Air

Tracking the latest agency and congressional debates over rules to cut emissions of traditional pollutants, and a broad range of novel EPA policies including the agency's shift to a "multipollutant" regulatory approach for individual sectors.

Topic Subtitle
Tracking the latest agency and congressional debates over rules to cut emissions of traditional pollutants, and a broad range of novel EPA policies including the agency's shift to a "multipollutant" regulatory approach for individual sectors.

With Science Debate Closed, Ozone Review Enters Contentious Policy Phase

EPA’s advisers recently approved a Trump-era science assessment as adequate to support the agency’s reconsideration of federal ozone standards, but a more contentious debate awaits as the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) mulls EPA’s draft policy document that again recommends retaining existing limits. In the next phase of the reconsideration, EPA will seek the input of CASAC’s special ozone panel on its draft policy assessment (PA) document, which in its current form again recommends retaining current national ambient air...

NEJAC Presses EPA To Impose Strict Conditions On State IRA Funding

Members of EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) say the agency must impose strict conditions on states and other governmental entities that receive Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) funding from the agency’s air office to ensure that the environmental justice (EJ) communities are the beneficiaries as intended. During the council’s Nov. 30 meeting, the panelists urged EPA to require states to “regrant” the money to EJ groups or otherwise mandate that states involve them from the outset, citing “patterns” of...

EJ Panel Rejects White House Call To Advise Agencies On CCS, For Now

White House environmental justice (EJ) advisors are, for now, refusing officials’ request to join a federal working group focused on equitably implementing carbon capture and storage (CCS) and other “carbon management” projects funded by recent climate legislation, underscoring their long-running opposition to the technologies’ use. During a Dec. 1 meeting of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Committee (WHEJAC), panelists said they are not yet ready to discuss the issue with the government, though they are continuing to discuss the...

EPA’s RFS ‘Set’ Seeks Steady Growth Of Biofuel Volumes For Three Years

EPA’s “set” proposal outlining the future of the renewable fuel standard (RFS) calls for a steady growth of biofuel blending over three years, driven by strong growth in low-carbon cellulosic and advanced biofuel categories, reflecting Biden administration priorities, as well as modest growth in biodiesel volumes and flat volumes for conventional corn ethanol. “This proposal supports low-carbon renewable fuels and seeks public input on ways to strengthen the program. With this proposal, EPA seeks to provide consumers with more options...


EPA Proposes Tightening Air Emissions Limits For Lead Battery Recyclers

EPA is proposing to significantly tighten particulate matter (PM) emissions limits for secondary lead smelters that recycle lead-containing materials such as batteries, eliminating waivers for periods of plant startup, shutdown and malfunction (SSM) and bringing emissions limits into line with existing air toxics regulations for the sector. In a proposed rule slated for publication Dec. 1, EPA is proposing to tighten PM emissions limits for two types of furnaces used by lead recyclers -- blast furnaces and reverberatory furnaces --...


EJ Backers Fear EPA’s ‘Green Bank’ Funds Could Fail Without Safeguards

Environmental justice (EJ) advocates are expressing fears that EPA’s multi-level process for distributing $27 billion in clean energy grants from this summer’s climate law, much of which is targeted to disadvantaged communities, could ultimately mean the funds fail to reach those most in need. In addition, the EJ advocates are concerned that EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GHGRF) could focus too heavily on rooftop solar projects that are difficult to spur benefits for low-income renters, and that the fund could...

EJ Groups Seek Summary Judgment Forcing CARB Adoption Of Air Measures

Several environmental justice (EJ) groups are seeking summary judgment in their federal lawsuit against the California air board to force the agency to adopt a set of “contingency measures” it previously committed to as part of the state’s EPA-approved strategy to attain federal air standards for the San Joaquin Valley. “Because there are no genuine issues of material fact, this Court should enter judgment in favor of Valley EJ Organizations, declare that Defendants have a duty to develop, adopt, and...

Groups Jockey For Advantage In ‘eRIN’ Market As RFS ‘Set’ Plan Looms

Producers and distributors of electricity used in transportation are jockeying with each other and liquid biofuel producers to receive renewable fuel standard (RFS) compliance credits under a novel framework EPA will include in its imminent “set” proposal that will fix RFS biofuel blending mandates for 2023 and beyond. EPA faces a Nov. 30 consent decree deadline to belatedly propose its “set” rule that will establish the 2023 and later RFS blending requirements, setting volumes for several years under its own...

EPW Deadlocks On Goffman Pick, Leaving Unclear Confirmation Path

The Senate environment committee has deadlocked on the nomination of Joe Goffman to serve as the assistant administrator in EPA’s air office, leaving his path to confirmation uncertain during the lame duck session though his confirmation may be more likely in the next Congress if Sen Raphael Warnock (D-GA) wins his upcoming runoff election. In a largely expected outcome, the panel Nov. 29 voted 10-10 along party lines. Under current Senate rules, the outcome will force Democrats to hold a...

CASAC Approves EPA Ozone Science, Recommends Future Improvements

EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) has formally approved the agency’s science assessment for its ongoing reconsideration of federal ozone standards, boosting chances that officials will be able to quickly complete their reconsideration while clarifying that EPA should address the panel’s concerns in future ozone reviews. In a Nov. 22 letter to Administrator Michael Regan, CASAC revises language included in earlier draft versions of the letter, which finds that the integrated science assessment (ISA) developed by the Trump EPA...


Refiners Criticize ‘Dystopian’ EPA Plan For Extended RFS Compliance

EPA’s revised timeline for complying with renewable fuel standard (RFS) biofuel blending mandates is “dystopian,” according to refiners who are suing to scrap a compliance extension that they say led to an unmanageable pile-up of multiple deadlines as the agency seeks to compensate for its own implementation delays. In their final reply brief filed Nov. 22 in Wynnewood Refining Company, LLC, et al. v. EPA , now before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, refiners...

EPA agrees on deadlines to act on California PM plans

EPA has reached a proposed consent decree deal with environmental groups on deadlines for the agency to take a series of steps establishing partial direct federal regulation of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in California’s San Joaquin Valley, after EPA approved only part of California’s own plans to attain federal limits for PM2.5 in the area. In the consent decree announced in the Nov. 23 Federal Register , EPA settles claims brought by environmental groups Comité Progreso de Lamont, Committee for...

EPA Affirmation Of Air Permit ‘Reactivation’ Policy Leaves Ambiguity

EPA’s recent move to reaffirm its policy on whether industrial facilities are “reactivated” and therefore require new air permits underscores the agency’s discretion about when to treat plants as “new,” establishing general principles to guide regulators but eschewing any “bright line” test in favor of considering a plant operator’s “intent.” In a decision announced Nov. 17, EPA Administrator Michael Regan and other agency officials said they would require the owners of a shuttered oil refinery on St. Croix, in the...

Clock starts for suits against aircraft PM rule

The publication of EPA’s final rule setting status-quo particulate matter (PM) emissions standards for aircraft engines has started a 60-day clock for potential litigants to file lawsuits against the regulation, with environmental groups and some states primed to sue after heavily criticizing the regulation for being unlawfully lenient. Following publication in the Federal Register Nov. 23, groups have until Jan. 23 to file suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. EPA Administrator Michael...

DOJ Seeks Contempt Finding If Coal Plant Runs Past Compliance Deadline

The Justice Department (DOJ) is asking a federal district judge to hold the utility Ameren in contempt of court if its Rush Island coal-fired power plant continues operating beyond March 2024, which was the judge’s initial deadline for the facility to install modern pollution controls after finding the company violated the Clean Air Act’s new source review (NSR) program. The request, made at a Nov. 15 status hearing before Judge Rodney Sippel of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern...

EPA Officials Weigh Multiple Structures For IRA’s ‘Green Bank’ Funding

EPA officials say they are considering a variety of ways to disperse the $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GHGRF), as some groups are pressing the agency to give the majority of the fund to a single national “green bank,” while others are urging it to distribute the funds across multiple entities. “There’s clearly an interest in a single entity national green bank,” but “there’s also a strong interest in multiple potential recipients,” said Lori Collins, a member of EPA’s...

Trump science advisers appeal CASAC ruling

Former Trump-era EPA science advisers are appealing a district court ruling against their suit seeking to dismiss the current Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) that advises EPA on setting federal air standards, in a move that could once more cast doubt over crucial reconsiderations of limits for ozone and particulate matter (PM). In a Nov. 18 procedural filing with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in S. Stanley Young, et al., v. EPA, et al. ,...

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