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Environmental Regulatory Update – June 2017

Download the full report for June 5, 2017 (pdf)

Recent Developments (Updated June 5, 2017)

Trump Withdraws from Paris Agreement

President Trump announced that the United States will withdraw from the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. The Agreement requires participating nations to pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, monitor their progress and report the results. Unlike the earlier Kyoto Protocol, which the United States declined to sign, the Paris Agreement does not impose binding targets on participating countries. As a result, the decision to withdraw is largely symbolic. The announcement has been widely condemned on environmental, political and economic grounds with various business leaders expressing concern that the decision may lead to trade disputes while depriving the nation of clean energy and other opportunities.

DEC Proposes New Dry Cleaning Emission Standards

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has proposed to repeal and replace the air emission standards for dry cleaning facilities set forth at 6 NYCRR Part 232 to reflect shifts in the industry and incorporate changes to federal standards. Among other things, DEC is: phasing out all perchloroethylene (perc) dry cleaning machines from residential buildings as well as all third generation machines (i.e., those without integral secondary control systems); imposing additional standards on fourth generation perc machines, including monthly operator machine testing at co-located residential and commercial facilities; and establishing an approval process for alternative dry cleaning solvents and imposing new emission standards, equipment and operating standards on alternative solvent dry cleaning machines. Currently, alternative solvent dry cleaning activities are regulated under 6 NYCRR Part 212. The proposed rule can be found on DEC’s website at: www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/110006.html.

Governor Announces Methane Reduction Plan

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his Methane Reduction Plan establishing a framework for state agencies to implement measures to reduce emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. The Governor directed five agencies, including DEC, to inventory emissions and identify strategies for methane capture and elimination. The resulting plan identifies 25 measures in three sectors—oil and gas, landfills and agriculture. With respect to the oil and gas sector, the plan focuses on leak detection and repair measures, new monitoring and mitigation options, and improved knowledge and information sharing, among other measures. The landfill initiatives, by comparison, focus on developing and implementing programs to divert organics from landfills and implementing methane capture technologies. With respect to agriculture, the plan includes manure and livestock management and carbon sequestration measures. The plan can be found at: www.dec.ny.gov/energy/99223.html.  

Other Recent Developments

Federal                                                                

  • TRANSITION: The Trump administration proposed to slash the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2018 budget by approximately 31%, including: eliminating various regional and other programs; significantly reducing grants to the states for basic program administration; slashing funding for climate and energy research; and significantly reducing funding for basic air, water, enforcement and other programs.
  • CHEMICAL: EPA is accepting comments on draft guidance supporting its recently adopted rule requiring manufacturers/processors of nanoscale materials to report certain information under the Toxic Substances Control Act while at the same time extending the effective date of the rule three months.

New York State

  • WATER: After a pair of emergency rulemakings, the New York State Department of Health has proposed permanent regulations imposing lead testing requirements on public school drinking water systems.
  • WATER: DEC is compiling data to assist it in developing a list of impaired surface waters as required under Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act for purposes of identifying waters that do not support their designated uses and so may require development of a total maximum daily load plan.