This week, United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) Administrator Scott Pruitt issued a directive to end the Obama-era “sue and settle” practice of the agency. Under the existing practice, environmental and special interest groups sue EPA to try to force the agency to take certain actions, and the agency typically settles those lawsuits by entering into private settlement agreements and public consent decrees. Those settlements often lead to the promulgation of environmental regulations, what Pruitt calls “the results of collusion with outside groups” that, according to him, takes place behind closed doors and excludes intervenors, interested stakeholders, and affected states from the process. Pruitt wants to put a stop to the Continue Reading Pruitt Directive Puts a Stop to EPA’s Sue and Settle Practice
As anticipated, on October 10 the EPA signed a proposed rule to repeal the Clean Power Plan rules for existing stationary sources. The proposed rule concludes that the Clean Power Plan exceeds EPA’s authority under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act by regulating emissions by (among other approaches) substituting generation from lower-emitting existing natural gas combined cycle units and zero-emitting renewable energy generating capacity.
Rather, EPA has now determined that Continue Reading Update on the Proposed Repeal of the Clean Power Plan
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has announced his intention to act today to sign a proposed rule that would “withdraw the so-called Clean Power Plan of the past administration.” This move by the agency is no surprise, given President Trump’s campaign promises to bring back coal and Pruitt’s lawsuit challenging the rule filed in his capacity as the Oklahoma Attorney General.
The goal of the Clean Power Plan rules is to significantly limit Continue Reading EPA’s Regulatory Process to Withdraw Clean Power Plan Rules Starts Today
Earlier today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued an order granted EPA’s motion to hold the Clean Power Plan litigation in abeyance while EPA reviews the carbon pollution emission guidelines for existing power plants and the standards of performance of new, modified, and reconstructed power plants and, if appropriate, publishes proposed rules suspending, revising, or rescinding those rules. Review of the rules is required by President Trump’s Executive Order targeting climate change regulation (discussed further here).
The motion for abeyance was opposed by numerous parties, including cities and states; Calpine Corporation and municipal power companies; the American Wind Energy Association and Solar Energy Industries Association; and environmental organizations. They argued that Continue Reading Court’s 60-Day Abeyance of Clean Power Plan Litigation May Help Efforts to Suspend, Revise, or Rescind Rules
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a request for comment soliciting input from the public regarding existing environmental regulations that might be appropriate for repeal, replacement, or modification consistent with President Trump’s executive order regarding enforcing his regulatory reform agenda.
That order directed federal agencies to form Continue Reading EPA Seeks Input on Repeal, Replacement, or Modification of Environmental Regulations
A memorandum issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s acting chief financial officer proposes program cuts to accommodate the Trump Administration’s proposed 31% budget reduction for FY 2018. The memo states that this resource level will require evaluating EPA’s priorities and “thinking differently about the best ways to accomplish [its] core statutory responsibilities.”
The proposed cuts make it clear that regulation of climate change or carbon pollution is no longer Continue Reading Cuts to EPA’s Budget Would Eliminate Climate Protection Programs, Other “Non-Core” Programs
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has asked a federal appellate court to hold in abeyance an ongoing legal challenge to Obama-era methane emissions standards for new and modified sources in the oil and gas sector as EPA considers whether to change the standards or abandon them altogether. (Am. Petroleum Inst. v. EPA, D.C. Cir., 13-1108). The methane rule, finalized in 2016, established New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for methane emissions at new, modified and reconstructed oil and gas wells. Dozens of states and industry groups filed legal challenges Continue Reading EPA Asks Court to Halt Methane Suit
Fulfilling repeated campaign pledges to roll back the Obama administration’s climate change initiatives, President Trump signed a sweeping executive order yesterday targeting key Obama-era regulations, including the Clean Power Plan and emission standards for the oil and gas industry. The executive order states that it is in the interest of the nation to promote development of energy resources “while at the same time avoiding regulatory burdens that unnecessarily encumber energy production, constrain economic growth, and prevent job creation.” The multi-faceted approach taken by the order makes it clear that this Administration views any regulation of climate change or carbon pollution as “unnecessary.” Continue Reading Trump’s Executive Order Takes a Multi-Faceted Approach to Eliminating Climate Change Regulation
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) issued a proposed rule on December 1, 2016 requiring hardrock mines to provide financial assurance demonstrating they are able to fund the costs associated with the future cleanup of the mines under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the federal statute designed to address releases of hazardous substances and the cleanup of hazardous waste sites nationwide. The new regulations, if finalized by the stated deadline of December 1, 2017, would add an additional
Continue Reading New Financial Responsibility Requirements on the Horizon for the Hardrock Mining Industry
In his opening statement at the Senate confirmation hearing for his appointment to the role of EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt stated that he will build on progress “in promoting a healthier environment and stronger economy for future generations by focusing on three core philosophies: rule of law, cooperative federalism, and public participation.” Each of those philosophies would return EPA’s authority to its “core mission of protecting the American people through common sense and lawful regulations.”
With respect to the rule of law, Pruitt noted that EPA’s role is limited by statute and criticized the agency for Continue Reading Pruitt Pledges to Rein in EPA