EPA recently issued its long-awaited rule designating perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). Along with the rule, EPA issued PFAS Enforcement Discretion and Settlement Policy Under CERCLA. This policy document provides the regulated community with some insight as to how

On May 10, 2024, extensive revisions recently adopted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the Risk Management Program (RMP) regulations (40 CFR Part 68) will take effect. The revisions, dubbed by EPA as the “Safer Communities by Chemical Accident Prevention Rule,” reinstate certain Obama-era provisions previously rolled back under the Trump administration. However, the revisions also enlarge some of these provisions and add significant new requirements, including some that reflect the current administration’s focus on climate change and environmental justice.

The revisions require owners and operators of subject facilities to achieve compliance with most of the substantive requirements within three years (i.e., by May 10, 2027). RMP plans must be updated to reflect new applicable requirements and resubmitted to EPA within four years (i.e., by May 10, 2028). For certain other requirements (regarding emergency response field exercises), the compliance deadline is potentially shorter or longer than these three- and four-year periods, depending on the date of the facility’s most recent field exercise.

Once the rule takes effect, court challenges by both business interests and environmental groups are expected. However, given the unknown outcome of such challenges and the breadth and potential costs of the new requirements, potentially impacted facilities should begin assessing the applicability of the revisions now.

Background

The RMP regulations implement Section 112(r) of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments (42 U.S.C. 7412(r)), which direct EPA to develop regulations to improve the prevention of chemical accidents at stationary facilities or activities (for brevity, referred to here simply as “facilities”) that use or store “regulated substances” that EPA has identified as presenting the greatest risk of harm from accidental releases. In particular, the owner and operator of a facility with one or more “processes” that manufactures, uses, stores, or handles such a regulated substance in excess of substance-specific threshold quantities must develop and implement a risk management program for all such processes, and document that program in a risk management plan submitted to EPA.

RMP requirements are generally similar to, and in some respects will overlap with, requirements under the Process Safety Management (PSM) program administered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). However, while OSHA’s PSM regulations focus on workplace safety, the RMP regulations focus primarily on minimizing the public impacts of accidental releases through prevention and emergency response.Continue Reading EPA Turns Up the Pressure on Chemical Release Prevention and Preparation

The EPA Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) February 15, 2024, report on EPA’s practices in collecting, retaining, and producing criminal discovery materials in environmental cases found that EPA’s special agents largely adhered to requirements embedded in the due process clauses of the U.S. Constitution, the Brady doctrine, the Jencks Act, and the Federal Rules of

On February 7, 2024, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its Final Rule lowering the primary annual National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) from the current level of 12 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3) to 9 μg/m3.  Once published, the Final Rule is certain

On February 8, 2024, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published two proposed rules in the Federal Register that would expand the EPA’s authority to address certain per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). These rules would significantly increase the EPA’s and authorized state’s authority to address the release of

The EPA is seeking comments on a newly released, revised guidance document regarding the consideration of environmental justice (EJ) concerns in the rulemaking process. The guidance document updates a 2016 version and incorporates new scientific developments, other EPA guidance, and new priorities and policies.

The guidance document sets forth both analytical expectations for an EJ

In a recent report, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) describes steps the EPA should take to increase air monitoring at marine ports and neighboring communities. While not agreeing to adopt all of the OIG’s recommendations, EPA has agreed to assess the air-monitoring network around ports and in near-port communities and

In the Byzantine complexity of the Clean Air Act (CAA), EPA’s “once in, always in” policy regarding hazardous air pollutants (HAP) has been particularly confounding.  And now it’s back in play, through regulatory revisions proposed by EPA in late September.  

EPA’s proposal would prohibit a source from reducing its potential emissions of HAP

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released an advance notice of proposed rulemaking with a focus on modifying the treatment and handling of “empty” containers and drums under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The EPA is soliciting information and requesting comments “to assist in the potential development of non-regulatory and regulatory options that