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Environmental Regulatory Update – October 2017

Download the full report for October 6, 2017 (pdf)

Recent Developments (Updated October 6, 2017)

DEC Revises Solid Waste Regulations

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) published its revised solid waste regulations following a pair of public comment periods. The revised regulations: delete several outdated rules; consolidate all generally applicable provisions (including definitions) into 6 NYCRR Part 360; organize facility-specific requirements into broad categories by Part; revise the list of exempt facilities and the criteria/thresholds for requiring registrations versus permits; add new categories of waste management activities to address recently-identified concerns, including mulch processing, metal processing and vehicle dismantling, used cooking oil and yellow grease processing, and navigational dredged material handling; update the landfill and other standards to reflect technological developments; revise the waste transportation requirements to increase the threshold for exempting loads of several common waste streams and establish registration and waste tracking requirements for certain transportation activities; and revise and update the beneficial use determination provisions, including establishing a five-year renewal requirement. In response to public comments, DEC revised key definitions; amended the new provisions relating to reuse of fill material to address concerns that the original proposal was burdensome; revised the composting provisions; loosened the requirements for wood debris and construction and demolition debris storage; and revised the provisions relating to landfill gas to avoid interfering with opportunities to market carbon offset credits. The final regulations can be found at: www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/81768.html.

EPA Issues Draft Strategic Plan

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made its Draft FY 2018-2022 Strategic Plan available for comment. The plan outlines three broad goals for the agency for the next four years and identifies objectives for achieving those goals. In keeping with earlier pronouncements, the draft plan calls for returning EPA to its core mission of “providing Americans with clean air, land and water” as well as ensuring the safety of products in the marketplace through programs that evaluate the risk of chemicals and pesticides. The draft plan also calls for “rebalancing power between Washington and the states to create tangible environmental results for the American people” and “administering the law, as Congress intended, to refocus the Agency on its statutory obligations under the law.” Consistent with other Trump administration pronouncements, the draft strategic plan includes no mention of climate change. Information about the draft strategic plan can be found in the October 5, 2017 Federal Register at www.gpo.gov/fdsys.

Other Recent Developments

Federal                                                                

  • TRANSITION: Consistent with other recent efforts, EPA extended compliance deadlines for two major Obama era regulations—the effluent limitations guidelines and standards for steam electric generating sources and the formaldehyde emission standards for composite wood products.
  • TRANSITION: President Trump issued an executive order compelling federal agencies to take steps to establish discipline and accountability in the environmental review and permitting process for infrastructure projects; the order was followed by an initial list of actions by the Council on Environmental Quality to implement the order.
  • AIR: EPA proposed to find that no changes to the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for portland cement manufacturing are necessary to address residual risk or implement recent technological developments.
  • CLIMATE CHANGE: EPA is accepting comment on possible further reductions to the renewable fuel standard volume levels for 2018 and 2019 (biomass-based diesel only) following the proposal of standards for 2018/2019 in July.
  • REMEDIATION: EPA authorized the use of ASTM International’s Standard E2247-16, Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessment: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process for Forestland or Rural Property to show that a site owner/purchaser had conducted all appropriate inquiries necessary to obtain liability protections under the federal Superfund program.