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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
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Last week marked the conclusion of the 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). As we previously discussed, the expectations were COP28 would tackle a range of critical issues toward achieving the climate goals set out in the Paris Agreement. Below is an overview of the most significant developments coming out of Dubai, as reflected in the COP28 agreement, and the expectations for future climate action.

Continue Reading COP28: Unpacking the Results and the Road Ahead in Global Climate Action
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Under the federal Clean Air Act, new major sources of air pollutants and major modifications to existing sources are required to obtain preconstruction permits, known as PSD permits, even when locating in an area that attains the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (“NAAQS”).  EPA’s proposed revisions to the NAAQS for fine particulate matter (“PM2.5”) would make obtaining the required permit far more difficult.  EPA has indicated its intent to take final action on its proposal by the end of the year.  Permitting requirements for the revised PM2.5 NAAQS would apply once that standard becomes effective.  Generally, new or revised NAAQS have been effective sixty days after notice of their promulgation appears in the Federal Register, although commenters have requested a longer period before any revised PM2.5 NAAQS is effective.  These PSD permitting requirements can be triggered by emissions of PM2.5 itself or by emissions of the PM2.5 precursors nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide.

Continue Reading New Challenges to Permitting Under the Clean Air Act
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The 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiating process will take place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, beginning today, November 30, through December 12. As in the past, we are closely following the events on the ground in Dubai and the actions taken and the commitments made toward achieving the climate change goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The themes of COP28, set by the host nation, include technology and innovation (aligning on actions by governments and the private sector to limit warming to 1.5°C); inclusion (engagement with diverse peoples); frontline communities (ensuring the most climate-vulnerable communities can adapt); and finance (funding to close the finance gap on adaptation and the energy transition and aligning public and private finance with the Paris Agreement’s goals). Beyond these themes – that will guide the two-week negotiations – there are a few specific issues we expect to be a priority at COP28, which we briefly discuss below and intend to follow closely.  

Continue Reading COP28: What to Expect in Dubai
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On October 17, 2023, the California Attorney General (AG) Rob Bonta released an enforcement advisory letter to manufacturers, distributors, and sellers of food packaging and cookware detailing how he intends to enforce AB 1200, a law which: 1) bans the sale of regulated per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in food packaging in California, and 2) requires disclosure and labeling of chemicals on a “designated list,” including PFAS, that are present in the food contact surface or the handle of cookware products sold in California. Because the individual laws do not provide specific enforcement mechanisms, this announcement is the first time the AG’s office has articulated the authorities it plans to use to enforce these laws. The enforcement advisory letter provides a clear warning to the regulated community, from manufacturers to importers to distributors and retailers, that California will be enforcing its PFAS laws. Similar advisories could be issued in the future for California’s other laws restricting PFAS in juvenile products, textiles, and cosmetics.

Continue Reading California Attorney General Issues Stark Warning to Businesses Regarding Enforcement of PFAS in Food Packaging and Cookware Laws
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On October 13, 2023, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) published its first annual report detailing the implementation of its Comprehensive Environmental Justice Enforcement Strategy (EJ Strategy). As we reported, in mid-2022, DOJ established an Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ), and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established a new Office of Environmental Justice (EJ) and External Civil Rights. DOJ’s OEJ is housed in the Environmental and Natural Resources Division (ENRD). DOJ intended its EJ Strategy to extend throughout the Department, in that OEJ’s mandate is to engage all DOJ bureaus, components, and offices in the collective pursuit of environmental justice. DOJ’s new report cites two main executive branch agencies involved in environmental protection and community development: EPA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The report touts efforts that DOJ views as EJ-related “successes” and details a number of authorities DOJ has relied upon in EJ-focused enforcement, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Affordable Care Act. Building on these highlighted successes, DOJ states that it will continue its focus on enforcement proceedings where there is a nexus with environmental justice and will seek EJ-focused mitigation to resolve such proceedings. 

Continue Reading New Report Suggests DOJ to Continue Actively Pursuing Environmental Justice-Focused Enforcement Actions
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A set of mandatory environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting standards, the European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS), are set to enter into force in the European Union (EU) at the end of this year.  These standards were adopted by the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, on July 31, 2023 and, barring rejection by the European Parliament or the European Council, will be implemented as part of the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) – a fundamental pillar of the broad “EU Green Deal” – which requires mandatory ESG reporting for certain companies that do business in the EU.  This summary provides an overview of who is subject to the CSRD and when, summarizes key information covered under this initial set of standards, highlights technical guidance from the entity that created the standards, and discusses planned future development of additional standards.

Continue Reading European Union Advances Mandatory ESG Reporting Standards
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On May 18, 2023, EPA proposed a rule that would expand the federal regulations governing the management of coal combustion residuals (“CCR”) to cover landfills and surface impoundments that were previously excluded from regulation under the CCR rule, first promulgated in 2015 under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”). 88 Fed. Reg. 31,982 (May 18, 2023). The CCR rule, codified at 40 C.F.R. Part 257, sets national minimum standards for the management of CCRs at existing and new landfills and surface impoundments, but it currently does not impose requirements on impoundments at inactive facilities (those that no longer generate electricity).

Continue Reading EPA’s Latest Proposed Coal Ash Rule May Impact Beneficial Use