PFAS Update: EPA Progress Under PFAS Action Plan

Robinson & Cole LLP
Megan E. Baroni

December 5, 2019

Earlier this year, we wrote about EPA’s PFAS Action Plan, the agency’s blueprint for addressing contamination and protecting public health from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The PFAS Action Plan, released in February 2019, details a number of actions EPA plans to take with regard to PFAS, including time frames for implementation. EPA has been making some progress towards implementation, albeit not always on the timeline set forth in the Plan. Below are a few updates since February:

Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Listing for Certain PFAS Compounds

Yesterday, EPA published notice that it is considering a rule to add PFAS compounds to the list of toxic chemicals subject to reporting under section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. This listing would require certain industry sectors to annually report releases of these chemicals. The purpose of the TRI program is to provide the public with information, or, as EPA puts it, “A Right to Know, A Basis to Act.”

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Worth Another Look: Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC
Lauren Orazi, Matthew T. Fine

December 2, 2019

On October 3, 2019, Governor Tom Wolf issued Executive Order – 2019-07- Commonwealth Leadership in Addressing Climate Change through Electric Sector Emissions Reductions. The executive order instructs the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to develop a rulemaking package to “abate, control or limit carbon dioxide emissions from fossil-fuel-fired electric power generators” consistent with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

DEP has until July 31, 2020 to present the proposed rulemaking package to the Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board (EQB). The EQB is a 20-member independent board that adopts DEP regulations. The Board includes 11 state agencies, five members of the Citizens Advisory Council, and four members of the Legislature.

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USMCA Vote In U.S. Congress Appears Imminent After Agreement To Change Provisions On Enforcement, Labor, Environment, And Pharmaceuticals

Hogan Lovells
Warren H. Maruyama, Juan Francisco Torres Landa, Jonathan T. Stoel, H. Deen Kaplan, Robert D. Kyle, Ivan Zapien, Chandri Navarro, Craig Lewis, M. Jorge Yáñez V., Jared R. Wessel and Patrick de Lapérouse

December 11, 2019

Implementing legislation to enact the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is expected to be introduced as early as the week of 16 December following extensive discussions between leaders of the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Administration. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Ways & Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) announced a breakthrough in negotiations regarding certain provisions of the USMCA that was signed 30 November 2018. The two Democratic Congressional leaders cited changes to enforcement, labor, environment, and pharmaceutical chapters in the agreement in announcing the decision to bring implementing legislation to enact USMCA into U.S. law.

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New Jersey Appellate Court Blesses Municipal Court Review of Environmental Liability

Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti LLP
Matthew A. Karmel

December 4, 2019

Reprinted with permission.  © 2019 Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti LLP

While most people think of municipal courts as resolving motor vehicle tickets and minor property disputes, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP” or the “Department”) has been using the municipal court system for several years to enforce violations of laws and regulations relating to the investigation and remediation of contaminated sites in New Jersey pursuant to its “Municipal Ticketing Initiative.” (See our March 9, 2017 blog post titled “NJDEP to Expand Site Remediation Municipal Ticketing Initiative.”) However, some, including Alsol Corporation, have questioned whether a municipal court has jurisdiction to decide if an entity has violated environmental laws and, if so, to impose a penalty on the entity for such violation. In its recent decision, the Appellate Division gives its blessing to the Municipal Ticketing Initiative and determines that municipal courts have the power to adjudicate liability and enforce penalties pursuant to the New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act and the Site Remediation Reform Act. See New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection v. Alsol Corporation, __ N.J. Super __ (App. Div. 2019).

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