Climate Change Feed

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.


EPA Releases Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool

PictureBy E. Lynn Grayson

 

This week EPA released EJSCREEN, an environmental justice screening and mapping tool that uses high resolution maps combined with demographic and environmental data to identify places with potentially elevated environmental burdens and vulnerable populations. According to EPA, EJSCREEN’s simple to understand color-coded maps, bar charts, and reports enable users to better understand areas in need of increased environmental protection, health care access, housing, infrastructure improvement, community revitalization, and climate resilience.

Environmental justice is defined as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people, regardless of race or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. EPA’s goal is to provide all people with equal access to the environmental decision-making process to maintain a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.

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D.C. Circuit Rejects Enviro and Industry Challenges to EPA’s Nonhazardous Secondary Materials Rule; Implications for Combustion Standards Remain

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By Alexander J. Bandza

Last week, the D.C. Circuit issued an unpublished per curiam decision in Solvay USA Inc. v. U.S. EPA, No. 11-1189 (D.C. Cir.), rejecting all arguments from both environmentalists and industry against EPA’s non-hazardous secondary material (NHSM) regulations under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).  By way of background, the characterization of non-hazardous secondary materials pursuant to the NHSM has implications under the Clean Air Act (CAA) for the standards by which those materials can be incinerated in combustion units. 

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World Environment Day—June 5

PictureBy E. Lynn Grayson

 

World Environment Day (WED) is the United Nations’ principal vehicle for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the environment. The WED theme this year is “Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume With Care.” Learn more about WED, other UN environmental initiatives, and celebrations around the world today at http://www.unep.org/wed.

  


Corporate Environmental Lawyer celebrates five years of blogging with a new design!

In honor of the fifth anniversary of our entry into the blogosphere, we are excited to announce a major revamp of the Corporate Environmental Lawyer’s design. In addition to the blog’s sophisticated new look, our readers will enjoy:

  1. Mobile and tablet responsive technology
  2. A trending-categories cloud list
  3. Easy-to-use social sharing buttons
  4. Streamlined navigation menus

  5. Access to all five years of posts

In the five years since our Environmental and Workplace Health & Safety (EHS) practice created the Corporate Environmental Lawyer, we have written more than 500 posts, provided critical updates and insights on issues across the EHS legal sectors, and been ranked among LexisNexis’s top 50 blogs. As we wish to continue to grow the blog and provide our readers with the information they want to know, Corporate Environmental Lawyer editors, Steven M. Siros and Genevieve J. Essig, encourage you to participate by suggesting new topics.  We look forward to continuing to provide content covering the issues that are driving changes in environmental law.


EPA Denies Request to Ban Trisclosan

PictureBy E. Lynn Grayson

 

EPA has denied the January 14, 2010 petition submitted by the Food & Water Watch and Beyond Pesticides to ban the antimicrobial pesticide triclosan. The petition requested that EPA take the following regulatory actions:

  • Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA): (1) reopen the Reregistration Eligibility Decision (RED); (2) issue a notice of cancellation of the registrations of all products containing triclosan; and (3) concurrently issue an emergency order to immediately suspend the existing triclosan registrations.

  • Clean Water Act (CWA): (1) impose technology-based effluent limitations; (2) establish healthbased toxic pollutant water quality pretreatment requirements; and (3) impose biosolids regulation for triclosan.

  • Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA): conduct a comprehensive assessment of the appropriateness of regulating triclosan under SDWA.

  • Endangered Species Act (ESA): (1) conduct a biological assessment; and (2) engage in consultation with the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce.

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Back to the Future: EIA’s Analysis of EPA’s Clean Power Plan Concludes that Power Sector CO2 Emissions May Drop to 1980s Levels

Bandza_Alexander_COLORBy Alexander J. Bandza

 

In June 2014, EPA issued its proposed Clean Power Plan to regulate CO2 emissions from existing power plants under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act.  The Clean Power Plan proposes to limit carbon emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired electric generating units, including steam generating, integrated gasification combined cycle, or stationary combustion turbines operating or under construction by January 8, 2014.  In August 2014, Representative Lamar Smith requested that the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) analyze the effects of the Clean Power Plan on, among other things, greenhouse gas emissions, electric markets, and coal plants retired.

Last week, the EIA released its report with an extensive press release describing the report’s high-level conclusions.  This week, the EIA followed up with a brief article that offers a stark conclusion driven by data from the Plan:  In its estimation, power sector CO2 emissions will fall to about 1,500 million metric tons per year by 2025, a level not seen since the early 1980s.  Much of this reduction would be achieved by an expected doubling of the amount of coal-fired power that would be shuttered with the Plan over the amount that would be shuttered but for the Plan.  According to the EIA: (i) but for the Plan, coal-fired power would be reduced by 40 gigawatts by 2030; and (ii) with the Plan, coal-fired power would be reduced by about 90 gigawatts in the same time period.

The following graph concisely illustrates the magnitude of this Plan:

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Source:  EIA

The EIA's full report is available here.


EPA Revises Its Regulatory Agenda, A Flurry of Activity Expected in the Next Few Months

Bandza_Alexander_COLORBy Alexander J. Bandza

 

Last week, the EPA-specific listing on the website of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs was updated with timelines on the EPA’s regulatory efforts.   Of potential interest, in chronological order of expected release, are the following rules:

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EPA Lacks Authority to Regulate Plastic Microbeads in Water

Grayson_Lynn_COLORBy E. Lynn Grayson

 

Tiny microbeads are introduced everyday into waterways from many personal care products and over the counter drugs. The plastic microbeads (often made of polyethylene or polypropylene) are recent additions in facial scrubs, soaps, toothpastes and other personal care products as abrasives or exfoliants. A single product may contain as many as 350,000 of these nanoparticles. Last week, EPA’s Janet Goodwin, Chief of the EPA Office of Wastewater’s Technology and Statistics, confirmed again that EPA lacks regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act to  regulate consumer use of plastic microbeads entering wastewaters, despite growing concern over impacts to the environment.

According to Ms. Goodwin, most of the plastic microbeads that are found in wastewater effluent come from consumer use. The EPA only has authority to regulate plastic microbeads that enter wastewater from industry, either through effluent guidelines or pretreatment standards.

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New Report Confirms Environmental Sustainability is Good Business

Grayson_Lynn_COLORBy E. Lynn Grayson

 

A new study released by Morgan Stanley confirms that investors appear to place a premium on sustainability yet believe that sustainable investments require some financial sacrifice. Two key findings include: 1) nearly three-quarters (72%) of those surveyed believe that companies with good environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices can achieve higher profitability and are better long-term investments; and 2) 54% believe that sustainable investing involves a financial trade off.

The study set out to analyze potential performance and risk differences between sustainable and traditional investments. A range of studies on sustainable investment performance were reviewed along with performance data for 10,228 open-ended mutual funds and 2,874 Separately Managed Accounts (SMAs) based in the U.S.  Through the review, Morgan Stanley concluded that investing in sustainability has usually met, and often exceeded, the performance of comparable traditional investments. Specific findings include:

  1. Sustainable equity mutual funds met or exceeded the median return of traditional equity funds for 64% of the time periods examined.
  2. Sustainable equity mutual funds also had equal or lower median volatility for 64% of the time periods examined.
  3. For the longest time period (seven years trailing, 2008-2014), sustainable equity mutual funds met or exceeded median returns for five out of six different equity classes examined (for example, large-cap growth).
  4. Long-term annual returns of the MSCI KLD 400 Social Index, which comprises firms scoring highly on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria, exceeded the S&P 500 by 45 basis points between its inception in 1990 to the end of 2014.

The study was conducted by the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing. The Institute seeks to accelerate mainstream adoption of sustainable investing by developing industry-leading insights and scalable finance solutions to address global challenges.