A comprehensive summary of today’s judicial, legislative, and regulatory developments in agriculture and food. Email important additions HERE.

                                                                                                                                               

JUDICIAL: Includes Clean Air Act

In Sierra Club v. U.S. EPA, No. 18-60116, 2019 WL 4876451 (5th Cir. Oct. 3, 2019), both environmental and industry plaintiffs asked the court to review EPA’s approval of Louisiana’s State Implementation Plan (SIP) which it drafted in accordance with the Clean Air Act (CAA). Under the CAA, the federal government has the responsibility of identifying and setting standards for air pollutants; states are then tasked with implementing those standards through SIPs. After a state drafts a SIP, EPA reviews the SIP and approves it if it is in compliance with the CAA. In December 2017, EPA promulgated a final rule approving the Louisiana SIP which is at issue in this case. The environmental plaintiffs contend that the Louisiana SIP does not do enough to reduce regional haze in federal protected areas, while the industry plaintiffs allege that the Louisiana SIP overestimates the amount of pollution that their powerplants produce. Ultimately, the court denied both petitions and found that EPA’s approval of the Louisiana SIP was not arbitrary and capricious. The environmental plaintiffs alleged that the Louisiana SIP failed to do enough to reduce regional haze by using an outdated air-pollution model to measure visibility, and by failing to fully explain how Louisiana weighed five mandatory statutory factors in determining the Best Available Retrofit Technology for controlling emissions at a specific powerplant. The environmental plaintiffs argued that in light of such deficiencies, EPA should not have approved the SIP. Although the court agreed that there were some “shortcomings” in the SIP, EPA’s approval of it was valid because there had not been a “clear error of judgment.” With regard to the complaint made by the industry plaintiffs that EPA overestimated the amount of pollution produced by the plaintiffs’ powerplants, the court held that it would grant “significant deference” to “agency decisions involving analysis of scientific data within the agency’s technical expertise.”

                                                                                                                       

REGULATORY: Includes AMS, EPA, FNS, NOAA

AGRICULTURAL MARKETING SERVICE

Final Rule establishing free and restricted percentages and establishing the proportion of tart cherries that may be handled in commercial outlets for tart cherries grown in Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin. Info here.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

Notice of Filing of Petitions and Request for Comment on the establishment or modification of regulations for residues of pesticide chemicals in or on various commodities. Info here.

FOOD AND NUTRITION SERVICE

Final Rule implementing the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018’s Emergency Food Assistance Program, requiring State agencies to describe a plan of operation for projects to harvest, process, package, or transport donated commodities for emergency feeding organizations (Farm to Food Bank Projects), and requiring State agencies to amend their State Plans to provide emergency feeding organizations, or eligible recipient agencies, an opportunity to provide input on their needs and preferences. Info here.

NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION

Temporary Rule closing the Mid-Atlantic Scallop Access Area to Limited Access General Category Individual Fishing Quota scallop vessels for the remainder of the 2019 fishing year. Info here.