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Clean Air Report - 08/09/2018

  • EPA Expects 'Flexible' Ozone SIPs By Oct. 1 Deadline, States Fear Sanctions

    AUSTIN, TX -- EPA expects states to meet an Oct. 1 deadline for submitting plans to reduce interstate air pollution and predicts many will opt to use regulatory "flexibilities" that could reduce their obligations, but some sources say there is major concern about the potential sanctions the agency could impose on states that will miss the deadline.

    1360 words

  • East Coast States Warn EPA's CSAPR 'Closeout' Is Unlawful, Inadequate

    East Coast states are warning EPA against finalizing its proposed finding that its Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) emissions trading program fully satisfies Clean Air Act requirements to curb interstate ozone pollution, telling the agency the proposal is based on faulty and unlawful assumptions about the problems of ozone transport.

    1075 words

  • Wheeler, Wehrum Reaffirm Key Elements Of Pruitt's Air Program Overhaul

    Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and air office chief William Wehrum are reaffirming several key elements of former agency chief Scott Pruitt's plan for overhauling EPA's air program, including controversial streamlining of national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) reviews and easing new source review (NSR) permitting.

    1086 words

  • Wheeler Sidesteps Senate Democrats' Calls To Reverse Pruitt EPA Agenda

    Senate Environment & Public Works Committee (EPW) Democrats at an Aug. 1 hearing with acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler urged him to halt many of the Obama-era rule rollbacks launched by former Trump agency chief Scott Pruitt, but Wheeler largely sidestepped the calls and made no firm commitments.

    530 words

  • Wheeler's Transparency Order Echoes Obama EPA Chief Jackson's Memo

    Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has issued his "fishbowl memo" principles for transparency in the agency's contact with the public, including rulemakings, litigation, responses to oversight requests and document releases, including several principles that echo a similar memo from Obama EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.

    794 words

  • States' Oil & Gas Methane Suit Could Force Stricter EPA Clean Air Policies

    AUSTIN, TX -- Pending litigation from 15 states and environmentalists to force the Trump EPA to issue first-time methane emissions standards for existing oil and gas equipment could, if successful, broadly force the agency to issue tougher Clean Air Act rules for several sectors, according to legal experts.

    881 words

  • EPA Proposes Freeze On Vehicle GHG Limits, Revoking California's Waiver

    EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have issued their long-awaited rule to "correct" Obama-era vehicle greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards by freezing the program at model year 2020 (MY20) standards, while proposing to revoke California's power to set stricter vehicle GHG standards.

    917 words

  • Wehrum Eyes Decision On Greenhouse Gas Limits For Truck Trailers

    EPA air chief William Wehrum is said to be close to deciding whether to continue with a Pruitt-era plan to remove the trailers pulled by trucks from the agency's greenhouse gas rule for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, or to take a less-aggressive posture that continues to regulate the equipment while imposing softer requirements than the 2016 phase 2 GHG regulation.

    553 words

  • EPA Seeks To Dismiss Suits Over Withdrawn Glider Enforcement Waiver

    EPA is asking a federal appeals court to dismiss pending legal challenges by several states and environmentalists to the agency's withdrawn enforcement waiver of restrictions on production of high-emitting glider trucks, arguing that the legal fight is now moot because the agency has since scrapped the waiver.

    540 words

  • EPA Retains Obama-Era Ozone NAAQS, Rejects Push For Reconsideration

    EPA has decided against reconsidering the Obama-era decision to tighten the ozone national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) from the 2008 limit of 75 parts per billion (ppb) down to 70 ppb, opting instead to consider the issue as part of an expedited review of the 2015 standard that the agency is slated to conclude in October 2020.

    1186 words

  • EPA Seeks Nominees For New CASAC Ozone Standard Review Panel

    EPA is seeking nominations for air quality experts to form a Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee panel to provide input on the agency's review of its ozone national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS), with the agency looking to conduct an accelerated assessment and decide by October 2020 whether to change the standards.

    623 words

  • Environmentalists Fight EPA Bid To Undo Ozone 'Backsliding' Ruling

    Environmental groups are opposing EPA's bid to scrap elements of a complex appeals court ruling that vacated several pieces of the agency's rule for states' implementation of the 2008 federal ozone standard, pushing instead for a limited stay of the court's ruling with respect to the affected "anti-backsliding" protections.

    705 words

  • Maine Bids For Exclusion From Ozone Transport Commission Region

    Maine is petitioning EPA to exclude most of the state from the Ozone Transport Commission (OTC) region of Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states where emissions controls are tougher than elsewhere, citing improved air quality in the state.

    345 words

  • EPA Eyes New Talks On RFS Overhaul But Congress Seeks Long-Term Bill

    Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is eyeing new talks with the oil and ethanol industries on potential administrative reforms to the renewable fuel standard (RFS) after dropping a reform "package" crafted by former agency chief Scott Pruitt, but a bipartisan group of lawmakers is instead writing legislation for long-term reforms.

    1491 words

  • Senators Revive Battles Over RFS At Acting EPA Chief Wheeler's Hearing

    Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler faced a litany of questions on his handling of the renewable fuel standard (RFS) from both sides of the aisle during his first congressional hearing as the agency's top official, with legislators reviving a battle over the agency's use of waivers from federal biofuels blending mandates.

    921 words

  • Trump 'Close' To Granting E15 Waiver, Contradicting EPA's Wheeler

    President Donald Trump says he is "very close" to allowing year-round sales of 15 percent ethanol (E15) fuel, but the remarks appear to contradict acting EPA chief Andrew Wheeler's recent statement that he will not implement a renewable fuel standard reform (RFS) package that included biofuels makers' push for annual E15 sales.

    742 words

  • Major Biofuels Group Sees Progress On E15 Waiver, Fuel Economy

    The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), a leading biofuels group, says it is optimistic on obtaining an EPA waiver for 15 percent ethanol fuel (E15), and is hailing EPA's consideration of higher blends of biofuels to boost fuel economy in the agency's proposal to freeze federal fuel economy standards for cars at model year 2020 (MY2020) levels.

    780 words

  • EPA's 2018 Renewable Fuel Standard Rule Draws Competing Legal Attacks

    Environmentalists, refiners and the biodiesel industry are leveling a wide range of sometimes contradictory legal accusations over EPA's rule setting biofuel blending volumes for 2018 under the renewable fuel standard (RFS), as refiners and environmentalists seek to scrap or limit the rule, and biofuels interests seek to maximize volumes.

    1083 words

  • Judge Orders NEPA Review Of Powder River GHGs But Won't Stop Leasing

    A federal judge in Montana is directing the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to conduct a new National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review of management plans for the fossil fuel-rich Powder River Basin (PRB), to consider the downstream greenhouse gases that could be released if the fuel is extracted and burned.

    926 words

  • EPA Tells FERC No Need To Monetize GHGs In Gas Pipeline Reviews

    EPA has told federal energy regulators they no longer need to monetize the cost of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions when weighing natural gas pipelines' environmental impacts, likely giving the commission cover to defend its recent largely partisan decisions to approve pipelines without broadly quantifying their GHG and climate change impacts.

    852 words

  • EPA Air Official Predicts Push For Strict PM NAAQS But Doubts Feasibility

    AUSTIN, TX -- A top EPA air official is predicting some stakeholders will push for significantly ramping down the fine particulate matter (PM2.5) ambient air standard from the current limit of 12 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3) to as low as 5 ug/m3 as part of EPA's ongoing review of the limit, but is suggesting such a standard might be technically impossible.

    626 words

  • Environmentalists Seek High Court Order For CPP Critics To Justify Stay

    Environmentalists are asking Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to require opponents of the Obama EPA's Clean Power Plan (CPP) utility greenhouse gas rule to explain why the court's almost two-and-a-half year stay of the rule should remain in effect, noting that the legal challenges to the rule that prompted the stay have halted.

    1141 words

  • EPA Plans To Send Draft Power Plant NSPS Overhaul To OMB In August

    EPA plans to submit a draft proposed replacement for the Obama-era rule to cut greenhouse gases from new power plants, known as a new source performance standard (NSPS), to the White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) in August, according to a new filing in paused litigation over the original rule.

    502 words

  • 10th Circuit Backs States, EPA On 'Exceptional Events' Air Law Waivers

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in a new ruling is bolstering EPA's discretion to approve states' applications for Clean Air Act regulatory exemptions for "exceptional events," such as dust storms or wildfires, backing the agency's approval of dozens of requests from Colorado over environmentalists' objections.

    635 words

  • Environmentalists Pursue EAB Case Over EPA's Air Permits For Utah Gas

    Environmentalists are pursuing an EPA Environmentalists Appeal Board (EAB) case challenging Clean Air Act "synthetic" minor source permits that the agency's Region 8 issued for gas production operations on tribal land in Utah, part of a broader legal strategy to challenge drilling in the state that they warn is harming air quality.

    799 words

  • High Court Rejects Justice Department Bid To Halt Youths' Climate Case

    The Supreme Court is rejecting an unusual request by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to halt a case proceeding in district court that is slated to go to trial this fall where 21 youth plaintiffs are alleging the U.S. government is violating the Constitution by failing to protect them from the harms of climate change.

    864 words

  • Carper Compares Kavanaugh To Pruitt In Effort To Block Nomination

    Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), the ranking Democrat on the Senate environment committee, is comparing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to ousted EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, in a bid to block the appellate judge's Senate confirmation to the high court.

    733 words

  • Senate Approves FY19 Bill Maintaining EPA Funds, Teeing Up House Fight

    The Senate has approved a "minibus" fiscal year 2019 spending bill that largely maintains EPA's existing funding level, teeing up a fight with the House that has already approved an FY19 measure to cut funding for the agency's budget by between $100 million and half a billion dollars, depending on which programs are counted as base EPA funding.

    675 words