As 2020 comes to a close, the EPA has published numerous draft and final rules, with a few more to come. The agency also extended the submission deadline for Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) to Jan. 29, 2021. Here’s a quick rundown of the most significant actions:

EPA Guidance; Administrative Procedures for Issuance and Public Petitions

The EPA recently published a final rule titled EPA Guidance; Administrative Procedures for Issuance and Public Petitions for procedures related to developing and issuing guidance documents. The EPA’s intent is to improve the agency’s accountability and transparency of its guidance documents. Effective Nov. 18, this rule also provides the public with the means to petition the EPA with requests to modify or withdraw an active guidance document.

National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System

In addition, the EPA has also issued draft guidance to clarify wastewater permitting requirements under the Supreme Court’s County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund decision. This guidance is intended to clarify when a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit is required, providing context for the “functional equivalent” analysis stated in the Maui decision. The 30-day public comment period is open until Jan. 11, 2021.

In addition to this major move, here’s a look into the future of environmental regulations:

Proposed upwind power plant pollution rule revisions

The proposed Revised Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) Update aims to fully address 21 states’ remaining good neighbor obligations under the 2008 ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard. The proposed rule would reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides from power plants in 12 states, leading to an improvement in air quality.

Startup, shutdown and malfunction provisions in plans questioned

A memo issued by EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler outlines whether and when it may be permissible for a state to include certain types of provisions governing periods of startup, shutdown and malfunction in state implementation plans developed pursuant to the Clean Air Act. This memo represents a reversal of the EPA’s position issued in their 2015 Startup, Shutdown, and Malfunctions State Implementation Plan Action.

NPDES e-Reporting Deadlines Extended

On Nov. 2, EPA published a final rule in the Federal Register to extend deadlines for Phase 2 of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Electronic Reporting Rule (NPDES eRule). Phase 2 of the NPDES eRule requires the EPA and states to modernize Clean Water Act reporting and provides states with flexibility to request additional time as needed. Under the EPA’s final rule, compliance deadlines for Phase 2 implementation are postponed by five years and states are allowed flexibility to request an extension.

About the experts

Meghan Krishnayya, Indianapolis, is the Compliance & Permitting Service Line Director for Brown and Caldwell, with expertise in environmental regulatory program strategy development and implementation.

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