EPA finalized a rule effective on August 7, 2023 concerning the treatment of confidential business information (CBI) claims made in Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) submissions. Companies who submit any information to EPA under TSCA and want their confidential information to be protected from public disclosure must comply with these new requirements for CBI claims. Failure to follow these procedural requirements can result in EPA’s denial of the confidentiality claims and the information being made public.Continue Reading EPA Waives Certain Requirements and Faces Litigation Over New TSCA Final Rule to Protect CBI Claims
The US Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) recently finalized its long-anticipated National Enforcement and Compliance Initiatives (“NECIs”) for fiscal years 2024 through 2027, naming six “priority areas” on which EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (“OECA”) will focus its enforcement efforts and direct additional resources. In his first significant action since being confirmed by the Senate on July 20, 2023, OECA Assistant Administrator David Uhlmann issued a memorandum on August 17, 2023 to the EPA Regional Administrators, advising of the six NECIs. He stated that over the next four years EPA will “address the most significant public health and environmental challenges, protect vulnerable and overburdened communities, and promote greater compliance with our environmental laws.”Continue Reading EPA Announces Its Final National Enforcement and Compliance Initiatives for FY2024-2027
On August 22, 2023, the Department of the Interior (“DOI”) announced that the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (“BSEE”) has issued the final Well Control Rule for drilling, workover, completion and decommissioning operations. This final rule clarifies blowout preventer (“BOP”) system requirements, modifies certain specific BOP equipment capability requirements, and builds upon the regulatory reforms that were originally implemented by the DOI after 2010. The BSEE is setting an effective date of 60 days following publication of the final rule, by which time oil and gas operators in the federally regulated outer Continental Shelf will be required to comply with most of the final rule’s provisions. Operators have a one-year deferred compliance date following publication of the final rule to equip subsea BOP stacks with the remotely operated vehicle intervention capability to both open and close each shear ram, ram locks, and one pipe ram as required by 30 CFR § 250.734(a)(4). The final rule:Continue Reading BSEE Announces New Well Control Rule
As states across the country develop laws addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a patchwork of requirements has begun to emerge, creating challenges for those who manufacture, distribute, and sell products around the country. In 2023, over 200 bills were introduced addressing PFAS, including restrictions for PFAS in products. This trend is expected to continue.Continue Reading Hunton Andrews Kurth Releases Interactive Map Tool of State Requirements for PFAS-Containing Products
The Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol Corporate Standard and related guidance are widely accepted as leading sources for companies to use in quantifying and reporting their GHG emissions. Companies report GHG emissions for a number of reasons (both legally mandated and voluntary) and in a number of contexts. Accurate accounting and reporting is critical because inaccuracies in emissions reporting can potentially expose the reporting entity to several types of legal liability, as evidenced by the recent proliferation of lawsuits alleging “greenwashing” claims and increasing regulatory scrutiny in this area.Continue Reading Updates to the GHG Protocol Corporate Standard and Guidance: What to Expect
On August 14, EPA published its proposed modifications to regulations establishing the requirements for a state or tribe to assume the Clean Water Act (CWA) section 404 permit program, including necessary state program elements, EPA responsibilities (e.g., approval and oversight of assumed programs), and requirements for review, modification, and withdrawal of state programs. 88 Fed. Reg. 55,276 (Aug. 14, 2023). The proposal provides helpful clarifications but does not resolve a number of key issues faced by states considering assumption and by permittees in those States.Continue Reading EPA Proposes to Modify Regulations to Facilitate State Assumption of CWA Section 404 Permitting
EPA sets and implements primary and secondary National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for six common air pollutants. Primary NAAQS protect the public health, while secondary NAAQS protect the public welfare. Secondary NAAQS have traditionally not been more stringent than primary ones, yet EPA’s staff and science advisors are developing recommendations that EPA promulgate such standards. Any new, more stringent secondary NAAQS would raise significant implementation questions.Continue Reading Possible Stringent Secondary NAAQS Raise Implementation Questions
In June 2023, federal agencies released their “Spring 2023” Regulatory Agendas that provide an outlook for numerous upcoming regulatory actions on chemicals which could have significant implications for the regulated community. Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP’s regulatory team have provided analyses of these upcoming regulatory actions:
- EPA’s Spring 2023 Unified Regulatory Agenda—Upcoming PFAS-Related Actions
- EPA’s Spring 2023 Regulatory Agenda—Upcoming TSCA Actions
On July 10, 2023, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a suite of bills intended to facilitate the permitting and approval processes for clean energy and other infrastructure projects in California.
Enactment of these measures in conjunction with the state’s budget bill marked the culmination of negotiations between the governor and state legislators that began on May 19, 2023, when the governor’s office announced a number of legislative proposals to streamline approval and permitting processes for clean infrastructure projects in California. On the same day, Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-8-23, creating an Infrastructure Strike Team to work across state agencies to maximize federal and state funding opportunities for California innovation and infrastructure projects. The governor’s legislative proposals and executive order reflect the administration’s commitment to infrastructure development in California.Continue Reading California Governor Newsom Signs Legislation Intended To Facilitate Clean Energy and Infrastructure Development
While liability for PFAS—per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as “forever chemicals”—may be an emerging issue, the availability of insurance coverage for these and similar liability claims is not. “Commercial general liability,” or CGL, insurance was specifically designed to cover claims made by a company’s customers or customers of customers for resulting bodily injury and property damage. PFAS claims fit this bill.