Prompted by several emergency events, as previously reported, on June 1, 2022, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) adopted revisions to the compliance history rules to authorize the executive director to reclassify a site’s compliance history if an “exigent circumstance” exists. An exigent circumstance is defined as: i) a significant disruption to one or more local communities; ii) a significant commitment of emergency response resources by a federal or state authority to address an actual unauthorized release of pollutants, contamination, or other materials regulated by the agency; and iii) a significant event the commission determined must be urgently accounted for in the site’s compliance history.

Continue Reading TCEQ Approves Changes to Compliance History Rules Focused on Industrial Incidents

On April 6, 2022, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a proposed rule in the Federal Register that would build on its existing Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) program by limiting further the emission of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from stationary sources located in 26 states. 87 Fed. Reg. 20,036 (Apr, 6, 2022). The proposal would implement EPA’s 2015 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone of 70 parts per billion by imposing Federal Implementation Plans (FIPs) on specified states pursuant to its authority under the “good neighbor” requirements of section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I) of the Clean Air Act. This provision requires upwind states to prevent sources located within their borders from contributing significantly to nonattainment or interfering with maintenance of the NAAQS in downwind states.

Continue Reading EPA Proposes Groundbreaking New Transport Rule for Ozone Air Pollution

On April 5 and 7, 2022, the State Water Resources Control Board (Board) will be holding public workshops to present information and solicit public input regarding a proposed administrative draft of a hexavalent chromium (chromium-6) maximum contaminant level (MCL). MCLs are drinking water standards with which public water systems must comply. The workshops, and administrative draft of the MCL, will help inform the Board’s formal rulemaking, expected to begin later this year. If adopted, the MCL would be the first drinking water standard for chromium-6 in the nation. [1]

Continue Reading California on Path (Again) toward Regulating Hexavalent Chromium (Chromium-6) in Drinking Water; Follows EPA Scientific Workshop in September 2021

Under a process known as Sunset Review, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) will be abolished in 2023 unless a bill is passed in the 88th Texas Legislative Session reauthorizing the agency. The Sunset Review process, performed by the Sunset Commission, takes approximately two years. The TCEQ review process began last year with the preparation of the Self Evaluation Report (SER), completed by TCEQ in September 2021. The general public is encouraged to participate in the process. Public input is confidential and not passed on to the agency at this stage. Public comments should be provided by February 1, 2022 to be fully considered.
Continue Reading TCEQ Will Undergo Sunset Review During 88th Texas Legislative Session

This week, two senior U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Environment and Natural Resource Division (ENRD) officials used their remarks to the American Bar Association’s annual National Environmental Enforcement Conference to convey a clear message: environmental enforcement, and in particular criminal enforcement, is back. Companies and individuals should expect more robust investigations that draw on the expertise and jurisdiction of various federal agencies, while prosecutions will be driven by enhanced DOJ criminal enforcement policies.
Continue Reading DOJ Environment Officials Emphasize Enforcement of Environmental and White Collar Crimes

After over two weeks of conferencing, the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (COP26) concluded with the finalization of the Glasgow Climate Pact (the “Glasgow Pact”) listing the accomplishments of the summit. The Glasgow Pact reaffirms the long-term global goals (including those in the Paris Agreement) to hold the increase in the global average temperature to “well below 2°C” above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. It also states that limiting global warming to 1.5°C requires “rapid, deep, and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including reducing global carbon dioxide emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 relative to the 2010 level and to net zero around mid-century, as well as deep reductions in other greenhouse gases.”
Continue Reading The Results of COP26

The American Bar Association published an article, You’ve Come a Long Way Baby, or Have You?, which highlights the results of a new study by Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP attorneys Shannon S. Broome, Lauren Bachtel, and Jennifer MikoLevine, and environmental litigation specialist Richard M. Pavlak, shedding light on whether the environmental bar is achieving gender equality. The authors acknowledge and appreciate the important contributions of the late Richard Pavlak (who passed away unexpectedly shortly before the online version became available) for his graphical presentation of the results of the study.

Continue Reading You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby! Or Have You?