Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Daily News

EPA Starts Aircraft GHG Risk Finding Ahead Of Global Emissions Cut Pact

EPA has formally launched the process for assessing whether aircraft greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions endanger public health and welfare, saying the finding could help provide the legal basis for domestic regulations to implement a potential global agreement on mandatory aircraft GHG reductions that many countries could sign by 2016.

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Suit Aims To Reverse Expansion Of CWA Permit 'Shield' To RCRA Liability

Plaintiffs in a pending appellate suit are aiming to overturn a lower court's decision that expanded a Clean Water Act (CWA) permit "shield" against legal liability for site contamination to also provide immunity under the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA), fearing it could allow site owners to avoid cleanup responsibilities.

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States Split On Scope, Fate Of EPA's CWA Agriculture 'Interpretive' Policy

States appear split on how to resolve concerns over EPA's Clean Water Act (CWA) "interpretive" rule exempting many farming practices from permit requirements, with some states seeking agency guidance on how to implement the policy while others want EPA to scrap the rule due to concerns it unlawfully expands CWA exemptions.

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DOJ Urges High Court To Allow Broad Agency Power On Interpreting Rules

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is urging the Supreme Court to find that EPA and other agencies have broad power to amend interpretations of their rules without formal notice-and-comment rulemaking, and a win for DOJ could boost EPA's heavily contested "interpretive" rule exempting some farm practices from Clean Water Act (CWA) permits.

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Industry Says Air Permit 'Grandfathering' Ruling Limits EPA's Discretion

Industry attorneys say an appellate court's ruling rejecting an EPA air permit that "grandfathered" a proposed natural gas utility from having to comply with new greenhouse gas (GHG) and air standards that recently took effect significantly undercuts EPA's discretion to craft "practical" solutions to address similar permitting complexities.

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EPA Plan To Target Program Offices For Buyouts Spurs Union's Concern

EPA is planning a new round of staff buyouts targeting specific agency regions or program offices rather than its previous buyouts that more broadly targeted senior employees across EPA, spurring concern from agency union sources that they are being kept out of important management discussions on the scope and timing of the plan.

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Minnesota Regulators Defer Novel Carbon 'Cost' Planning Decision

Minnesota utility regulators in a novel proceeding are postponing a decision on whether to adopt the Obama administration's social cost of carbon (SCC) estimates as the state's externality value for carbon dioxide (CO2), though several officials expressed a willingness to eventually use the figures after further vetting in an administrative proceeding.

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Inhofe Warns 'Overregulation' May Hinder EPA Policies To Reduce Methane

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) is warning EPA that existing "overregulation" of the oil and gas sector might already be a major barrier to the agency's efforts to reduce the industry's emissions of the greenhouse gas (GHG) methane, saying EPA must delay any new methane policies until it accounts for how existing rules affect pollution levels.

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Industry Says EPA Memo On TCE Fails To Clarify Vapor Intrusion Policy

EPA headquarters in a new policy statement is citing existing guidance to support early action to protect against the risk of cardiac birth defects from short-term exposures to trichloroethylene (TCE) vapors at contaminated sites, but industry sources say the document fails to outline a plan for addressing the risks and will allow an array of standards around the country to persist.

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Industry, Advocates Split Over Efficiency Standard In EPA Truck GHG Rule

Engine makers and environmentalists are disagreeing about the potential need for EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to include a first-time separate engine efficiency standard in the agencies' pending next round of greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations for medium- and heavy-duty trucks.

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CARB Truck Technology Review May Hint At Scope Of New EPA Standards

California air board officials are circulating a review of current and future heavy-duty diesel truck emissions control technologies that could hint at the potential scope of the federal EPA's next round of truck GHG and fuel economy rules, which are expected to closely mirror the state's efforts and regulate truck trailers for the first time.

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EPA Seeks More Time To Weigh Revisions For Oil And Gas Air Toxics Rule

EPA is asking a federal appeals court for several more months to weigh how to revise its 2012 air toxics rule for the oil and gas production sector, saying it plans to grant environmentalists' request to reconsider some parts of the rule and address recent court rulings that found the agency needs to better justify how it crafts air toxics standards.

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EPA Critics Say Rulings Boost Ability To Win Role In 'Sue And Settle' Pacts

EPA's critics say recent appellate rulings boost industry's long-running bid to intervene in alleged "sue and settle" agreements in which the agency reaches legal pacts with advocates setting deadlines for issuing major rules to resolve suits seeking the rules, as the decisions could lower the bar for industry to win a role in the agreements.

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Advocates Cite Carbon 'Cost' Ruling In Novel Minnesota Planning Proceeding

Environmentalists are seeking to bolster their novel push to require Minnesota utility planners to use the Obama administration's social cost of carbon (SCC) as an "externality" value for facility planning efforts, citing a recent federal court ruling that could require federal agencies to weigh a project's impacts using the SCC values.

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9th Circuit Narrows CWA Permit 'Shield' But Limits Ruling's Precedent

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has ruled that an EPA general Clean Water Act (CWA) stormwater permit does not "shield" dischargers from liability for various non-stormwater releases, but although the ruling narrows the use of the shield, the court avoided a broader ruling that could have restricted other liability protections.

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Region IX Asserts Authority Over Site To Address TCE Birth Defects Risk

EPA Region IX has taken control over investigations into health risks from exposures to trichloroethylene (TCE) in indoor air at a contaminated site in California, alleging responsible parties have not moved quickly enough to provide "absolute certainty" that risks from TCE through vapor intrusion, including cardiac birth defects, are being addressed.

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EPA 'Tier III' Test Change May Complicate Achieving Fuel Economy Goals

EPA's recent decision in its "Tier III" vehicle emissions rule to increase the amount of ethanol in certification fuel used to determine an automobile's compliance with the standard could complicate automakers' ability to meet separate fuel economy and greenhouse gas (GHG) rules for cars subject to a different type of certification, observers say.

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EPA Revisions To Industrial Emissions 'Factors' Prompt Mixed Reaction

EPA's proposal to update its emissions "factors" -- statistical tools it uses to estimate industrial facilities' emissions -- is prompting a mixed reaction from observers, with environmentalists praising some tightening of various provisions while faulting a failure to update others, and industry warning of some overestimated pollution.

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7th Circuit Waives 60-Day Limit For EPA Rule Suits, Splitting Appeals Courts

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in a new ruling waived a Clean Air Act limit on filing legal challenges to EPA regulations within 60 days of their final issuance, opening the door to litigants pursuing suits over months- or years-old rules and creating a split with other circuit courts that have strictly enforced the 60-day window.

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EPA Looks To Draft Fracking Study To Send 'Signals' On Safe Practices

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy says the agency's long-awaited draft study on the drinking water risks posed by hydraulic fracturing, slated for release early next year, will focus primarily on "best management practices" and other ways the agency can send "signals" to states and industry to address a range of concerns about the practice.

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