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Clean Air Report - 05/18/2017

  • EPA Officials Defend Agency's Duty To Follow Science On Climate Change

    Current and former senior EPA officials are defending the agency's prerogative to follow the best available science on climate change from what they say are politically motivated attacks by the Trump administration and other critics of greenhouse gas (GHG) rules, arguing that addressing climate change is one of EPA's fundamental tasks.

    1118 words

  • Trump Postpones Decision On Paris Climate Accord Until After G7 Summit

    President Donald Trump will keep the world waiting even longer before he reveals whether he will pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement, with White House press secretary Sean Spicer saying Trump will wait until after the G7 leaders' summit this month to announce a decision.

    403 words

  • Trump's Repeal Of NEPA GHG Guide Leaves Agencies 'On Their Own'

    The Trump administration's repeal of an Obama-era White House guidance on how agencies should consider climate change and greenhouse gases in National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews, along with its directive not to use the social cost of carbon (SCC) tool, means that different agencies may use differing approaches on the issue.

    657 words

  • Mindful Of CPP Stay, Groups Spar Over Possible D.C. Circuit Rule Remand

    Supporters and opponents of EPA's power sector greenhouse gas rules are clashing over whether a federal appellate court should pause litigation over the rules or remand them to the agency as it mulls whether to revise or rescind the regulations, a question that could determine whether the Supreme Court's stay of the rule remains in place.

    1394 words

  • NOx Air Data Flaws Revive Debate On EPA Regulating Vehicles Or Utilities

    Academics are touting new research that they claim shows EPA has massively overestimated the amount of nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions that vehicles emit, reviving a debate over whether the agency and states should target emissions reduction rules on mobile sources or shift their focus to power plants as the alternative largest NOx source.

    1629 words

  • Air Quality Experts Mull Divergent Views Of NO2 Emissions' Health Effects

    Air quality researchers from the United States and Europe are mulling divergent views on how to evaluate nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions' impacts on human health, with Europeans eyeing an approach that presumes harms in the absence of other data while U.S experts take a more cautious method requiring proof to show harm.

    1250 words

  • Court Enters Deal Setting Deadlines For NO2, SO2 Standards Decisions

    A federal court has entered an agreement between EPA and environmentalists that sets legally enforceable deadlines requiring the agency to make decisions on whether to strengthen, weaken or maintain federal air quality standards for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) by dates certain, a schedule that will force action on overdue Clean Air Act reviews of the existing standards.

    695 words

  • Industry Sees Quick Action On Deregulatory Efforts As 'More Complicated'

    Despite unified Republican control of the government, industry groups are beginning to acknowledge publicly that quickly advancing new deregulatory actions in Congress and the Trump administration is more complicated than they initially believed, and they are stepping up their efforts to overcome hurdles at EPA and elsewhere.

    889 words

  • State, Local Groups Raise Questions Over EPA's Regulatory Reform Push

    Groups representing state and local environmental regulators at a recent meeting with EPA Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Officials (OCIR) raised questions over how the agency will conduct its regulatory reform push, and the groups plan on suggesting "tweaks and minor revisions" to rules rather than major overhauls.

    910 words

  • Trump EPA Advances First RFS Policy For OMB Review With 2018 Targets

    The Trump EPA has sent for White House pre-publication review its proposed 2018 fuel blending targets under the renewable fuel standard (RFS), which will be the first explicit statement of the agency's approach to setting RFS goals in an administration where cabinet officials are split over whether to oppose or support the program.

    920 words

  • Democratic Senators Seek Probe Of Trump Adviser Carl Icahn's RFS Trading

    Top Democratic senators are again probing the role of presidential special adviser Carl Icahn in trading of biofuel credits under the renewable fuel standard (RFS) program, questioning EPA and other agencies on whether Icahn "violated insider trading laws, anti-market manipulation laws," or other laws in his actions affecting the RFS.

    650 words

  • SAB, CASAC Nominations Delayed, Raising Questions Over Agency Plans

    EPA's process for selecting new members for two of its congressionally mandated scientific advisory committees is behind schedule this year, heightening observers' concerns over the Trump administration's approach to scientific reviews after recent reports that the agency delayed acting on a process for selecting members for a third panel.

    2165 words

  • EPA's FY18 Funding May Hinge On Progress Of Individual Spending Bills

    The ability of EPA's defenders to resist deep cuts to EPA's fiscal year 2018 budget may depend not only on their ability to mobilize public support in favor of the agency but also on whether Congress can avoid last-minute budget brinksmanship with the White House, while focusing aggressively on details in individual spending bills, according to several Senate Democrats.

    1218 words

  • Court's Exxon Air Ruling Shows Citizen Enforcement Focus In Trump Era

    A federal district court's recent ruling fining ExxonMobil almost $20 million for Clean Air Act (CAA) violations as the result of a citizen enforcement action highlights the importance of the air law's citizen enforcement provisions and hints at increased citizen suits if the Trump EPA pares back its enforcement efforts, environmentalists say.

    669 words

  • Trump Taps Bodine, An Experienced Hand, To Lead EPA Enforcement Office

    President Donald Trump announced late May 12 his intent to nominate former EPA waste chief Susan Bodine to lead the agency's enforcement office, tapping a Washington policy expert to provide key experience to Administrator Scott Pruitt's team and help advance several of Pruitt's priorities, including speeding Superfund cleanups and possibly returning some enforcement roles to agency program offices.

    670 words

  • EPA Argues EAB Lacks Jurisdiction Over Citizens' Utility Air Permit Appeal

    EPA says that its Environmental Appeals Board (EAB), which hears appeals of some state and agency actions, lacks jurisdiction to hear a novel citizen appeal of a San Francisco Bay Area natural gas power plant's apparent de facto Clean Air Act permit modification that citizens allege emitted excess pollution in violation of its permit.

    433 words

  • CRA Repeal Efforts End In Failure For GOP Of BLM Methane Rule Vote

    President Donald Trump and GOP lawmakers have used the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to repeal a host of late Obama-era environmental and other rules but their final attempt -- to overturn a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rule aimed at cutting methane waste from oil and gas operations on federal land -- ended in a surprise defeat.

    641 words

  • 4th Circuit Judges Skeptical Of Ruling Forcing EPA Air Rules 'Jobs' Review

    RICHMOND, VA -- Appellate judges at May 9 oral argument appeared skeptical of a lower court judge's ruling forcing EPA to complete by July 1 a review of the impact its Clean Air Act rules have had on coal sector jobs, raising a host of procedural criticisms of the decision even though it is unclear what remedy the judges might require.

    1619 words

  • Electric Utility DTE Readies Supreme Court Appeal Of Key NSR Ruling

    Electric utility DTE Energy Co. is preparing to ask the Supreme Court to review a recent appellate ruling that upheld EPA's longstanding view of its enforcement authority under the new source review (NSR) air permitting program, amid uncertainty over the Trump EPA's position on NSR enforcement.

    797 words

  • Shenkman: Do EPA Stances Change With 'The Shoe On The Other Foot'?

    Former EPA deputy general counsel Ethan Shenkman is questioning whether or how EPA and other parties' litigation stances change on several key issues now that former agency critics, like Administrator Scott Pruitt, are running the agency, industry faces a friendly administration and environmentalists and Democrats are in the opposition.

    1341 words

  • EPA Administrator Signs Recusal From Suits Over Major Obama-Era Rules

    EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has signed a recusal letter removing him from involvement in a slew of lawsuits challenging Obama-era EPA rules that he challenged in his previous role as Oklahoma's attorney general (AG), including litigation over power plant greenhouse gas standards, the Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction rule, and more.

    769 words

  • Energy Industry Opposes Adding Some Natural Gas Facilities To EPA's TRI

    Energy groups are opposing an Obama EPA proposal to expand the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) environmental release reporting program to include some natural gas processing facilities, saying the rule would be at odds with President Donald Trump's executive order (EO) that aims to limit the number of new rules agencies issue.

    1291 words

  • Court Grants EPA Bid To Postpone Industry Suit Over California Rule Waiver

    A federal appellate court has granted EPA's request to indefinitely delay May 18 argument in an industry suit challenging an Obama-era approval of California's request for a Clean Air Act waiver allowing it to set stricter off-road rules than the federal government, clearing the way for a broader reconsideration of EPA's waiver policies.

    1615 words

  • Inhofe Pushes Bill To Harmonize EPA GHG, NHTSA Fuel Economy Programs

    Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) is circulating legislation to "harmonize" the Department of Transportation's fuel economy program with EPA's greenhouse gas standards, but he has not yet introduced it because he has yet to win over a Democratic cosponsor, sources say.

    1165 words

  • White House, Industry Appear To Agree On Delaying Vehicle GHG Rules

    The White House and the auto industry appear to be in agreement on the broad goal of delaying compliance with EPA's light-duty vehicle fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards currently slated for model years 2022-2025, rather than easing the standards, though the process for executing such a delay is unclear and officials could still face significant hurdles.

    1469 words

  • EPA Hears Competing Arguments Over Revisions To Texas Haze Air Plan

    EPA is hearing competing arguments over whether to tighten or weaken the Obama agency's proposed emissions plan for reducing Texas' contributions to regional haze air pollution, with the state and utilities urging EPA to soften the plan while environmentalists say the proposal is the minimum required and the final plan should be stricter.

    1379 words

  • Biomass Sector Backs FY17 Bill's Carbon Neutral Tag, Others Query Need

    Biomass industry groups are welcoming legislative language in the fiscal year 2017 spending bill that directs EPA and other agencies to treat the renewable fuel as carbon neutral, but other fossil energy sectors question the need for such legislation when the Trump administration is undoing requirements to limit power sector greenhouse gas emissions.

    1375 words