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Clean Air Report - 04/19/2018

  • Trump Orders EPA 'Actions' To Ease NAAQS Process For Economic Gain

    President Donald Trump is ordering EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to take a series of "actions" to accelerate and ease state and industry compliance with national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS), with the White House saying changes to the setting and implementation of NAAQS could end "outdated" barriers to economic growth.

    1714 words

  • EPA Rejects Industry's Push To Ease NO2 NAAQS Limit, Implementation

    EPA has issued its final rule retaining the existing nitrogen dioxide (NO2) national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) of 100 parts per billion (ppb) over one hour, rejecting a request from several industry groups to consider softening the standard and also declining to adopt suggestions on easing the NAAQS' implementation.

    602 words

  • Environmentalists Seek Stricter SO2 NAAQS Attainment Designations

    Environmentalists are reiterating their calls for a federal appeals court to force EPA to designate parts of Colorado and Ohio as "nonattainment" for federal sulfur dioxide (SO2) standards, which would trigger strict requirements for the states to impose emissions control requirements on sources of SO2 within their control.

    576 words

  • EPA NSR Overhaul Will Target 'Aggregation,' 'Maintenance' Permit Policies

    EPA's push to overhaul and ease Clean Air Act new source review (NSR) permitting mandates includes plans in the coming months to issue a mixture of guidance and regulation on key issues including "aggregating" emissions for permitting purposes, and revising a policy on what qualifies as facility "maintenance" exempt from NSR.

    1479 words

  • Trump's Support For Annual E15 Sales Spurs Ethanol Critics' Legal Threat

    President Donald Trump is signaling support for pending EPA plans to allow year-round sales of ethanol fuel blends up to 15 percent (E15), prompting a warning from ethanol critics including the petroleum sector that the agency lacks the Clean Air Act authority for such a waiver.

    1565 words

  • Ethanol Group Urges EPA To Halt RFS Waivers For 'Small' Oil Refiners

    The ethanol group Growth Energy is urging EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to "cease" granting any new waivers for refiners from renewable fuel standard (RFS) blending requirements, citing what it calls "troubling reports" that the agency is granting hardship waivers to large companies that do not need them.

    539 words

  • GOP Touts High-Octane Standard In RFS Reform Package But Faces Hurdles

    Top House Republicans are expressing confidence about enacting a nationwide high-octane fuel standard as part of a broader package to "reform" or scale back the renewable fuel standard (RFS), arguing the move could satisfy a range of fuel stakeholders while also giving automakers a relatively cheap compliance option for fuel economy limits.

    1445 words

  • Ethanol Backers Seek To Block Suit Over EPA's Delayed RFS Air Study

    A group that supports EPA's renewable fuels standard (RFS) is seeking to block a Sierra Club suit that aims to force the agency to issue a congressionally mandated study on the environmental and air quality impacts of the standard, charging the group lacks standing to bring such a case.

    606 words

  • IMO Backs 50 Percent Cut In Shipping GHGs Over United States' Objection

    The United Nations' (UN) International Maritime Organization (IMO) that sets shipping emissions standards for member countries including the United States has agreed to cut shipping greenhouse gases (GHGs) by at least 50 percent from 2008 levels by 2050, over the objection of President Donald Trump's administration that largely opposes GHG rules.

    845 words

  • Federal District Court Slates October Trial Date For Youth Climate Suit

    A federal district court judge in Oregon has scheduled an Oct. 29 trial date in the first-time constitutional climate change suit brought by 21 youth plaintiffs, which seeks to force the government to adopt a broad climate protection plan to reduce greenhouse gases to levels scientists deem safe.

    397 words

  • Three Former FERC Members Dispute Pruitt's Logic On CPP Repeal

    Three former Democratic members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) are disputing EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's reasoning for seeking to repeal the Obama-era Clean Power Plan (CPP) to cut utility greenhouse gas emissions, saying that contrary to what the administrator says, the rule does not step on FERC's authority.

    539 words

  • Pruitt Said to Differ From White House, Wehrum On Vehicle GHG Approach

    A key White House official, the auto sector and EPA's own air chief are said to differ from EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and the Transportation Department on how far to roll back light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas and efficiency rules, amid uncertainty about whether Trump officials can avert a legal and political war on the issue with California.

    1277 words

  • Auto Group Weighs 'Flexibilities' Plan That Could Preserve EPA GHG Goals

    The trade association Global Automakers, which represents mostly foreign manufacturers, is said to be discussing a proposal, potentially along with other automakers, for retaining the goals of EPA's current greenhouse gas standards for light-duty vehicles, while adding more compliance flexibility that includes expanded use of "off-cycle" and alternative vehicle credits.

    1215 words

  • California Open To 'Minor Adjustments' To Vehicle GHG Regulations

    California, which holds significant leverage in Trump administration efforts to weaken greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards, is open to making "minor adjustments" to current requirements for model year 2022-2025 vehicles, according to Mary Nichols, chairwoman of California Air Resources Board (CARB).

    554 words

  • EPA Said To Be Working To Bolster Legal Rationale For 'Glider' Truck Plan

    EPA's controversial proposal to scrap production limits on "glider" trucks that do not meet modern emissions standards has been languishing for months, amid prior speculation that the agency was weighing a compromise plan though it now appears to be simply trying to shore up the proposal's legal basis before finalizing it.

    1308 words

  • EPA Rejection Of Interstate Air Petition Sets High Bar For Future Requests

    EPA's final decision rejecting a petition from Connecticut to impose emissions reduction requirements on a power plant in nearby Pennsylvania sets a high bar for other states to succeed with similar petitions asking for the agency's assistance in reducing interstate emissions from sources located in other states that they cannot regulate.

    1027 words

  • Duke Touts Clean Stove Project, Renewing Doubts On DOJ Settlement Policy

    Duke Energy is touting its plan to launch a third-party mitigation project -- required by an enforcement settlement with EPA -- that provides rebates to help consumers swap out old wood stoves for clean ones, renewing doubts over Attorney General Jeff Sessions' policy that seeks to block payments to third parties under such settlements, including a similar wood stove mitigation deal with Harley-Davidson that the government is seeking to drop.

    1522 words

  • EPA Backs Away From Obama NextGen Initiative But Impact Uncertain

    EPA's enforcement office has followed through with expected plans to back away from an Obama-era policy, known as Next Generation Enforcement (NextGen), that required broad consideration of innovative approaches in civil settlements, though one EPA source harbors doubts the new approach will mark a significant change in practice.

    776 words

  • EPA IG Launches Audit Of EPA Smokestack Emissions Testing Oversight

    EPA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) is launching an audit into EPA's oversight of smokestack emissions testing and reporting, with an initial focus on the agency's Region 10 covering the Pacific Northwest.

    321 words

  • Senate Confirms Andrew Wheeler As EPA's New Deputy Administrator

    The Senate has confirmed Andrew Wheeler, a former GOP Senate staffer and energy industry lobbyist, as EPA deputy administrator, ensuring that the Trump administration has a Senate-confirmed deputy who could lead the agency should Administrator Scott Pruitt leave due to ongoing ethics scandals.

    410 words

  • Top Pruitt Aide Dravis Resigns Amid Swirl Of Negative News Coverage

    Samantha Dravis, the head of EPA's policy office and a long-time confidant of Administrator Scott Pruitt, has resigned from the agency just as a swirl of negative headlines broke about Pruitt's alleged ethical lapses regarding travel, living arrangements and hiring practices.

    381 words

  • District Court Judge Sets Tight Deadline For EPA Air Toxics Rule Reviews

    A federal district court judge is ordering EPA to complete within three and a half years several overdue Clean Air Act risk and technology reviews (RTRs) of air toxics rules for various industry sectors, a loss for the agency that had sought seven years, but slightly longer than the two-year deadline environmentalists had sought.

    478 words

  • EAB Remands Permit Case Claiming Incinerator Toxics Rule 'Rewrite'

    EPA's Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) has approved EPA Region 5's motion for a voluntary remand of an air permit the region issued for incinerators owned by waste disposal firm Veolia ES Technical Solutions, LLC, ending a case in which the company had claimed the agency used a permit to "rewrite" its waste combustor air toxics rule.

    458 words

  • OMB Reviewing Plan To Establish 'Consistency' On EPA Cost Estimates

    EPA has sent the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) a draft measure to "increase the consistency and transparency" across its offices of how the costs of its rules are evaluated, an effort that is renewing fears that the Trump administration may seek to play up rules' costs and downplay their benefits.

    461 words

  • OIRA Working With EPA To Develop 'Best Practices' On Scientific Data

    White House regulatory chief Neomi Rao says her staff is working with EPA on developing a policy on the use of scientific data that underlies its rules, suggesting that the agency may take a softer approach than Administrator Scott Pruitt had signaled when he said he would require the agency to rely only on publicly available data to justify its rules.

    733 words

  • States' Suit Aims To Force EPA Methane Rule For Existing Oil & Gas Sites

    More than a dozen Democratic states and cities are suing EPA to force issuance of first-time standards to limit methane emissions from existing oil and gas operations, claiming the agency has a Clean Air Act mandate to issue such rules after finalizing methane standards for new oil and gas sites but is "unreasonably" delaying such a policy.

    571 words