administration’s Efforts to Make Progress on Delayed Agency Actions on PFAS and TSCA Chemicals
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On January 5, 2024, EPA approved Louisiana’s application to administer the Class VI underground injection control program (UIC). 89 Fed. Reg. 703. Class VI wells are used to inject carbon dioxide into deep geological formations for long-term underground storage. This technology is a promising tool for reducing carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere.

EPA’s grant of “primacy” to Louisiana for the Class VI program will allow the state’s Department of Natural Resources to issue UIC permits for Class VI wells, and to ensure compliance with the program. Louisiana submitted its application for Class VI primacy on September 17, 2021. It becomes the third state with primacy over Class VI wells, joining North Dakota (granted primacy in 2018) and Wyoming (2020). Louisiana is the first state to receive primacy over Class VI wells during the Biden administration. Several other states—including Texas, West Virginia, and Arizona, according to the EPA’s website—currently are seeking primacy.

Continue Reading EPA Grants Louisiana Primacy Over its Class VI Injection Wells
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In 2022 and 2023, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed five risk management rules under Section 6(a) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) imposing restrictions and bans on chemical uses. This is the first group of risk management rules that EPA has published since Congress amended TSCA in 2016, establishing EPA’s process to address “unreasonable risks” identified for certain uses of existing chemicals. These proposed rules provide a roadmap for EPA’s approach to chemical regulation under Section 6(a), establishing the precedent for future regulation.

Companies should anticipate more proposed bans, especially for consumer uses of a chemical, along with significantly lower chemical exposure limits compared to occupational exposure limits. Rigorous workplace requirements, including exposure monitoring, respiratory protection and additional personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements are also expected. And, the absence of industry data on a chemical’s use may lead to more stringent proposed regulation.

Continue Reading EPA’s Recent Proposed Restrictions on Chemicals Set the Stage for Future of Chemical Risk Management
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On December 14, 2023, the European Parliament and the European Council reached a provisional deal on the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CS3D). Initially proposed by the European Commission in February of 2022, the CS3D requires certain companies to account for and mitigate adverse human rights and environmental impacts throughout their supply chains, including both their own operations as well as upstream and downstream activities. In November 2022, the European Council adopted the general approach proposed by the European Commission. Since then, the Council and the European Parliament have negotiated the parameters of the CS3D to reach a provisional agreement. While press releases from the Council, the Parliament, and the Commission all confirm an agreement has been reached, the text of the agreed upon CS3D is not yet publicly available. It is likely to be released in early 2024.

Continue Reading EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive Nearly Final
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With the growing emergence of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) laws, companies selling products in the United States must increasingly plan for the end of a product’s life. EPR programs shift waste-management responsibilities that have traditionally been handled by consumers or state and local governments to the “producer” of the product.

Most existing EPR programs in the United States target packaging materials, especially plastic packaging. So far, four states have finalized EPR legislation for packaging: Maine, Oregon, Colorado, and California.[1] Each of these states is currently in the process of developing a regulatory program. In 2023, several additional states introduced EPR legislation, signaling that other states may soon follow.

Continue Reading Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging: What’s Ahead in 2024