Thursday, July 24, 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 - 03-12-2014)

EPA scientists and regulators appear split over the viability of creating a first-time joint national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) for nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur oxides (SOx), with scientists favoring setting a standard based on deposition of the pollutants in water while regulators fear such a standard would be too hard to implement.

(Daily News - 03-11-2014)

EPA's Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) is backing the agency's power to require site-specific risk assessments (SSRAs) that can be used to strengthen emissions limits for hazardous waste combustion units, but during March 11 oral arguments in a precedent-setting case the board grappled with how officials crafted permit limits for the facility at issue.

(Daily News - 03-11-2014)

Utility GenOn Power Midwest is urging the Supreme Court to reverse an appellate ruling that split with other courts by allowing state lawsuits for alleged public nuisance from power plants' emissions, saying the ruling could create major risks for utilities who could be in full federal Clean Air Act compliance and still be sued under state tort law.

(Daily News - 03-11-2014)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has rejected the utility industry's suit over EPA's new source performance standards (NSPS) setting emissions limits on conventional air pollutants from power plants, finding some of the legal challenges untimely and rejecting criticisms of air monitoring mandates as without merit.

(Daily News - 03-10-2014)

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) manufacturers are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to put implementation of an EPA air toxics rule for the sector on hold until the agency finishes its reconsideration of the rule, but environmentalists say any stay of the rule would delay overdue emissions controls for the sector.

(Daily News - 03-06-2014)

EPA is asking a federal appeals court to voluntarily remand part of its utility maximum achievable control technology (MACT) air toxics rule for new sources in to address a recent court ruling that queried an "upper prediction limit" (UPL) statistical method the agency used to set the utility MACT, a package of combustion air rules and other standards.

(Daily News - 03-06-2014)

EPA is opposing an Oklahoma utility's attempt to bolster its defense in a Clean Air Act new source review (NSR) case by citing a recent federal district court ruling that could constrain the agency's NSR enforcement, with EPA saying the ruling was "wrongly decided" and should have no bearing on the Oklahoma litigation.

(Daily News - 03-05-2014)

Industry groups fear "mass confusion" from EPA's request for a federal appeals court to remand its contested package of boiler and incinerator air rules to the agency so it can better explain the rules' use of a controversial method for setting emissions limits in the regulations, creating questions over imminent briefing in suits over the rules.

(Daily News - 03-04-2014)

A federal district court judge has issued a ruling that underscores the hurdles for EPA's ability to pursue Clean Air Act new source review (NSR) permit program enforcement, finding the agency can only provide a "cursory" review over pre-construction emission projections and is largely limited to filing cases based on post-construction emissions data.

(Daily News - 03-03-2014)

EPA's final "Tier III" fuel and vehicle air rule includes new regulatory flexibilities sought by refiners including making it easier to use existing compliance credits and not making 15 percent ethanol (E15) gasoline a certification fuel, but refiners still oppose the rule and say its low-sulfur fuel mandate could create up to $10 billion in capital costs.

(Daily News - 02-28-2014)

Environmentalists are fighting EPA's claim they lack standing to sue over a 2012 agency policy memo that details EPA's response to the appellate ruling scrapping its Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), arguing that the approach in the memo harms environmentalists with health problems by failing to guarantee air pollution cuts.

(Daily News - 02-28-2014)

The National Association of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA), representing state and local air officials, is crafting a template for how states could craft plans for complying with EPA's pending climate rule for existing utilities, which may help address states' concerns over the burden in meeting the rule's tight timeline for writing the plans.

(Daily News - 02-28-2014)

West Virginia is urging EPA to amend its landmark 2009 finding that greenhouse gases (GHGs) endanger public health when it issues its GHG rule for existing utilities, saying the agency should instead declare GHGs only pose threats to public welfare -- an approach the state argues would allow for a more flexible, less onerous utility rule.

(Daily News - 02-27-2014)

The coal mining sector is defending EPA's decision earlier this year to reject environmentalists' petition asking the agency to start the process of regulating coal mines' emissions of the greenhouse gas (GHG) methane and other pollutants, arguing the denial was "common sense" given EPA's resource constraints and other priorities.

(Daily News - 02-27-2014)

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R) has been granted the right to intervene in environmentalists' pending suit seeking to force EPA to act on stalled state air quality plans for nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a move that Pruitt says will allow him to use the discovery process to gather records on so-called "sue-and-settle" agreements he has repeatedly failed to obtain through open-records requests.

(Daily News - 02-26-2014)

EPA is asking a federal district court to grant it a six week extension -- from Dec. 1 to Jan. 15 next year -- to environmentalists' suggested deadline for proposing revisions to its ozone air standard, citing a need for more time to review scientific data and potentially craft a novel "secondary" standard to protect the environment.

(Daily News - 02-24-2014)

Facing tough questions from the Supreme Court, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli is reluctantly agreeing with some industry arguments -- and a key appellate dissent -- that EPA may have to take a narrower approach for triggering greenhouse gas (GHG) limits in permits than the approach the agency is defending.

(Daily News - 02-21-2014)

Pushed by environmentalists, EPA is proposing to revise portions of its greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting rule for the oil and natural gas sector, including dropping alternative estimation methods that advocates say hindered regulators' ability to gain an accurate picture of the sector's methane and other GHG emissions.

(Daily News - 02-21-2014)

EPA is "on track" to submit its draft climate rule for existing utilities for White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) pre-publication review in March, agency officials say, likely allowing EPA to meet President Obama's goal of issuing the proposal in June even though key policy questions about the rule remain unresolved.

(Daily News - 02-21-2014)

Petroleum sector groups are waging an 11th-hour bid for the White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) to block or significantly delay EPA's imminent final "Tier III" fuel and vehicle emissions rule, reiterating claims that the rule is unnecessary and saying the agency should pare back the requirements if it proceeds with the policy.

(Daily News - 02-20-2014)

Appellate judges at Feb. 20 oral arguments appeared skeptical of industry groups' suit over EPA's decision to tighten its fine particulate matter (PM2.5) national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) by citing deference to the agency's scientific judgment, but queried EPA's first-time near-road air monitoring requirement for the pollutant.

(Daily News - 02-19-2014)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear oral arguments Feb. 20 in industry groups' lawsuit challenging EPA's decision in 2012 to tighten its fine particulate matter (PM2.5) national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS), with the agency fighting claims that it lacked data to justify the stricter standard.

(Daily News - 02-19-2014)

As EPA crafts its next air transport rule it is leaning toward retaining a strict test for calculating whether upwind states' emissions "interfere" with downwind states' ability to maintain federal air standards, an informed source says, rather than an alternative test that could erroneously show more areas in compliance with the pollution limits.

(Daily News - 02-18-2014)

EPA has released a tool it says will help states quantify the carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction benefits of their energy efficiency and renewable energy (EE/RE) programs, which could potentially help states looking to credit efficiency efforts as part of their plans for complying with the agency's upcoming CO2 rule for existing power plants.

(Daily News - 02-18-2014)

President Obama is suggesting that EPA's new greenhouse gas (GHG) rules for trucks, which the president is requiring the agency to complete by early 2016, will likely subject semi-trailers to any new standard, a move that appears to end the debate over whether the trailers should be regulated.

(Daily News - 02-14-2014)

Industry groups are faulting draft EPA data suggesting nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions might be more harmful to human health than previously thought, seeking to preempt any claims by agency staff or environmentalists that the data show a need to tighten NOx air standards and impose stricter pollution controls on industry to reduce NOx.

(Daily News - 02-14-2014)

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is actively reviewing appellate rulings on Clean Air Act new source review (NSR) enforcement in an effort to identify a case showing a "clear" enough circuit split to merit Supreme Court review, a top DOJ official says.

(Daily News - 02-12-2014)

EPA and federal energy regulators are suggesting that the agency's first-time greenhouse gas (GHG) rule for existing power plants could give transmission groups a key role in developing regional compliance plans in an effort to ensure the regulations will not harm grid reliability or raise electricity prices.

(Daily News - 02-12-2014)

EPA is reiterating its request for a federal court to dismiss a suit trying to force the agency to regulate air pollution from animal feeding operations (AFOs), as the agency says the four Iowa residents pursuing the suit have failed to identify any action required under the Clean Air Act that could be the basis for suing the agency.

(Daily News - 02-11-2014)

Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee ranking member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is citing the "polar vortex" and other cold weather events in urging a fresh review of EPA regulations' impacts on electric grid reliability, saying the rules risk shuttering coal plants that are vital for ensuring reliability during the weather events.

(Daily News - 02-07-2014)

Facing a deadline later this month to act on a California air quality plan, EPA is asking the federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) to resolve a dispute between a local air district and the railroad industry on whether the district's rules targeting emissions from locomotive idling would be preempted by federal interstate commerce law.

(Daily News - 02-06-2014)

Industry officials are hoping that EPA will provide relief from strict new source review (NSR) pollution control requirements to address concerns that the agency's pending rule to limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing power plants would require them to make utility efficiency improvements that then trigger NSR reviews.

(Daily News - 02-06-2014)

EPA advisors are split on whether the agency's current risk assessment framework that it uses to ensure its regulations are protective is adequate for addressing adverse environmental justice impacts that its rules may not address, a debate that echoes divisions among industry groups and environmentalists.

(Daily News - 02-05-2014)

A recent study quantifying the amount of air pollution originating from China associated with U.S. trade is reviving calls to reform the Clean Air Act process for how states craft plans detailing how they will comply with EPA air rules, with advocates saying it shows the need to allow states to account for uncontrollable overseas emissions in their plans.

(Daily News - 02-04-2014)

Industry officials are concerned that a recently announced court schedule for litigation over EPA's combustion emission rules for boilers and incinerators, along with the agency's pending reconsideration process, will leave plant owners with less time to know if they should spend millions upgrading units ahead of a key 2016 compliance deadline.

(Daily News - 02-04-2014)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is seeking legal briefing beginning next month in litigation over EPA's contested maximum achievable control technology (MACT) air toxics rule for new power plants, pottentially clearing the way for oral arguments later this year and a possible ruling in 2015.

(Daily News - 02-03-2014)

EPA staff has found substantial remaining risks to public health from ozone exposure and is recommending tough new air quality standards, including a specific range -- 60 to 70 parts per billion (ppb) -- from which to set a primary standard to protect human health and a distinct "secondary" standard to protect the environment.

(Daily News - 01-31-2014)

EPA and states are weighing how to fix problems with the agency's emissions inventories -- data used to craft key emissions policies -- ahead of issuance of a replacement for the scrapped Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) air trading program, as the problems could significantly alter the rule's emissions caps and other provisions.

(Daily News - 01-30-2014)

EPA says it will release by September at the latest its pending proposed reconsideration of key parts of its contested package of combustion emissions rules for boilers and incinerators, a schedule that is far slower than the accelerated timeline sought by industry groups in their litigation challenging the suite of air pollution regulations.

(Daily News - 01-29-2014)

Oklahoma and a manufacturing coalition are urging the Supreme Court to reverse a U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruling backing EPA's power to reject the state's plan to limit haze-forming emissions, saying the appellate court's decision -- which at least one other circuit has adopted -- was "overly deferential" to EPA.

(Daily News - 01-29-2014)

Trucking industry groups are urging EPA to avoid setting "technology forcing" standards as it crafts the next round of greenhouse gas (GHG) rules for heavy duty vehicles such as trucks, countering a push from environmentalists seeking strict GHG limits to force development of new emission controls and first-time regulation of truck trailers.

(Daily News - 01-28-2014)

California's South Coast air district is petitioning EPA to regulate nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions from foreign-flagged vessels as a backstop regulatory measure to ensure air pollution cuts from ocean-going vessels, amid doubts over the fate of an international agreement by countries to impose NOx limits on ships operating by coastlines.

(Daily News - 01-24-2014)

EPA has sent its long-awaited final "Tier III" fuel and vehicle emissions rule for White House pre-publication review, a key step in the agency's process for meeting its February goal for finalizing the rule, which has drawn major opposition from the oil sector but praise from some automakers, environmentalists and several states.

(Daily News - 01-22-2014)

The Obama administration and its supporters are resisting calls for the Supreme Court to broaden its review of EPA's greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations, urging the court in new filings to stick to the narrow question it agreed to consider: whether the agency properly determined that regulating GHGs from motor vehicle triggered GHG permitting requirements for stationary sources.

(Daily News - 01-22-2014)

Environmentalists are asking a federal court to require EPA to complete its proposed review of the national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for ozone by Dec. 1 and finalize it by Oct. 1, 2015, a schedule that is months later than what they first proposed and one they say is "eminently possible" for the agency to meet, though an industry source notes that the proposed schedule would allow the agency to avoid issuing the rule before the 2014 elections.

(Daily News - 01-21-2014)

EPA is exempting additional substances and, for the first time, a sewage sludge gasification facility, from its strict incinerator regulations, decisions that are generally being praised by industry but are exacerbating concern from environmentalists who say the agency appears to be seeking to "deregulate the burning of waste," says one advocate.

(Daily News - 01-21-2014)

A top coal mining industry official is calling for a review of EPA's utility air toxics rule and its potential effects shuttering coal-fired power plants and undermining electricity reliability, saying the recent "polar vortex" and record cold weather led natural gas prices to spike, underscoring the need for fuel diversity and continued use of coal.

(Daily News - 01-17-2014)

Appellate court judges are faulting EPA for issuing a policy memo that narrowly applies a ruling on air permit "aggregation" in one jurisdiction, a move that potentially violates a Clean Air Act requirement for uniform policies nationwide, instead of explaining its rationale in a rule, though they also doubt whether industry has met a threshold of the memo being ripe for judicial review.

(Daily News - 01-17-2014)

EPA is extending its policy for how to count "fugitive" criteria pollutant emissions for air permitting purposes to include greenhouse gases (GHGs), which could trigger GHG permit mandates for some currently unregulated sources if their fugitive emissions would push them over the threshold for triggering a permit.

(Daily News - 01-17-2014)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has partially scrapped an EPA rule that imposed a federal implementation plan (FIP) to control emissions on tribal land and fix a "regulatory gap," saying the agency erred as it should first have established whether tribes had jurisdiction over tribal land that is not on formal reservations.