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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.