On Friday, January 29, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a new comprehensive worker safety guidance to protect workers against COVID-19, entitled: “Protecting Workers – Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace.”
On January 21, 2021, President Biden issued the “Executive Order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety,” available here, along with numerous other executive orders addressing COVID-19. The order directs the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to:
Fines and penalties issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are set to increase in 2021 as a result of annual inflationary adjustments.
How is Colorado Dealing with “Gap” Waters?
The scope of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act remains perplexing, particularly now that Colorado is the only state in the nation where the Navigable Water Protection Rule did not take effect June 22, 2020. In the context of a lengthy “stakeholder” process, on November 20, 2020, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) issued a White Paper addressing its regulatory options in light of the new federal WOTUS rule. Construction companies, developers, and other businesses seeking to permit activities around wetlands, ephemeral waters, and intermittent streams in Colorado would benefit from reviewing this comprehensive discussion of the multitude of dilemmas Colorado and others states face in light of the new rule.
Chevron, Auer, and Now Voight Deference?
On November 20, 2020, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals jumped headlong into the Chevron, and Auer deference realm. The issue: can a Clean Air Act permittee rely on a state agency’s prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) determination? And should a Court “defer” to the state agency’s determination to assist in the interpretation of an “ambiguous” environmental program requirement? Voight v. Coyote Creek Mining Company (No. 18-2705, 8th Circuit Court of Appeals).
Judge Contreras’s Second Opinion Blasts the Bureau of Land Management for Sloppy Environmental Analysis
Last year, in a 60-page opinion issued in March 2019, U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras stopped the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from leasing oil and gas on over 500 square miles of federal lands in Wyoming. He began his opinion by stating: “Climate change, and humanity’s ability to combat it, are increasingly prominent topics of public discourse. This case concerns the attention the government must give climate change when taking action that may increase its effects.”
Despite widespread commentary regarding the lack of COVID-specific regulatory rules in the workplace, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) continues to cite employers for a wide variety of health and safety violations arising from COVID-related investigations. On November 6, 2020, OSHA issued guidance summarizing which safety standards the federal agency most frequently cites during COVID-related inspections: Respiratory Protection, Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and the General Duty Clause.
Chemical plant owners and operators need to carefully review a recent federal appellate court decision that could substantially expand process safety management (PSM) considerations and related chemical safety and accidental release regulatory requirements under EPA’s Risk Management Plan (RMP) program.
If your business sells or distributes products or devices by claiming that the products work against or kill COVID-19, beware that such claims are subject to regulatory oversight by a variety of governmental agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Trade Commission, and the Food & Drug Administration. Unsuspecting companies in the sale and distribution of these products, such as disinfectants, sanitizers, or cleaners, must ensure their labels and marketing claims satisfy regulatory requirements.
In late 2018, California passed a new law that will, in the near future, present sweeping changes to the pharmaceutical industry and certain medical device manufacturers. The new law amends the existing California Integrated Waste Management Act and is expected to be a boom for medical waste disposal companies who stand to obtain significantly more business. While the law was signed by the California Governor nearly two years ago, the regulations will go into effect in a few months (by January 1, 2021). The original bill, dubbed the “California Sharps and Drug Takeback Bill”, requires a manufacturer of covered drugs or home-generated sharps waste, to offer safe disposal methods for their customers’ used and unused products. The law has potentially sweeping affect because it encompasses all covered drugs and home generated sharps waste that are sold or offered for sale in California.