October at-a-glance…environment

EPA rule and new portal promote transparency

As part of ongoing efforts to improve transparency, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a final rule to establish consistent requirements and procedures for issuing guidance documents. The rule:

  • Establishes the first formal petition process for the public to request that EPA modify, withdraw or reinstate a guidance document.
  • Ensures that the agency’s guidance documents are developed with appropriate review and are accessible to the public.
  • Allows public participation in the development of significant guidance documents.

EPA also launched a guidance portal that provides public access to more than 9,000 guidance documents for the first time. “Documents not on the portal are no longer valid and enforceable,” said Jeff Longsworth, NAFEM legal counsel, Barnes & Thornburg. “This is a significant step toward improved transparency.”

U.S. updates first environmental act 40 years after it became law

In 1970, the U.S. passed the country’s first environmental law, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), requiring federal agencies to evaluate the environmental effects of their actions. To date, more than 100 nations have enacted similar policies modeled after NEPA. NEPA created the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) within the executive office of the White House. CEQ recently announced its final rule comprehensively updating and modernizing NEPA regulations. The revised rule, which followed more than 1.1 million public comments, is designed to optimize timely interagency coordination to reduce unnecessary burdens and delays. Highlights of the revised rule are available via a brief PowerPoint deck and fact sheet.

California bans new gas-powered cars after 2035

California Governor Newsom issued an executive order requiring that all new cars and passenger trucks sold in the state be zero-emission vehicles by 2035. According to the governor, the transportation sector is responsible for more than half of California’s carbon pollution and 80 percent of its smog-forming pollution. As part of California’s continued march toward carbon neutrality, the governor tasked the California Air Resources Board (CARB) with developing the new regulations. According to the executive order, additional regulations will mandate that all operations of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles be 100 percent zero emission by 2045 where feasible, with the mandate going into effect by 2035 for drayage trucks. 

States continue efforts to ban HFCs

Austin issues Climate Equity Plan 2020 toward 2040 carbon neutrality goal

In yet another example of climate neutrality efforts, Austin, Texas issued its Climate Equity Plan 2020. The plan outlines how the city will reach net-zero community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2040. The plan addresses sustainable buildings, transportation and land use, electrification, food and product consumption, and natural systems.