EPA Issues Rule Amending RCRA Definition of Solid Waste

On May 30, 2018, in response to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s July 2017 and March 2018 orders, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule revising the Definition of Solid Waste (DSW) under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). EPA relied upon Section 553 of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) to make the rule immediately effective and published the rule without notice and public comment. Under APA Section 553, EPA is authorized to forego notice and comment rulemaking when “for good cause” EPA finds that these procedures are “impracticable, unnecessary or contrary to the public interest.” EPA determined that there is good cause for revising these provisions “because these revisions simply undertake the ministerial task of implementing court orders vacating these rules and reinstating the prior versions.”

The orders issued by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on July 7, 2017 and amended on March 6, 2018: (1) vacated the 2015 verified recycler exclusion for hazardous waste that is recycled off-site (except for certain provisions); (2) reinstated the transfer-based exclusion from the 2008 rule to replace the now-vacated 2015 verified recycler exclusion; (3) upheld the containment and emergency preparedness provisions of the 2015 rule; (4) vacated Factor 4 of the 2015 definition of legitimate recycling in its entirety; and (5) reinstated the 2008 version of Factor 4 to replace the now-vacated 2015 version of Factor 4.