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Thomas Brugato

Thomas Brugato is special counsel in the firm’s Washington, DC office. His practice focuses on environmental matters, as well as civil and administrative litigation. He has experience advising clients on a wide variety of environmental issues, including under the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, RCRA, CERCLA, EPCRA, TSCA, FIFRA, the Endangered Species Act, and the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

Mr. Brugato has extensive experience with EPA's Renewable Fuel Standard program. He also has particular expertise in advising companies on environmental-related issues arising in the context of product recalls (such as compliance with PHMSA’s hazardous materials transportation regulations), including recalls under NHTSA or CPSC jurisdiction. Finally, Mr. Brugato has significant experience advising clients on Indian law related issues, particularly relating to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and tribal sovereign immunity.

First observed on April 22, 1970, Earth Day has long been recognized as a watershed moment for the modern environmental movement.  On that day, over 20 million demonstrators nationwide marched to raise awareness of the need to protect and preserve the environment.  The energy generated from that day galvanized the country to action, leading to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in December 1970 and the passage of several statutes later that decade—including the Clean Air Act (CAA) the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)—that serve as the foundation of U.S. environmental legislation.  Today, Earth Day is recognized by countries around the world, and has expanded from its initial focus on pollution control to include elevating environmental justice in low-income, disadvantaged, and indigenous communities and promoting domestic and international climate action.

Beginning with a proclamation on April 19 declaring climate change to be “the existential crisis of our time,” the Biden-Harris Administration marked Earth Day and the week after by announcing a suite of final rules and grant programs aimed at fossil fuel abatement and pollution control, accelerating electric transmission grid modernization and solar energy development, and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the transportation sector.  These actions underscore not only the continued “whole-of-government” approach that the Administration has taken to combat climate change but also the urgency with which federal agencies have moved to promulgate final rules and protect them from potential congressional revocation ahead of the Congressional Review Act deadline later this spring. 

To assist industries and markets as they evaluate the impact of these final rules and programs, we’ve spotlighted several of these Earth Week regulatory and grant-funding actions.Continue Reading A Week of Climate Action: Spotlight on the Biden-Harris Administration’s Earth Week Regulatory and Grant-Funding Actions

On April 17, 2024, the EPA released a final rule designating two perfluorinated chemicals—Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonic Acid (PFOS)—as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).  EPA also released enforcement guidance explaining how it intends to apply the new listing with respect to certain types of potentially responsible parties.Continue Reading EPA Finalizes Rule Listing PFOA and PFOS as CERCLA Hazardous Substances

California’s Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) recently released a preliminary report analyzing data related to the recyclability of certain materials in California.  The report, issued in accordance with CalRecycle’s obligations under California Senate Bill 343 (SB 343), is intended to help the public determine whether businesses may legally claim their products and packaging

On October 20, 2023, EPA released a final rule under the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (“EPCRA”) relating to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”).  The Rule makes important revisions to EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory (“TRI”) program relating to 189 specified PFASContinue Reading Key Takeaways from EPA’s EPCRA PFAS Rule

            On September 28, 2023, EPA released a final rule under the Toxic Substances Control Act (“TCSA”) mandating reporting relating to past manufacturing of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”).  Below are key takeaways companies that may be subject to these reporting requirements should keep in mind.Continue Reading Key Takeaways from EPA’s PFAS Reporting Rule

On September 6, 2023, EPA held a webinar relating to pesticidal devices, focused on air cleaning devices.  The webinar highlighted EPA’s expectations for data that manufacturers must have on file to substantiate efficacy claims for these devices.  This provides important additional guidance to manufacturers regarding the types of testing EPA expects to be conducted.Continue Reading EPA Webinar Addresses Pesticidal Device Efficacy Data

On May 24, 2023, EPA released a guidance memorandum addressing the hazardous waste status of lithium ion batteries under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”).  EPA released the guidance to “both remove uncertainties for the states and industry about the regulatory status of these materials,” and to ensure that lithium ion batteries are properly handled when they are recycled.Continue Reading EPA Clarifies Hazardous Waste Requirements Applicable to Lithium Ion Batteries

On March 17, 2023, a law school clinic submitted to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) a sixty-day notice of intent to sue letter, setting forth various entities’ intent to sue the EPA for its alleged failure to perform various non-discretionary duties under the Noise Control Act of 1972 (the “Act”).

The Act has been largely unused since 1982. Should the EPA resume regulating noise pollution, it could have significant implications for a wide variety of product manufacturers, who could become subject to a host of regulatory requirements relating to controlling noise from products. For example, manufacturers of certain products could become subject to certain labeling, verification, recordkeeping, and reporting obligations.Continue Reading Stakeholders Threaten to Sue the EPA to Require Regulation of Noise Pollution

On February 14, 2023, EPA released a compliance advisory regarding pesticide devices regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (“FIFRA”).  EPA released the advisory in response to “substantial non-compliance with FIFRA in the device and pesticide marketplace. Examples of non-compliance include unregistered pesticides claiming to be devices, devices bearing false and misleading statements, and devices being sold and distributed that were not produced in an EPA registered establishment.”  While the compliance advisory provides a helpful overview of requirements applicable to pesticide devices, it does not provide new substantive guidance, including on key questions facing many device manufacturers and distributors.  The advisory also suggests that EPA may increase its enforcement efforts in this area, so companies producing devices (or products that may arguably be devices) should consider taking proactive steps to ensure their product lines comply with FIFRA’s requirements.Continue Reading EPA Releases New Guidance on Pesticide Devices

Congress, the media, and the public have given significant attention to remarks this week by a commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) indicating that the agency would be considering a federal ban on gas stoves due to their health effects.  The suggestion of a ban on gas stoves has drawn comments from bipartisan policymakers in both chambers, and even the White House has weighed in against the prospect of a potential ban.

The CPSC is unlikely to ban gas stoves in the near future, although it has the authority to ban unreasonably dangerous products that cannot be made safe, and has done so with toxic substances in children’s products and other product categories in the past.   A CPSC rulemaking on mandatory safety standards for gas stoves, however, is a possibility, and that process may drive the establishment of voluntary industry standards by a standards-setting body.  Additionally, other federal and state regulators have recently sharpened their focus on indoor air quality and gas-powered appliances, for both health and environmental reasons.  The Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), for instance, is undertaking several activities related to indoor air quality.  And the California Air Resources Board (“CARB”) recently adopted a plan that would effectively prohibit the sale of gas-powered space and water heaters in California by 2030.

Particularly with regard to federal regulatory activity on gas stoves and other gas-powered appliances, potentially affected parties will have ample opportunities to help shape the outcome of any mandatory or voluntary product standards put in place or accepted by the CPSC, and to engage with other regulators.  This alert provides an overview of recent and emerging legislative and regulatory activity related to indoor air pollution, focusing particularly on activity by the CPSC and EPA.  Companies—both those with interests in gas stoves and those concerned with indoor air quality issues more broadly—should carefully follow indoor air quality developments, including in their interactions with regulators, given the increased focus on this area.Continue Reading A Growing Focus on Indoor Air Quality by Regulators and Policymakers