With the start of a new year, we not only have some regulatory updates, but also a newly issued regulatory freeze that will hold rules until a department or agency head appointed or designated by President Biden reviews and approves the rule. Rules that have been sent to the Office of the Federal Register but have not been published are immediately withdrawn for review and approval. With respect to rules that have been published in the Federal Register, or rules that have been issued in any manner but have not taken effect, officials will consider postponing the rules’ effective dates for 60 days from the date of the freeze.
We will be keeping a close eye on regulatory changes, especially the Multi-Sector General Permit, that may be affected by this freeze.
Here’s a rundown of regulatory updates not affected by the freeze:
4th Quarter EPA enforcement roundup
In the final quarter of 2020, the EPA finalized 150 settlements agreements with companies of all sizes. While this represents a significant decrease in penalties when compared to Quarter 3, actions taken still resulted in over $4.5 million in fines.
PFAS remains persistent priority
The EPA issued a memorandum detailing an interim National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting strategy for addressing PFAS in EPA-issued wastewater permits. EPA also released information on progress in developing new analytical methods to test for PFAS compounds in wastewater and other environmental media. These actions will help ensure that federally enforceable wastewater monitoring for PFAS can begin as soon as validated analytical methods are finalized.
TSCA milestone to address PBT risk
Persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) chemicals are of particular concern as they remain in the environment for long periods of time and can accumulate in the body. In an effort to address risks from these chemicals, EPA released final rules under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to reduce exposure and protect human health and the environment.