Review Articles

EPA’s FY 2023 enforcement review

Climate change, environmental justice, and PFAS contamination are hot-button issues in environmental policy. To improve in these areas, EPA established goals and objectives in its strategic plan and national enforcement compliance initiatives. EPA recently published and summarized its fiscal year 2023 results and provided plenty of resources and data documenting how it accomplished some goals ahead of schedule while progressing toward others. READ MORE

Mandating e-manifest for agency-led cleanups

Though EPA launched the e-manifest system on June 30, 2018, adoption by the regulated community has been lackluster, as indicated in the agency’s webinars. The agency believes one way to boost adoption numbers is to lead by example. To achieve this goal, EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management recently published RO 14961, which requires the agency to use the e-manifest system during EPA-led emergency response and removal actions starting in FY 2025. This internal memorandum requires EPA regions and partner offices to determine the necessary elements to transition existing and future cleanups to using e-manifests. EPA personnel can register for e-manifest access via RCRAInfo, and agency e-manifest contacts are available to help fulfill this new requirement.

Multi-point PCB plans

In August 2023, EPA finalized PCB cleanup and disposal regulations under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). [88 FR 59662] The rule expanded the options for extraction and determinative methods used for characterizing PCB waste. The agency expects this change to reduce the amount of solvent used in these processes. Additional resources and links to a webinar on this rule are on EPA’s website. Following this rule in December 2023, EPA issued a draft memorandum on its approach to incorporate climate change resilience measures into PCB approvals. This approach encourages project managers overseeing PCB approvals to assess how cleanup, storage, and disposal will affect climate change. The requirement for unreasonable risk determinations will now include an assessment of future conditions. Facilities undergoing self-implementing cleanups in areas EPA believes are vulnerable to adverse climate impacts will have to provide additional documentation to the agency beyond what is required in the TSCA PCB regulations.

ISA leads charge on lead

On February 7, 2024, EPA announced the availability of its “Integrated Science Assessment for Lead,” or ISA. [89 FR 8425] As a CAA criteria pollutant, lead has primary and secondary national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) to protect public health and welfare. The ISA is an evaluation of the most policy-relevant science that forms the scientific foundation for reviewing NAAQS. As the toxic effects of lead have been known for millennia, the ISA is not overturning our knowledge of lead’s deleterious impacts. Instead, the document provides further quantitative data that can be used to support future reductions to emission limits.

Emission tamp down for taconite

Taconite, a low-grade iron ore, was once considered a waste rock; however, the mineral is now considered a valuable resource in the steel manufacturing industry. Taconite iron ore processing is regulated under Part 63, Subpart RRRRR, which EPA amended under a final rule on March 6, 2024. [89 FR 16408] The rule does not change the applicability of this NESHAP but does set an implementation deadline associated with the tighter mercury and acid gas emission limits. While not a broadly applicable rule with only eight affected sources, the agency still expects mercury emissions to be reduced by 33% and hydrochloric acid and hydrofluoric acid emissions by 72% and 29%, respectively. Particulate matter emissions are also expected to decrease by 35% relative to baseline. More information is available via Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2017-0664.

PM NAAQS mostly unchanged

Based on its 2022 policy assessment and 2019 integrated science assessment for particulate matter (PM) discussed in a previous article, EPA finalized the primary and secondary PM national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) on March 6, 2024. [89 FR 16202] The agency retained the primary and secondary 24-hour PM2.5 standards, the secondary annual PM2.5 standards, and the primary and secondary PM10 standards. Only the primary annual PM2.5 standard has changed, reduced from 12.0 µg/m3 to 9.0 µg/m3. EPA also updated the PM air quality index and monitored network design criteria. More information, including factsheets, presentations, and maps, is available on the agency’s final reconsideration of the PM NAAQS website.

It’s here! CA Title 22-RCRA .V seminar  

Hey Californians! Have you heard the news? McCoy’s new .VIRTUAL seminar on the California hazardous waste regulations is happening this fall! If you’ve attended our seminars before and hoped to clarify California’s state-specific regulations, this is the class for you. We’ll help bridge the gap between federal RCRA, the California hazardous waste regulations, and California Health and Safety Code (HSC). Register for our CA Title 22-RCRA .VIRTUAL seminar, to be held October 7-10, 2024

Check out the seminar agenda

Plenty of seats and at 5280!

Taking place at the Denver Sheraton West—June 24-28, 2024—is McCoy's 5-Day “in-person” RCRA seminar. Whether you're new to RCRA or want to brush up on your existing knowledge, this seminar will benefit waste professionals at all levels. Don't miss the opportunity to connect with experts, network with peers, and take your environmental compliance knowledge to a higher level. 

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See a hawk fly at McCoy's office

Save the date! You’ve asked for networking opportunities, so at our Denver 5-Day RCRA seminar, please join us for McCoy’s “Foods and Feathers” open house. We’ll have a shuttle from the hotel to and from our office, provide light appetizers, and best of all, see the beautiful birds of prey from HawkQuest. Mr. Kin Quitugua, a master falconer and longtime environmental educator, will bring (and fly) one of his hawks. Event starts immediately following the Wednesday, June 26, 2024, class.

...about McCoy's .V seminars

Signed up for a McCoy .VIRTUAL RCRA seminar and aren’t sure what to expect? Here’s a few important tidbits:

The training is presented via Zoom and is a live broadcast of the “in-person” seminar (it’s not dull). Course materials are shipped prior to the seminar and include the RCRA Reference and RCRA Unraveled books, plus a binder with the latest course notes.

The class provides a logical understanding of RCRA, shows you how to stay up to date with the most recent changes to the regs, and we discuss “best practices” for maintaining compliance. Sign up for the May 6-10, 2024, 5-Day, or the June 11-12, 2024, 2-Day Refresher seminar. 

5-Day agenda
2-Day Refresher agenda
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McCoy’s e-product

What’s a "McCoy Sherpa"? Our office sits at the base of the 14,436-feet-high Rocky mountains and we have enduring respect for our local alpine guides and rescuers. Furthermore, we have unending respect for the Tibetan ethnic groups, native to the mountains of Nepal and Tibet. Sherpas and Sherpani (women who are Sherpas)—are the greatest and most influential mountain climbers and guides in the world.

Thus, when you wade through the voluminous data known as the RCRA federal regulations (to protect human health and the environment), our electronic product will assist as your guide. It includes 50,000+ hyperlinks, 679 Federal Register notices (going back to 1978), and 1,531 RCRA Online documents in a searchable PDF format. And yep, it also includes McCoy's RCRA Reference and RCRA Unraveledget one today!

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Major PFAS provisions proposed

RCRA-permitted treatment, storage, and disposal facilities are required to clean up releases of hazardous waste and hazardous constituents from solid waste management units under corrective action. A new proposed rule from EPA seeks to amend the definition of hazardous waste as it applies to the corrective action program. This proposal goes hand-in-hand with another, designating nine unique PFAS as RCRA hazardous constituents… a full-court press on regulating PFAS. READ MORE


As the most populous U.S. state and the largest sub-national economy in the world, California is uniquely situated to pave the country’s way into the future—as per the maxim, “As goes California, so goes the nation.” And an essential part of that leadership is environmental stewardship. That’s why we wanted to update our white paper on the California hazardous waste program… to help you be a leader in your environmental program. Now you can sleep easy knowing you’re well prepared to tackle both the federal RCRA regs and the California ones. Talk about a eureka moment.

Interminable incinerator issues

For the past few years, the waste industry has been working around an incinerator backlog. Whether due to labor shortages, cement kiln shutdowns, or simply more waste being generated, reduced incinerator capacity doesn’t allow generators to skirt accumulation time limits. EPA addressed this issue in August 2021 with a memorandum that outlined several existing regulatory options to alleviate compliance challenges. However, the backlog of containerized hazardous waste needing incineration has persisted longer than the agency initially expected. In early 2024, EPA released a set of frequently asked questions regarding these issues. READ MORE

PFAS progress report

PFAS contamination has been at the forefront of EPA’s regulatory agenda over the last three years. On October 18, 2021, EPA announced its PFAS Strategic Roadmap, a plan to address PFAS contamination in the United States. In December 2023, EPA published a progress report reviewing the roadmap’s second year of implementation. The report summarizes the progress EPA has made in tackling PFAS contamination, including improvements in chemical safety, drinking water, water contamination, cleanups, data collection, and industry accountability. The agency also provides a summary of partnerships and community engagement.

Taking down waste combustion emissions

On January 23, 2024, EPA proposed amendments to the new source performance standards and emission guidelines for large municipal waste combustion units. [89 FR 4243] The proposal would reduce the emission limits of nine regulated pollutants for all new and existing sources except for two subcategories of combustors. Also on the table are the removal of the startup, shutdown, and malfunction exemption, electronic reporting, and revised recordkeeping requirements. These updates to Part 60, Subparts Cb and Eb are expected to reduce emissions by 14,000 tons per year. A unique aspect of these Part 60 standards is that because they are derived from CAA Section 129, the emission limits reflect the maximum achievable control technology normally associated with Part 63 air toxic standards. Comments may be submitted through March 25, 2024 via Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2017-0183.

CERCLA/corrective action collaboration

Hazardous waste-contaminated sites may be cleaned up under CERCLA or RCRA, the latter conducted through corrective action. Because of overlapping authority, sometimes cleanup activities are inappropriately deferred to one program or the other. Citing the importance of communication and collaboration, EPA’s Office of Inspector General released a report in 1999 making recommendations to help prevent remediation projects from falling through the cracks. EPA recently rereleased a December 1999 memorandum emphasizing how deferring a cleanup to RCRA requires a written notification to the receiving corrective action program, which then confirms the deferral is appropriate and all necessary information is obtained. [RO 14960] The CERCLA and corrective action programs should assign a site deferral coordinator and establish a timeline for the approval process while documenting all aspects of the deferral.

Updated CAA proposal for lime manufacturing

In early 2023, as discussed in a previous article, EPA proposed revisions to the lime manufacturing plant NESHAP in Part 63, Subpart AAAAA. Based on information gathered during the comment period, the agency proposed additional revisions to those emission limits on February 9, 2024. [89 FR 9088] Mercury and dioxin/furan emission limits for all kilns would be increased while no revisions would be made to the total hydrocarbon limits. Depending on lime kiln design, the hydrogen chloride emission limits are revised upwards, downwards, or, in some instances, are unchanged. A new emissions averaging compliance alternative is also proposed for hydrogen chloride and mercury emissions at existing sources. More information is available at Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2017-0015.

Universal waste additions

Solar panels are ordinarily nonhazardous when disposed of; however, some solar panels contain enough toxic metals to meet the definition of hazardous waste. Lithium batteries, when mismanaged, pose unique hazards when sent for disposal. Despite these materials being a vital part of weening the country off of fossil fuels, the push for sustainability continues to impact environmental regulations. EPA recently announced plans to propose adding solar panels and lithium batteries to the Part 273 universal waste regulations. The goal is to promote solar panel recycling and improve safety standards for lithium batteries by creating new distinct universal waste requirements for these materials.

Small bump to 2024 penalties

EPA is required by law to annually adjust the maximum civil penalties allowed under environmental law to account for inflation. Because the adjustments are tied to the consumer price index, the 2024 increases are slightly above 3 percent—further demonstrating the cost of noncompliance. READ MORE

NSR Title V tie-in

On January 9, 2024, EPA proposed an update to the CAA Title V operating permit program to codify existing guidance on how “applicable requirements” under the new source review (NSR) preconstruction permitting program should be reviewed and implemented through the Title V program. [89 FR 1150] In essence, EPA’s position is that if a source obtains an NSR permit under EPA-approved CAA Title I rules (including public notice, an opportunity for comment, and judicial review), such a permit establishes NSR-related “applicable requirements” for purposes of incorporation into the source’s Title V permit. EPA would not revisit those NSR permitting decisions through the Title V process. The proposal also clarifies that a facility’s general duty to prevent accidental releases of hazardous substances [CAA Section 112(r)(1)] is not a Title V “applicable requirement.” Comments may be submitted through April 10, 2024 via Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2023-0401. [89 FR 14015]

WARM up this winter

Estimating the economic impacts of climate change can be challenging—multiple variables need to be considered while incorporating future projections. On December 26, 2023, EPA released the waste reduction model (WARM) tool version 16. By reviewing municipal solid waste streams and construction/demolition materials, WARM estimates and compares potential greenhouse gas emissions, energy savings, and economic impacts of materials management practices. READ MORE

Climate change impacts RCRA permits

Curbing climate change is at the forefront of EPA’s national enforcement and compliance initiatives. This includes EPA’s drive to incorporate climate change initiatives into the RCRA permitting process. On December 12, 2023, EPA published a draft memorandum providing guidance on how to consider potential adverse climate change impacts during the hazardous waste permitting process. READ MORE

Explosive OB/OD alternatives

Open burning (OB) involves destroying materials through self-sustained combustion. Open detonation (OD) is detonating explosives or munitions with added explosive charges. In December 2023, EPA published a Compendium of Alternative Technologies to Open Burning and Open Detonation of Energetic Hazardous Wastes. The alternative technologies are waste and site-specific, and the agency emphasizes that a technology used at one site may not work for another. As such, the compendium allows users to compare waste streams that have been treated or destined for treatment by different alternative technologies. EPA plans on updating the compendium as new information becomes available, and feedback on the compendium can be submitted to the agency via email to

RCRA revisions rescinded

On August 9, 2023, EPA promulgated a direct final rule addressing numerous technical corrections to the RCRA regulations. The corrections, impacting the generator improvements rule, hazardous waste pharmaceuticals rule, and definition of solid waste rule, were set to become effective on December 7, 2023. In light of negative comments submitted to EPA, the agency has partially withdrawn the direct final rule, allowing only a few minor, non-substantive verbiage changes to take effect. READ MORE

Autumnal air agenda

EPA’s Fall 2023 regulatory agenda is now available. The agency is planning reviews, revisions, and amendments to scores of stationary source regulations. A critical aspect of the CAA is the periodic review of source category standards. While much of what is on the agenda is the typical review, some items result from lawsuits and court orders. READ MORE

RCRA regulatory agenda sees few changes

The Fall 2023 regulatory agenda is now available. EPA is keeping per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in its sights for regulation as RCRA hazardous constituents and CERCLA hazardous substances. The agency has also begun reviewing potential universal waste regulation for lithium batteries and solar panels. READ MORE

Another affirmative defense removal

On December 1, 2023, EPA proposed a rule removing the affirmative defense provisions from the oil and natural gas production NESHAP and the natural gas transmission and storage NESHAP. [88 FR 83889] An affirmative defense is a mechanism that allows a source to avoid civil penalties during judicial or administrative proceedings. Recently, the agency removed the “emergency” affirmative defense provisions from the Part 70 and Part 71 operating permit programs (see previous article). EPA points to the same opinion, NRDC vs. EPA (U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit; Docket No. 10-1371; April 18, 2014), for removing affirmative defense from Part 63, Subparts HH and HHH. More information is available via Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2023-0406.

No second thoughts on smelting

Malleable and abundant, lead may be toxic, but it is still a critical component of batteries, electronics, radiation shielding, and more. Most lead in the modern era comes not from lead ore like galena or anglesite but from secondary sources like lead-acid batteries, piping, solder, and lead sheathing. Smelting this secondary lead can be highly polluting, and EPA recently updated the secondary lead smelters NSPS with more stringent emission limits and periodic performance testing. New sources must now contend with tighter controls, approval of written SOPs, and no startup, shutdown, and malfunction exemption. READ MORE

Processing rubber tire proposal

In the rubber tire manufacturing NESHAP, four subcategories are identified—rubber processing, tire production, tire cord production, and puncture sealant application. Rubber processing is the only subcategory without emission limits, and on November 16, 2023, EPA proposed updates to Part 63, Subpart XXXX, to fill this gap. [88 FR 78692] The agency has proposed emission limits for total hydrocarbons (THC), acting as a surrogate for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and all organic HAPs, and filterable particulate matter (fPM), acting as a surrogate for metal HAPs. Continuous emission monitoring for THC and baghouse system parameter monitoring associated with fPM would be required. Since the proposal is not a “major rule,” new and reconstructed sources must achieve compliance with the updated provisions by the final rule’s effective date, while existing sources have three years from that date. More information is available via Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2019-0392.

Eliminating lead service lines

An estimated 9.2 million lead service lines (LSL) provide water to communities across the United States. LSLs and brass faucets are the most common sources of lead contamination in drinking water. On December 6, 2023, EPA proposed revisions to the National Primary Drinking Water Regulation for lead and copper under the SDWA. [88 FR 84878] The proposed rule aims to eliminate all LSLs in water systems within 10 years. It will also lower the lead action level to 0.010 mg/L and eliminate the lead trigger level. Ultimately, the agency wants to improve public health protection, better inform the public of lead contamination, and reduce the complexity of its 2021 Lead and Copper Rule Revisions. Comments may be submitted through February 5, 2024 via Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2022-0801.

LDR guide for CERCLA sites

In general, the land disposal restrictions (LDR) program requires hazardous waste destined for land disposal to be treated to reduce the toxicity and mobility of its hazardous constituents. Depending on a facility’s operations, it may not always be clear if LDR applies to a hazardous waste, particularly when one of those operations is a CERCLA cleanup response. CERCLA states onsite remediation can attain other federal standards, such as the LDR requirements, determined to be legally applicable or relevant and appropriate. EPA recently resurrected old guidance explaining LDR applicability to CERCLA response actions. READ MORE

Complete TCE ban proposed

Trichloroethylene (TCE) is used as a solvent in many industrial, commercial, and consumer applications, even though chronic exposure is linked to numerous life-threatening effects. Since hundreds of millions of pounds of TCE are produced in the United States annually, EPA published a TSCA risk evaluation on this chemical in 2020 and 2023. The agency found TCE presents an unreasonable risk of injury to health, and on October 31, 2023, it proposed a rule prohibiting the manufacturing, processing, and distribution of TCE. [88 FR 74712] The proposal also includes a prohibition on TCE disposal to industrial pre-treatment, industrial treatment, and publicly owned treatment works. EPA then followed up with a webinar explaining the proposed rule in detail. Additional information is available on EPA’s risk evaluation for TCE and risk management for TCE websites and via Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OPPT-2020-0642-0026.

Knocking out leaded aviation fuel

According to the World Health Organization, zero is the only safe blood lead concentration. Yet in 2020, piston-engine aircraft in the United States emitted 427 tons of lead into the atmosphere. Lead toxicity has been known for millennia, and EPA is now ready to take the next step to reduce lead exposure. The agency has issued a double finding on lead emissions that paves the way for future regulation under the CAA’s mobile source program. Such regulation will also require DOT to promulgate associated standards for aircraft fuel and additives. READ MORE

Finalizing HFC phasedown

On October 24, 2023, EPA finalized hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) phasedown provisions in a new Part 84, Subpart B. [88 FR 73098] The rule is part of the agency’s efforts implementing the 2020 American Innovation and Manufacturing Act, passed to phase down the United States’ production and consumption of HFCs. Reducing HFC use to 15% of baseline by 2036 will allow the U.S. to meet its commitments under the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. Part 84, Subpart B restricts the use of HFCs based on global warming potential in specific industry subsectors, creates a process for submitting technology transition petitions, sets reporting and recordkeeping requirements, and provides some exemptions to those provisions. Effective December 26, 2023, the rule sets compliance dates between January 1, 2025, and January 1, 2028, depending on the subsector. EPA also provides additional information on its HFC phasedown efforts and answers to frequently asked questions.

NHSM’s defining change

While hazardous waste is typically the focus of RCRA, knowing how nonhazardous wastes are regulated is just as important. The Part 241 nonhazardous secondary materials (NHSM) regulations are not only part of RCRA, they also interface with the CAA. Back in 2018, a petition requested amendments to these NHSM provisions, and while EPA recently denied most of the requested changes, one definition did receive a performance-based update. READ MORE

New CCR data prompts proposal reevaluation

On November 14, 2023, EPA published a notice of data availability regarding its May 18, 2023 proposed rule (88 FR 31983) on the disposal of coal combustion residuals (CCR) from electric utilities. [88 FR 77941] New data and analysis were submitted during the comment period for the May 2023 proposal but have not been made available until now. The agency believes the new information, coupled with its own research, is significant enough to reevaluate the initial proposal and obtain new comments on the data. EPA developed a risk assessment to support the 2023 proposed rule and has made public information available via Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OLEM-2020-0107.

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