California Environmental Law and Policy Update – October 2021 # 2 | Allen Matkins
The New York Times – October 6
The Biden administration on Wednesday announced it would restore climate change protections to the country’s basic environmental law, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which former President Donald Trump had relaxed in an attempt to accelerate ‘approval of projects such as mines, pipelines, dams and highways. The proposed changes would require the federal government to assess the effects of climate change on major new projects as part of the licensing process. The Trump administration had freed agencies from scrutiny of how a proposed project might lead to increased greenhouse gas emissions, forcing agencies to analyze only “reasonably foreseeable” impacts. The Biden administration published its proposed rule in the Federal Register Thursday and collect public comment for 45 days.
North Bay Business Journal – October 5
Governor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday enacted nine bills to reduce plastic waste and the use of PFAS, or perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, in certain consumer products. A law, intended to reduce confusion over which items can be properly placed in curbside recycling bins, sets the country’s highest standards for the use of the “hunt arrows” recycling symbol. Governor Newsom also signed a bill to ban the use of PFAS in food packaging effective January 1, 2023, and by 2024 will require cookware manufacturers to disclose whether hazardous materials are used in their products. A separate law signed by Newsom prohibits the use of PFAS in products intended for infants and children, such as cribs and playpens, effective July 1, 2023.
Los Angeles Times – October 5
A massive oil spill off the coast of Orange County that was reported last Saturday and dirty beaches and environmentally sensitive wetlands have renewed calls for a ban on offshore drilling. The spill came from a pipeline connecting the port of Long Beach to an offshore oil rig known as Elly. As many as 144,000 gallons of oil were released from the pipeline into the Catalina Canal, killing fish and birds and threatening sensitive marine habitats.
Associated Press – October 5
Regulations approved by a federal court on Sept. 30 will provide nearly $ 78 million to clean up two Superfund sites in Los Angeles County and resolve lawsuits that have been pending for more than 30 years, according to a statement from the US Department of Justice. Pesticides and rubber products were once manufactured at the sites of Montrose Chemical Corp. and Del Amo Superfund, located south of downtown Los Angeles. Both sites are among several former industrial areas in Southern California that are on the national priority list of sites with known releases of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants.
Bloomberg Law – October 6
For the first time, Bayer AG has prevailed in a lawsuit involving allegations that Roundup causes cancer. The decision came in a California case involving a child whose non-Hodgkin lymphoma was blamed on the weedkiller. A Los Angeles jury concluded Tuesday that Bayer’s Monsanto unit was not responsible for the boy’s cancer. Although Bayer has argued that numerous studies show Roundup to be safe and that the United States Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that the main ingredient in the product – glyphosate – is not carcinogenic, the company lost three previous trials in the state and said in July it would set aside an additional $ 4.5 billion for all herbicide-related lawsuits. Another lawsuit is underway in San Bernardino County. Roundup will be phased out of the U.S. consumer market in 2023.
NPR – October 7
President Joe Biden will reestablish the boundaries of the national monuments of Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts, the administration said Thursday. The Bears Ears National Monument and the Grand Staircase are located in Utah. The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, off the coast of New England, was established by former President Barack Obama in 2016 as the first Marine National Monument in the Atlantic Ocean. In 2017, then-President Donald Trump signed an executive order that significantly reduced the size of Bears Ears by 85% and halved the Grand Staircase; it was the largest reversal of American land monument protections in history.