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Clean Air Report - 12/27/2018

  • Judges Appear To Back Stricter Ozone NAAQS, Doubt 'Background' Factor

    Appellate judges at Dec. 18 oral argument appeared to back the Obama EPA's 2015 decision to tighten its primary health-based ozone air standard and to doubt claims that the agency should have assessed "background" ozone levels to set a weaker limit, but they also faulted EPA for making the secondary environment-based standard the same.

    1529 words

  • Final CSAPR 'Close-Out' Rule Details EPA Defense Of Interstate Air Policy

    EPA's final rule to "close-out" the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) emissions trading program offers a broad defense of the agency's policy on reducing interstate air pollution that could help it defend the close-out rule from legal attacks, and that it might also use in ongoing suits aiming to force stricter EPA rules on the pollution.

    1609 words

  • Former CASAC Chair Warns 'Joke' Review Hurts PM NAAQS Assessment

    Former EPA Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) Chairman Chris Frey is denouncing the agency's truncated national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) review process as a "joke," and warning the shortened approach undermines the panel's ability to credibly assess the particulate matter (PM) NAAQS as mandated by law.

    1096 words

  • Capacity Limits May Hinder EPA Plan To Finish PM NAAQS Review By 2020

    Members of EPA's overhauled Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), dozens of former panelists, clean air advocates and even some major industry groups are warning that CASAC lacks the capacity to properly review the agency's federal particulate matter (PM) standards, hindering EPA's plan to finish the review by 2020.

    1040 words

  • MATS Rule Likely Floats Range Of Options From 'Tinkering' To Rescinding

    EPA's imminent proposal on reconsidering the Obama-era power plant mercury and air toxics standards (MATS) will float a host of options from rescinding the rule outright by undoing its cost-benefit analysis to "tinkering" with parts of the rule, sources say, and the agency will then use public input on the options to decide on a final outcome.

    1100 words

  • Harvard Scientists Tout MATS' Health Benefits Ahead Of EPA's Rule Review

    Scientists with the Harvard School of Public Health and other institutions are touting what they say are billions of dollars worth of "un-monetized" benefits from EPA's mercury and air toxics standards (MATS), offering a possible argument against a pending agency proposed rule that is expected to take comment on weakening or scrapping the rule.

    533 words

  • Suit Contests MATS 'Startup' Provisions Amid Uncertainty Over Rule's Fate

    Environmentalists have filed their opening brief in a suit contesting provisions in the Obama EPA's utility mercury and air toxics standards (MATS) addressing emissions limits during power plant "startup" periods, amid uncertainty over the fate of MATS in the agency's imminent proposed reconsideration of the 2012 regulation.

    820 words

  • Despite Past Filings, Sterigenics Avoids Filing Toxics Reports To EPA's TRI

    Sterigenics, the sterilization company at the center of a controversy in the Chicago area over its releases of ethylene oxide (EtO), appears to have dropped its past practice of filing emissions data to EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) database for 2017 for any of its facilities, according to searches performed by Inside EPA.

    1485 words

  • Inspector General Launches Review Of EPA's Efforts To Mitigate EtO Risks

    EPA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) is launching a review of whether EPA has taken sufficient steps to mitigate cancer risks presented by ethylene oxide (EtO) and other harmful chemicals in its air toxics rules, after the agency's most recent national air toxics assessment (NATA) spurred concerns in some communities over health impacts of EtO.

    570 words

  • House Democrats Eye RFS Reform Despite Worsening Prospects For Deal

    House Democrats plan to hold hearings on reforming EPA's renewable fuel standard (RFS) with a greater focus on the program's environmental impacts when they take over the lower chamber in January, but sources note that push-back on reform options at a Dec. 11 House hearing shows prospects for achieving a legislative deal are worsening.

    1609 words

  • EPA Granted Oil Giant Exxon 'Small Refiner' Waiver For 2017 RFS Volume

    EPA granted oil industry giant Exxon Mobil Corp. a "small refiner" waiver from renewable fuel standard (RFS) biofuel blending mandates for 2017, the largest company to receive such an exemption -- highlighting the contentious waivers that will be tested in a suit over the 2018 RFS that an appeals court has set for February argument.

    578 words

  • Sierra Club Threatens EPA With ESA Suit Over 2019 RFS Volumes Rule

    Sierra Club is threatening to sue EPA, claiming the agency violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and its implementing rules by failing to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) on the potential species impacts of the 2019 renewable fuel standard (RFS) rule.

    426 words

  • States, Utilities Seek EPA Certainty On Approvable ACE Compliance Plans

    States and the utility industry are urging EPA to outline the elements of an approvable compliance plan for its proposed Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) power sector greenhouse gas rule as it aims to finalize the measure early next year, saying certainty on acceptable state plans is vital to address fears they could include competing measures.

    1348 words

  • Wehrum Says ACE Rule's NSR Changes Won't Expand To Other Sectors

    EPA air chief Bill Wehrum says the agency does not currently plan to extend its proposed power sector-specific Clean Air Act new source review (NSR) alternative emissions test to other industries, even as the agency moves to ease separate NSR mandates for other sectors.

    635 words

  • Subtle Industry Split Emerges Over Scope Of EPA Methane Rule Rollback

    A subtle split is emerging in the oil and gas sector over the scope of EPA's efforts to roll back Obama-era methane standards for the industry, with smaller producers arguing the plan does not go far enough and should indefinitely defer rules for low-production wells while larger firms are embracing some level of regulation for existing equipment.

    1109 words

  • Becerra Leads States' Critique Of EPA Plan To Ease Oil & Gas Methane Rules

    California Attorney General (AG) Xavier Becerra (D) is leading a group of 12 states in opposing EPA's plan to relax Obama-era rules limiting methane and volatile organic compounds (VOC) from oil and gas equipment, charging it would violate the Clean Air Act by allowing thousands of tons of pollutants to be emitted.

    773 words

  • House Democrats Refine Early Focus On Climate Risks, GHG Rule Rollbacks

    House Democrats are refining their plans to make climate change an early focus of their oversight when they re-take control of the chamber in January, with lawmakers saying they are still crafting the finer points of their agenda though many have come to terms with the revival of a select committee that will focus exclusively on climate issues.

    1222 words

  • Democrats Seek Regular Trump Updates On Paris Climate Agreement

    Two House Democrats are floating legislation that would require the State Department to file quarterly updates on the U.S. stance toward the Paris climate agreement, in an effort to highlight contradictions in the Trump administration's approach to the deal.

    495 words

  • Northeastern States Agree To Craft 'Cap & Invest' Transportation GHG Plan

    Nine Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states are agreeing to develop a "cap-and-invest" plan to reduce transportation greenhouse gas emissions and bolster clean infrastructure by the end of 2019 -- the culmination of a multi-year effort to agree on a climate policy for the sector that is now the region's top source of carbon emissions.

    1410 words

  • Environmentalists Boost Bid To Show Industry Lobbying On Car GHG Plan

    Environmentalists are ramping up efforts to obtain information about the Department of Transportation's (DOT) external communications that could highlight its efforts to weaken vehicle fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards and the role of oil industry and other groups in lobbying for those rollbacks.

    741 words

  • Despite Few Real-World Impacts, NSPS Coal Proposal To Face Challenges

    EPA is acknowledging that its new proposal to weaken greenhouse gas limits for new coal plants will have few real-world effects because no new domestic coal plants are planned, though environmentalists are strongly opposing the measure anyway in part because it could allow a dangerous precedent of setting lax Clean Air Act standards.

    1193 words

  • Legal Fight Likely Over EPA's Proposal To Soften Wood Heater Air Rules

    Environmentalists and the state of New York are preparing for a possible legal fight against EPA plans to allow a "sell-through" period for retailers to sell wood-burning heaters that do not meet coming tougher federal emissions limits, which critics say is an unlawful delay of emissions reduction requirements that will harm public health.

    1541 words

  • Youth Climate Plaintiffs Urge 9th Circuit Court To Deny DOJ's Appeal

    Youth plaintiffs pursuing a high-profile constitutional climate change case against the Trump administration are urging a federal appeals court to reject the Department of Justice's (DOJ) effort to dismiss the case before it goes to trial at a lower court.

    591 words

  • Environmentalists Sue EPA Over Alaska's Fine Particle NAAQS Violations

    Environmentalists are suing EPA after the agency missed several deadlines to ensure that Fairbanks, AK, crafted Clean Air Act-mandated state implementation plans (SIPs) detailing how the area would reduce fine particulate matter (PM2.5) emissions in order to attain the PM2.5 national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS).

    427 words

  • Conservatives Eye Data Law To Force Retraction Of Trump's Climate Study

    Conservatives usually allied with the Trump administration are considering filing a data quality petition to force officials to withdraw or correct their recently released National Climate Assessment (NCA), charging it is flawed, undercuts the president's pledges to reexamine climate science and will drive suits to force regulatory action.

    1698 words

  • Scientific Study Reaffirms EPA Greenhouse Gas Endangerment Finding

    A new peer-reviewed study in the journal Science finds strong evidence to support EPA's 2009 finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare, concluding that there is no reason for the agency to overturn its threshold legal determination that makes GHGs subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act.

    470 words

  • UN Deal Highlights Trump's 'Schizophrenic' Climate Stance, Observers Say

    The final deal diplomats reached at the two-week United Nations climate meeting in Poland highlighted the Trump administration's "schizophrenic" stance, combining politically combative messages like promoting fossil fuels with constructive efforts to implement the Paris Agreement, observers say.

    706 words

  • States Cite Climate Report In Urging EPA To Withdraw GHG Rule Rollbacks

    Led by New York and California, a coalition of 29 states, counties and cities is citing the Trump administration's recent National Climate Assessment (NCA) that forecasts dire impacts from climate change to urge EPA to withdraw its proposals to roll back greenhouse gas regulations on vehicles and power plants.

    830 words