On September 30, 2023, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB-553 into law. SB-553 is the nation’s first workplace violence prevention law. The law adds a new section 6401.9 to the California Labor Code, which will be implemented by Cal/OSHA. The new law requires that employers an effective plan aimed at preventing workplace violence in place
Environment, Health & Safety incident response
The European Banking Authority (“EBA”) recently published final rules for lenders on how they must publish data on environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) risks, and how these risks may affect their balance sheets. The watchdog hopes that the proposed rules will help to “address shortcomings of institutions’ current ESG disclosures at EU level by setting …
As we reported this past year, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) seeks to significantly amend the regulations under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (aka “Proposition 65”) to limit use of the previous State-approved “safe harbor” short-form warnings for regulated chemicals in consumer products. The State announced on December 13, 2021 further amendments to the proposed regulations, but generally continues to propose that use of the current “short form” safe harbor warning be dramatically scaled back, which will impact thousands of consumer products by requiring more specificity in future warning language.
As background, current California law allows a manufacturer, distributor or retailer of a consumer product to place either a “long form” or “short form” warning on the product or product packaging if one or more of 900+ regulated chemicals is in the product. The long form warning identifies by name “at least one” chemical from each regulated chemical risk category (i.e., carcinogens or reproductive toxicants). The short form alternate warning only requires identification of the risk category (ies) – not particular chemicals.
After reviewing over 160 written and oral comments on a prior proposed version of the regulations, OEHHA modified the proposed regulation again to:Continue Reading California proposes further modifications to its “Short-Form” Proposition 65 warnings
In response to President Biden’s Executive Order entitled, “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis,” the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued a proposed rule taking aim at greenhouse gases (GHG) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions from new and existing oil and natural gas production, processing, transmission, and storage facilities. The proposal contains three basic components. In a break with precedent, EPA did not provide proposed regulatory language.
First, the proposed rule would revise the new source performance standards (NSPS) for GHGs and VOCs for new, modified, and reconstructed sources, including the production, processing, transmission, and storage segments. Specifically, EPA proposes to a new subpart OOOOb that would update and expand the current requirements under CAA Section 111(b) for methane and VOC emissions from sources constructed, modified, or reconstructed after November 15, 2021. NSPS OOOOb would include standards for emission sources not regulated previously under the 2016 NSPS OOOOa. Among other changes, EPA proposes to apply to VOC emissions thresholds to storage vessel tank batteries as opposed to individual storage tanks. EPA has also suggested a change to the definition of legal and practical enforceability which could impact the utilization of state-level permitting previously used to reduce the potential to emit to below the 6 ton per year VOC-threshold.
Second, the proposed rule would create a new subpart OOOOc that would contain the first nationwide emissions guidelines (EG). The EG would be a state model rule that states could use to develop, submit, and implement state plans that establish performance standards to limit GHGs from existing sources.Continue Reading EPA issues proposal to reduce GHGs and VOCs from new and existing oil and natural gas sources
After the Sixth Circuit was selected via a lottery in November to hear the consolidated challenges made against the recent OSHA emergency temporary standard (the “ETS”), there has been a flurry of activity in the case. There are currently two main issues pending before the court, which will certainly shape the dispute: (1) several petitioners…
On October 21, 2021, we published an article called “Waiting for OSHA: pending vaccine ETS and increased enforcement.” In the article, we discussed the then-pending Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) regarding vaccinating the workforce OSHA was tasked with developing by President Biden in his “Path Out of the Pandemic” memorandum. The ETS is scheduled…
Since President Joe Biden issued his “Path Out of the Pandemic” memorandum and Executive Order 14042 on September 9, 2021, employers have had to navigate piecemeal instructions on vaccine mandates. For example, federal contractors and subcontractors received vaccine mandate guidance from the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force on September 24, 2021. However, employers should not grow too comfortable with the current status of pandemic regulations, which continue to change in various jurisdictions and will again on a federal level soon.
OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard
In his “Path Out of the Pandemic” memorandum, President Biden specifically tasked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) with developing a rule to encourage vaccinations among the workforce – the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). The ETS will require employers with over 100 employees to do the following:
- either (a) ensure all employees are fully vaccinated, or (b) require any employees who remain unvaccinated to produce a negative test result on at least a weekly basis before coming to work; and
- provide paid time off for any time to get vaccinated and/or to recover if they are ill post-vaccination.
State plans will be required to implement equally protective rules within 30 days. Though not yet available for review, the status of the pending ETS remains under review by the White House Office of Management and Budget.Continue Reading Waiting for OSHA: pending vaccine ETS and increased enforcement
On October 18, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) Strategic Roadmap (the Roadmap) detailing steps that the EPA plans to take to address PFAS contamination. PFAS are largely unregulated, but studies linking certain PFAS to health issues and their persistence in the environment and human body are driving the push for increased regulation. Currently, the EPA has established only a non-enforceable health advisory level for two PFAS, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). Additionally, some states have been moving forward at different speeds to establish state-specific PFAS regulations, including drinking water standards and cleanup levels for soil and groundwater remediation. However, the EPA’s Roadmap suggests increased federal regulation looms.
The EPA’s approach under the Roadmap considers the lifecycle of PFAS, focusing not only on remediating PFAS-contaminated sites and regulating PFAS discharges or emissions, but also regulating PFAS at the upstream level where they are produced and incorporated into products. Other areas of focus called out in the Roadmap include (1) an emphasis on enforcement actions at PFAS-contaminated sites and placing responsibilities for limiting exposure on manufacturers, processors, distributors, and similar users; (2) research into PFAS over health effects and remediation technologies; and (3) an environmental justice focus on prioritization of PFAS effects on disadvantaged communities.Continue Reading U.S. EPA releases Roadmap to address PFAS contamination
In an article by Casey J. Snyder, Associate at Reed Smith, published by the American Bar Association, we highlighted key U.S. climate litigation trends from 2015-2020. This timeframe showed a general increase in overall climate litigation and an emphasis in state courts to advance novel climate litigation theories, among other trends. New litigation in the…
A number of signs point to the fact that public companies should expect increased scrutiny on whether their environmental-related ESG offerings, practices and controls are consistent with their disclosures, claims and marketing material.
SIGN #1: The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC or Commission) announced that New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal will become the next…