Category: Special Topics in Environmental Management

An Interesting EPA Enforcement Target: Vehicle Defeat Devices

In June 2019, the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance announced its six National Compliance Initiatives (NCIs) for fiscal years 2020 through 2023. Before the Trump administration, the Agency referred to this program as its National Enforcement Initiatives. Regardless of the title, the program identifies sectors or types of activities that are in need […]

EPA Reverses Coal Plant Mercury Finding, But MATS Stays in Place

In a final action, the Trump EPA has reversed a finding the Agency made in 2000 (and affirmed by the Obama EPA in 2012) that it is appropriate and necessary (A&N) to regulate emissions of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) from coal- and oil-fired electric generating units (EGUs) under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act […]

Sewage treatment plant

Two Big Water Bills Approved by Senate Committee

On May 6, 2020, the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) unanimously approved—by identical votes of 21–0—two bipartisan bills that, combined, would invest nearly $20 billion in wastewater infrastructure projects and community drinking water improvements.

COVID-19 coronavirus

EPA’s Science Board to Research COVID-19 Pandemic

The EPA has announced that its Science Advisory Board (SAB) will significantly ramp up its research into the human and environmental health impacts of the novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) that causes COVID-19.

Water, groundwater

Supreme Court Says Permits Required for Groundwater Discharges

By a tally of 6 to 3, the U.S. Supreme Court found that under certain circumstances, a discharge of pollution from a point source that travels in groundwater before entering a navigable water subjects the discharger to National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting requirements under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

Air emissions, pollution

During Pandemic, EPA Relaxes Clean Air Act Monitoring

The COVID-19 pandemic may be restricting travel, access, and safety for personnel who perform required Clean Air Act (CAA) monitoring and related tasks at power plants. Accordingly, the EPA has issued an interim final rule that provides flexibility intended to cut compliance costs under three 40 CFR Part 75 programs: the Acid Rain Program, the […]

Air emissions, pollution

The Clean Air Act: Delegating Authority

In writing the Clean Air Act (CAA), Congress was careful to ensure that the responsibility for improving and protecting the nation’s ambient air is shared by the federal government and state, local, and tribal governments. While the EPA is the federal entity that sets standards and bears the responsibility for implementing and enforcing the CAA, […]

Coal Plant

Small Coal Plants Benefit from MATS Amendment

It has been clear for some time that deregulatory actions at the federal level will slow but not stop the decline of coal as an energy source in the United States. Still, the EPA continues to do what it can to ensure that coal remains a key component of the nation’s energy portfolio.