This year marks the 50th anniversary of the creation of the EPA and the implementation of the Clean Air Act. Earlier this summer, the EPA released its annual air quality report, which concluded that our nation’s air is 77% cleaner today than it was in 1970.
Over the last month, several additional actions were taken related to air quality, including the EPA’s announcement that it will not make changes to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for particulate matter, as well as its proposal for the first greenhouse gas emission standards for commercial aircraft.
Separately, in the Senate, the Environmental Justice for All Act was introduced on June 30 in recognition of the disproportionate burden of environmental hazards in low-income and vulnerable communities.
In addition to these activities, the EPA has also been busy with many different regulatory topics this summer. Here are some of those regulatory updates:
End of COVID-19 temporary enforcement discretionary policy approaches
EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assistance’s March 2020 policy to provide flexibility in environmental compliance obligations due to the COVID-19 pandemic will terminate on Aug. 31. The EPA Audit Policy’s self-disclosure program remains available to eligible entities.
Final rule to bring clarity to Clean Water Act certifications
The EPA’s final rule to update and clarify water quality certification requirements was published on July 13 and will become effective Sept. 11. This rule is intended to more clearly explain timelines, review scopes, and related certification requirements and procedures.
Evolving PFAS regulations
Regulations at the state level continue to evolve with 152 policies in 30 states currently in place, and 25 adopted polices in the works in 12 states. The EPA finalized a Significant New Use Rule giving the agency authority to review PFAS-containing products before they can be imported, sold, or manufactured in the U.S. In addition, EPA announced significant progress on its PFAS Action Plan and also published a PFAS Edition of their EPA Week in Review.