Last month, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied a petition for review brought by environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) challenging EPA’s conclusion that the Phoenix-Mesa, Arizona metropolitan area, which had been designated nonattainment for a National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone, had met that standard by the applicable deadline.  Bahr v. Regan, No. 20-70092, 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 22333 (9th Cir. July 28, 2021).  Failure to have met the standard would have had implications in terms of additional air emission controls required in the area.

Continue Reading EPA’s Finding that Wildfires Did Not Preclude NAAQS Attainment is Upheld

After a disappointing showing in Mexico’s recent mid-term elections, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (commonly referred to as AMLO) and his party (i.e., Movimiento Regeneratión National or MORENA, commonly referred to as Morena) will face greater hurdles to unwinding “la Reforma Energética” (2013 Energy Reforms), the energy policy reforms adopted by the then-ruling party, the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI).

Continue Reading Could Mexico’s Mid-Term Elections Signal a Return to Energy and Environmental Policy Rationality?

In January, EPA obtained data that some mosquito control pesticides contained detectable levels of certain PFAS.  In a joint investigation with the State of Massachusetts, EPA found that fluorinated high-density polyethylene (HDPE) containers containing a mosquito control pesticide were leaching PFAS into the product. Now, EPA is testing different brands of fluorinated containers to determine whether they contain and/or leach PFAS and has asked the states with existing stocks of these pesticides to discontinue use as EPA evaluates the issue. Information on the EPA activities can be found here. EPA also began working with USDA and FDA to get a better understanding of the use of fluorinated polyethylene containers for pesticides and other products.

Continue Reading Companies that Manufacture or Distribute Pesticides or Foods in Polyethylene Containers Should Track FDA, EPA, and USDA Activities on PFAS

Environmental justice (“EJ”) is a central focus of the Biden administration’s environmental agenda.  On Day One in January, the administration emphasized the importance of EJ in the federal government’s efforts to tackle climate change and to address the disparate impact of decisions affecting natural resources.  In addition, many states are implementing their own EJ requirements.  In the wake of issuance of new and enhanced EJ policies by both the federal government and states, it behooves lawyers in multiple disciplines to account for EJ issues in their legal practice.  The focus of most commentary on EJ issues has been on facility siting and the impacts of “polluting” activities on minority and economically disadvantaged communities.  This article, in contrast, addresses EJ in transactional practices.  Specifically, we identify some of the EJ issues practitioners may confront and seek to manage in merger and acquisition, asset purchase and sale, real estate purchase and sale, facility siting and/or construction, Brownfields development, financing and underwriting contexts. Continue Reading Environmental Justice Considerations in Business Transactions

The Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) has made known its commitment to expedited filings and approvals for the regulated community as well as public access to information and improved transparency for all parties. This effort is exemplified by the recently announced Pipeline Inspection, Permitting and Evaluation System (PIPES) program. Organizations can now file reports, inspections, and other documents as well as pay fees online. Organizations can also upload documents for RRC review. In addition, PIPES provides public users access to publicly available RRC documents. As the online availability of reports and other documents expands, it becomes even more important for organizations to focus on timely accurate filings as well as an organization’s online public profile. Continue Reading RRC Announces PIPES which Allows Online Pipeline Safety Filings and Public Access

Care about Drinking Water Regulations?

7.22.2021 Request for Comment and Public Workshop for California Drinking Water Public Health Goals for PFOA and PFOS: The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) released a draft document for public review describing proposed Public Health Goals (PHGs) for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) in drinking water. A PHG is the level of a drinking water contaminant at which adverse health effects are not expected to occur from a lifetime of exposure.  PHGs published by OEHHA are considered by the State Water Resources Control Board in setting drinking water regulatory standards (Maximum Contaminant Levels, or MCLs) for California. The proposed PHG of 0.007 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOA is based on kidney cancer in humans and the proposed PHG of 1 ppt for PFOS is based on liver and pancreatic tumors in laboratory animals. The draft technical support document can be found here. Public comments are due September 28, 2021. Details about how to send comments and a public workshop that will be held on September 28, 2021 can be found here. Continue Reading ICYMI: Recent Chemical and PFAS Agency Activities

Yesterday, the European Commission (the Commission) – the executive branch of the European Union (EU) – adopted a package of proposals to deliver on the EU’s ambitious target of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 55% by 2030. These proposals – collectively known as “Fit for 55” – are only part of the suite of legislative tools, legal obligations, and policies to be rolled out under the European Green Deal, a broad non-binding action plan intended to make the EU’s economy more sustainable and help Europe become the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050. The comprehensive package of twelve policies proposed yesterday contains the following key initiatives:

Continue Reading “Fit for 55” – Delivering on the European Green Deal

In a recent post, we discussed the various risks, trending issues, and emerging concerns arising from environmental, social, and corporate governance factors (“ESG”). As noted previously, neglecting ESG considerations can result in a number of risks to a company, including risks associated with the reputational, financial, and legal impacts of handling ESG issues poorly. We also observed how managing ESG issues well can enhance corporate value and performance, and create competitive advantages for companies. Given these emerging risks and opportunities, it is perhaps unsurprising that ESG has begun to play a larger role in the M&A context in recent years.

Continue Reading ESG Considerations in M&A

In response to judicial remand of its Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) Update, EPA published a revised CSAPR Update – the latest of EPA’s interstate transport rules using its CSAPR methodology – at the end of April 2021, slashing ozone-season budgets for emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) for a dozen states.[1]  By the end of the 60-day period for filing petitions for judicial review on June 29, a single petition for judicial review had been filed in the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.

Continue Reading EPA’s Revised CSAPR Updated is Issued and a Single Petition for Review is Filed in the DC Circuit

Consistent with President Biden’s Executive Order (EO) 13990, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) (collectively, the “Services”) recently announced that they “will initiate rulemaking in the coming months to revise, rescind, or reinstate five [Endangered Species Act] regulations finalized by the prior administration.”  The Biden Administration is the third consecutive administration to undertake revisions to the Services’ Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) regulations.

Continue Reading ESA Rules Redux: Services Plan a Second (and, in Some Cases, Third) Look at the ESA Regulations