In Part 1 of our Clean Water Act (CWA) Series, we reported on the circuit split between the Fourth, Sixth, and Ninth Federal Circuit Court of Appeals regarding whether indirect discharges to Waters of the United States (WOTUS) through groundwater required a CWA permit. On February 19, 2019, the Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments regarding “Whether the CWA requires a permit when pollutants originate from a point source but are conveyed to navigable waters by a nonpoint source, such as groundwater.” Read more about this case history and the legal arguments on the Emerging Energy Insights blog.
California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has proposed further amendments to clarify the new Prop 65 regulations that went into effect August 30, 2018, which focused on how to provide “clear and reasonable” warnings under Prop 65. Under the new regulations, manufacturers, producers, packagers, importers, suppliers, and distributors have primary responsibility for complying with Prop 65 requirements; and retail sellers have responsibility for placement and maintenance of consumer product exposure warnings only in limited situations. OEHHA’s latest proposed amendments clarify parties’ responsibilities along the often complex supply chain: Continue Reading California Proposes Additional Amendments for Proposition 65 Regulations
Under the Clean Water Act
The Clean Water Act (CWA or the Act) expressly forbids the discharge of pollutants without a permit. The term “discharge of pollutants” means the “addition of any pollutant to navigable waters from any point source.” Any discharge of pollutants must be covered under a federal or state discharge permit (e.g., a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit for the discharge of dredged and fill material or a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for the discharge of other pollutants); otherwise the discharge would be in violation of the CWA. If it does not constitute a discharge of pollutants, then the release does not violate the CWA.
A flurry of recent cases around the United States has created a circuit split over whether the CWA governs discharges to groundwater that eventually add pollutants to navigable waters. However, there are a few points these courts seem to agree on. Continue Reading CWA Series: Do Discharges to Groundwater Require a Permit? Depends on Who You Ask
As we previously reported, major changes are going into effect tomorrow concerning California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, known as Proposition 65. This law requires businesses to notify Californians about significant amounts of chemicals in products in their homes or workplaces, that are released into the environment, or that are present at certain public locations. On August 30, new regulations go into effect that impact the obligations of businesses in order to comply with this law. For more details, see our prior post on this topic, and do not hesitate to reach out to us to help guide you through the Prop 65 changes and how they impact your business.
President Trump signed a new Executive Order on August 6, 2018, titled “Reimposing Certain Sanctions with Respect to Iran”. The Executive Order was timed to coincide with the last day of the 90-day wind-down period established for activities associated with certain sanctions relief authorized by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (“JCPOA”). As a result, the first round of sanctions against Iran will become effective at 12:01 a.m. on August 7, 2018. Continue Reading United States Announces Re-imposition of First Round of Nuclear Sanctions on Iran
Since the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972, there has been extensive debate over which waters may be regulated as “waters of the United States” under the Act. Over the years, various federal courts have reached differing conclusions on the question of whether discharges to groundwater can be considered discharges to waters of the United States. This issue recently came to a head in a 9th Circuit opinion. In response, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is requesting comments on whether pollutant discharges from point sources that reach jurisdictional surface waters via groundwater or other subsurface flow with a direct hydrologic connection to the jurisdictional surface water may be subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act. For farmers, manufacturers and anyone who conducts activities that release pollutants to groundwater, these actions will be affected by whether and how EPA clarifies its position regarding whether these discharges are subject to regulation. Read the full blog post from our Environmental attorneys on this issue at Husch Blackwell’s Emerging Energy Insights blog.
Attorney Megan Caldwell recently blogged about two recent agency enforcement memoranda impacting the enforcement of environmental violations. Both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) have issued memos make changes in how agencies will focus on their roles in regards to enforcement. These changes may affect your company’s approach to compliance with certain agency guidance documents as well as your emphasis on relationships with state environmental agencies versus the EPA. You can read the full blog post on our Emerging Energy Insights blog.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has announced that anyone interested in having a product excluded from the safeguard measures imposed on imports of solar products must submit an application by March 16, 2018. Comments in response to exclusion requests must be filed by April 16, 2018. USTR set these deadlines and established the requirements for requesting product exclusions in a Federal Register notice published on February 14, 2018. This follows the President’s imposition of safeguard measures on imports of certain solar products on January 23, 2014. Under the safeguards, imports of cystalline silicon photovoltaic (CPSV) cells are subject to a tariff-rate quota and imports of other CSPV products are subject to an increased duty rate. For more information on this issue, please contact Jeffrey Neeley or Stephen Brophy.
Husch Blackwell’s Jeffrey Neeley authored an article, “Solar Panel Tariff Creates New Uncertainty” that appeared in Law360 this week. The article discusses in depth the proclamation signed by President Trump last week. From the article:
[T]he relief announced provides that the first 2.5 gigawatts of imported cells are excluded from the additional tariffs. The use of an exemption for the first 2.5 gigawatts makes the relief a form of a “tariff rate quota,” meaning that tariffs for cells only apply if imports rise above the quota amount of 2.5 gigawatts. This type of relief has been imposed in the past, including on certain steel products.
Read the full post on Law360.
On January 25, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) withdrew its 1995 “once in always in” guidance. Under that guidance, facilities classified as “major sources” of hazardous air pollutants (“HAP”) as of the “first compliance date” of a maximum achievable control technology (“MACT”) standard under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act are required to comply permanently with the MACT standard. Now, EPA’s current policy is that a major source that limits its potential to emit (“PTE”) to below major source thresholds can become an area source and will no longer be subject to the major source MACT.
The Clean Air Act defines “major source” as “any stationary source or group of stationary sources located within a contiguous area and under common control that emits or has the potential to emit considering controls, in the aggregate, 10 tons per year or more of any hazardous air pollutant or 25 tons per year or more of any combination of hazardous air pollutants.” This definition expressly allows PTE to be calculated “considering controls,” and does not address the timing for when a source will be classified as a major source. As a result, EPA found that its “once in always in” policy “created an artificial time limit” contrary to the plain language of the Clean Air Act and must be withdrawn.