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D.C. battle over EPA Administrator nomination & the future of the D.C. Circuit

10 Jun

Gina McCarthy was nominated to take over as US EPA Administrator over three months ago. Last month her nomination passed out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to the full Senate for a vote. Needless to say, the leadership of EPA is a source of contention between Republicans and Democrats. As a result Republican senators have been delaying McCarthy’s confirmation vote.

Another set of less obvious nominations that may have even more significant environmental repercussions was made last week. President Obama nominated Robert Wilkins, Nina Pillard, and Patricia Millett for the US D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Since federal agencies are typically sued over proposed regulations in the D.C. Circuit, the D.C. Circuit is a prime battleground for US EPA regulations. In fact, these appointments may be especially important as federal judges are appointed for life, unlike agency administrators who typically last only as long as the President who nominates them, if that long. The judges whose change to Senior Status in the Court of Appeals created two of the three vacancies served for 25 and 26 years. The third vacancy was created when John Roberts was elevated to the Supreme Court. Currently, the D.C. Circuit has four judges selected by Republic Presidents (three judges selected by George W. Bush and one by George H.W. Bush and four judges selected by Democratic Presidents (three by Bill Clinton and one by Barack Obama).

If you have questions about these appointments or how to make your voice heard, contact us at 773-609-5320, info@thornenvironmentallaw.com, or through our web contact form.

Disclaimer: This article cannot, and does not, create any attorney/client or consultant/client relationship.

EPA releases Environmental Justice Plan (EJ 2014)

26 Sep

Last week the EPA announced the release of its EJ 2014, its comprehensive 3-year plan to advance its environmental health goals.  The policy document is part of EPA’s effort to meet Executive Order 12898, “Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations,” which requires Federal agencies to incorporate environmental justice into their mission.  Under Plan EJ 2014, EPA will seek to work with local, overburdened groups to improve environmental conditions within the relevant communities.

Plan EJ 2014 can be found on the EPA’s website.  While it is not a rule or regulation, it is expected that this guidance will significantly affect EPA’s actions with respect to these traditionally under served communities.

If you have any questions regarding Plan EJ 2014, contact us at 773-609-5320, info@thornenvironmentallaw.com, or through our web contact form.

Disclaimer: This article cannot, and does not, create any attorney/client or consultant/client relationship.

Cement Plant Air Pollution Regulations

14 Sep

Last month the EPA issued its final rules regulating emissions from Cement Plants. The main focus of the rules is to limit mercury pollution; Cement Kiln’s being the third largest producer of mercury emissions nationally. In addition, the regulations target smog forming emissions and acid gasses. The new rules will set limits for both new and existing kilns.

When fully implemented, the EPA estimates that these regulations will result in between $6.7 billion and $18 billion. Mercury can damage children’s developing brains and the particle pollution is a major trigger of asthma and other respiratory illnesses. The costs of the regulation are estimated to be less than $1 billion annually. (more…)

OSHA’s new online recordkeeping tool

20 Aug

OSHA, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, launched a new online tracking tool to help employers better comply with its recordkeeping and reporting requirements. The tool, OSHA Recordkeeping Advisor, is intended to “simulate and employer’s interaction with a Recordkeeping rules expert.” The new tool does not actually keep any records and is completely confidential.

According to the OSHA press release, the new tool is intended to help companies determine: (more…)

EPA proposes to exempt captured CO2 storage from hazardous waste regulations

17 Aug

Under a recent proposed rulemaking, EPA has manifested its intent to exclude captured and sequestered CO2 from regulation under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Assuming that the CO2 injection wells meet stringent conditions, EPA concluded that the sequestered carbon would not pose a risk to human health or the environment. The rulemaking falls under the interagency task force on carbon capture and storage (CCS), which was developed to provide a consistent national framework for CCS development.

Injection wells will still be regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). In another recently finalized rule, the EPA designated a new class VI of underground injection wells. The permitting process for Class VI wells is intended to insure that the wells are properly sited and will not pose a threat to the environment or nearby drinking water sources. Overall, this represents fewer regulatory barriers for a CCS developer. (more…)

Grants for Illinois Green Manufacturers

11 Aug

The department of Commerce and Economic opportunity is tasked with promulgating guidance for the distribution of Green Manufacturing grants. In general, applicants can receive a grant of up to $250,000 for projects intended to have positive environmental benefits, such as improving air quality, waste reduction or the addition of renewable energy generation to a manufacturing facility. The goal of the grants is to reduce the overall manufacturing footprint and achieve cost savings at the facility. The regulations can be found at 20 ILCS 605/605-524.

Generally manufacturers with fewer than 500 employees are eligible to apply for a grant.  If you have any questions regarding the Green Manufacturing Grants or would like assistance applying for a grant, contact us at 773-609-5320, info@thornenvironmentallaw.com, or through our web contact form.

Disclaimer: This article cannot, and does not, create any attorney/client or consultant/client relationship.

The Global Reporting Initiative

9 Aug

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is fast becoming the standard for sustainability reporting. The GRI develops frameworks for reporting non-financial disclosures through a consensus-based process. The main reporting document, which was published in 2006 is available on the GRI’s website and is freely available to the public. This document lays the foundation for the metrics that an organization can use to measure and report on its economic, environmental and social impacts.

The technical guidelines, now in version 3.1, only provide the basic framework for reporting and are generally supplemented by sector supplements. These supplements are available for electric utilities, food processors, mining, and financial services, among others. Sector supplements are in the development process for several sectors including: airports, construction and telecommunications. (more…)

The Carbon Disclosure Project

1 Aug

The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) is a not-for-profit company created for collecting data on carbon emissions. The goal is then to have this data available for investors, who can use it when making financial decisions. At this time there are about 3,000 organizations involved in the CDP. Generally, the reports made the DCP are available to the public at the CDP’s website.

The CDP provides a consistent, global reporting framework. The advantages to this program are its comparability and credibility due to the amount of organizations participating. The major disadvantages of the program are its costs and the potential to disclose some of your company’s confidential business information. However, both of these drawbacks can be minimized. (more…)

Stephen Thorn joining Chicago-Kent as adjunct law professor

30 Jul

Stephen Thorn is joining the Chicago-Kent School of Law as an Adjunct Law Professor.  He will be teaching the Advanced Legal Writing: Environmental Law course.

EPA to encourage certified recycling of electronic waste

25 Jul

On July 20, EPA administrators and executives from major consumer electronics companies jointly announced EPA’s commitment to encourage environmentally safe management of used electronics. The agency will take actions to promote eco-friendly design of electronics, promote recycling of used electronics and improve the US market for recycled electronics components.

According to the press release, Americans generate almost 2.5 million tons of e-waste annually. This waste contains plastic, glass, precious metals and rare earth metals. This presents an enormous economic opportunity. (more…)

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