EPA will regulate legacy CCR surface impoundments and CCR Management Units for the first time.

By Stacey L. VanBelleghem, Karl A. Karg, Phil Sandick, Jacqueline Zhang, Bruce Johnson, and Samuel Wallace-Perdomo

This post is the second in a series on four key power plant rules that the Environmental Protection Agency recently released. It discusses the rule on requirements governing disposal of coal combustion residuals at inactive power plants.

On April 25, 2024, EPA released its Final

EPA’s action finalizes aggressive emission reduction targets for certain subcategories of fossil fuel-fired power plants, based on implementation of carbon capture and sequestration.

By Stacey L. VanBelleghem, Karl A. Karg, and Phil Sandick

This post is the first in a series on four key power plant rules that the Environmental Protection Agency recently released. It discusses the rule to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from certain electric generating units.

On April 25, 2024, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

EPA’s transfer of primary enforcement authority to states for carbon capture and storage projects may decrease permitting delays but raise legal questions.

By Nikki Buffa, Joshua Bledsoe, Jennifer Roy, Michael Dreibelbis, Brian McCall, Austin Wruble, and Sam Wong

Louisiana has become the third state in the United States to receive primacy from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), allowing it to assume permitting authority for carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects. EPA granted primacy

New report raises social cost of carbon estimates, surpassing previous estimates by more than 250%.

By Joshua Bledsoe, Kevin Homrighausen, and John Detrich

On December 2, 2023, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a final report that substantially increases estimates of the social cost of greenhouse gases (GHG), including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide (collectively, SC-GHG). The report describes SC-GHG as “the monetary value of the net harm to society from emitting one metric ton of that GHG into the atmosphere in a given year.”[1] The new estimates are intended to serve as a tool for decision-makers, aiding in the cost-benefit analysis of actions that would reduce or increase GHG emissions. Indeed, federal agencies are expected to use the estimates in future rule-makings and in the environmental review of forthcoming projects.

The agency’s two recent actions introduce enhanced restrictions on hydrofluorocarbons and provide a series of compliance dates for industry stakeholders.

By Stacey VanBelleghem and Jennifer Garlock

On October 5, 2023, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued two rules, one final and one proposed, to phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under the bipartisan American Innovation and Manufacturing Act of 2020 (AIM Act). The agency’s recent actions represent major steps in the Biden administration’s goal to significantly reduce HFCs over the next decade.

HFCs are a group of chemical refrigerants and potent greenhouse gasses (GHGs), commonly used in foam products, cooling systems, aerosols, and fire suppressants. International focus on managing these compounds sharpened in the 1980s, when countries agreed in the Montreal Protocol to shift global markets away from the ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) — the then dominant strain of refrigerant and aerosol chemicals — toward HFCs. Although HFCs are less damaging to the ozone layer than CFCs, they have global warming potential (GWP) values (a figure that allows comparison of relative climate impact of a GHG) hundreds or thousands times higher than carbon dioxide (CO2), which has a GWP equal to 1. In 2016, nearly 200 countries adopted the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol agreeing to a global phasedown of production and use of HFCs. The US ratified that amendment on October 31, 2022.

The Court’s decision has prompted the US Army Corps of Engineers to freeze jurisdictional determinations for permitted activities pending additional guidance.

By Michael G. Romey, Lucas Quass, and Peter R. Viola

On May 25, 2023, by a narrow 5-4 majority, the US Supreme Court ruled in Sackett v. EPA that the Clean Water Act (CWA) only extends to wetlands that have a “continuous surface connection” with “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) — the term in the CWA’s definition of “navigable waters” that determines the jurisdiction of the US Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (together, the Agencies) over projects and other activities requiring permits to dredge, fill, or discharge into federally protected waters.[1]

EPA’s long-awaited proposal would set aggressive emission reduction targets with many different approaches and timelines to achieve them.

By Stacey L. VanBelleghem and Jennifer Garlock

On May 11, 2023, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its proposed rule[1] to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from electric generating units (EGUs) at power plants under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act (CAA) (the Power Plant GHG Rule or the Proposed Rule).

The Power Plant GHG Rule consists of five proposed actions:

  1. determinations and updates to current CO2 standards of performance (promulgated in 2015) for new and reconstructed stationary combustion turbines (generally natural gas-fired) pursuant to Section 111(b) of the CAA;
  2. determinations and updates to current CO2 standards of performance (promulgated in 2015) for modified fossil fuel-fired steam-generating EGUs (generally coal-fired) pursuant to Section 111(b) of the CAA;
  3. determinations and CO2 emission guidelines for existing fossil fuel-fired steam-generating EGUs (generally coal-fired) pursuant to Section 111(d) of the CAA;
  4. determinations and CO2 emission guidelines for large, frequently used existing fossil fuel-fired stationary combustion turbines (generally natural gas-fired) pursuant to Section 111(d) of the CAA; and
  5. a repeal of the Trump-era Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule.

EPA is also soliciting comment on a number of topics, including potential options and emission guidelines for existing fossil fuel-fired stationary combustion turbines not otherwise covered by the Proposed Rule (generally natural gas-fired units that are either smaller or less frequently used).

The decision will limit EPA’s options for future regulation of existing power plant GHG emissions and may have broader implications for other federal agency rulemakings.

By Stacey L. VanBelleghem, Karl A. Karg, and Malorie R. Medellin

On June 30, 2022, the US Supreme Court issued its long-awaited ruling in West Virginia v. EPA — the consolidated petitions addressing EPA’s authority to regulate existing power plant greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act (CAA). In a 6-3 opinion drafted by Chief Justice Roberts, the Court ruled against EPA, holding that EPA’s attempt to force an overall shift in power generation from higher-emitting to lower-emitting sources exceeded EPA’s statutory authority. Indeed, the Court noted that such a sweeping transformation of the nation’s power sector implicated a “major question” requiring explicit congressional authorization, that the Court argued the CAA did not provide.

The record-low health advisories form part of the EPA’s 2021 PFAS Strategic Roadmap, which forecasts further regulatory action at both state and federal levels.

By Julia Hatcher, Kegan A. Brown, Thomas C. Pearce, Taylor West, Andy Landolfi, and Phil Sandick

On June 15, 2022, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued interim, updated drinking water health advisories (HA) for two of the most common per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS): perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS).[1] EPA also issued two final HAs for perfluorobutane sulfonic acid and its potassium salt (PFBS) and hexafluoropropylene oxide and its ammonium salt (GenX).[2]

The proposed definition would significantly extend the regulatory scope of the Clean Water Act.

By Michael G. Romey, Cody M. Kermanian, and Lucas I. Quass

On December 7, 2021, the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Army Corps of Engineers (collectively, the Agencies) published a proposed rule (the Proposed Rule) to revise the definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS), a critical term that determines the Clean Water Act’s (CWA’s) scope and application. The proposed changes, published in the Federal Register, could signal a return to the more inclusive pre-2017 WOTUS interpretation, which could broaden the CWA’s application. Comments on the Proposed Rule are due on February 7, 2022.