On October 13, 2020 Earthjustice filed a petition for review with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of a coalition of environmental groups and scientists asserting that a Final Rule promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) failed to adequately regulate certain carcinogenic emissions as required by the Clean Air Act. The Miscellaneous Organic Chemical Manufacturing (“MON”) rule, effective as of August 12, 2020, regulates toxic emission of about 200 chemical plants which release dangerous carcinogens including ethylene oxide which have been shown to be contributing to cancer hotspots around the country. However, the petitioners contend that the final MON rule fails to properly regulate unacceptable levels of risk posed by ethylene oxide and the other carcinogens released by MON facilities.
The use of fracking has made the United States the global leader in natural gas and crude oil production. However, the practice is not without controversy. Activist groups have called for a ban against fracking as scientists have warned of potential health and environmental impacts, while energy lobbyists have fought bitterly against any restrictions or regulations. As it stands, U.S. regulating of fracking has been mostly left ineffectively to the states, with exemptions to federal regulations on the books. As the societal costs of fracking become better understood, regulators and policy makers must make difficult decisions regarding the practice.
There is poison in the water. The Flint water crisis has ravaged the city of Flint, Michigan, permanently altering how many in the community see the role of government.
On August 20th, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced a $600 million settlement between several state actors and victims of the Flint water crisis. Finally, six years after exposing residents to dangerous levels of lead in the water, the residents of Flint will receive their duly needed compensation. Unfortunately, it may be too little, too late for Flint, and there is little to prevent the crisis from repeating itself elsewhere without deliberate action.
On March 25, 2020, a judge for the United States District Court in the District of Columbia held that the Army Corp of Engineers (hereinafter the Corp) failed to comply with the standards of the National Environmental Policy Act (hereinafter “the Act”) by failing to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) before deciding to approve federal permits for construction of a portion of the Dakota Access Pipeline which ran under the Mississippi River. The ruling came four years after the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe brought the original action in 2016. The Act is meant to ensure the public that agencies have considered the environmental consequences of a potential project before going forward with it, and so requires agencies to consider any and every significant environmental impact that could result from the project through completion of an Environmental Assessment, and, in some cases, an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
Northeastern Michigan was already facing a pandemic on May 19 when a breach in the Edenville dam forced 10,000 residents to flee their homes in the face of deadly floodwater. The dam failure elevates the need for state and federal regulators to standardize regulations and collaborate on their enforcement to prevent similar incidents.
The implications arising from fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and the Department of Transportation (“DOT”) in the early 2010s spelled out a cautionary tale for automotive manufacturers wondering how to comply with increasingly strict regulations.
The meat and poultry packing industry has recently fallen victim to the spread of COVID-19. Among fierce backlash over the federal government’s lack of action to protect meat packing facility workers, the CDC and OSHA released interim guidelines. These guidelines are to be followed by employers not only to keep workers safe, but to avoid a shortage of one of America’s most prized food sources: meat and poultry. The meat packing industry, as one of the most heavily-regulated industries in the United States, now faces increased regulation during a global pandemic.
As the holiday season fast approaches, many Americans are busy planning celebrations with friends and family and shopping for the perfect gift for their loved ones. We often stress about holiday parties and travel arrangements. For many of us, however, our impact on the environment during this time is not of great importance. Unfortunately, during this time, both household and commercial waste increases at often due to online shipments. The convenience of internet shopping, especially around the holidays, packs an environmental punch. As consumers, we must be cognizant of this impact when we decide to purchase online. Not only must we be aware of our own consumption, we must also consider the awareness and efforts of e-commerce platforms to address environmental concerns during this busy time.
On August 29, 2019, the Environmental Protection Agency (“the EPA”) announced a proposed reconsideration amendment to an Obama Administration rule regulating the natural gas industry’s methane emissions. This proposal is in response to President Trump’s order for federal agencies to review their actions, purportedly to remove potential resource burdens. The EPA asserts that the changes will remove regulatory duplication and save the industry millions of dollars, but the savings may come at the expense of increasing the planet’s vulnerability.
The state of Washington is proposing new water quality regulations in an effort to encourage growth to the salmon population. The campaign against the dams in the Columbia and Snake river basins has been fought for decades and continually struggles to balance the environmental impacts with industry and energy. This regulation is the newest strategy to attempt to strike a balance between the environmental concerns and the industry concerns. Further, as more attention is given to the dwindling population of killer whales, many are calling this an emergency requiring immediate action. This action is a timely response to the recent calls to action.