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Clean Air Report - 02/23/2017

  • Staff Opposition Expected To Hamper Pruitt's Agenda As EPA Administrator

    Newly confirmed Administrator Scott Pruitt will use his first day at EPA headquarters Feb. 21 to address staff about his plans as agency chief, though his pledges to rollback Obama rules and otherwise curtail the agency will face a skeptical or even hostile reception from employees who doubt his commitment to EPA's core mission of protecting public health and the environment.

    1701 words

  • As Pruitt Confirmed, McCarthy Urges Staff To Focus On Protecting Health

    As Scott Pruitt prepares to be sworn in as the next EPA administrator, his predecessor, Gina McCarthy, is urging agency staff to remain focused on actions to protect public health and the environment, rather than on what might happen under the Trump administration.

    1076 words

  • Trump EPA Said To Consider Cutting 'Duplicative' Regional Functions

    Trump administration advisers appear to be considering significant cuts to EPA regional office activities that could be described as “duplicative” of state environmental programs, according to a former agency official, who characterizes the ideas as preliminary.

    1154 words

  • Top Transition Official Details Budget For Trump To Permanently Shrink EPA

    Myron Ebell, the former head of the Trump transition team at EPA, says he hopes that President Donald Trump fulfills his campaign promise to dramatically and permanently shrink EPA by revoking its climate change authority, dramatically cutting its staff and budget, and shifting much of its work to states.

    2264 words

  • Trump EPA Weighs Shuttering Enforcement Office But Prospects Unclear

    The Trump EPA is weighing a possible shuttering of EPA's Office of Enforcement & Compliance Assurance (OECA) and returning civil enforcement to program offices, a move that sources say would significantly curb civil enforcement and be in line with Trump's calls to limit the agency's work -- though its prospects are unclear.

    1706 words

  • Pruitt's Emails May Give Democrats New Tool To Fight Trump EPA's Agenda

    The imminent release of thousands of Scott Pruitt's emails from his tenure as Oklahoma attorney general (AG) could give Democrats and other opponents of the newly-confirmed EPA administrator new tools to fight the Trump EPA's agenda after he is sworn in, though their release failed to help Democrats delay Pruitt's confirmation.

    1090 words

  • House GOP Bill Would Abolish EPA Regional Offices, Grants, GHG Rules

    House Republican Sam Johnson (TX) is floating legislation that would abolish all 10 EPA regional offices and terminate every agency grant program, while also prohibiting EPA from using any funds to implement a slew of greenhouse gas (GHG) programs and ending all agency environmental justice activities.

    657 words

  • Ozone Implementation Plan Shows Major Divisions Among Stakeholders

    EPA's proposal for how to implement its latest ozone ambient air standard is highlighting major divisions among stakeholders, with several states and industry groups faulting the agency's approach to weighing international emissions in states' compliance plans and environmentalists attacking parts of the rule as too weak to reduce ozone.

    1516 words

  • Suits Over 2017 RFS, Senators' Queries Add To Uncertainty Over Program

    Several fuel groups are suing EPA over the Obama administration's 2017 renewable fuel standard (RFS) targets while Democratic senators are querying President Donald Trump over the influence that his billionaire supporter and White House advisor Carl Icahn might have over the program, highlighting lingering uncertainty over the future of the RFS.

    1430 words

  • Trump DOJ Reiterates Obama-Era Legal Defense Of EPA's Multi-Year RFS

    The Trump Department of Justice (DOJ) is reiterating arguments made by the Obama administration to defend EPA's multi-year renewable fuel standard (RFS) issued in litigation over the rule, citing agency discretion to fight claims from the oil sector that the RFS volumes targets are too high and from renewable fuel groups that they are too low.

    957 words

  • Judges Question Trump EPA On Legality Of Obama-Era Air Toxics Regulation

    Appellate judges at Feb. 10 oral argument queried the Trump EPA over its defense of an Obama-era rule declaring that the agency has satisfied a Clean Air Act mandate to regulate 90 percent of sources of seven air toxics, questioning the legitimacy of the rule but also raising doubts on whether environmentalists' suit over the finding is timely.

    1316 words

  • States, 'Clean' Utilities Defend Power Plant MACT As Vital For Air Quality

    Several states and “clean” utilities that generate power from lower-emitting sources than coal are urging a federal appeals court to uphold EPA's cost assessment that justifies its maximum achievable control technology (MACT) air toxics rule for power plants, saying the rule continues to be vital to ensure good air quality nationwide.

    745 words

  • Trump Critics' Suit Over 'Two For One' Rule Order Claims Air Law Violation

    Environmentalists, labor unions and other pro-regulation advocates are suing over President Donald Trump's executive order (EO) that requires agencies to balance each new rule they issue by identifying two existing rules for repeal, saying the mandate violates Clean Air Act requirements for EPA to issue air and climate regulations.

    872 words

  • EPA Will Pursue Appeal Of Deadline For Study Of Air Rules' 'Jobs' Effects

    EPA is signaling that it will ask an appeals court to at least extend the deadline a district judge set for a sweeping review of how its Clean Air Act rules have affected power sector employment -- the first indication that the Trump administration will continue litigating the case despite environmentalists' concerns that it would reverse course.

    834 words

  • Experts Say Courts Might Wait To Review Trump Alternatives For Air Rules

    Environmental law experts say federal courts might postpone ruling on major Obama-era air rules, such as EPA's power plant greenhouse gas rule, opting instead to pass judgment on any Trump administration actions to modify or repeal those regulations in lieu of ruling on the merits of the Obama EPA's policies.

    1357 words

  • Trump Could Moot Supreme Court Agency Deference Suit Ahead Of Ruling

    The Trump administration could moot a closely watched Supreme Court case that tests judges' deference to EPA and other agencies' readings of their own rules, ending the case without a ruling if the administration withdraws the policy at issue in the suit -- though an environmental attorney says other deference test cases are on the horizon.

    687 words

  • D.C. Circuit Ruling Could Determine Trump EPA Options For Revising CPP

    As a federal appellate court prepares to rule on the legality of EPA's power plant greenhouse gas rule, supporters and critics say that how the court rules -- assuming it upholds the regulation -- could inform or affect the Trump administration's options for undoing or weakening the measure in a new rulemaking.

    1687 words

  • Appellate Judges Appear Skeptical Of EPA Power To Limit HFCs Under SNAP

    Federal appellate judges appeared skeptical during recent oral arguments that EPA has Clean Air Act authority to limit hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), refrigerants that are potent greenhouse gases, under a program targeting ozone-depleting substances, suggesting Obama-era climate rules issued under the program could be in danger.

    1635 words

  • Observers Weigh Options For Trump To Scrap, Revise Carbon 'Cost' Metric

    Trump administration officials have a range of procedural options to scale back -- or scrap entirely -- the social cost of carbon (SCC) metric for calculating the benefits of rules' greenhouse gas cuts, but supporters say such efforts could run into real-world difficulties, including how to justify such a move after years of reliance on the tool.

    1253 words

  • Draft EPA Inventory Shows GHG Cuts Amid Doubts On Trump Climate Plan

    EPA's new draft greenhouse gas inventory shows net emissions at their second-lowest level since the Great Recession due in part to continued energy-sector trends such as coal-to-gas switching and low electricity demand, though doubts linger about how the Trump administration plans to address global efforts to target climate change.

    679 words

  • Climate Policy Backers Praise GOP Tax Plan But Free-Market Critics Object

    Environmentalists and other supporters of climate policies to mandate greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions are praising a proposal by a group of Republican statesmen to enact a carbon tax with revenues returned to the public as an alternative to EPA climate rules, though free-market groups are sharply criticizing the idea of a new tax.

    847 words