On June 21, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia dismissed a lawsuit by environmental groups challenging a Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) July 2020 rule changing how agencies undertake National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews. Filed in June 2020, Wild Virginia et al. v. Council on Environmental Quality et al. alleged that CEQ’s rule violated NEPA and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and asked that the rule be vacated. Because other federal agencies have not yet drafted the procedures implementing the rule and might never do so under the Biden administration, the court concluded that the challenge was not ripe.
On June 11, 2021, U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Representative A. Donald McEachin (D-VA) announced the reintroduction of the Environmental Justice Pollution Cleanup Act of 2021 – a bill first introduced in 2020, which would provide for significant investment in environmental justice communities to address the health and environmental effects of pollution. This marks the latest of a series of proposed legislation addressing environmental justice. In March 2021, we reported on the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which allocated $100 million in funding to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, for programs, including the retrofitting or replacement of diesel engines or equipment, cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields sites, and technical assistance for small community water systems.
On June 3, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the Federal Register a rule adding three more per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to the list of chemicals requiring toxic chemicals release reporting under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act and the Pollution Prevention Act, that is, Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). The PFAS added are perfluorooctyl iodide, potassium perfluorooctanoate and silver(I) perfluorooctanoate, which must be included in TRI reports due July 1, 2022.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration (“TSA”) issued a Security Directive, “Enhancing Pipeline Cybersecurity” on May 28, laying out new cybersecurity requirements for operators of liquids and natural gas pipelines and LNG facilities designated as critical infrastructure. (more…)
On May 27, 2021, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) indicated that it would increase the timeline for making a decision on five pending applications for Natural Gas Act (NGA) Section 7 certificates of public convenience and necessity when it issued notices of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) to each of the project sponsors. Each of the applications concern pipeline expansion projects that were the subject of environmental assessments (EAs) performed by FERC staff. The notices state that the new EISs will tier off of the existing EAs and will be limited in scope to assisting FERC in its consideration of the subject projects’ contribution to climate change in the FERC decision-making process.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or the Agency) has formally repealed regulations establishing how the Agency would consider the availability of dose-response data (“Strengthening Transparency in Pivotal Science Underlying Significant Regulatory Actions and Influential Scientific Information,” 86 Fed. Reg. 469) (the Science Rule). The Science Rule, which was finalized and went into effect immediately on January 6, 2021, related specifically to studies describing the quantitative relationship between the dose or exposure of a pollutant, contaminant, or substance and its effect; the rule required, among other things, that EPA identify and give greater consideration to studies constituting “pivotal science” (defined as “the specific dose-response studies or analyses that drive the requirements or quantitative analyses of EPA significant regulatory actions or influential scientific information”) and make public all science that served as the basis for a significant regulatory action. (more…)
The U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee advanced another piece of legislation related to disclosures of environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) metrics on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. Introduced by Rep. Sean Casten, D-Ill., HR 2570, the Climate Risk Disclosure Act, cleared the committee with the full support of the majority members in a vote of 28 to 24. (more…)