U.S. EPA Moves Program Responsibilities Back To Resource-Starved States

Seyfarth Shaw LLP
Jeryl L. Olson, Kay R. Bonza and Craig B. Simonsen

February 5, 2018

This article was originally published in Seyfarth Shaw Workplace Safety & Environmental Law Alert Blog

Seyfarth Synopsis: In a guidance document issued last week, U.S. EPA sets out to deliberately move environmental enforcement responsibilities back to the states. While this may, to local interests, represent a noble purpose, few states are manned and ready to take on additional responsibilities.

In yet another move providing relief to industry from federal enforcement, the EPA Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) last week issued an Interim Guidance on Enhancing Regional-State Planning and Communication on Compliance Assurance Work in Authorized States (January 22, 2018) (Guidance).

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LSRP Corner: Vapor Intrusion Technical Guidance

Synergy Environmental, Inc.
Dennis Libenson, LSRP

February 14, 2018

The NJDEP released Version 4.1 of the Vapor Intrusion Technical Guidance in January 2018. This version included a significant clarification to the discussion of petroleum hydrocarbons (PHC).

The NJDEP noted in Version 4 of the Vapor Intrusion Technical Guidance that gasoline additives such as oxygenates or lead scavengers are not considered as PHC. Going further, NJDEP now explicitly states the following in the most recent version:

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Mandatory Reporting Deadlines Approach for Manufacturers, Importers and Users of Chemicals

Sidley Austin LLP
Judah Prero, Byron Taylor

February 12, 2018

The Toxic Substances Control Act inventory reset process is now taking place. The reporting deadline for chemical manufacturers and importers was February 7 2018, and the deadline for all other companies that use chemicals is October 5 2018. Meeting these deadlines is important because a chemical will not be legal for use in the United States if it is not identified, reported (or subject to an exemption) and included in the active Toxic Substances Control Act inventory.

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Trump Administration Seeks to Scale Back Environmental Requirements for Infrastructure Projects

White & Case LLP
Seth Kerschner and Laura Mulry

February 7, 2018

The Trump Administration is proposing to revise federal environmental requirements and procedures in order to streamline the permitting and approval processes for infrastructure projects. The Administration’s draft proposals, of which there are more than 50, contemplate amending major environmental statutes, redefining the roles and procedures of federal agencies, and limiting judicial action, including by limiting the circumstances under which courts can halt project activities. Federal environmental laws that may be revised include the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”)1, the Endangered Species Act (the “ESA”), the Clean Water Act, and the Clean Air Act. The proposals would require significant actions by multiple federal agencies and Congress before implementation.

The Trump Administration indicates that the proposals will reduce redundancies and delays in the environmental permitting and approval processes for infrastructure projects. The proposals limit the Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA”) review, rating, and veto authority over environmental permits and analyses of infrastructure projects, set firm deadlines on environmental reviews, and allow federal agencies to delegate environmental review power to the states. The proposals also require a general rewrite of NEPA regulations with the goal of streamlining the NEPA review process. One proposal with the aim of timely agency reviews limits the NEPA review process to two (2) years in total (i.e., 21 months to conclude the NEPA document, plus three months for permits to be issued).

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How Will President Trump’s Solar Panel Trade Barrier Affect the Economy?

Harris Beach PLLC
Gene Kelly

January 20, 2018

With President Trump’s recent announcement of import tariffs on solar panels, the domestic solar energy industry now faces an additional challenge – how to continue to reduce the cost of the power it produces in order to gain even greater energy market penetration.

In recent years, U.S. solar developers have successfully achieved economies of scale, making the electrical energy they produce not only competitive with, but in many instances actually cheaper than, the retail cost of fossil fuel-generated electricity.

Just ten years ago, the cost of generating electricity through solar panels was in the neighborhood of $600 per MWh, while generating the same amount of power through traditional fossil fuels cost roughly $100. Due to a variety of factors, most significantly, the continued lowering of solar panels and related solar farm components, the equation has flipped.

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