Updated: May 31
New TSCA Restrictions for Asbestos Proposed
May 24, 2022
US EPA is extending the comment period on a proposed TSCA rulemaking to ban ongoing uses of asbestos. EPA will now accept comments until July 13, 2022. US EPA has proposed regulations to address the “unreasonable risks” posed by chrysotile asbestos. The proposed rule is the result of a chemical risk evaluation process mandated by the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), as amended.
Biden Revisions to the NEPA Regulations Now in Effect
May 23, 2022
The Biden Administration is amending the federal regulations for implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to reverse certain changes made by the Trump Administration. The first set of amendments took effect last Friday, May 20, 2022. The amendments will be issued in two phases. The “Phase One” rule was published on April 20, 2022, and is in effect as of May 20, 2022. The “Phase Two” rule, which is expected to include more comprehensive revisions, will be issued “over the coming months”.
Source: National Law Review
US EPA Adoption of New Phase I ASTM Standard E1527 Delayed by Adverse Comments
May 23, 2022
Back in November of 2021, ASTM International issued its revised Standard Practice E1527-21 to replace its 2013 version setting forth the specific procedures and requirements for environmental professionals preparing Phase I environmental site assessments. Preparation of a Phase I report under this Standard satisfies one of the obligations under the All-Appropriate Inquiries (AAI) Rule for asserting the Bona Fide Prospective Purchaser (BFPP) protection to liability for property owners under CERCLA. On March 14, 2022, EPA issued proposed and direct-final rules to formally adopt the new standard and incorporate it into the AAI Rule and solicited public comment through April 13, 2022. The new standard was to become effective on May 13, 2022, after which purchasers of commercial property could rely on the new standard as part of their pre-acquisition due diligence activities. However, a number of stakeholders, including various environmental professionals and financial services industry representatives, submitted adverse public comments to the rulemaking. The comments largely challenged EPA’s continued allowance of the 2013 standard.
Source: National Law Review
EPA May Require New Plan for Worst-Case Hazardous Substance Releases
May 16, 2022
US EPA will accept public comments on the proposed rule to require planning for a worst-case discharge of hazardous substances until July 26, 2022. EPA announced the extension in the Federal Register on May 16, 2022.
EPA Proposes Changes to TSCA Confidential Business Information (CBI) Claims Requirements
May 12, 2022
EPA is proposing to address issues related to CBI claims, such as substantiation requirements, exemptions, electronic reporting enhancements (including expanding electronic reporting requirements), maintenance or withdrawal of confidentiality claims, and provisions in current rules that are inconsistent with amended TSCA regulations. The proposed rule would also address EPA’s procedures for reviewing and communicating with TSCA submitters about confidentiality claims.
RCRA Update: Latest on Generator Improvements Adoption
May 14, 2022
As of May 14, 2022, thirty-nine (39) states have adopted the RCRA Generator Improvements Rule. The following states have now incorporated part or all of the RCRA Generator Improvements into their state hazardous waste regulations. Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Add Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Federal Tribal territories, all of which use the Federal RCRA regulations, to that list.
DOJ Takes Historic Action to Prioritize Environmental Justice in Enforcement:
What Does it All Mean and What is Ahead?
May 13, 2022
On May 5, 2022, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced key developments that would elevate environmental justice (EJ) is a key priority for the nation’s largest and most powerful enforcement agency. These historic measures include:
Release of the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Comprehensive Environmental Justice Enforcement Strategy (“DOJ EJ Strategy”), pursuant to Executive Order (EO) 14008 (Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad) and developed by DOJ’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA);
Establishment of DOJ’s first Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ), led by Cynthia Ferguson - a long-time agency veteran and seasoned litigator, with decades of experience in environmental enforcement and who has convened several EJ working groups in years past; and
Issuance of an Interim Final Rule – effective on May 10, 2022, but open for comment until July 11, 2022 - to restore the agency’s qualified authority to use supplemental environmental projects (SEPs)in criminal and civil settlement negotiations, which largely adopts the pre-2017 approach with some limited exceptions outlined in a related memorandum outlining anticipated guidelines and limitations.
EPA Proposes Asbestos Specific Reporting Requirements
May 6, 2022
EPA proposes to require certain persons that manufacture, import, or process asbestos and asbestos-containing articles (including as an impurity) in the four years prior to the date of publication of the final rule to electronically report certain exposure-related information. This action would result in a one-time reporting obligation.
Justice Department Launches Comprehensive Environmental Justice Strategy
May 5, 2022
A new Office of Environmental Justice within the Justice Department was launched at the beginning of May. Also announced, is a new comprehensive environmental justice enforcement strategy to guide the Justice Department’s work. An Interim Final Rule was issued that will restore the use of supplemental environmental projects in appropriate circumstances.
Have You Checked Your Methane Footprint Lately
May 5, 2022
Methane – CH4 – is among the most potent greenhouse gases. Methane has a global warming potential up to 72 times that of CO2, yet is chronically underreported by firms in methane-producing verticals, the most notorious of which include Oil & Gas and agriculture. And methane emissions are rising; 2021 saw a record annual increase in methane emissions. Despite moves from the US EPA aimed at clamping down on Oil & Gas methane emissions, much of this industry remains exempt from monitoring requirements. Yet stakeholder pressure to reduce methane emissions – primarily through reducing fugitive emissions – is increasing. How can firms leverage technology to mitigate methane emissions?
TCEQ Public Drinking Water Conference 2022
May 19, 2022
TCEQ is holding a free public drinking water conference in Austin on August 9, 2022.
TCEQ P2 Plan Annual Progress Report Submission Deadline 7/1/2021
May 16, 2022
The P2 Plan Annual Progress Report (APR) covering the calendar year of 2021 is due by July 1, 2022. This report is required of all Large Quantity Generators of Hazardous Waste and all TRI Form R Reporters that have a P2 Plan that covers the calendar year of 2021. This report can be submitted electronically through STEERS or to P2@tceq.texas.gov. The APR reporting period in STEERS is available from May 15-July 1. Please note that companies submitting P2 APRs for 10 or more facilities are required to submit the APRs through STEERS.
Paper APR forms can be submitted by mail to:
Pollution Prevention Planning MC-118
PO Box 13087
Austin, TX 78753
For more information or assistance including assistance setting up P2 in STEERS, please contact the P2 team at: P2@tceq.texas.gov or (512) 239-0010 or visit our website at: www.P2Plan.org.
TCEQ Is Now Accepting Applications Under the Alternative Fueling Facilities Program
May 10, 2022
The TCEQ is currently accepting applications for the Alternative Fueling Facilities Program (AFFP). A total of $12 million in grants are available to construct or reconstruct fueling facilities that provide natural gas and other alternative fuels, including electric charging infrastructure, within the Clean Transportation Zone. At least $4 million of the available grant funding is reserved for small businesses.
Eligible fuels include:
compressed natural gas (CNG) and/or liquified natural gas (LNG);
biodiesel (at least 20% by volume);
methanol (at least 85% by volume).
Grants are available to award up to:
$400,000 for a CNG or LNG project,
$600,000 for a project combining CNG and LNG, or
50% of the total eligible project cost (with a maximum of $600,000) for fuels other than natural gas like electricity.
TCEQ Electric Vehicle Battery Reuse and Recycling Advisory Group – Group Formation May 10, 2022
The TCEQ announces the formation of the Electric Vehicle Battery Reuse and Recycling Advisory Group. This advisory group will meet and discuss recommendations for legislation, policies, and practices to encourage the reuse and recycling of lithium-ion and other propulsion batteries used in electric vehicles. The advisory group will be formed through an application and selection process with representatives from various state agencies and industry groups relevant to electric vehicles and EV batteries.
TCEQ: Revision to the Title V PBR Programmatic Approach
May 6, 2022
TCEQ is revising the permit by rule (PBR) programmatic approach to Title V permits to further clarify the PBR monitoring requirements. Beginning August 1, 2022, all site operating permit (SOP) and general operating permit (GOP) applications for initial and renewal projects, and revisions with PBR updates will be required to include the revised Permits by Rule Supplemental Table (Form OP-PBRSUP). If you have questions, please contact the Air Permits Division at (512) 239-1250.
Texas Railroad Commission Proposes Rules for Permitting Primacy for Class VI Carbon Capture Wells
May 3, 2022
The Railroad Commission of Texas moved forward in its application process to gain primacy from the EPA for Class VI injection wells. The injection wells are used for underground storage of carbon dioxide from energy production, power generation, or industrial sources. RRC’s commissioners approved the publishing of proposed amendments to the agency’s carbon dioxide rules for public comment. The proposed changes and other information will be sent to EPA as part of a pre-application for primacy and allow EPA a chance to start its review. If ultimately approved by the EPA, primacy would mean that operators would only need to apply with the RRC for Class VI permits rather than both agencies. The proposed amendments would modify various sections of RRC rules, including those describing the applicability of the rules, application requirements, notice and hearing requirements, permit standards and reporting, recordkeeping, and more.
HEALTH & SAFETY COMPLIANCE
Mandatory Compliance with 2020 IMDG Code Starts June 1
May 27, 2022
Compliance with Amendment 40—20 of the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code) is mandatory as of June 1, 2022. The mandatory compliance date for the 2020 Edition was delayed six months due to COVID-19 and subsequent supply chain challenges. Typically, a new IMDG Code takes effect on January 1 of every even-numbered year. At the height of the coronavirus global public health emergency, the IMO extended the deadline for mandatory compliance until June 1, 2022. Voluntary compliance began on January 1, 2021.
OSHA NPRM on Electronic Recordkeeping - Comment Period Extended
May 25, 2022
On May 25, 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA/FedOSHA) published an extension on the comment period for the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to update its electronic recordkeeping regulation: §1904.41. The original public comment deadline was May 31, 2022; the comment period is now extended until June 30, 2022.
Safety Advisory Notice for the Disposal and Recycling of Lithium Batteries in Commercial Transportation
May 17, 2022
PHMSA wants to increase the public’s overall awareness of the dangers related to shipping lithium batteries for recycling or disposal. Lithium batteries — including both lithium metal and lithium-ion batteries — can cause a fire, whether they are new, used, defective, or damaged. Shippers and carriers need to take extra, and sometimes different, precautions when shipping damaged, defective, or recalled lithium batteries, as opposed to new and used lithium batteries or batteries of other chemistries. In addition to complying with the general shipping requirements, anyone offering a lithium battery for commercial transportation should also assess the potential fire hazards in transport. This safety advisory outlines regulatory requirements for proper and safe shipment in commercial transportation for all lithium batteries intended for disposal or recycling and includes specific requirements for lithium batteries that are damaged, defective, or have been recalled.
Crane Safety in Construction: OSHA Directive
May 17, 2022
A February OSHA directive provides guidance for inspections of a crane operator's training, certification, and evaluation under the Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard.
PHMSA Clarifies that HazMat and Pipeline Inspectors May Report to DOT OIG
May 11, 2022
Hazardous materials inspectors with US DOT PHMSA may cite shippers, manufacturers, and other stakeholders for two types of regulatory violations: civil and criminal (i.e., “willful”). In the Federal Register on May 11, PHMSA published a Final Rule to clarify that hazardous materials and pipeline inspectors may report actual or possible criminal activity to the US DOT Office of the Inspector General (OIG). Because the rulemaking impacts PHMSA’s internal enforcement procedures only, it was published without public notice or comment. While the rulemaking does not directly impact the regulated community, shippers and other stakeholders should know the difference between a “criminal” or “willful” violation of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) and a civil violation.
SUSTAINABILITY, ESG, AND CLIMATE ACTION
Scope 3 Reporting Rises to the Fore
May 26, 2022
There are three “scopes” under which greenhouse gases (GHGs) are reported, which relate to different categories of emissions. Scope 1 covers GHGs that a company emits directly, for example, by burning fuel in boilers and vehicles. Scope 2 emissions are those it produces indirectly, such as through the purchase of energy for heating and cooling buildings. Scope 3 emissions refer to all the emissions that the company is indirectly responsible for, both up and down its value chain. Emissions from buying products from its suppliers, and from its products when customers use them are all covered, as are those from staff commuting and business travel, and waste generated from operations. For many businesses, scope 3 emissions account for more than 70 percent of their carbon footprint. It is, therefore, crucial to tackle them in order to meet net-zero targets – an ambition now set by an increasing number of corporations globally.
The Impact of Policy Changes on United States’ Energy Transition
May 19, 2022
Addressing climate-related concerns head-on, includes improvements to roads and bridges, investment in public transport, the removal of all lead pipes, clean drinking water for all, the modernization of airports, ports, and waterways—and more jobs. However, President Biden’s proposed $1.75 trillion social spendings and climate mitigation Build Back Better (BBB) bill did not fare so well after it stalled in the U.S Senate last November. Negotiations are continuing, with the president remaining hopeful that it can become law, albeit with changes. “I’m confident we can get pieces, big chunks of the Build Back Better law signed into law,” said President Biden in January. As the debate continues about the impact of these hefty packages, this legislative push has put energy transition at the center of policy. With or without the Build Back Better bill, what has become clear is that there has been a sea change in terms of how government and industry approach issues of clean energy, NetZero emissions policies, and decarbonization plans for the next 30 years and beyond.
‘Writing is on the Wall’ for U.S. Companies with SEC’s Tough New Climate Reporting Rules
May 15, 2022
After a considerable delay, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has finally arrived at the climate disclosure party – and it is going to have a significant impact on U.S. companies. Its recently released proposals, which are under consultation until May, call for businesses to disclose how they identify and manage climate risks, and how those risks will affect the company; what they are doing in terms of scenario analysis; and how the board oversees climate risk. The SEC also calls on companies to provide updates on any climate pledges and how they are doing on meeting them, as well as any use of carbon offsets or renewable energy certificates. Perhaps most importantly, companies with revenues of more than $75 million will have to report not just their Scope 1 and 2 emissions (those that derive from their own operations) but also Scope 3, which covers emissions from their supply chains and customers. And they are likely to have to do this from 2024, for their 2023 results.
‘With Cows, the New Coal, Methane Emissions from Agriculture Should No Longer be an Afterthought’
May 13, 2022
Is it possible for a 30% methane reduction through fossil fuels alone? Cows are the new coal. Agriculture accounts for about 40% of human-generated methane emissions, the bulk coming from cows, through both digestion and manure. The latest IPCC report highlighted a 25% increase in emissions since the nineties, primarily due to increased livestock numbers.
The Secret Life of ESG Ratings
May 9, 2022
The letters E, S, and G have become so intertwined with the world of sustainability that the three-letter acronym ESG can mean almost anything and, at times, nothing at all. But when it comes to the ratings of companies’ environmental, social, and governance policies and performance, those definitions can determine the fate of trillions of dollars of capital. So, what exactly are ESG ratings? Who creates them and on what basis? What do they mean How are they used?
Navigating America’s Net-Zero Frontier: A Guide for Business Leaders
May 5, 2022
The US government has a goal: net-zero emissions by 2050. This analysis by McKinsey maps out a pathway to this net-zero frontier—and the growth opportunities that $27 trillion of capital spending could create.
FERC Proposes Reforms to Transmission Planning and Cost Allocation; Will Interconnection Reform be Next?
May 3, 2022
At its April meeting, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) that would, if adopted, result in significant reforms to the planning of the nation’s transmission system as well as the allocation of costs for new transmission projects. The NOPR is FERC’s first concrete proposal arising from an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued last July that sought input from interested parties on a variety of reforms aimed at expanding the nation’s transmission grid to accommodate the surge of renewable generation expected in the next two decades to achieve aggressive decarbonization goals of the Biden Administration and many states.
Draft European Sustainability Reporting Standards
May 3, 2022
Companies will have to set a much broader range of sustainability targets under draft new European Union reporting standards, according to CDP. Authorities across the world are writing reporting standards to combat greenwashing, or companies exaggerating their green credentials to attract investors, who have poured trillions of dollars into sustainable assets. The European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG) set out its first draft of sustainability standards at the end of April for public consultation. Final standards will be sent to the European Union's executive European Commission by November for adoption. The norms will be used by listed companies across the EU to implement mandatory environment, social, and governance (ESG) disclosure requirements under the bloc's new Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive.
Biden Administration Announces $3.16 Billion from Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to Boost Domestic Battery Manufacturing and Supply Chains
May 2, 2022
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced on May 2, $3.1 billion in funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to make more batteries and components in America, bolster domestic supply chains, create good-paying jobs, and help lower costs for families. The infrastructure investments will support the creation of new, retrofitted, and expanded commercial facilities as well as manufacturing demonstrations and battery recycling. DOE is also announcing a separate $60 million to support second-life applications for batteries once used to power EVs, as well as new processes for recycling materials back into the battery supply chain. Both funding opportunities are key components of the Administration’s whole-of-government supply chain strategy to strengthen America’s energy independence reduce our reliance on competing nations and support the President’s goal to have electric vehicles make up half of all vehicle sales in America by 2030.