Category Archives: Environmental Review (CEQA/NEPA)

EPA Issues Final Rule Regarding Liability Defenses Under CERCLA

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On December 30, 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a final rule amending the standards for conducting all appropriate inquiries under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) to include ASTM International’s standard practice. The final rule specifically amends the “All Appropriate Inquiries Rule” at 40 CFR Part 312 to include ASTM International’s E1527-13, or their “Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process.” The final rule differs from the August 2013 direct [...]Read more

Bi-partisan Group Seeks Probe Into RIN Market Manipulation

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A bi-partisan group of House members sent a letter to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) asking for an investigation into the alleged manipulation of the market for ethanol credits. The group of Representatives, all from the Midwest, said in their letter that price volatility in the market over the last year could be due to trading outside normal supply-and demand forces. Renewable identification numbers (RINS) are used to identify the credits and were created to be traded in the fuel supply chain and not in financial markets. The prices per credit fluctuated over the year from a few [...]Read more

CalEnviroScreen Version 1 Released

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The California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) along with the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) have released the California Communities Environmental Health Screening Tool, Version 1 (CalEnviroScreen 1.0). The agencies had previously released two drafts for CalEnviroScreen last summer and most recently at the beginning of this year. Some of the comments received on the first two drafts were used to improve the tool. The tool provides the state the ability to comprehensively screen the state and determine which communities are most burdened by multiple sources [...]Read more

Superior Court Invalidates CEQA’s Fast-Tracking Provision as Unconstitutional

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A superior court in Alameda County invalidated a streamlining provision of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), holding the provision is unconstitutional for requiring that a petition for writ relief be filed in a court of appeal. The court held the provision impermissibly restricts the original jurisdiction of the superior courts and the Supreme Court. In 2011, Public Resources Code section 21185 was enacted to provide streamlined CEQA review for qualifying “environmental leadership” projects. These projects include clean renewable energy projects, clean energy manufacturing projects, [...]Read more

Senator Lautenberg Announces Plans to Retire

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Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) announced last week that he will be retiring at the end of his term next year. Sen. Lautenberg has been a driving force in the recent years in pushing for TSCA reform legislation and will continue the push this year. He plans to reintroduce his bill, the Safe Chemicals Act, which was approved by committee last year in the near future. Recent reports indicate that due to Sen. Vitter’s (R-LA) plan to introduce competing TSCA reform legislation targeted towards industry, that Sen. Lautenberg may be open to revising his bill before re-introducing it to answer some [...]Read more

Second Draft Released of CalEnviroScreen

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The California EPA, along with the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has released the second public review draft of the California Communities Environmental Health Screening Tool, otherwise known as CalEnviroScreen. The updated draft CalEnviroScreen focuses on “an updated screening methodology to identify California communities that are disproportionately burdened by multiple sources of pollution,” and presents statewide results and analysis according to the OEHHA website. A summary of the major proposed revisions from the original version can be found here. [...]Read more

Draft California Communities Environmental Health Screening Tool: Counterproductive to CEQA Reform?

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Release of a new draft  of California’s “CalEnviroScreen” is expected before the end of 2012.    Being developed by the Office of Environmental Health and Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) with the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) , CalEnviroScreen is a tool to create “scores” for communities based on environmental, health and socioeconomic data, such as asthma rates, low birth weight infants, traffic density, and educational attainment levels.   The tool will allow for assessment of disproportionate environmental impacts in [...]Read more

South Coast Air Quality Management District Victorious In Lawsuit Over Whether Best Available Retrofit Technology Need Actually Be “Available”

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On June 25, 2012, the Supreme Court issued its decision in American Coatings Association, Inc. v. South Coast Air Quality Management District, 2012 Cal. LEXIS 155822. The decision centered on 2002 amendments to the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s (SCAQMD’s) Rule 1113, which limited certain pollution-causing substances in paints and coatings. At the time the amendments were adopted, emissions from architectural coatings in the South Coast Air Basin were larger than those generated by the entire refinery community, the furniture manufacturing industry and the aerospace industry [...]Read more