EPA Proposes to Reconsider the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for Particulate Matter
January 30, 2023
EPA is proposing to lower the primary annual PM 2.5 standard and to retain the current primary 24-hour PM 2.5 standard and the primary 24-hour PM 10 standard. EPA is also proposing to retain the secondary 24-hour PM 2.5 standard, secondary annual PM 2.5 standard, and secondary 24-hour PM 10 standard.
A 10-Step Blueprint for Managing Pharmaceutical Waste in US Healthcare Facilities January 20, 2023
EPA has published an extensive guide to assist healthcare facilities in managing hazardous waste pharmaceuticals. This 10-Step Blueprint breaks down the details of hazardous waste pharmaceutical regulations and explains how the rules apply to pharmacies, nursing units, and environmental services groups. This guidance also reviews the applicable hazardous waste generator requirements and makes hazardous waste determinations.
Waters of the U.S. Rule Will Significantly Expand Federal Authority
January 19, 2023
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a final rulemaking on Jan. 18, 2023, revising the definition of "Waters of the United States" (WOTUS) pursuant to the Clean Water Act (CWA).
The WOTUS Rule is the culmination of a long-anticipated rulemaking process to define the geographic reach of the agencies' authority in regulating streams, wetlands, and other water bodies under the CWA and replaces the Trump Administration's 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR).
The "significant nexus" standard will result in an expansion of CWA jurisdiction over wetlands and ephemeral waters.
Source: Holland & Knight
UNEP and S&P Global Sustainable1 Launch New Nature Risk Profile Methodology
January 17, 2023
On January 17, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and S&P Global announced the launch of the Nature Risk Profile, a new methodology for analyzing companies’ impacts and dependencies on nature.
The Nature Risk Profile is aimed at enabling the financial sector to measure and address nature-related risk by providing scientifically robust and actionable analytics on nature impacts and dependencies.
Source: UNEP/S&P Global
US DOT, EPA, and OSHA Increase Civil Penalties for 2023
January 13, 2023
US DOT, US EPA, and OSHA each published an increase to their respective civil penalties in January of 2023. Civil penalties increase every year to keep pace with inflation. When civil penalties rise, the value of environmental, health and safety, and hazardous materials compliance rises too. Typical compliance violations may not result in maximum penalties, these increased figures will guide enforcement decisions in 2023.
EPA’s Proposed Enforcement & Compliance Initiatives Continue Heightened Focus on Environmental Justice and Climate Change, While Honing in on PFAS Contamination January 12, 2023
On January 12, 2023, the US Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) published its proposed National Enforcement and Compliance Initiatives (“NECIs”), soliciting public comment on the Agency’s potential Initiatives for fiscal years 2024 through 2027. These NECIs will guide EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (“OECA”) in its enforcement efforts over the next four years by focusing resources on “serious and widespread environmental problems where federal enforcement can make a difference.” Unsurprisingly, the identified NECIs build off EPA’s FY2022 Enforcement Results (on which we recently reported) and reflect OECA’s overarching goal: “to protect human health and the environment by holding polluters accountable and compelling regulated entities to return to compliance.”
Source: The National Law Review
NBC NEWS: EPA Issues New Rule to Strengthen Water Protections in The U.S.
January 1, 2023
On December 30, 2022, the agencies announced the final "Revised Definition of 'Waters of the United States'" rule which will be effective 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register. The agencies developed this rule with consideration of the relevant provisions of the Clean Water Act and the statute as a whole, relevant Supreme Court case law, and the agencies’ technical expertise after more than 45 years of implementing the longstanding pre-2015 “waters of the United States” framework. This rule also considers the best available science and extensive public comment to establish a definition of “waters of the United States” that supports public health, environmental protection, agricultural activity, and economic growth. More information about the final rule is available below.
Source: NBC News
Principles for Addressing Environmental Justice in Air Permitting
December 22, 2022
At the end of 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Office of Air and Radiation released guidance entitled “Principles for Addressing Environmental Justice in Air Permitting.” Issued as an attachment to a memorandum directed to all EPA Regional Air and Radiation Division Directors, the guidance provides an “interim operating framework” for evaluating environmental justice (EJ) issues during the Clean Air Act permitting process while EPA examines additional ways to advance EJ.
The guidance sets forth eight principles that regional air permitting staff should apply to permitting decisions. Companies seeking air permits or permit amendments should familiarize themselves with these principles and, where appropriate, consider strategies for proactively incorporating them into permit applications to mitigate the risk of adverse permit decisions or extensive delays.
New or Revised TCEQ Publications
January 10, 2023
TCEQ published the Used Oil Recycling guidance (RG-325) in December 2022. This guidance includes information about managing used oil and notification requirements for used oil handlers and collection centers.
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HEALTH & SAFETY COMPLIANCE
OSHA Memorandum: Application of Instance-by-Instance Penalty Adjustments
January 26, 2023
OSHA issued a memorandum to provide guidance to Regional and Area Offices when issuing Instance-By-Instance (IBI) citations for high-gravity serious violations of OSHA standards specific to falls, trenching, machine guarding, respiratory protection, permit-required confined spaces, lockout tagout, and other-than-serious violations of OSHA standards specific to recordkeeping. Regional Administrators and Area Directors have the discretion to apply IBI penalty adjustments in appropriate cases to achieve a deterrent effect. This new Instance-by-Instance Penalty Adjustments policy outlined in this memorandum will become effective 60 days from the date of issuance of this memorandum.
TSCA Trichloroethylene (TCE) Risk Determination
January 9, 2023
EPA has published the final revised TSCA risk determination for carbon tetrachloride (CASRN 56-23-5). The revised determination finds that the chemical—also known as carbon tet, tetrachloromethane, Halon-104, or Refrigerant-10 presents an unreasonable risk to health.
SUSTAINABILITY, ESG, AND CLIMATE ACTION
Biden Administration Unveils Blueprint to Decarbonize Transportation Sector
January 30, 2023
The Biden Administration released the U.S. National Blueprint for Transportation to detail the federal government's strategy to achieve net-zero emission reduction goals by 2050.
The Blueprint, developed by the U.S. Departments of Energy, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, along with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, provides a "framework of strategies and actions to remove all emissions from the transportation sector by 2050." The Blueprint is meant to serve as a "guide for future policymaking and research, development, demonstration, and deployment in the public and private sectors."
Source: Holland & Knight
Climate Risk Regulation Rundown: December 2022
January 16, 2023
On December 8, the Federal Reserve released new guidelines for large banks on managing their climate risks. The guidelines recommend that banks set up climate risk analysis, have their boards oversee climate risks, and align employee pay with climate risk management objectives. Banks must also incorporate climate change into their risk policies and develop strategies for capital allocation decisions. According to the Fed, these risks could affect the safety and soundness of the financial system if not properly addressed.
The Fed’s guidance is based on similar climate risk guidelines from other financial agencies, including the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Deposit Insurance. The public comment period is open until February 6.
Source: Manifest Climate
7 Corporate ESG & Climate Trends in US and Canada To Watch Out For 2023 And Beyond January 12, 2023
The landscape of ESG is certainly changing in North America. ESG investing, new SEC and IRA legislations, climate change risks are shaping global conversations. We have identified Seven Major Trends for 2023 and beyond that will shape the future in North America.
Governor Hochul Unveils Cap-and-Invest Program to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Combat Climate Change
January 10, 2023
Governor Kathy Hochul has announced a Cap-and-Invest Program to fund a sustainable and affordable future for all New Yorkers as part of the 2023 State of the State. Governor Hochul directed the Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to advance an economywide Cap-and-Invest Program that establishes a declining cap on greenhouse gas emissions, invests in programs that drive emissions reductions in an equitable manner prioritizing disadvantaged communities, limits costs to economically vulnerable households, and maintains the competitiveness of New York industries. In addition, Governor Hochul will propose legislation to create a universal Climate Action Rebate that is expected to drive more than $1 billion in future cap-and-invest proceeds to New Yorkers every year.
Source: New York State