Posted on July 18, 2019
Download the full report for July 12, 2019 (pdf)
Recent Developments (July 12, 2019)
EPA Issues Clean Power Plant Replacement Rule
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued guidelines limiting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing coal-fired power plants to replace the Obama Administration’s controversial Clean Power Plan (CPP). The CPP established overall GHG reduction goals and allowed states to implement programs to meet statewide goals that relied on GHG reduction measures, such as renewable energy initiatives, implemented at sources other than regulated power plants. With the recent rulemaking, the Trump administration EPA repealed the CPP and replaced it with the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule after finding that the approach to establishing the “best system of emission reduction” (BSER) under the CPP was not authorized by the Clean Air Act. In its place, EPA adopted a program that defines BSER based on heat rate (i.e., efficiency) improvements that can be applied at the source and allows states to take into consideration factors such as the remaining useful life of the unit in setting BSER. As part of this rulemaking, EPA also revised the general emission guideline implementing regulations to extend the deadlines for submitting and processing state plans and make other procedural changes. The CPP repeal and ACE rule can be found in the July 8, 2019 Federal Register at: www.govinfo.gov.
Perchlorate Drinking Water Standard Proposed
EPA has proposed a drinking water regulation for perchlorate, a chemical commonly used as an oxidizer in solid fuels to power rockets, missiles and fireworks that enters the environment from both natural and manmade sources and is naturally occurring in some fertilizers. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, EPA must periodically list chemicals found in public water systems and then undertake studies to determine whether to establish a drinking water standard. In 2011, EPA decided to regulate perchlorate in drinking water after concluding that it may have an adverse effect on human health and is known to occur in drinking water systems with a frequency and at levels that present a public health concern. After a significant delay, EPA recently proposed to set both the enforceable maximum contaminant level (MCL) and health-based maximum contaminant level goal (MCLG) for perchlorate at 56 micrograms/liter (µ/l) while taking comment on alternative MCL/MCLG values of 18 µ/l and 90 µ/l. The rule includes monitoring and other requirements as well as a list of treatment technologies that will enable public water systems to comply with the MCL. EPA also requested comment on whether to withdraw the 2011 determination to regulate perchlorate based on a new finding that the chemical does not occur in public water systems with a frequency and at levels of public health concern. The proposed rule can be found in the June 26, 2019 Federal Register at: www.govinfo.gov.
Other Recent Developments
AIR: EPA proposed the results of its residual risk/periodic technology review of the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for solvent extraction for vegetable oil production, finding that the existing standard protects public health with an ample margin of safety and that there have been no technological developments justifying stricter standards.
- CLIMATE CHANGE: The federal Council on Environmental Quality published draft guidance on GHG emissions under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to replace Obama administration guidance establishing procedures and standards for assessing the impact of proposed federal actions on global climate change.
- REMEDIATION: EPA adopted lower standards for lead in dust on floors and windowsills while retaining the existing definition of lead-based paint under the Toxic Substances Control Act. These standards are used by the federal government to decide whether to require lead paint abatement in federally owned or assisted target housing.
New York State
- WATER: The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation revised its water quality standards and regulations to implement the federal BEACH Act of 2000, setting special enterococci and e-coli standards for coastal recreation waters during primary contact recreation season (typically May 1st to October 31st).