Wednesday, April 16, 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 - 11-22-2013)

Oklahoma and utilities plan to seek Supreme Court review of a precedent-setting appellate court ruling that backed EPA's power to reject state's regional haze air quality plans if they do not follow agency guidelines, with the groups saying the ruling's "substantial" implications for federalism in part warrant the high court taking the case.

(Daily News - 11-22-2013)

EPA's draft strategic plan outlining policy priorities for fiscal years 2014-2018 says the agency's air office will prioritize new greenhouse gas (GHG) rules for heavy-duty vehicles, while evaluating possible new controls on both GHGs and conventional pollutants from off-road mobile sources such as engines used in construction.

(Daily News - 11-21-2013)

Eastern states are debating the need for short-term, potentially daily, limits on power plants' emissions of ozone-forming nitrogen oxides (NOx) as a key strategy for curbing interstate transport of NOx, as uncertainty lingers over EPA's efforts to address cross-state air pollution with a comprehensive rule that can pass legal muster.

(Daily News - 11-20-2013)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is slated to hear arguments Nov. 22 in a lawsuit filed by environmentalists challenging parts of an EPA rule that they say would "override" statutory deadlines by allowing areas that are not attaining ozone air quality standards several more months to cut pollution and come into compliance.

(Daily News - 11-19-2013)

Major industry groups are in the early stages of a push to advance new research into the health effects of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), sources say, which could provide data to fight recent studies that EPA could use to justify a stricter PM2.5 air standard because they show adverse effects at levels far below the existing standard.

(Daily News - 11-19-2013)

Colorado is proposing a suite of air rules for oil and gas operations in an effort that appears likely to fill gaps that EPA left open when it issued regulations for the sector, floating a regulatory package that includes first-time leak detection and repair requirements for methane, the potent greenhouse gas (GHG), as well as similar mandates for aspects of the production and supply chain that the federal agency declined to address.

(Daily News - 11-18-2013)

U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit judges at Nov. 18 oral arguments gave little indication of their positions on Oklahoma's claim that EPA lacks power to impose a federal implementation plan (FIP) to control otherwise unregulated emissions on tribal land, and instead suggested the state filed the suit under the wrong law.

(Daily News - 11-18-2013)

EPA Region VIII is asking the agency's Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) to require a regional judicial officer (RJO) to reconsider a set of recent decisions rejecting portions of three administrative settlements that allow for injunctive relief to resolve alleged air permit violations, a request that could open the door to a national policy allowing agency attorneys broad discretion to include such non-penalty requirements in the settlements.

(Daily News - 11-15-2013)

As EPA starts writing its proposed climate rule for existing utilities following a "listening" tour seeking input on the proposal, it faces tough policy calls on issues that have divided states, industry and others including the rule's impact on transmission, credit for energy efficiency, and the "baseline" year for measuring carbon dioxide (CO2) cuts.

(Daily News - 11-14-2013)

Lawyers for EPA and operators of cement kilns are in talks to settle a legal dispute pending before the agency's Environmental Appeals Board that tests the agency's authority to require operators of hazardous waste combustion units to conduct site specific risk assessments (SSRAs) that can be used to strengthen emissions limits for mercury and other pollutants when renewing the facilities' existing waste and air permits.

(Daily News - 11-12-2013)

Louisiana and a major steel company are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to reconsider its ruling rejecting their suit aiming to make an EPA objection to a facility Clean Air Act permit judicially reviewable, saying the court "missed the point" of their claim that objections are effectively final actions subject to the court's review.

(Daily News - 11-12-2013)

EPA is fighting environmentalists' suit over a 15-year-old waste law waiver allowing some fuels derived from hazardous waste to be burned in boilers rather than in more strictly regulated incinerators if they are "comparable" to fossil fuels, saying the waiver promotes the waste law's reuse goals and does not create additional risks to health.

(Daily News - 11-11-2013)

EPA is fighting an industry coalition suit over its decision to tighten its fine particulate matter (PM2.5) national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) and create a first-time near-road monitoring network for the pollutant, arguing the suit is in error as the agency is entitled to deference on its approach to setting the health-based standards.

(Daily News - 11-08-2013)

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a vocal critic of EPA on several fronts, is using litigation to attempt to curtail the agency's actions as Congress has stalled on some of his priority measures, such as easing states' ability to intervene in some court settlements setting deadlines for EPA rules and curbing regulation of greenhouse gases (GHGs).

(Daily News - 11-07-2013)

Appellate court judges appeared skeptical at Nov. 7 oral arguments of Arizona's suit aiming to void a settlement between EPA and environmentalists that set deadlines for the agency to decide whether the state's regional haze air pollution plan was adequate, with the judges hinting they found nothing improper about the consent decree.

(Daily News - 11-07-2013)

Senators are querying EPA on whether it plans to directly regulate natural gas operations' methane emissions as it reconsiders provisions of its landmark oil and gas sector air rule, with a key Democrat highlighting the cost-effectiveness of methane controls while Republicans warn against potential agency mandates to reduce methane.

(Daily News - 11-06-2013)

Utilities are urging the Supreme Court to review on the merits EPA's appeal of a lower court ruling scrapping its Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) and not remand the litigation to the appellate court, saying the high court needs to finally resolve a long-running fight over EPA's Clean Air Act power to craft an interstate emissions policy.

(Daily News - 11-06-2013)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear oral arguments Nov. 7 in a suit Arizona filed challenging a settlement between EPA and environmentalists that set a 2012 deadline to decide on whether the state's regional haze air plan was adequate -- a plan that EPA ultimately rejected as insufficiently stringent.

(Daily News - 10-31-2013)

EPA's top transportation official is warning of hurdles for tentative White House plans to use ongoing major transatlantic trade agreement talks to harmonize U.S. and European Union (EU) environmental and safety standards for cars and light trucks, saying problems include a need to resolve U.S. and EU differences in certification procedures.

(Daily News - 10-29-2013)

EPA is seeking new data and taking other steps to bolster the use of a pending statistical method to estimate emissions from animal feeding operations (AFOs), an agency official says, in order to address concerns from its Science Advisory Board (SAB) that faulted the model and suggested pursuing an alternative process-based modeling method.

(Daily News - 10-28-2013)

EPA could explore alternate tactics to enforce years-old alleged new source review (NSR) violations to overcome recent court rulings barring enforcement beyond the five-year statute of limitations, with options including using state air plans and operating permits to try to force NSR pollution control upgrades at facilities or amending past enforcement claims, sources say.

(Daily News - 10-25-2013)

EPA is urging a federal appeals court to dismiss for lack of standing an industry group's lawsuit over its 2012 memo narrowly applying a ruling vacating a key part of its aggregation policy for strict air permitting at oil and gas and other sites, but the agency says that the group's members may challenge the policy in individual permit and applicability suits.

(Daily News - 10-25-2013)

Environmentalists are urging a federal appeals court to scrap as incomplete EPA's decision to deny their petition seeking a first-time greenhouse gas (GHG) rule for coal mines, saying judges should force the agency to craft a more detailed response to the petition fully explaining the scientific and technical reasons behind its decision.

(Daily News - 10-24-2013)

A U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit three-judge panel hearing environmentalists' suit over EPA's cement air toxics rule raised legal doubts over the agency's inclusion in the rule of an "affirmative defense" for industry against emissions limits violations, suggesting the court could grant advocates' call to scrap the defense.

(Daily News - 10-24-2013)

State air officials say the recent government shutdown compromised some emissions data gathering by barring access to some monitors on federal land and creating gaps in data collection, which they warn could increase states' problems in complying with certain Clean Air Act mandates such as the regional haze reduction program.

(Daily News - 10-23-2013)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear arguments Oct. 24 in environmentalists' suit claiming EPA unlawfully weakened its cement maximum achievable control technology (MACT) air toxics rule and then delayed the rule's compliance date by two years -- a result EPA says was driven by a prior court order.

(Daily News - 10-22-2013)

Appellate court judges at Oct. 22 oral arguments appeared skeptical of truck makers' suit challenging EPA rule waivers that allow a rival company to sell engines that do not comply with federal emissions standards, questioning whether a ruling siding with the plaintiffs to scrap the waivers might come after they are no longer in use.

(Daily News - 10-22-2013)

EPA is drawing competing criticisms over its effort to adopt California's formaldehyde emissions standard for wood products, with California officials working to revise their standard because they believe EPA's rule is inconsistent with its measure while industry is charging that the proposal unnecessarily strengthens the state standard.

(Daily News - 10-21-2013)

Appellate judges appeared skeptical at recent oral arguments of environmentalists' suit over EPA's method to calculate air permit "increments" -- allowable increases in emissions -- with one judge suggesting the court should grant the agency's deference on the method it uses, and another asking if the suit was filed in the wrong court.

(Daily News - 10-21-2013)

Biomass industry officials say they are weighing asking a full federal appeals court to overturn a three-judge panel's ruling that scrapped EPA's three-year deferral of biomass emissions from greenhouse gas (GHG) air permit mandates, after the Supreme Court agreed to take up a narrow case challenging the agency's underlying GHG permit rule.

(Daily News - 10-18-2013)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has rejected as moot a lawsuit from heavy-duty truck and engine manufacturers challenging emissions rule compliance waivers EPA gave to a competitor, saying there was no way the court could redress the manufacturers' alleged economic injury.

(Daily News - 10-17-2013)

EPA is agreeing with an Inspector General (IG) recommendation to review the utility of its enforcement "Watch List" that tracks facilities alleged to have significant environmental law violations, following an IG report -- the first since the government shutdown ended -- that found inconsistent agency use and limitations of the list.

(Daily News - 10-17-2013)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has granted EPA's request to have a single three-judge panel hear dozens of separate suits challenging its package of air and waste rules governing boilers and incinerators, despite industry concerns that hearing the cases together could slow the litigation.

(Daily News - 10-17-2013)

EPA is floating a draft strategy for bolstering states' lagging enforcement efforts that outlines a range of options including mid-level talks between states and agency regional officials to removal of a state's delegated authority to implement EPA programs as a "last resort" in the "most egregious circumstances" of poor enforcement.

(Daily News - 10-16-2013)

A case pending before EPA's Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) is testing the agency's authority to require operators of hazardous waste combustion units to conduct site specific risk assessments (SSRAs), and to strengthen emissions limits for mercury and other pollutants, when renewing the facilities' existing waste and air permits.

(Daily News - 10-16-2013)

EPA and Congress are taking steps to try and prevent fraud by agency employees following former agency air office policy advisor John Beale's theft of almost $900,000 in unearned pay and benefits, with the agency pursuing stricter enforcement of its anti-fraud policies and lawmakers looking to cancel federal pensions for employees found guilty of fraud.

(Daily News - 10-15-2013)

A federal appeals court ruling remanding to EPA its novel statistical method for setting a maximum achievable control technology (MACT) air toxics rule for sludge incinerators raises doubts over the legal foundation for other major MACTs subject to pending suits, including air toxics rules for boilers and power plants, sources say.

(Daily News - 10-15-2013)

The American Petroleum Institute (API) is opposing EPA's proposed settlement with environmentalists that would commit the agency to finishing a review of refinery air toxics rules in 2014, saying the deadline is too short for the complex review and that the agreement is legally barred by an existing settlement over refinery air rules.

(Daily News - 10-11-2013)

Environmentalist critics of EPA's "affirmative defense" policy allowing industry Clean Air Act exemptions for some emission limit violations are pushing ahead with legal and regulatory efforts to block the policy, despite one appellate court backing the exemption, over their concern the defense will make it harder to succeed in air act citizen suits.

(Daily News - 10-11-2013)

Environmentalists are welcoming the United Nations (UN) aviation standards agency's recent vote to craft a market-based greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction plan for airlines starting in 2020, but say the agreement does not quell their call for EPA to issue climate rules for aircraft that could be a model for potential future global GHG standards.

(Daily News - 10-10-2013)

EPA and environmentalists faced tough questions from appellate court judges at Oct. 10 oral arguments in a suit contesting the agency's decision not to set a novel joint nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur oxides (SOx) air standard, with one judge doubting advocates' standing to sue and another judge questioning EPA's basis for its decision.

(Daily News - 10-10-2013)

State air officials are preparing for the possibility that EPA's next air transport rule will target only cuts in ozone-forming nitrogen oxides (NOx) and exclude sulfur dioxide (SO2) caps included in previous interstate emissions policies, an approach that could limit states' flexibility in imposing regulations on industries to curb air pollution.

(Daily News - 10-10-2013)

EPA is floating the possibility of reviving a technically defunct nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions trading program as a backstop measure in the event that the agency loses its Supreme Court bid to overturn an appellate ruling that scrapped its Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) emissions trading program that replaced the NOx program.

(Daily News - 10-09-2013)

A federal district court judge has rejected industry groups' bid to intervene in environmentalists' suit seeking a court-ordered deadline for EPA to review its ozone national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS), despite industry's claims that a potentially tight timeline could hinder their ability to provide sufficient comment on the rule.

(Daily News - 10-09-2013)

Appellate court judges at Oct. 8 oral arguments gave tough questions to both EPA and Sierra Club in the group's suit testing whether the agency has power to "grandfather," or exempt, a Clean Air Act prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) permit from new air quality standards that take effect during the PSD permit review process.

(Daily News - 10-08-2013)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear arguments Oct. 10 in environmentalists' suit challenging EPA's decision not to set a first-time joint nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur oxides (SOx) air standard, after rejecting the Obama administration's request to delay arguments due to the government shutdown.

(Daily News - 10-07-2013)

The Supreme Court has rejected an industry petition to review a suit over "affirmative defenses" against alleged Clean Air Act violations, letting stand a ruling that allows EPA to bar states from accepting such defenses, while again remaining silent on whether to review a ruling backing the agency's greenhouse gas (GHG) rules.

(Daily News - 10-04-2013)

The White House Office of Management & Budget's (OMB) regulatory review office is crafting guidance for EPA and other agencies on how to conduct cost-benefit analyses of existing rules, an issue that EPA has struggled to address.

(Daily News - 10-03-2013)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has rejected EPA's bids to delay imminent oral arguments in two key lawsuits over agency emissions rules due to the government shutdown, despite the Department of Justice's (DOJ) claim that it would likely be unable to represent EPA at arguments during the shutdown.

(Daily News - 10-03-2013)

Environmentalists are welcoming EPA's plan to count greenhouse gases (GHGs) from biomass co-fired with fossil fuels under its proposed new source performance standard (NSPS) for future power plants, but caution there is still uncertainty over whether EPA will seek a permanent exemption for biomass from GHG permit mandates.