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Clean Air Report - 09/21/2017

  • Ozone Designations Delay Throws 'Wrench' Into NAAQS Compliance Plans

    East Coast air regulators are warning that EPA's withdrawn delay of designations for which states are attaining the 2015 ozone air standard throws a "monkey wrench" into their efforts to craft plans for complying with the standard, because of lingering uncertainty about whether the agency might revive the delay for some states.

    1055 words

  • OTC Shifts Focus Of Ozone Cuts To Trucks, Natural Gas & Cement Plants

    The Ozone Transport Commission (OTC) of 12 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states is shifting its focus on plans for ozone reductions from its traditional targeting of power plant emissions to other ozone sources including natural gas infrastructure, cement manufacturing plants and truck idling in order to meet EPA's stricter ozone limit.

    993 words

  • Judges Doubt EPA's Defense In Ozone NAAQS Rule 'Backsliding' Fight

    A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit at Sept. 14 oral argument appeared skeptical of EPA's defense for fighting environmentalists' claim that its rule for how states should implement the 2008 ozone standard unlawfully allows "backsliding," or weakening of existing air pollution controls.

    1455 words

  • State, Local Industries Seek Swift Reconsideration Of Ozone NAAQS

    Groups representing dozens of state and local industry sectors are urging EPA to "expeditiously reconsider" the Obama administration's 2015 decision tightening the ozone national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to 70 ppb, saying implementation of the stricter limit will cause economic harm.

    444 words

  • States, Utilities Spar With Environmentalists Over CSAPR 'Update' Rule

    States and electric utilities are squaring off against environmentalists in litigation over the Obama EPA's 2016 "update" to its Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) emissions trading system that tightened state emissions limits, or budgets, to help states comply with the agency's 2008 ozone air standard.

    917 words

  • California Threatens Separate Vehicle GHG Limits If EPA Softens MY21 Rules

    California is threatening to press ahead with its own light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas limits if EPA weakens model year 2021 standards, though automakers seem to be downplaying any MY21 changes as reasonable efforts to "harmonize" EPA's rules with related Department of Transportation fuel economy requirements.

    1215 words

  • As EPA Eyes Rollback, California Crafts Post-2025 Vehicle GHG Rules

    California air regulators have begun scheduling meetings with automakers as part of their early efforts to develop greenhouse gas limits for post-2025 passenger vehicles, underscoring the state's resolve to forge ahead with its own aggressive rules to meet long-term GHG targets even as EPA eyes relaxing model year 2021-25 standards.

    946 words

  • Long Delay Expected For EPA Action On Low-NOx Heavy-Duty Truck Rule

    EPA is expected to take a long delay before officials begin developing an ultra-low nitrogen oxide (NOx) standard for heavy-duty trucks, which the agency late last year agreed to pursue in response to a petition by California and other state clean air agencies as well as environmental groups.

    1213 words

  • Facing Disaster Responses, States Press EPA For Flexibility, Assistance

    JACKSON HOLE, WY -- With forest fires raging in the West and two major hurricanes recently battering Texas and the Southeast, state regulators are urging the Trump administration to give states greater flexibility to shift federal funding toward combating future disasters, and to speed regulatory waivers to address releases caused by such events.

    922 words

  • Livestock Groups Defend EPA's 'Exceptional Events' Air Waiver Rule

    Livestock industry groups are defending EPA's rule for when states can discount emissions associated with natural "exceptional events" such as wildfires from counting toward their compliance with federal air standards, fighting environmentalists' claim that the rule unlawfully allows too many human activities to be considered as such an event.

    789 words

  • EPA Reiterates Defense Of Policy Finding NSR Violations To Be 'Ongoing'

    EPA in a new legal brief is reiterating the agency's long-running policy that says violations of Clean Air Act new source review (NSR) permit mandates are "ongoing" and not subject to the general five-year statute of limitations for enforcement actions, even as the Trump administration weighs a massive overhaul of the NSR program.

    948 words

  • Electric Utilities Urge Supreme Court To Hear Appeal Of NSR Litigation

    Electric utilities are urging the Supreme Court to hear Michigan utility DTE Energy's challenge to EPA's new source review (NSR) air permit enforcement policy, arguing that actual emissions, not only projected emissions, should determine if a facility needs an NSR permit, and that the program needs a broad overhaul to ease regulatory obstacles.

    611 words

  • CCS Backers Cite Finances As Main Hurdle, Despite GOP Fears About NSR

    Several supporters of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies told Congress that the predominant hurdle to greater deployment of the greenhouse gas controls is high up-front installation costs, though Republican senators are seeking to play up EPA's new source review (NSR) air permitting regulations as another key problem.

    1423 words

  • D.C. Circuit Judges Wrestle With 'Black Box' Science For EPA Boiler MACT

    U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit judges at Sept. 15 oral argument wrestled with what one judge called EPA's "black box" scientific rationale for setting a limit on carbon monoxide (CO) as a "surrogate" for reducing air toxics from boilers, though the fate of a suit over the agency's boiler air toxics rule remains unclear.

    1272 words

  • EPA Sends Final Yeast Air Toxics Residual Risk Rule For OMB Review

    EPA has sent for White House pre-publication review its delayed final rule limiting air toxics from nutritional yeast manufacturing facilities, after the regulation was held up by President Donald Trump's executive order (EO) requiring agencies to identify two rules for repeal for every new regulation that they issue.

    463 words

  • Pruitt Faces Challenges Replacing Departing CASAC, SAB Members

    With appointments for numerous EPA science advisors expiring at the end of the month, Administrator Scott Pruitt faces challenges selecting new members to the agency's Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) and Science Advisory Board (SAB), selections that could intensify criticism over the administration's scientific views.

    1663 words

  • EPA, States Hold Talks To Improve Enforcement With Enhanced Collaboration

    JACKSON HOLE, WY -- EPA and state officials have started discussions on how to improve state and federal cooperation on enforcement, seeking to better align priorities and allocate resources, while addressing their differing perceptions on what aspects of enforcement are currently working or need improvement.

    968 words

  • Trump Nominates Former Bush EPA Official Wehrum To Head Air Office

    President Donald Trump has nominated Bill Wehrum, the acting head of EPA's air office during the Bush administration, to lead the Trump administration's efforts to undo Obama-era air and climate policies.

    649 words

  • IG, GAO Say EPA Needs More Staffing Despite Agency's Push For Buyouts

    Top EPA Inspector General and Government Accountability Office (GAO) officials are warning lawmakers that the agency's biggest needs to achieve its goals are more staffing and additional funding across a host of EPA offices, despite the Trump administration's push to cut staffing including through hundreds of buyouts by the end of September.

    839 words

  • Unions, Environmentalists Ramp Up Pressure On Senate To Stop EPA Cuts

    Environmental groups and federal employee unions are ramping up their defense of EPA's budget in fiscal year 2018, readying efforts to shore up support in the Senate by citing recent massive hurricanes to highlight the need for adequate agency resources to address short- and long-term consequences of the cleanup effort.

    1272 words

  • Federal District Court Denies EPA Bid To Stall SIP Pending SSM Policy

    A federal district court in California has rejected EPA's motion seeking to delay a settlement deadline that requires the agency to take final action on a Delaware Clean Air Act implementation plan, rejecting as inadequate the agency's stated reason of waiting until it has decided its policy on regulatory exemptions for startup, shutdown and malfunction (SSM) episodes. Relevant documents are available on InsideEPA.com. (Doc. ID: 204933)

    634 words

  • States Seek 'Reciprocity' To Streamline Approvals Of Oil & Gas Controls

    JACKSON HOLE, WY -- State environmental regulators are seeking to create a process for streamlining approvals of new oil and gas emissions control technologies for use in complying with EPA and state rules, hoping broad regulatory acceptance will spur innovation and adoption of new technologies for measuring or limiting emissions in natural gas fields.

    799 words

  • Senators Seek Answers From Pruitt On Enforcement Of Methane NSPS

    Eight Senate Democrats are pressing EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to explain his plans for enforcing the agency's rule governing methane emissions from new oil and gas facilities, raising concerns that EPA in a statement indicated plans for case-by-case enforcement after a federal court rejected their effort to delay the rule's implementation.

    662 words

  • Appellate Panel Doubts Sierra Club's Suit On EPA 'Hot-Spot' Guidance

    A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit appeared dubious during Sept. 19 oral arguments of environmentalists' claims against EPA's revised guidance for how states should evaluate air pollution 'hot-spots' resulting from highway construction, focusing their discussion entirely on jurisdiction and standing issues -- not the merits of the guide itself.

    1246 words

  • Northeast States Press Upwind Midwestern, Southern States For Haze Cuts

    Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states are calling on states as far away as Texas, Florida and Michigan to further reduce their emissions of haze-forming air pollutants in order to help them meet the emissions-reduction goals of EPA's regional haze program, issuing a formal "ask" for the haze cuts as part of their air pollution reduction planning.

    1272 words

  • D.C. Circuit Sets Oral Argument In Suit Testing CSAPR As Haze Control

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has scheduled oral argument for Nov. 16 in a long-delayed case testing whether states can rely on power plants' participation in EPA's Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) as an alternative to source-specific control technology to curb haze-forming pollution.

    466 words

  • Early Comments Focus On Cellulosic Levels In EPA's 2018 RFS Volumes

    Supporters and detractors of EPA's proposed rule setting volumes under the renewable fuel standard (RFS) for 2018 have filed dueling comments on the issue, with many focusing on the agency's proposal to reduce the volume of low-carbon cellulosic biofuels that must be blended into the nation's fuel supply.

    942 words

  • Massive Hurricanes Spur Climate Debate But Fail To Advance Policies

    Two massive hurricanes that have caused devastating flooding damage in the Southeast during the past month have renewed a public debate about how climate change is intensifying extreme weather events, though it remains uncertain whether such discussion will spur additional federal climate mitigation or adaptation policies.

    1474 words

  • Democrats Oppose House Bills To Ease Obama EPA Clean Air Act Policies

    Many Democrats on the House energy panel are opposing GOP-backed bills to ease compliance with Obama EPA Clean Air Act rules for the brick and clay manufacturing sector, wood stove manufacturers, coal-waste burning utilities and makers of motor racing emissions "defeat devices," warning that the measures will worsen air quality.

    969 words

  • EPA Legal Filing Says Clean Power Plan Repeal Proposal Due This 'Fall'

    EPA in a new court filing is pledging to release its proposal to rescind the Clean Power Plan (CPP) greenhouse gas rule for power plants this "fall" after previously describing the effort as a years-long action, arguing that appellate judges should keep litigation over the Obama-era rule on hold pending release of the upcoming rule.

    504 words

  • Fighting FY18 Cuts, ECOS Makes Preserving STAG Funds Top FY19 Priority

    JACKSON HOLE, WY -- Even as they press EPA and Congress to reverse the Trump administration's proposed cuts to EPA's budget in fiscal year 2018, state environmental regulators are outlining top priorities for the agency's FY19 budget, including consistent funding for core programs, greater flexibility for states to use the funds and increased efficiency.

    504 words