EPA’s Safer Choice Program Awards

GraysonBy E. Lynn Grayson

EPA’s Safer Choice program (formerly Design for the Environment) recognizes products that meet stringent ingredient and product level criteria. Safer Choice products do not contain  carcinogens or reproductive or developmental toxins. The program helps consumers and commercial buyers identify and select products with safer chemical ingredients without sacrificing quality or performance.

EPA Safer Choice

According to EPA, there are over 2,000 products that currently qualify for the Safer Choice label. This summer, EPA’s new Safer Choice labels began appearing on consumer products such as household soaps and cleaners. To qualify for the Safer Choice label, a product must meet stringent human and environmental health criteria.

In the first  year of the Safer Choice Partner of the Year awards, the Chicago/Region V area has more winners than any other part of the country. Local award winners include: AkzoNobel/Chicago; ISSA, The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association/Northbrook; Jelmar, LLC/Skokie; Loyola University Chicago, Institute of Environmental Sustainability/Chicago; and Stepan Company/Northfield. Nationwide, 21 entities won EPA Safer Choice Partner of the Year awards. EPA confirms there are nearly 500 formulator-manufacturer partners that make more than 2,000 products for retail and institutional customers.

More information about the Safer Choice program is available at http://www2.epa.gov/saferchoice.


EPA Finalizes 2015 Revisions to the 1988 RCRA Underground Storage Tank Regulations

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Bandza_Alexander_COLORBy Alexander J. Bandza

Last week, on July 15, 2015, the US EPA revised the 1988 underground storage tank (UST) regulation and the 1988 state program approval (SPA) regulation.  Some of these changes had their roots in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which set out additional requirements in states that received federal RCRA Subtitle I money from EPA.  Part of the impetus for this regulation was to apply these changes to Indian country and all states.  Other changes relate to revising the regulations in light of technological changes and challenges that have surfaced over the years.  The effective date of the regulations is October 13, 2015.  Some of the key changes are set out below.

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New EPA Report: Climate Change in the United States: Benefits of Global Action

GraysonBy E. Lynn Grayson

A new EPA report, Climate Change in the United States: Benefits of Global Action, estimates the physical and monetary benefits to the U.S. of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. The report summarizes results from the Climate Change Impacts and Risks Analysis (CIRA) project, a peer-reviewed study comparing impacts in a future with significant global action on climate change to a future in which current greenhouse gas emissions to continue to rise.

The report shows that global action on climate change will significantly benefit Americans by saving lives and avoiding costly damages across the U.S. economy. The report and its finding perhaps foreshadow the U.S. participation in the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Paris, France later this year, from November 30 through December 11. This will be the 21st yearly session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 11th session of the Meeting of the Parties (CMP 11) to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Once again, the conference objective is to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate from all of the nations of the world.

Below is a video developed by EPA discussing the report and its findings.

 


Jenner & Block Recognized as #1 Pro Bono Firm

GraysonBy E. Lynn Grayson

Jenner & Block has been recognized by The American Lawyer in its 2015 rankings as the No. 1 law firm in the United States for pro bono service. This is the second consecutive year the firm as ranked No. 1 and the sixth time we have done so in the past eight years. The firm also has been included among the top 10 pro bono programs in the United States every year since the AmLaw initiated the survey in 1990.

In an article published this month titled “Treading Water,” The American Lawyer highlighted the important work of one of Jenner & Block’s Environmental and Workplace Health & Safety lawyers—Gay Sigel.

Gabrielle Sigel

In 2014, the biggest investment of time—1,553 hours—was for the ongoing representation of environmental groups, including the Alliance for the Great Lakes and the Natural Resources Defense Council in a Clean Water Act suit against the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago over its discharge of raw sewage into area waterways and Lake Michigan. Gay was the lead attorney and presented oral arguments in this case last February.  Gay is quoted as saying “If we win, this will change the Chicago rivers from a giant sewage conduit to the swimmable and fishable waterways that the Clean Water Act requires.”

A final judgment was issued by the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirming the District Court ruling in favor of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago on July 9.

We are proud to be a part of the pro bono tradition at Jenner & Block. Congratulations to Gay on this important environmental work and special recognition from The American Lawyer.


Pope Francis Makes Environmental Protection Central Theme in Ecuador Visit

GraysonBy E. Lynn Grayson 

 

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Pope Francis this week is visiting Ecuador and has called for increased protection of the Amazon rain forest and in general has made environmental protection a central theme in his comments. Pope Francis noted, “The tapping of natural resources, which are so abundant in Ecuador, must not be concerned with short term benefits. As stewards of these riches which we have received, we have an obligation towards society as a whole, and towards future generations.”

Read more about Pope Francis’ visit and environmental issues in Ecuador in the New York Times article by Jim Yardley.


U.S. Supreme Court Invalidates EPA’s Regulation of Mercury from Power Plants

By Gabrielle Sigel

On June 29, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and invalidated U.S. EPA's 2012 regulation of mercury and other hazardous air pollutant ("HAP") emissions from coal and oil-fired power plants.  Michigan v. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 14-46.

On February 16, 2012, EPA issued national emission standards for mercury and other HAPs from fossil fuel-fired powered electric utility steam generating units (a/k/a "power plants"). 77 Fed. Reg. 9304. The regulations are also known as the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards ("MATS"). The MATS were issued pursuant to the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, which required EPA to study "the hazards to public health reasonably anticipated to occur as a result of emissions by [power plants] of [HAPs] after imposition of [other] requirements [of the CAA]." 42 U.S.C. § 7412(n)(1)(A). Congress then required EPA to regulate HAPs from power plants if the EPA "finds such regulation is appropriate and necessary after considering the results of the study…." Id.

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Jenner & Block Hosts Environmental Liability Buyout Webinar—June 30th at Noon

Picture By E. Lynn Grayson

On June 30th, Jenner & Block will host a special webinar, “Successful Environmental Liability and Risk Deals,” at 12:00 noon. Speakers include Lori Prokes, President, DeNovo, and David Heidlauf, Principal, Ramboll Environ, discussing business, legal, and technical aspects of environmental liability buyout transactions. They also will discuss two case studies for successful projects in WI and NJ, offering practical insights and recent experiences gained from these matters. Partners Lynn Grayson and Steve Armstrong will moderate this webinar.

You are invited to join us for this webinar. More information about the webinar and how you may RSVP is detailed here.

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Alexander J. Bandza To Moderate Teleconference on This Year’s Environmental, Energy Supreme Court Cases

Essig_Genevieve_COLOR By Genevieve J. Essig

Next month, on July 9, 2015, Associate Alexander J. Bandza will moderate a lunchtime ABA teleconference titled “Supreme Court Year in Review: The Environmental Cases.”  The event will feature a discussion of the following four Supreme Court cases from this past term that will affect environmental and energy lawyers: (1) Kansas v. Nebraska and Colorado; (2) Michigan v. EPA; (3) Omnicare, Inc. v. Laborers District Council Construction Industry Pension Fund; and (4) Oneok Inc. v. Learjet, Inc. 

A distinguished panel of speakers will discuss these cases:

  • Shannon S. Broome, Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, Oakland, CA
  • Anne M. Carpenter, Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, Washington, DC
  • Stephen R. McAllister, E.S. & Tom W. Hampton Distinguished Professor of Law, The University of Kansas School of Law and Solicitor General of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
  • A. Dan Tarlock, Distinguished Professor of Law and Director of the Program in Environmental and Energy Law, Chicago-Kent College of Law, Chicago, IL

A question-and-answer session to follow.  Registration and additional information is available here.


Red Tuna Crabs Overrun CA Beaches

PictureBy E. Lynn Grayson

 

Masses of small red tuna crabs have been washing up along San Diego, California area beaches from Ocean Beach to La Jolla. The species, Pleuroncodes planipes, is unique in that it can live its entire life cycle, from larva to adulthood, in the water column from surface to seafloor. Accordingly, it can be particularly vulnerable to being carried along by winds, tides, and currents.

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EPA Proposes Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Finding for Aircraft Emissions

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Essig_Genevieve_COLOR By Genevieve J. Essig

In a rule signed on June 10, 2015, EPA proposed to find that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from engines used in certain types of aircraft contribute to air pollution that endangers health and welfare under section 231(a) of the Clean Air Act.  Further, anticipating that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) will adopt a final CO2 emissions standard for aircraft in February 2016, EPA also issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking input on the potential use of section 231 to adopt and implement the international aircraft engine CO2 emissions standard domestically.

In the rule, EPA states that it is relying primarily on the scientific and technical evidence in the record supporting the 2009 Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases under section 202(a) (the “2009 finding”), though it also includes subsequent work. It also follows the rationale it previously used with respect to the 2009 finding.  For example, EPA proposes to define the air pollution referred to in section 231 to be the mix of the following six well-mixed GHGs: CO2, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride – the same definition used for the 2009 finding for the purposes of section 202(a).

The rule has been submitted for publication in the Federal Register; the internet version of the rule is available here. Comments will be due within 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. A public hearing will be held in Washington, D.C., on August 11, 2015.