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Clean Air Report - 03/23/2017

  • Pruitt Denies CO2 'Primary' Cause Of Warming, Spurring Sharp Criticism

    EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is casting doubt that carbon dioxide is a "primary" contributor to global warming, a statement sharply at odds with mainstream climate science but one that signals a heavy deregulatory agenda for the agency while seemingly ending questions that the Trump administration might take a softer approach on climate policy.

    1669 words

  • Draft Trump Executive Order Has Wide-Ranging Attacks On Climate Rules

    President Donald Trump is weighing a wide-ranging executive order to target multiple Obama administration climate change measures, according to a draft version, which calls for a "rewrite" of EPA's greenhouse gas rules for new and existing power plants, while repealing numerous executive actions crafted by the prior administration.

    704 words

  • Analysis Says EPA Understates Methane From Power Plants, Refineries

    EPA's greenhouse gas inventory is significantly underestimating methane emissions from natural gas power plants and petroleum refineries, according to a new study from Purdue University that suggests the categories "contribute significantly" to U.S. emissions and recommends further work -- including enhanced monitoring -- to understand and curb the emissions.

    941 words

  • Trump Seeks To Slash $2.4 Billion From EPA's Budget, End 50 Programs

    President Donald Trump's fiscal year 2018 budget outline proposes a massive $2.4 billion cut to EPA's existing $8.1 billion budget, a level that would bring the agency's funding down to $5.7 billion and end more than 50 programs including popular measures like the Chesapeake Bay cleanup program while still claiming "robust" funding for water infrastructure.

    830 words

  • ECOS Mounts Defense Of EPA's State Funding Assistance From FY18 Cuts

    The Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) is mounting a strong defense of EPA grants and other programs that support state activities from the Trump administration's suggested massive cuts to agency funding in fiscal year 2018, warning the cuts could threaten states' ability to meet a wide range of environmental protection goals.

    1457 words

  • Environmentalists, States Seek To Mobilize Public Resistance To EPA Cuts

    Environmentalists and state officials are framing the Trump administration's newly released "skinny" budget, which proposes massive cuts to EPA programs, as the start of a months-long battle in which they hope to mobilize a public revolt to shore up congressional resistance to spending reductions that they say pose a dire threat to public health.

    1485 words

  • IG Touts 'Return On Investment' In Call For FY18 Funding, Staffing Boost

    As the Trump administration mulls plans to slash EPA's budget, the agency's Inspector General (IG) Arthur Elkins, Jr. and other top IG officials are touting the division's "return on investment" to justify calls for increasing the IG's budget and staffing levels in fiscal year 2018.

    2105 words

  • Facing Severe Budget Cuts, Officials Urge EPA Staff To 'Ride This Out'

    Seeking to shore up agency morale in the face of draconian budget cuts proposed by the Trump administration, former Obama EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, as well as other current and former agency officials, are urging career staff at the agency to continue their current work while downplaying concerns that the budget plan will be the final word on the issue.

    1248 words

  • EPA Opens Door To Consolidating ESPS Suits But Seeks Additional Parties

    The Trump EPA is opening the door to an industry request to consolidate pending challenges over the Obama administration's denials of their administrative petitions concerning EPA's power plant greenhouse gas rule into the separate, already-argued cause on the rule's merits -- a move that would further delay a long-awaited ruling.

    849 words

  • Environmentalists Vow Strong Opposition To Trump Bid To End CPP Suit

    Environmental groups say they intend to oppose any Trump administration request for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to remand or place in abeyance litigation over EPA's power plant greenhouse gas rule, saying it is important for the court to rule on many issues in the case regardless of whether the Trump EPA intends to scale back the rule.

    1333 words

  • Trump's 'Two For One' Order Sparks Early Clash Over EPA Rulemakings

    Industry groups and environmentalists are clashing over how -- or whether -- EPA should implement President Donald Trump's executive order (EO) requiring agencies to "identify" two rules for repeal for every new rule they propose, with an industry group insisting that the order prohibits an Obama EPA air toxics proposal from advancing while environmentalists stridently oppose such a stance over a similar rule.

    1277 words

  • Industry Urges OMB To Prioritize EO's Cost Savings Over '2-1' Rule Repeal

    Major industry groups -- including oil and gas, paper, construction and others -- are urging the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to prioritize provisions in President Donald Trump's deregulatory orders that require agencies to offset new regulatory costs over its requirements that agencies "identify" two rules for repeal for every new regulation they propose.

    1091 words

  • Senators Eye Legislation Requiring Agencies To Use 'Best Available Science'

    The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee is weighing how to codify requirements in executive orders that EPA and other federal agencies utilize only the "best available science" in their regulatory decisionmaking, but is likely to take a different approach than EPA-specific science legislation in the House.

    1416 words

  • Sen. Lankford Introduces Bill Applying TSCA Science Standards To APA

    Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) has introduced a bill that would amend the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by applying scientific standards in the revised Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to all federal agencies that use science in their decisionmaking, saying it would ensure EPA and other agencies use "unbiased" data to develop their rules.

    526 words

  • Democrats Raise Agency Deference, ESPS Stay In Early Gorsuch Attacks

    Democratic senators in their opening statements for the first of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch's week-long hearings are raising early attacks to oppose the nominee including his opposition to agencies' deference, and the potential he would be a solid GOP vote for party-line 5-4 rulings like the court's stay of EPA's power plant climate rule.

    693 words

  • Pruitt May Have To Embrace 'Sue-And-Settle' Tactic He Pledged To End

    EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has promised to end "sue-and-settle" suits that environmentalists bring to enforce missed statutory deadlines, but many observers say he may have to embrace the tactic or face the risk of courts imposing much shorter deadlines than what he would otherwise be able to negotiate.

    1896 words

  • As Trump Order Looms, Groups Hint At 'Change' In EPA Stance In NSPS Suit

    Parties in the litigation over EPA's greenhouse gas standards for new power plants are jointly submitting a proposed format for oral arguments in the suit scheduled for next month, though it hints that the Trump administration could soon formally change the agency's position in the case and disrupt the plan given an anticipated presidential directive to the agency to "rewrite" the rule.

    731 words

  • Judges Doubt States' Case Against EPA's SO2 Deal With Environmentalists

    Federal appellate judges appeared deeply skeptical of a suit brought by six states seeking to vacate environmentalists' consent decree with EPA that gave the agency years beyond its statutory deadline to designate areas in attainment of sulfur dioxide (SO2) standards, with two judges suggesting the court lacked jurisdiction and the states could get relief elsewhere.

    1079 words

  • Judge Sets Three-Year Deadline For EPA To Review 20 Air Toxics Rules

    A federal district court is ordering EPA to within three years complete reviews of existing air toxics rules for 20 industrial sectors and determine whether to revise them, siding with environmentalists in a lawsuit that argued the agency is many years overdue on meeting Clean Air Act deadlines for assessing whether the rules are adequate.

    966 words

  • EAB Case Claims Unlawful EPA 'Rewriting' Of Waste Combustor MACT Rule

    A waste disposal company's pending Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) case accuses EPA Region 5 of unlawfully "rewriting" the agency's hazardous waste combustor (HWC) maximum achievable control technology (MACT) air toxics rule, saying an air permit the region issued sets stricter monitoring mandates than the MACT requires.

    796 words

  • Brick Sector Defends Against Push For Tougher 'Health-Based' Air Rule

    Brick manufacturers are defending EPA's air toxics rule for the sector against environmentalists' claims that EPA failed to follow Clean Air Act mandates and set unlawfully weak "health-based" air standards for the sector, saying nothing in the air law specifies harder limits and that EPA has discretion on how to set alternative air toxics standards.

    611 words

  • High Court Sets Strict Test For Trump Nominees To Serve In Acting Roles

    The Supreme Court has issued a ruling barring almost all acting agency officials from continuing in that role after being nominated to take the same position permanently -- a strict test that could limit President Donald Trump's ability to fill top slots at EPA and that also raises questions over the legitimacy of actions by the Obama EPA's deputy chief.

    1576 words

  • Pruitt Cites Lack Of Appointees To Further Delay Series Of Obama-Era Rules

    EPA is again extending the effective dates of five Obama-era final rules addressing air quality modeling, Superfund site listings, pesticide applicators, administrative procedures and formaldehyde emissions, citing a lack of political appointees in key positions as the administration struggles to fill its roster of senior managers.

    775 words

  • Pruitt Withdraws Decision-Making Powers From Senior Officials, Email Shows

    EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has since March 2 rescinded delegated authority for acting assistant administrators and regional administrators to take "significant" actions on his behalf, according to an internal email obtained by Inside EPA, centralizing decision-making for many high-profile issues despite Pruitt's lack of agency experience and minimal staff.

    619 words

  • Top EPA Transition Adviser Resigns, Citing Frustration Over Pruitt, Infighting

    David Schnare, who had been serving as a senior transition adviser at EPA and had been expected to stay at the agency permanently, resigned abruptly from the agency March 15 over concerns about infighting among administration appointees and Administrator Scott Pruitt's alleged lack of engagement.

    1290 words

  • CASAC Panel Supports EPA's Softening Of Sulfur Oxides Risk Assessment

    Members of an EPA Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) panel are supporting the agency's decision to soften some of its risk assessment's conclusions on the adverse health effects of sulfur oxides (SOx) emissions after earlier faulting EPA for overstating risks, suggesting the agency might not seek to tighten its SOx air limits.

    794 words

  • EPA's Reopening Of Vehicle GHG Decision Opens Door For Industry Pitch

    EPA's move to reopen its mid-term review of light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas standards gives automakers an opportunity to build a case over the next year to support weakening the requirements, though the agency faces several significant hurdles to softening the federal GHG and fuel economy limits.

    1757 words

  • Refiners Petition EPA To Reconsider 2016 RFS Cellulosic Biofuel Mandates

    Refiners are petitioning EPA to reconsider an Obama-era decision to deny them a waiver from having to comply with renewable fuel standard (RFS) cellulosic biofuel blending requirements for 2016, teeing up a test for the Trump administration on a controversial aspect of the RFS that is also at issue in suits over the 2017 mandates.

    739 words

  • Groups Spar Over Merits Of Cross-State Air Pollution Rule As Haze Control

    EPA, environmentalists, states and industry in new legal filings are sparring over the merits of the Obama agency's rule allowing participation in the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) emissions trading program to satisfy separate haze pollution control mandates, a policy that the Trump administration is currently continuing to defend.

    813 words

  • Utah Lawmakers Push CRA Resolution To Kill EPA's Haze Air Plan

    Utah's congressional delegation is pushing a Congressional Review Act (CRA) disapproval resolution that would scrap an Obama EPA plan imposing haze emissions reduction requirements on the state, a highly specific use of the CRA that if successful could nevertheless complicate the agency's power to impose haze plans elsewhere.

    437 words

  • Connecticut Urges Pruitt To Reverse Obama EPA Denial Of OTC Expansion

    Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) is urging EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to reverse an Obama-era proposal to reject a petition by several Ozone Transport Commission (OTC) states to significantly expand the OTC and impose its strict ozone-reduction mandates on nine more states in order to help them attain EPA's ozone standards.

    1008 words

  • Trump Faces Murky Process To Revoke NEPA Climate Guide, Source Says

    The Trump White House is widely expected to undo the Obama-era guidance for how how federal agencies should consider greenhouse gases and climate impacts under National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews but the effort faces an uncertain future because no such guidance has ever been rolled back, a source familiar with the issue says.

    1149 words