On February 21, 2024, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its final rule adjusting the fees it collects under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). EPA is required under TSCA Section 26 to review and, if necessary, adjust the fees every three years to ensure that funds are sufficient to defray part of the costs of administering TSCA. While EPA has significantly increased TSCA fees for manufacturers, importers, and processors of chemicals, it has also finalized new, key exemptions from fee requirements. These new fees will be effective on April 22, 2024.Continue Reading Earth Day Fee Increases: EPA Significantly Increases TSCA Fees to Add Resources for TSCA Implementation 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Many involved in carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) policy foresaw several years ago the situation we are in now:  lots of Class VI Underground Injection Control (UIC) permit applications to store CO2, not enough speed at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to get them processed, and not enough speed by EPA to divvy up the work by delegating the permitting authority to the States. 

That’s why Congress included funding in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for Class VI UIC permitting:  $50 million for EPA to help States defray costs of taking over the Class VI permitting program and $25 million total for fiscal years 2022-26 for EPA itself to get the job done.Continue Reading Fixing the Class VI Permit Application Backlog

On September 8, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers published a final rule in the Federal Register to amend the Agencies’ January 2023 “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) definition. 88 Fed. Reg. 61,964 (Sep. 8, 2023). According to the Agencies, these amendments conform that definition to the Supreme Court’s Sackett decision.
Continue Reading Agencies Issue Final Rule to Amend the 2023 “Waters of the United States” Definition