Environmental Regulatory Update – March 2019

Posted on March 20, 2019

Download the full report for March 7, 2019 (pdf)

Recent Developments (March 7, 2019)

EPA Adopts New Pharmaceutical Waste Handling Program

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has adopted new rules to handle hazardous waste pharmaceuticals that are designed to simplify the management and disposal of drugs by healthcare facilities. Under the new rules, prescription pharmaceuticals managed by reverse distributors—entities that accept unused pharmaceuticals from healthcare facilities and arrange for the facilities to receive credit for them from the manufacturer—are considered solid waste.  However, they will now be subject to streamlined waste management standards in lieu of the existing hazardous waste generator regulations. By comparison, with certain exceptions, non-prescription pharmaceuticals and other unwanted merchandise accumulated by retailers is not considered solid waste until it is returned to a reverse logistics facility for handling, at which point a decision will be made regarding disposal. In addition, the new rule bans disposal of pharmaceuticals in the sewer (i.e., by flushing); establishes a conditional exemption for hazardous waste pharmaceuticals that are also regulated as controlled substances by the Drug Enforcement Administration; and excludes nicotine patches and gum from regulation as P075 listed waste when disposed.  The rule can be found in the February 22, 2019 Federal Register at: www.govinfo.gov.

New State NOx Emission Standards Proposed for Peaking Units

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) proposed to set strict nitrogen oxide (NOx) emission limits for simple cycle and regenerative combustion turbines (SCCTs), otherwise known as “peaking units,” which typically operate during periods of peak electricity demand in the summer. The proposed regulations—which will be set forth at 6 NYCRR subpart 227-3—call for phasing in strict ozone season (i.e., summertime) NOx emission standards for SCCTs over a period of approximately five years and establish various options for achieving compliance. Because the units are not easy to retrofit with emission controls, DEC anticipates that most owners will choose to replace or shut down their non-compliant older SCCTs.  The proposed regulations can be found on DEC’s website at: www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/116131.html.

DEC Proposes to Update Architectural and Industrial Maintenance Coating Standards

DEC is proposing to amend its standards governing the volatile organic compound (VOC) content of architectural and industrial maintenance (AIM) coatings to add new coatings, lower the VOC content of other coatings, consolidate certain listed coatings under other coating categories, eliminate an exemption for coatings sold in containers of one quart or less, update the labeling requirements for AIM coatings, and make other changes to 6 NYCRR Part 205. AIM coatings are coatings, such as paints, that are applied to stationary structures or their appurtenances at the site of installation, portable buildings at the site of installation, pavements, or curbs. The new standards will take effect January 1, 2021.  Paints manufactured before that date can be sold through December 31, 2022. The proposed regulation can be found on DEC’s website at: www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/116139.html.

Other Recent Developments


  • AIR: EPA completed its residual risk/periodic technology review of the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPs) for wet-formed fiberglass mat production facilities and surface coating of wood building products, concluding that the risks remaining after application of the existing technology-based standards were acceptable and that no changes were necessary to address technological improvements; EPA proposed similar findings with respect to the existing NESHAP for hydrochloric acid production. 

New York State

  • AIR: DEC is conducting public outreach in advance of plans to revise its New Source Review (NSR) regulations, set forth at 6 NYCRR Part 231, to eliminate provisions relating to greenhouse gases and other requirements that have been dropped from the federal NSR program and make other changes.
  • WATER: DEC proposed further revisions to its water quality standards and regulations to implement the federal BEACH Act of 2000, which set enterococci and e-coli standards applicable during the primary contact recreation season for coastal recreation waters, including the Great Lakes and Atlantic coastal waters.
  • GENERAL: DEC is accepting applications for New York’s Annual Environmental Excellence Awards, which recognize public, private and non-profit entities that have achieved environmental excellence through innovative and environmentally sustainable practices or creative partnerships.