In the January 9 Federal Register, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) published updated Guidance on Consideration of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate Change for the assessment and disclosure of climate impacts related to agency environmental reviews conducted pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The NEPA review focus of the guidance is federal agency permitting for clean energy and other infrastructure projects and is designed to provide more clarity and predictability for conducting agency reviews. The guidance highlights existing tools and best practices.
Air Emissions Climate Change & Sustainability
Clients will have to adapt to the certainty of increased regulation at the international, federal, state and local levels to meet the aggressive carbon-reduction goals set by governmental authorities. John Doerr in his recent book “Speed & Scale, An Action Plan for Solving our Climate Crisis Now” summarizes the actions he submits that politicians, industries and investors must undertake to reach net-zero by 2050. He begins his blueprint for action with an admonition from his 15-year-old daughter voiced at a dinner he hosted in 2006 after a screening of An Inconvenient Truth: “Dad, your generation created this problem. You better fix it.”
Following up on President Biden’s 2020 Climate Change Executive Order 14008 issued in his first week in office, EPA Administrator Michael Regan issued a policy statement on May 26, 2021 that directed all EPA offices to update their 2014 Climate Implementation Plans to:
First came the whistleblowers’ letter from Colorado state agency staff to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of the Inspector General (OIG). The EPA’s OIG referred the matter to EPA’s Region 8 office for review. Then came the Troutman Report requisitioned by the Colorado Attorney General.
The compromise – the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 – was announced on July 27, 2022, by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), and by a 51:50 party-line vote survived the August 6-7 “vote-a-rama” gauntlet in the full Senate. Calling it the “single biggest climate investment in U.S. history,” with a goal of reducing carbon emissions in the U.S. by up to 40% by 2030, the legislative summary says the bill will:
Companies that store hazardous waste liquids with organics or other volatile and light vapors should ensure that the tanks, containers, and equipment used at those facilities satisfy the RCRA Organic Air Emission Standards in Subparts AA, BB, and CC under 40 CFR Parts 264 and 265. Over the past month, EPA has announced at least five separate penalty enforcement actions for air emission violations under the Subpart BB and Subpart CC standards. EPA promulgated the RCRA hazardous waste air emission standards to reduce the release of air emissions and organic vapors into the atmosphere from hazardous waste tanks, containers, equipment, and process vents, to prevent ozone precursors and other air toxics.
On December 11, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) proposed a rule requiring that companies swiftly provide the CSB notice of accidental chemical releases sufficient to trigger a CSB investigation, to help the CSB make deployment decisions and to more rapidly respond to release incidents.
On September 5, 2018, EPA issued a draft guidance document announcing a shift of the term “adjacent” in the context of the Clean Air Act’s New Source Review (NSR) and title V operating permit programs which may benefit industrial air sources. This interpretation would focus EPA’s attention on physical proximity of facilities when making source determinations, rejecting EPA’s past practice of considering “functional interrelatedness.”
Businesses that store and use flammable and toxic chemicals that are regulated under EPA’s Risk Management Plan (RMP) Program at 40 CFR Part 68 need to be aware of recent actions by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency aimed at curtailing chemical accidents and releases through new proposed regulations and also enforcement. Facilities potentially subject to EPA’s initiatives include chemical plants and refineries, POTWs that use chlorine as a disinfectant, as well as those companies that use and store bulk anhydrous ammonia as an industrial refrigerant (dairy operations, food and pharmaceutical manufacturing, cold storage warehousing) or as fertilizer (agricultural cooperatives, fertilizer distribution).
On June 29, 2015, the United States Supreme Court announced its decision in Michigan v. Environmental Protection Agency, holding that EPA unreasonably interpreted a provision of the Clean Air Act regarding the regulation of power plants under the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standard (MATS) (also referred to as the Utility MACT).