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The Week Ahead

EPA Weighs Comments On Scrapping Methane NSPS, ‘Supplemental’ 2020 RFS Proposal

Comments are due this week on a slate of high profile EPA regulatory proposals, including its rollback of the Obama-era oil and gas new source performance standards (NSPS) that would scrap its direct methane limits, and a “supplemental” proposal for the 2020 renewable fuel standard (RFS) blending volumes that would increase the fuel production targets following demands from the ethanol sector.


Nov. 25 is the comment deadline for the methane NSPS proposal, which is EPA’s second revision to the Obama-era oil and gas rule. The earlier proposed rule would loosen leak-prevention and monitoring requirements. By dropping the methane requirements, the plan would effectively preclude similar limits on existing sources, since Clean Air Act section 111 only allows such rules for sectors subject to a corresponding NSPS. But environmentalists are already attacking the rule as unlawful, signaling likely legal challenges once it is finalized.

2020 RFS

The deadline for written comments on the supplemental 2020 RFS volume proposal is Nov. 29. The rule is in response to broad push-back from the biofuels sector against EPA’s increased grant of waivers to small refiners from their RFS obligations. It suggests increasing the percentage blend rate that refiners must achieve in 2020 based on a three-year average of waived volumes. Yet the methodology EPA is proposing means its average will be much less than the actual volumes waived, which has angered the same groups that called for the supplemental proposal.

Effluent Limits

EPA is taking comments on its latest “plan” document for crafting future Clean Water Act effluent limitation guidelines (ELGs) through Nov. 25. The Oct. 24 plan announces no new or revised effluent limits but notes several areas where the agency is continuing to study whether additional controls are needed and seeks comment on the new analyses and tools it could use.

Climate Change

Officials from the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions will host a Nov. 25 webinar to preview the United Nations’ 25th Conference of Parties (COP25) climate summit, scheduled to begin Dec. 2 in Madrid, Spain. That summit will focus on crafting rules to govern the environmental integrity of international carbon markets -- a crucial step for the Paris climate agreement from which the Trump administration recently initiated its formal withdrawal.

Meanwhile, the board of directors for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) will meet by teleconference on Nov. 26.

Air Toxics

Nov. 29 is the deadline for comments on EPA’s proposed risk-and-technology review (RTR) of air toxics standards for the rubber tire manufacturing sector. As with most of the Trump-era RTRs, the proposal finds no need to tighten existing standards that have been in place since 2002. However, the proposal does include some updates to electronic reporting provisions and limits for periods of startup, shutdown and malfunction that courts have held are unlawful.


Comments are due Nov. 29 on EPA’s proposed registration reviews for several pesticides: alkylbenzene sulfonates, cyproconazole, etoxazole, fenamidone, fenbutatin-oxide, fluazifop-p-butyl, flumetralin, MCPB and salts, mecoprop, oxyfluorfen, pinoxaden, pyraclostrobin and pyraflufen-ethyl.