In our June 2, 2023, blog, we discussed the surprising decline in environmental enforcement activity under the current administration. That trend may be about to change.
Picking up the Pace in Regulations
In an article by E&E News titled, “White House picks up pace on regs,” they outline plans for the Biden Administration to “meet a crucial deadline to avoid being overturned by Republican lawmakers if President Biden loses his reelection bid.” The article goes on to say that the administration wants to finalize a number of federal rules by the first half of 2024, otherwise, the rules may be “killed by a GOP-led government by the 2024 election.”
The ambitious plans are to advance various environmental regulatory programs that address air and climate, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, protection of rangelands, and environmental issues related to agriculture.
SEC Plan to be Finalized in October
The article also mentions the Security and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) “plans to finalize its controversial climate disclosure rule in October.”
The SEC rule would require publicly-listed companies to disclose to investors and the public “granular information about their risks from – and contributions to – climate change.” This would include their exposure to “physical climate impacts, such as drought and hurricanes as well as preparedness for the clean energy transition*.”
As stated above, this proposed rule has been controversial and one SEC Commissioner wrote a lengthy treatise expressing opposition to the proposed rule.
The article in E&E News provides more details on areas of increased regulation.
*According to a peer-reviewed article by Bjorn Lomborg (Copenhagen Consensus) global droughts are not increasing and the International Panel on Climate Change concludes that “there is low confidence in attributing changes in drought over global land areas since the mid-20th century to human influence.”
*According to the American Meteorological Society, “since 1900 neither observed Continental United States landfalling hurricane frequency nor intensity shows significant trends, including the devastating 2017 season.”
EPA Preparing for Aggressive PFAS Enforcement
At the end of May, the law firm, Crowell issued a client alert stating EPA is preparing for “aggressive PFAS enforcement.”
Over the past few years, we have written several blogs regarding PFAS regulatory and enforcement developments. Without question, there have been several PFAS regulations as well as PFAS litigation.
According to the blog by Crowell, the EPA is now positioned to step up their efforts.
They state, “EPA has the (PFAS) roadmap; the funding; the tools; and the key personnel in place to move towards a more organized, aggressive enforcement effort against parties involved on any level of PFAS contamination, administratively, civilly, and criminally, as quickly as possible.”
They also state that in the past, the EPA lacked resources to enforce, but that is not the case now.
For more information about PFAS, see our PFAS Resources page.
EPA Adds to the Enforcement Team
An article in E&E News seems to support the suggestion of increased enforcement. “A top EPA official said the agency is filling dozens of jobs for its enforcement team, which could help supercharge the Biden administration’s push to crack down on polluters.”
David Uhlmann, assistant administrator in EPA’s enforcement office stated that over a decade, the EPA has lost 950 enforcement positions but this fiscal year, they would replace 200 of those positions.
According to the EPA FY 2024 Budget Brief, the budget for EPA totals $12.083 billion, $1.9 billion or 19 percent higher than the FY 2023 enacted level. It includes 17,077 full-time equivalents (FTE), an increase of 1,961 FTE above the current level.
Justice for Oceans
Finally, rounding out the recent environmental regulatory activity, on June 8, 2023, a Federal Register notice by the Council on Environmental Quality was published. The notice states, “The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), on behalf of the Ocean Policy Committee (OPC), request input from all interested parties to inform the development of an Ocean Justice Strategy.”
Builds of Biden-Harris Environmental Justice
According to the Federal Register notice, the Ocean Justice Strategy will propose “equitable and just practices to advance safety, health, and prosperity for communities residing near the ocean, the coasts, and the Great Lakes and for the whole country, now and for future generations.” The notice also states that this initiative, “builds on current Biden-Harris Administration activities and commitments aimed to advance environmental justice.”
This strategy will include the following:
(1) The Federal Government’s definition of ocean justice;
(2) Barriers to and opportunities for ocean justice;
(3) How ocean justice should apply to the scientific enterprise of knowledge building, including the appropriate consideration, inclusion, and application of Indigenous Knowledge;
(4) How ocean justice should apply to access to and management of the ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes; and
(5) How ocean justice will be implemented by the Federal Government to build on and expand the work of Tribal, Territorial, State, and local governments, Indigenous communities, the private sector, and the public.
The Law Firm Jenner & Block wrote, “The notice also gives indication as to areas that the OPC may be looking to address, stating that communities have not shared an equitable benefit and burden in ocean-related activities including ‘climate change, sea level rise and coastal flooding, increased storm intensity, pollution, overfishing, loss of habitat biodiversity, and other threats.’”
The development of this policy dates back to an October 29, 2021, Press Release “Readout of the First Ocean Policy Committee Meeting.”
Comments on the Ocean Justice Strategy must be submitted before noon (ET), July 24, 2023.
If you need assistance on an environmental issue (permitting, planning, assessments, closures, litigation support, etc…), contact Jeffrey Bolin, M.S. at 248-932-0228, Ext. 125.
Dragun Corporation does not use artificial intelligence in drafting our blogs or any other material.
This blog was drafted by Alan Hahn. Alan has an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies and completed a graduate program in Environmental Management. He has worked in environmental management for 45 years. He has written hundreds of blogs and articles. His published work includes Michigan Lawyers Weekly, Detroiter, Michigan Forward, GreenStone Partners, Manure Manager Magazine, Progressive Dairy, and HazMat Magazine.
The blog was reviewed by Jeffrey Bolin, M.S. Jeff is a partner and senior scientist at Dragun Corporation. He is a published author, frequent speaker, and expert witness. His expertise in environmental due diligence, PFAS, vapor intrusion, and site assessments has led to projects in the US, Canada, and overseas. See Jeff’s Bio.
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