Regulatory Developments, Special Topics in Environmental Management

EPA Releases Spring 2020 Regulatory Agenda, Priorities

The EPA has released its Spring 2020 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions. Known as the Spring Agenda, this report provides public updates about planned regulatory activity for the federal government for the next 12 months.

EPAThe Agency’s commitment to deregulation remains apparent and in line with President Donald Trump’s Executive Order (EO) 13771, directing federal agencies to identify two regulations for repeal for every new regulation issued and to manage expenditures so that the costs of new regulations do not increase.

The EPA’s Spring Agenda contains 144 entries, 40 of which are classified as deregulatory actions under development. The EPA’s Spring Agenda shows continued progress in reducing unnecessary regulatory burden as envisioned by Trump’s Executive Order (EO) 13771. “Since 2017, EPA has completed a total of 62 deregulatory actions, projected to save Americans an estimated $40 billion in costs,” the Agency said in a news release issued on June 30, 2020.

“EPA has mapped out our regulatory agenda through the first half of 2021 that will continue to reduce pollution and improve the health of all Americans, while bolstering the economy,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “This agenda includes new actions ranging from cost-benefit reforms and improved permitting procedures to meeting air quality review timelines. Our smart deregulatory agenda helps American businesses large and small innovate and create jobs while keeping our air and water at the cleanest levels since environmental records began.”

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are expected to be added to the targeted list of chemicals for federal cleanup efforts; a new rule streamlining the Agency’s review of new chemicals is planned for the fall; and revised toxic air pollution limits governing heavy boilers used in power plants, steel mills, and refineries will be released in January after the EPA missed its June deadline for the publication of its proposed rule.

Specific line items also include:

  • Updated regulations for when states can assume administration of the Clean Water Act (CWA) 404 permits, allowing states to make decisions regarding wetlands projects;
  • Revisions to regulations on Water Quality Certification;
  • Planned evaluation of data on current nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions from heavy-duty vehicles and engines and options available to improve control of all criteria pollutant emissions through revised emissions standards; and
  • Review of dust-lead post-abatement clearance levels.

The Agency’s Spring Rule List contains 64 entries in the Final Rule Stage, 9 entries in the Pre-rule Stage, and 69 entries in the Proposed Rule Stage.

The list also contains 29 actions expected to be issued over the next 12 months. “These actions include updates to EPA’s procedures for the National Environmental Policy Act, review of National Ambient Air Quality Standards for lead, and proposed rules to improve consistency and transparency in the agency’s benefit-cost analyses for hazardous waste and drinking water regulations,” the Agency said.

The Agency did not release an updated Statement of Priorities with the Spring Agenda.