Monday, September 22, 2014
Air
Tracking the latest agency and congressional debates over rules to cut emissions of traditional pollutants, and a broad range of novel EPA policies including the agency's shift to a "multipollutant" regulatory approach for individual sectors.
(Daily News - 05-05-2014)

Environmentalists are fighting Texas' latest bid to win EPA approval of a controversial "flexible" approach to Clean Air Act permitting, opposing a recent agency proposal to sign off on the policy after years of legal fights and warning that it would allow facilities to avoid strict federal permitting mandates to install air pollution controls.

(Daily News - 05-02-2014)

EPA is raising doubts over the fate of a policy memo it issued following the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruling that scrapped the agency's Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), saying the Supreme Court ruling reinstating CSAPR spurs questions over the need for the memo and a pending suit over the document.

(Daily News - 05-02-2014)

"Clean" utilities that generate the bulk of their electricity from low-emitting sources are claiming that EPA in a recent legal brief concedes that an exemption it gave diesel generators from having to comply with an air toxics rule for up to 100 hours was unnecessary, which the utilities say is "fatal" for the agency's defense of the rule.

(Daily News - 05-01-2014)

Several members of EPA's Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) are urging the agency to commit to an extensive risk and exposure assessment (REA) of new data on sulfur dioxide's (SO2) health effects in its review of the SO2 national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS), given uncertainty over whether EPA will craft an REA.

(Daily News - 05-01-2014)

EPA is drawing strong criticism from environmentalists for failing to address the methane impacts of a massive planned oil and gas drilling project in Utah in response to a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review, an approach that advocates say is a concern if only because of the potential ozone impacts of the methane emissions.

(Daily News - 04-30-2014)

A federal district judge has granted environmentalists' request to force EPA to propose in December whether to revise its ozone national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) and issue a final rule by Oct. 1, 2015, rejecting the agency's request for the court to give it an additional six weeks for publishing the final regulation.

(Daily News - 04-29-2014)

The Supreme Court's ruling reinstating EPA's Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) emissions trading program triggers a slew of new legal and regulatory hurdles before the agency can fully implement the rule, as it allows pending suits over CSAPR-related rules to resume and also is likely to require EPA to make updates to CSAPR.

(Daily News - 04-29-2014)

In a 6-2 ruling, the Supreme Court has reinstated EPA's Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), a cap-and-trade program to cut emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. The majority opinion, written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, said EPA acted within its authority in how it created the trading program.

(Daily News - 04-28-2014)

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy is strongly defending the validity of the science the agency uses to justify major air rules and other policies from Republican critics' claims of "secret" and flawed scientific data, and it is unclear what next legislative steps House and Senate GOP lawmakers might take in response to address their concerns.

(Daily News - 04-25-2014)

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has rejected Russia's proposal to delay implementation by five years of a global pact on reducing ships' nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions operating up to 200 miles off coastlines, bolstering EPA's ability to meet a previously planned 2016 target to implement the policy in the United States.

(Daily News - 04-25-2014)

EPA is vowing to meet its self-imposed October deadline for overhauling its system for states reporting Clean Air Act violations to the agency, citing contractual requirements and other budget considerations as justifying pushing ahead with the plan despite some states' concerns that the burdens of the plan make the timeline unattainable.

(Daily News - 04-24-2014)

Refiners are opposing EPA's proposed consent decree that would commit it to decide by December whether to tighten its emission "factors," statistical tools used to estimate industrial air pollution, with industry warning any change to the factors may adversely impact a pending refinery air rule and create confusion over air permit limits.

(Daily News - 04-24-2014)

Petroleum refiners are holding 11th-hour meetings with EPA and White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) officials urging them against tightening several air rules for the sector, fearing massive costs under potential new air pollution control mandates that industry says are not warranted based on refinery emissions' health impacts.

(Daily News - 04-23-2014)

Eastern states seeking to cut ozone pollution transported downwind are considering entering into a "memorandum of understanding" (MOU) with upwind states on a coordinated plan for reducing ozone-forming emissions, which state officials say could obviate the need for a new federal interstate air pollution rule that EPA is developing.

(Daily News - 04-23-2014)

Coal utility sector officials are opposing a draft plan by Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states in the Ozone Transport Commission (OTC) to impose new short-term limits on ozone-forming nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions from power plants, warning it could shutter coal plants for which it would be cost-prohibitive to install NOx controls.

(Daily News - 04-21-2014)

Environmentalists are reviving their push for EPA to ban lead in aviation gasoline (avgas) by asking the agency to reconsider its denial of their petition seeking the prohibition and to issue a finding on whether leaded avgas endangers public health and welfare, which could trigger a Clean Air Act mandate for EPA to issue the lead ban.

(Daily News - 04-21-2014)

Companies operating diesel generators to supply power during spikes in demand are defending EPA's decision in an air rule for the units that allows them to operate without using pollution controls for up to 100 hours during "emergency" periods including demand-response, saying the provision is unlikely to lead to an increase in emissions.

(Daily News - 04-18-2014)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has scrapped EPA's use of a novel "affirmative defense" in a cement air toxics rule that exempted emissions spikes due to equipment malfunctions from Clean Air Act penalties, which could force the agency to overhaul several other regulations that included the contested defense.

(Daily News - 04-17-2014)

Environmentalists are informally dropping their push for EPA to set a first-time greenhouse gas (GHG) standard for refineries and will not enforce a settlement committing the agency to issue a rule, after EPA indefinitely delayed the rule and advocates are pursuing GHG limits at higher-emitting sources, including power plants and oil and gas drilling.

(Daily News - 04-16-2014)

EPA is floating draft white papers that suggest first-time controls on methane emissions from several aspects of the oil and gas sector -- including liquids unloading and compressors -- could be workable, but it is reiterating major hurdles to requiring controls on oil wells and those that "co-produce" both oil and natural gas.

(Daily News - 04-15-2014)

EPA is citing resource constraints to delay its long-awaited revised rule for when states can exclude emissions from "exceptional events" such as dust storms from counting toward their compliance with federal air standards, prompting concern from states who say it will complicate their efforts to attain the agency's ozone ambient air limit.

(Daily News - 04-15-2014)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in a 2-1 order has upheld EPA's utility maximum achievable control technology (MACT) air toxics rule, rejecting a slew of legal challenges filed by environmentalists, industry, states and others, after finding EPA's justification for the rule is reasonable.

(Daily News - 04-14-2014)

EPA's fiscal year 2015 budget request seeks to bolster funding for the creation of a congressionally authorized hazardous waste electronic manifest (e-Manifest) system but the move will divert funds from several rulemakings, forcing the agency to delay efforts to revise emissions rules for hazardous waste combustors and respond to industry requests to ease emissions rules for combustion of treated wood and paper recycling residuals.

(Daily News - 04-14-2014)

A federal district court's rejection of environmentalists' suit against a Texas utility over alleged Clean Air Act violations highlights the hurdles advocates face in their bid to fill what they claim is a gap in air law enforcement by EPA and state officials, sources say, as it shows the high legal burden of proof advocates must satisfy.

(Daily News - 04-11-2014)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has rejected environmentalists' lawsuit challenging EPA's decision to retain and not strengthen its carbon monoxide (CO) national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS), deferring to the agency's conclusion that scientific evidence did not justify setting the stricter limits.

(Daily News - 04-11-2014)

EPA is evaluating why the actual number of facilities that have applied for greenhouse gas (GHG) permits is far below the estimates the agency used to justify elevating GHG permitting thresholds, and the results of the review could inform the agency's pending rulemaking that could lower the thresholds to require permits at more facilities.

(Daily News - 04-11-2014)

EPA has granted requests by the wood and paper sectors to add creosote-treated railroad ties to a categorical list of materials that can be burned for fuel in lightly regulated boilers rather than more strictly regulated incinerators, in addition to several other types of debris and other residuals it is adding to the list of "non-waste" fuels.

(Daily News - 04-10-2014)

Despite a series of failed attempts by industry groups to reverse EPA's national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS), power plant operators are urging the Supreme Court to reverse an appellate ruling that upheld the agency's Bush-era decision to strengthen its ozone standard, alleging the ruling is at odds with a years-old high court test for how to set NAAQS.

(Daily News - 04-10-2014)

State regulators are generally supporting EPA requests to increase grant funding for states to implement federal environmental programs in fiscal year 2015 but in testimony to House appropriators they urged lawmakers to limit agency requests to earmark some of the funds for high-priority greenhouse gas (GHG) and nutrient reduction programs.

(Daily News - 04-09-2014)

SAUSALITO, CA -- EPA appears to be considering voluntary approaches for reducing the greenhouse gas (GHG) methane from "downstream" oil and gas industry sources and new mandatory approaches for upstream sources, irking environmentalists who say voluntary approaches for pipelines and other downstream sources may not be adequate.

(Daily News - 04-09-2014)

EPA will publish rulemakings this summer floating options for reducing new and existing landfills' emissions of the greenhouse gas (GHG) methane with a focus on capturing the gas and using it as a clean energy source, part of President Obama's recent strategy to cut methane that also includes potential GHG rules for the oil and gas sector.

(Daily News - 04-09-2014)

EPA is vowing to release two major air toxics assessments that are years behind schedule in part because of the agency's resource limits, but the agency's promise to finally issue the studies is failing to quell state air regulators' long-running concerns about an inadequate federal air toxics program budget.

(Daily News - 04-09-2014)

The developer of a proposed liquified natural gas project (LNG) in Texas wants to transfer the plant's Clean Air Act greenhouse gas (GHG) permit application from EPA to the state, which may preclude an expected Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) suit from advocates over the potentially precedent-setting GHG limits in the facility's permit.

(Daily News - 04-08-2014)

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit appeared skeptical during April 8 oral arguments of environmentalists' attempt to regulate diesel particulate matter (DPM) generated by locomotives under federal waste law, with two of the judges questioning whether the emissions meet the law's criteria for waste "disposal."

(Daily News - 04-08-2014)

Acting EPA air chief Janet McCabe appears to be facing a partisan battle over her nomination as permanent head of the air office after Republicans said at her confirmation hearing that they would vote against her unless the agency softens or reverses its climate agenda, in particular new and upcoming greenhouse gas (GHG) rules for power plants.

(Daily News - 04-08-2014)

EPA is defending its request for an appellate court to temporarily remand the agency's package of combustion air rules so it can better explain its use of a contested statistical method, rejecting environmentalists' claims that the agency is trying to revise the rule without public comment and opposing a paper industry call to vacate some of the standards.

(Daily News - 04-07-2014)

EPA plans to revisit the question of whether to set a first-time national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) for "ultrafine" particles (UFP) as part of its upcoming review of its existing particulate matter (PM) NAAQS, which could lead to stricter air limits than the current fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and large particle (PM10) standards.

(Daily News - 04-07-2014)

The Ozone Transport Commission (OTC) of Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states is floating a draft plan for daily and hourly nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions limits on power plants as a model for a future EPA rule to reduce ozone-forming NOx emissions and help states achieve a potentially stricter ozone standard that the agency is considering.

(Daily News - 04-04-2014)

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy is downplaying comments the agency raised about a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal expansion, arguing the agency is not seeking to block the project because federal regulators did not analyze the potential direct and indirect increases of the greenhouse gas (GHG) methane.

(Daily News - 04-02-2014)

Environmentalists are urging EPA to strictly regulate biomass-fired power plants as "major sources" subject to strict Clean Air Act permit requirements after finding that the facilities emit more greenhouse gases (GHGs) and conventional pollutants than coal plants, yet are able to bypass the permit mandates and are subject to less stringent emission limits.

(Daily News - 04-02-2014)

The Georgia Supreme Court is weighing whether to uphold a lower court ruling certifying an environmental tort case involving a variety of property owners as a class action, a move that major industry groups say would be counter to U.S. Supreme Court precedent and numerous other federal and state courts and make Georgia an "outlier jurisdiction."

(Daily News - 04-01-2014)

SAUSALITO, CA -- EPA and state officials have agreed on a framework plan for using existing Clean Air Act authority to overhaul and streamline the state implementation plan (SIP) process for attaining air quality standards while also committing the agency to clear the existing backlog of SIPs by the end of 2017.

(Daily News - 04-01-2014)

EPA's fiscal year 2015 budget proposal leaves the fate of the agency's major nationwide assessment of risks from air toxics in doubt due to uncertainty over funding for the program, which could potentially mean another delay for EPA's latest version of the assessment after scrapping a planned update last year due to resource constraints.

(Daily News - 04-01-2014)

President Obama's fiscal year 2015 budget proposal for EPA would significantly boost funding for climate programs including states' efforts to implement the agency's greenhouse gas (GHG) regulatory agenda, which may help alleviate states' fears of resource burdens in crafting plans to comply with EPA's GHG rule for existing utilities.

(Daily News - 03-28-2014)

EPA Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) members appear to be supporting a tightening of the existing ozone ambient air standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb) to an unspecified limit below 70 ppb, though GOP and industry critics of a stricter level are raising legal doubts over the process of CASAC's ozone review.

(Daily News - 03-28-2014)

Environmentalists are urging a federal appeals court to grant a broad remand of EPA's boiler and incinerator emissions rules and require the agency to take notice and comment on a host of provisions that relied on a controversial statistical approach the court has doubted, pushing back on the agency' bid for a much narrower remand.

(Daily News - 03-27-2014)

Environmentalists are criticizing EPA's reliance on a 1998 data notice to help justify a contested 2008 rule excluding some fuel produced through gasification of hazardous waste from strict Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) mandates, saying the notice fails to provide an adequate legal basis for the rule as the agency is claiming.

(Daily News - 03-27-2014)

An EPA Inspector General (IG) plan to assess whether the agency has adequately incorporated environmental justice in Clean Air Act air toxics inspections is spurring industry concern about whether shrinking enforcement resources and EPA's emphasis on equity will lead to targeting facilities based solely on their proximity to equity areas.

(Daily News - 03-27-2014)

Members of EPA's Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) are trying to bolster the case for the agency to pursue a novel distinct "secondary" ozone standard to protect the environment, highlighting insufficient scientific justification for the separate standard that industry critics could potentially use to fight a secondary limit.

(Daily News - 03-26-2014)

Facing growing calls to limit methane from the oil and gas sector, state regulators will use their upcoming spring meeting to launch talks on a coordinated interstate approach for curbing releases of the potent greenhouse gas (GHG), an effort that appears likely to echo the administration's upcoming voluntary strategy for limiting the emissions.