Wednesday, August 27, 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 - 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.

(Daily News - 03-26-2014)

Industry groups are fighting EPA's efforts to prohibit air toxics emissions from pressure relief devices (PRDs) -- used to vent excess emissions that might otherwise harm facility operations -- saying the policy change would impose major costs and force facilities to choose between air law compliance or safe operations.

(Daily News - 03-25-2014)

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit at oral arguments appeared highly skeptical of environmentalists suit' challenging EPA's decision to deny their petition to regulate coal mine methane emissions due to limited resources, saying the agency has significant discretion on rulemaking petitions.

(Daily News - 03-24-2014)

Energy companies are suing EPA in a bid to block any new coal sector air rules until the agency analyzes their impact on employment in the industry -- but the companies oppose using "whole economy" modeling for the study, highlighting an ongoing debate over whether the modeling is the best method for reviewing the jobs' impact of EPA policies.

(Daily News - 03-24-2014)

EPA is asking an appellate court to narrowly interpret the Supreme Court's landmark ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA that required agencies to respond substantively to regulatory petitions, while preparing for oral argument in another appeal where it is seeking to indefinitely defer such responses -- both questions which appellate courts have not yet addressed in the years since the high court's decision.

(Daily News - 03-21-2014)

A new American Petroleum Institute (API)-funded study casts doubts on the widespread view that exposures to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone increases risks of death and cardiovascular disease, which could help industry make the case against EPA tightening its national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for the pollutants.

(Daily News - 03-20-2014)

Republicans and industry representatives are targeting EPA's Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) in a bid to influence its review of the federal ozone standard, with a GOP lawmaker urging a halt to the review due to doubts about CASAC's independence and industry officials urging costs to be a factor in the review for the first time.

(Daily News - 03-20-2014)

Environmentalists are urging EPA to significantly tighten its ozone national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) beyond limits proposed by agency staff and its Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), saying there is a need for a much stricter limit in order to achieve co-benefits of reducing harmful climate impacts from ozone.

(Daily News - 03-19-2014)

New York City is urging the Supreme Court to reject Exxon Mobil's push to reverse a landmark appellate ruling finding it liable $104 million in damages for contaminating groundwater with the fuel additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), fighting Exxon's claim that the ruling is flawed because the Clean Air Act effectively mandated MTBE's use.

(Daily News - 03-17-2014)

Northeastern state air regulators are pushing EPA to ease what they see as excessive burdens they face in reporting Clean Air Act violations to the agency, saying the requirements hinder their ability to implement a new EPA compliance monitoring system and could prompt some states to "seriously pull back" on the data they submit to EPA.

(Daily News - 03-14-2014)

Industry groups are divided on how to resolve growing legal and regulatory "confusion" over EPA's request for an appellate court to remand part of its contested boiler and incinerator air rules to the agency, with some industry groups now asking the court to partially scrap -- not remand -- the rules, while other groups take a more cautious approach.

(Daily News - 03-14-2014)

EPA is seeking public input on how to incorporate new data from studies that produce actual measurements into its long-disputed calculations for natural gas systems' methane emissions, including findings that show emissions at lower levels than the agency has estimated, which have hindered advocates' push for strict new air rules.

(Daily News - 03-14-2014)

A federal district court has rejected environmentalists' suit aiming to force Idaho and Utah to write tougher plans for cutting fine particulate matter (PM2.5) emissions, saying a "long history" of court rulings means it cannot retroactively apply to those states a recent appellate decision forcing states to write more stringent PM2.5 control plans.

(Daily News - 03-13-2014)

EPA in new legal filings is defending its decision to allow an exemption from strict air pollution limits for diesel engines operating up to 100 hours per year under "emergency" conditions, saying the basis for the exemption is long established and that the provision is vital to protect against electric grid blackouts or other instability.

(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.