September 20, 2019

Regulatory Update

Freedom of Information Act:  EPA issued a final rule on June 26, 2019 amending its FOIA rules.  84 Fed. Reg. 30028.  The amendment seeks to implement rules based on statutory amendments in 2007, 2009, and 2016.  EPA now requires that FOIA requests be submitted to the National FOIA office in the Office of General Counsel and will not accept requests directed to any other part of EPA. 

Endangered Species Act:  The Department of Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of Commerce’s National Marine Fisheries Service on August 12, 2019 issued final rules with sweeping changes to the regulations implementing the Endangered Species Act.  The amended regulations revise the rules for listing and delisting species, designating critical habitat, and providing for cooperation among agencies involved in federal actions affecting protected species.  The amended rules appear at 84 Fed. Reg. 44753, 84 Fed. Reg. 44976, and 84 Fed. Reg. 45020 (August 27, 2019) and take effect on September 26, 2019. The revised rules have been challenged by a number of environmental organizations.  See, e.g., Center for Biological Diversity et al. v. Bernhardt, U.S. District Court, ND California, San Francisco Div., Case No. 3:19-cv-5206. 

Clean Water Act:  EPA is moving forward with its efforts to rescind the 2015 Waters of the U.S. Rule (WOTUS Rule) that has been viewed by some as impermissibly expanding the Clean Water Act jurisdiction of EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  EPA issued its proposed rule revising the definition of WOTUS in February, 84 Fed. Reg. 4154 (February 14, 2019) and is in the last stages of making final the revised definition.

Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007:  The U.S. Department of Energy announced its revision of efficiency standards for pear-shaped incandescent lightbulbs, stating that the more stringent standards for such bulbs is not economically justified.