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Category Archives: Emerging Policy

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The View From The Pacific Northwest: What to Watch in Environmental Law and Policy Post-Inauguration, Part 2

Posted in Clean Water Act, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Natural Resources and Environment, Project Permitting, Regulatory

Note: this is part 2 of 3 in my series of how the new administration may impact environmental law and policy in the Pacific Northwest. For background, please see Part 1. Tribal Relations One of the key factors influencing environmental law and policy in the Pacific Northwest is the presence of and obligations owed to… Continue Reading

The View From The Pacific Northwest: What to Watch in Environmental Law and Policy Post-Inauguration, Part 1

Posted in Clean Air Act, Clean Energy, Cleanup & Superfund, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Legislation, Natural Resources and Environment, Regulatory

On Friday morning, I boarded a plane in Chicago and by the time I touched down in Seattle, Trump had been sworn into office. We’ve received a number of questions from clients and friends asking us how the regime change will impact environmental law and policy in the Pacific Northwest. The quick answer is one… Continue Reading

Breaking: Puget Soundkeeper and Others Sue EPA (Again) Alleging Failure to Adopt Water Quality Standards for Washington that Account for Higher Fish Consumption Rates

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Fish Consumption, Water Quality

Earthjustice, representing a number of environmental groups, sued EPA on Friday alleging that EPA is in violation of the Clean Water Act because it has not finalized the draft rule it published back in September that set water quality standards for toxics in Washington based on higher fish consumption rates. This lawsuit is not a surprise,… Continue Reading

Breaking: EPA Issues Draft Rule Revising Washington’s Water Quality Standards for Toxics to Account for Higher Fish Consumption Rates

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Fish Consumption, Public Health Policy, Water Quality

Yesterday, following quickly on the heels of Governor Inslee’s withdrawal of Washington’s version of the fish consumption rule, EPA released draft water quality standards for toxics for Washington. These standards, if adopted, are significantly more stringent than those Ecology had proposed. By way of background, the core issue that emerged over the last two years is… Continue Reading

Back to the Drawing Board: What’s Next for the Fish Consumption Rule in Washington State?

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Fish Consumption, Natural Resources and Environment, Public Health Policy, Rule Making

I have written extensively on the efforts by the Washington Department of Ecology to revise Washington’s Water Quality Standards to account for a higher fish consumption rate. This summer was when we were supposed to see the final rule be submitted to EPA for review and possible approval. In a nutshell, the controversy around this… Continue Reading

Guest Post: Aspect Consulting’s Discussion of the Washington Department of Ecology’s Efforts to Update Its Water Quality Assessment for Freshwaters

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Guest Posts, Water Quality

This is another in the series of guest posts authored by the consultants we work with and trust. Owen Reese is a Water Resources Engineer at Aspect Consulting approached us and offered to provide Aspect’s perspective on Ecology’s efforts to update its Water Quality Assessment for freshwater. We eagerly took Owen up on the offer… Continue Reading

Ecology Begins Work on MTCA Model Remedies: What Can Washington Learn From Other Jurisdictions?

Posted in Cleanup & Superfund, Emerging Policy

In 2013, the Washington Legislature passed SSB 5296, which amended the Model Toxics Control Act in a number of ways. One of those amendments directed Ecology to adopt “model remedies,” defined as “a set of technologies, procedures, and monitoring protocols identified by [Ecology] for use in routine types of clean-up projects at facilities that have… Continue Reading

Ecology Files Fish Consumption Rule: What has Changed from Draft Language, and How has it Been Received?

Posted in Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Fish Consumption, Legislation, Public Health Policy

On Monday, right at the start of this year’s legislative session, Ecology filed its proposed rule that will–if adopted–result in adoption of new Water Quality Standards in Washington that account for high rates of fish consumption in this state. What has changed as compared to the preliminary draft rule? Not much, and nothing of substance…. Continue Reading

Five Environmental Issues to Track as Washington’s 64th Legislature Begins Session

Posted in Emerging Policy, Fish Consumption, Legislation, Tax, Water Quality

Governor Inslee has been busy since the end of the last legislative session laying out his environmental agenda, announcing his intent to pursue an aggressive climate change agenda back in April, and coupling the controversial fish consumption issue to an overall toxics reduction strategy. Today marks the start of the legislative session. Here are five… Continue Reading

Executive Orders & Carbon Emissions: Can Governor Inslee Establish A Low Carbon Fuel Standard Without Legislation?

Posted in Alternative Fuels, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, Legislation

The authority of a governmental executive to issue an executive order has recently been a hot topic in the politico-legal world. President Obama’s issuance of Executive Order 13682 sparked a national debate over the Executive’s power to establish and enforce his own laws on controversial issues. The validity of executive orders may very soon become… Continue Reading

What We Are Reading November 13, 2014: U.S./China Carbon Emissions Agreement Edition

Posted in Clean Energy, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Energy Conservation, Energy Policy, Geeky Science Stuff

There is so much that caught my eye this week that I couldn’t make it to Friday before putting this list up. First, on the energy policy front, I’d be remiss in not highlighting President Obama’s agreement with China with respect to carbon emissions. The internet and social media are awash in analysis and commentary… Continue Reading

Cap and Trade to Reduce Carbon Emissions in Washington Is SO 1990s

Posted in Clean Energy, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Legislation, Renewable Energy, Tax

Lots of big ideas – think the minimum wage, women’s suffrage, abolition, fair labor standards – take years or decades from when they are first proposed to their final adoption. The fact that it takes a while to bring enough of society around to actually adopt a new idea doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good… Continue Reading

What We Are Reading November 7, 2014: More Election Fallout, Peak Coal in China, and Salmon

Posted in Clean Energy, Emerging Policy, Geeky Science Stuff

This week’s “what we are reading” naturally has an election theme: First, I briefly touched on the threat the Republican takeover of the Senate poses to the President’s Clean Power Plan in my reaction to the elections on Tuesday. This article over at Scientific American (reprinted from Environment & Energy Publishing) goes into much more… Continue Reading

Election Results: Implications for Environmental Policy and Regulation at the National and State Level

Posted in Climate Change, Emerging Policy

The election results from last night have implications for environmental law and policy that we will likely fully understand after watching how the next few years play out. On a national level, Republicans regained control of the Senate, and here in Washington, it looks like Republicans will keep control of our state Senate. Both of… Continue Reading

Oregon Department of Lands: State of Wyoming Lacks Standing to Challenge Denial of Port Morrow Permit

Posted in Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, Project Permitting

Late last week, the Oregon Department of State Lands denied the State of Wyoming’s request to challenge the Department’s denial of Ambre Energy’s application for a removal-fill permit. (We were following this case at the end of August.) The Department said that Wyoming lacked standing because it had not shown how it would be adversely affected… Continue Reading

Guest Post: Maul Foster Alongi Provides an Update and Their Perspective on Ecology’s New Remedial Action Grant Rule

Posted in Cleanup & Superfund, Emerging Policy, Guest Posts

Note from Doug Steding: This post arose out of a meeting over coffee with James Peale and Jackie Gruber, where we discussed Ecology’s recent Remedial Action Grant rulemaking. James and Jackie highlighted Maul Foster & Alongi, Inc.’s deep experience representing public entities in the pursuit of Remedial Action Grant money. Michael Stringer at Maul Foster was the lead… Continue Reading

Ecology Releases Preliminary Draft Rule Adjusting Washington’s Water Quality Standards to Account for Higher Fish Consumption Rates

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Fish Consumption, Geeky Science Stuff, Public Health Policy, Water Quality

As directed by Governor Inslee back in July, the Washington Department of Ecology released a preliminary draft rule that will ultimately lead to the amendment of Washington’s Water Quality Standards for toxics. This is the next step in a multi-year process under which Washington is adjusting its WQS to account for a higher fish consumption… Continue Reading

Pebble Mine Jumps the Gun on Challenge to EPA’s 404(c) Authority

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Endangered/Threatened Species, Natural Resources and Environment, Project Permitting

Ruling from the bench on Friday, Judge H. Russel Holland dismissed Pebble Limited Partnership’s claims that the EPA overstepped its authority in initiating proceedings under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act. (The written opinion is here.) EPA advised Pebble Partnership by letter in February 2014 that it was beginning the process under 404(c) to review… Continue Reading

Breaking: Judge Coughenour Dismisses Puget Soundkeeper’s Fish Consumption Lawsuit

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Fish Consumption, Water Quality

Yesterday afternoon, Judge Coughenour issued his decision on the summary judgment motions in the lawsuit brought by Earthjustice on Puget Soundkeeper‘s behalf. The motion alleged that EPA Region 10 violated the Clean Water Act by not promulgating revised water quality criteria for Washington that account for higher fish consumption rates. The case broke just about how… Continue Reading

What We Are Reading on Friday, August 29th: Elwha River Dam Removal, Science Advice to Governments, Coal Export Developments, and More

Posted in Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, Geeky Science Stuff, Ocean Acidification, Project Permitting

Here is a quick roundup of what has caught my eye this week. First, the last 30 feet of the Glines Canyon Dam on the Elwha River was removed in a spectacular blast at 4:12 pm on Tuesday. John Gussman, “Return of the River” filmmaker, documented the blast:

Guest Post from Integral Consulting: Integral Continues the Conversation Related to Washington State’s Water Quality Standards Revisions

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Fish Consumption, Guest Posts, Water Quality

Doug’s post on July 23 provided an excellent summary of Ecology’s webinar outlining its revision process for water quality standards (WQSs). Integral would like to point out a few more details of interest in Ecology’s approach. Ecology indicated that it will continue to use bioconcentration factors (BCFs), which estimate concentrations in fish tissue based on… Continue Reading

Washington’s Upcoming Elections and the Environment: Pay Attention to that Man Behind the Curtain

Posted in Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Shellfish Industry

Governor Jay Inslee enjoyed some national publicity this week, when The New York Times published an article about the governor’s climate change policies in the wake of recent deaths of baby oysters in Washington. Mr. Inslee and others attribute the oyster mortality to rising acidification in the Pacific Ocean, which feeds the Puget Sound, caused… Continue Reading

Report from Ecology’s July 22nd Meeting Outlining the Next Steps to Update Water Quality Standards

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Fish Consumption, Water Quality

Ecology held a meeting at its Lacey offices yesterday to outline the next steps in the process to update Washington’s Water Quality Standards Handbook to account for increased fish consumption rates. This meeting comes on the heels of Governor Inslee’s July 9th announcement regarding his policy decisions in the issue. Yesterday’s meeting was focused on what… Continue Reading

Friday Morning Link Roundup: Pebble Mine 404(c) Restrictions; Survey Shows Majority of Washingtonians Support Coal Exports and Oil by Rail; Sierra Club Petitions to Ban DOT-111 Rail Cars; Science Communication in the Media and Risk Assessment Explained

Posted in Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, Environmental Risk, Geeky Science Stuff, Public Health Policy

Here is the roundup of what has caught my eye over the past week: EPA’s Pebble Mine 404(c) Restrictions First, EPA released its Proposed Determination under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act (CWA) for the Pebble Deposit Area in Southwest Alaska this morning. The executive summary of the proposed determination is here. In brief, EPA… Continue Reading