U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

It is not often that the Supreme Court takes on significant environmental cases – and in this instance – two significant decisions were issued by the Court within a month of each other.

For overviews and key takeaways of these two environmental law decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court – Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Christian

On April 10, 2020, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its anticipated Interim Guidance (Guidance) to regional offices on field work at contaminated sites during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Guidance follows EPA’s earlier interim guidance on enforcement discretion, which did not apply to Superfund and RCRA Corrective Action sites.1

The Guidance recognizes that field work at certain sites will be delayed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, the press release accompanying the Guidance stated that EPA has reduced or paused work at approximately 34 sites, or 12% of all EPA-led sites with ongoing remedial actions due to the pandemic. The Guidance favors factors over bright line rules for how decisions to pause work should be made to promote nationally consistent decisions.
Continue Reading EPA Issues Interim Guidance for Site Field Work Decisions Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic

On March 26, 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued guidance regarding enforcement discretion in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance acknowledges that COVID-19 may impair compliance with environmental laws and regulations and sets forth the steps that regulated entities must take to qualify for enforcement relief. The policy is retroactive to March 13, 2020, and has no end date.

General Conditions for Enforcement Discretion.

The guidance provides that regulated entities should make every effort to comply with their obligations, but if compliance is not reasonably practicable, they should:

(a) act responsibly to minimize the effects and duration of noncompliance;

(b) identify the nature and dates of noncompliance;

(c) identify how COVID-19 was the cause of noncompliance, and the decisions and actions taken in response, including best efforts to comply and steps taken to come into compliance at the earliest opportunity;

(d) return to compliance as soon as possible; and

(e) document the information, action or condition specified in (a)-(d).
Continue Reading EPA Enforcement Discretion Policy in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

On January 23, 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) (collectively, “Agencies”) finalized the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which redefines the jurisdictional scope of the Clean Water Act (CWA or “Act”).  The new rule will go into effect 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register,

On July 24, 2019, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) proposed drinking water standards for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).  The DOH set the maximum containment level (MCL) for both PFOS and PFOA at 10 parts per trillion (ppt), the same level recommended by the Drinking Water Quality Council.  Should the proposed rule become final, the MCLs will apply to all public water supplies regulated by the DOH.  Before the DOH can finalize the rule, there will be a period of public comment, which lasts 60 days from the date of this notice.
Continue Reading New York Proposes MCLs for PFOS and PFOA