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Environmental Blog

Tick-Tock: Companies Have Twelve Months to Use the EPA’s New Oil and Gas Audit Program for Existing Owners of Upstream Facilities

On December 19, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) opened a limited-time opportunity for existing owners of upstream oil and gas facilities to discover, correct, and self-disclose violations of the Clean Air Act. Companies that decide to perform compliance audits and self-disclose to the EPA have until December 18, 2020, to inform the EPA of their intentions.

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  • 07
  • November
  • 2019

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Good Air Pollution Control Practice Enforcement—It’s a Real Thing

In September 2019, a federal district court in Massachusetts ordered  the owner of a fuel storage terminal to pay $1.2 million in civil penalties for violations of the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. The principal claims in the case were that the R.M. Packer Company caused excess emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC) and hazardous air pollutants (HAP) by failing to operate its fuel storage tanks and vapor control systems consistent with good air pollution control practices.

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EPA Issues Supplemental Proposed Rulemaking That Will Increase the Burdens of Non-Exempt Refiners Beginning in 2020

Making good on President Trump’s promise to corn-growing farmers, on October 28, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (Supplemental Proposal) that will effectively increase the renewable fuel obligations of non-exempt refiners and other obligated parties beginning in compliance year (CY) 2020. The EPA held a public hearing regarding the Supplemental Proposal in Ypsilanti, Michigan, on October 30, 2019, and will accept comments until November 29, 2019. EPA currently plans to issue a final rule in 2019. 

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Trump Administration Plans to Ramp Up Total Renewable Fuel Volumes Under the RFS Program for 2020

On October 4, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signaled an abrupt change to the status quo, by announcing plans to issue a final rulemaking that will increase total renewable fuel volumes under the federal Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) program beginning in 2020 to compensate for volumes lost whenever the EPA grants waivers to “small refiners,” who successfully claim a disproportionate economic hardship under the program. This change will greatly benefit farmers growing corn to produce corn-based ethanol, a “conventional” biofuel that supplies the bulk of total renewable fuel volumes required under the RFS program.

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DOJ Announces Another Nail in Supplemental Environmental Projects’ Coffin

The Department of Justice (“DOJ”) will no longer use Supplemental Environmental Projects (“SEPs”) in settlements with states and municipalities as a result of a policy change announced August 21, 2019.The change follows a series of steps taken since 2017 curtailing SEPs. It may foreshadow future action to formally curtail SEPs in settlements with private sector parties, as the memo notes that the Department is actively reconsidering current guidance that continues to allow SEPs in settlements with private parties.2

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  • 21
  • June
  • 2018

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Environmental Appeals Board Weighs Challenge to Power Plant’s PSD Permit for EPA’s Dismissal of Battery Storage as BACT for Peak Demand Periods

On May 29, 2018, nongovernmental organizations (“NGOs”), including the Sierra Club, petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) Environmental Appeals Board, challenging the federal Clean Air Act Prevention of Significant Deterioration permit issued by EPA Region 9 for the Palmdale Energy Project in California.

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