Environmental Regulatory Update – November 2018
Posted on November 12, 2018
Download the full report for November 2, 2018 (pdf)
Recent Developments (Updated November 2, 2018)
EPA Proposes Changes to Oil and Gas GHG Emission Rules
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed changes to the rules limiting emissions of volatile organic compounds and methane—a greenhouse gas (GHG)—from certain oil and natural gas production, transmission and distribution sources. The rules, which were adopted in 2016, establish standards for new, modified and reconstructed oil and natural gas sources covering a broad range of equipment and processes. With the recent rulemaking, EPA proposed amendments and clarifications in response to petitions for reconsideration as well as various technical and other corrections designed to clarify the rule. Among other things, the proposal calls for reducing the frequency of leak detection monitoring and seeks comment on whether to extend the schedule for conducting initial monitoring surveys and repairing leaks. EPA also is proposing changes to the rules governing pneumatic pumps at well sites and the use of alternative means of emission limitations. The proposed rule, which can be found in the October 15, 2018 Federal Register at www.govinfo.gov, is part of broad initiative by the Trump administration to roll back Obama-era rules regulating emissions from oil and gas wells as well as other climate change rules such as the Clean Power Plan and motor vehicle GHG emission standards.
EPA Proposes Scheme for Targeting Chemicals for TSCA Risk Assessment
EPA issued draft guidance describing its proposed approach to identifying existing chemicals as potential candidates for risk assessment under the 2016 revisions to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which, among other things, require the agency to systematically prioritize and assess existing chemicals. In July 2017, EPA adopted regulations establishing a basic process and schedule for conducting such reviews. EPA’s recent guidance—entitled A Working Approach for Identifying Potential Candidate Chemicals for Prioritization—explains how EPA will fulfill its obligation to identify the next 20 high priority chemical substances required to undergo risk evaluation. The guidance identifies the factors EPA will consider in selecting chemicals for review under TSCA, with the proviso that at least 50% must come from the 2014 update to the TSCA Work Plan. The guidance also describes EPA’s long-term prioritization plan, which calls for sorting chemicals that are currently in the TSCA inventory into “bins” to inform multiple activities and priorities throughout EPA, including TSCA chemical risk assessments. EPA also announced that it is opening dockets on each of the 73 chemicals identified in EPA’s 2014 Work Plan update that are not currently undergoing review and an additional general docket for the public to suggest chemicals EPA should prioritize for future risk evaluation. The notice announcing the various prioritization efforts can be found in the October 5, 2018 Federal Register at www.govinfo.gov.
Other Recent Developments
- CHEMICAL: EPA set user fees for administration of TSCA as required by recent amendments to the TSCA statute, which will be levied primarily against chemical manufacturers who are required to comply with certain TSCA programs.
- WATER: EPA request nominations of chemical and microbial contaminants that are not currently subject to national primary drinking water standards but may require regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
- SAFETY AND HEALTH: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a notice implementing its Site-Specific Targeting inspection program using employer-submitted calendar year 2016 Form 300A data relating to workplace injuries and illnesses.