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.


OECA’s Criminal Program Taking Stepped Up Role In Enforcement Efforts

EPA’s enforcement chief is highlighting the growing involvement of the agency’s criminal enforcement program in its overall enforcement efforts, including stepped up coordination between its criminal and civil programs to be more intentional and consistent about which program should handle cases and how. “We are promoting far greater strategic coordination between our criminal and civil enforcement programs,” David Uhlmann, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA), said in a keynote address to the American Legal Institute-Continuing...

EPA Punts Midwest E15 Approval Until 2025, Disappointing Biofuels Groups

EPA is delaying until 2025 application of its just-released rule enabling year-round sales of 15 percent ethanol fuel (E15) in Midwestern states, citing refiners’ warnings about a shortage of fuel supply that would result should it apply the rule earlier, and disappointing biofuels producers that will again require an emergency waiver to sell E15 this summer. In its rule issued Feb. 22, but yet to be published in the Federal Register , EPA revises its fuel volatility regulations to allow...

‘Good Neighbor’ SIP Cases Transferred To D.C. Circuit Amid Justices’ Review

A federal appellate court has granted EPA’s request to transfer two states’ cases against its denial of their interstate ozone plans to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, potentially boosting the agency’s fortunes in litigation over the federal Good Neighbor Plan (GNP) even as the Supreme Court seems poised to stay the rule. The decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, which appears to be the first time a federal appellate court has...

Former EPA Counsel Sees Broad Precedent From ‘Good Neighbor’ Rule Stay

The Supreme Court appears poised to issue a historic emergency stay of EPA’s “Good Neighbor” Clean Air Act rule and in doing so would reset the landscape for administrative law, potentially setting precedents by considering facts that occurred after a rule was finalized and by considering costs in a stay, says Kevin Minoli, who served as EPA’s principal deputy general counsel and is now a partner at Alston & Bird. The case, Ohio v. EPA , “is shaping up to...

‘Good Neighbor’ Air Rule Hangs In The Balance As Justices Appear Split

High court justices appear split on whether to grant an emergency stay of EPA’s Good Neighbor Plan (GNP) interstate ozone rule, with at least four conservative justices seemingly favoring a stay sought by “upwind” states and industry, though their success will depend on convincing at least one more of their colleagues to join them. During Feb. 21 oral argument in Ohio, et al. v. EPA, et al. , and associated cases, Justices Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch and Samuel...

Judge Pares Back Railroads’ Suit Over CARB’s Locomotive Emissions Rule

A federal district court judge is paring back the railroad industry’s challenge to the California air board’s rule requiring railways to reduce emissions from existing locomotives, finding some of the claims to be unripe or to fail on standing grounds, though he is allowing some claims for different parts of the regulation to proceed. In a Feb. 16 order , Judge Daniel Calabretta of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California granted a request from the California...

Draft SAB Advice Seeks ‘Substantial’ Strengthening Of Utility GHG Rule

EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) is floating a draft recommendation that the agency should “substantially increase” the stringency of its pending power plant greenhouse gas standards, arguing the proposed standards do not align with U.S. climate change targets set under the Paris Agreement. “The SAB is concerned about the continuation of allowable GHG emissions under this rule,” says a draft letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan dated Feb. 1 but only recently posted to the board’s website. The full SAB...

EPA Weighing Flexible ‘Facility-Wide’ EtO Limits In Tougher Sterilizer Rule

EPA is weighing increased compliance flexibility in its forthcoming air rule to curb ethylene oxide (EtO) emissions from commercial sterilizers, including an alternative “facility-wide” limit on EtO destruction removal efficiency (DRE), industry groups say, even as they say the current plan is infeasible and will cause shortages in medical equipment supply. Industry groups and public health advocates are now meeting with EPA and White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) officials to make their closing pitches ahead of the...

EPA floats copper smelters air rule

EPA has sent its draft final rule tightening air toxics emissions standards for primary copper smelters to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for interagency review, as the agency strives to issue the regulation by a May 2 judicial deadline. EPA sent the regulation for pre-publication review Feb. 16, according to OMB’s website. OMB review typically takes up to 90 days, but can be faster or slower, depending on the circumstances. The plan would tighten the national...

Debate Intensifies Over Consumer EV Readiness As EPA Preps Auto Rule

Biden officials and outside groups are increasingly debating consumers’ readiness to adopt electric vehicles (EVs), a key factor as EPA prepares to finalize its model 2027-32 light- and medium-duty emissions standards expected to spur greater EV sales as one compliance strategy. The debate comes as numerous groups are making late-hour pitches on the rule as part of the White House Office of Management & Budget’s (OMB) inter-agency review process, and as EPA officials appear poised to ease the rule’s projected...

Judge Grants EPA Request To Delay Trial In Novel Air Act Enforcement Suit

A federal judge has granted EPA’s request to indefinitely delay a high-stakes trial where the agency was seeking to use emergency Clean Air Act enforcement powers to require a Louisiana rubber manufacturer to dramatically cut emissions of chloroprene, allowing the agency to first finalize a rule expected to set strict new emission limits for the air toxic. Judge Carl Barbier of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana agreed to delay the trial, following a Feb. 16...

EPA Sends Final Rule Tightening MATS Limits For White House Review

EPA has sent its final rule likely tightening the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) for White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) interagency review, as the agency strives to meet its target of finalizing the major air rule in April. OMB received the final regulation Feb. 15, according to its website. OMB pre-publication review typically takes approximately 90 days, but can be faster or slower, depending on the circumstances. The final rule will reconsider the Trump administration’s risk-and-technology...

EPA readies final RMP rule for release after OMB review

EPA’s final rule updating its Risk Management Program (RMP) has cleared the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), setting the stage for the agency to enact the long-awaited policy in the coming days or weeks even as lawmakers, industry and environmentalists have raised a wide range of concerns over its expected changes. OMB signed off on the rule on Feb. 15 following months of meetings with stakeholders, opening the door for EPA to sign and publish the regulation...

Environmentalists Defend ‘Good Neighbor’ Plan Ahead Of High Court Hearing

Environmentalists are broadly calling on the Supreme Court to deny industry and GOP states’ requests to halt EPA’s “Good Neighbor” air plan ahead of an “emergency” Supreme Court argument on Feb. 21, warning that granting the stay would deepen judicial intrusions into scientific and regulatory decisions Congress delegated to the executive branch. “This is the Supreme Court getting even further into the agency’s business,” Sam Sankar, a senior vice president at Earthjustice, said during a Feb. 16 press call on...

Judges Grill Industry Attorneys On Ethylene Oxide Risks In Air Rule Suit

Federal appellate judges used Feb. 16 oral argument on EPA’s air toxics rule for chemical manufacturers to press attorneys for the challengers on claims that a landmark risk analysis for the solvent ethylene oxide (EtO) is fatally flawed and cannot be the basis for agency action, signaling that their decision could probe scientific issues key to the review. Judge Bradley Garcia and Senior Judge Judith Rogers, both Democratic appointees on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia...

PM Rule Revives Congressional Debate Over Air Permits, NAAQS Process

EPA’s release of a tougher federal air limit for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) has revived debate over air permitting and standard-setting amid worsening pollution from wildfires and other non-industrial sources, as House Republicans and industry warn of permitting “gridlock” and again push draft legislation to discourage further tightening of limits. At a Feb. 15 hearing, the House Energy and Commerce environment subcommittee probed the implementation costs and potential obstacles to industrial activity raised by EPA’s decision to tighten the PM2.5...

GOP State Utility Regulators Argue EPA Power Plant Rule Risks Reliability

Republican state utility regulators are amplifying calls from other GOP officials that EPA’s proposed power plant greenhouse gas standards would introduce grid reliability risks, outlining such claims at a Capitol Hill hearing that more broadly served as a venue to debate the merits of increasing wind and solar power. EPA’s power plant rules would put utilities, customers and state regulators in an “impossible position,” asserted Tricia Pridemore, a Republican member of the Georgia Public Service Commission, during a Feb. 14...

Settlement Requires L.A. Rule For Polluters To Pay Fees Or Slash Emissions

Environmentalists are touting a legal settlement requiring Los Angeles regional air regulators to adopt a fee rule by November that could fine polluters for their emissions or require them to reduce their pollution by 20 percent, a step that is expected to help the area meet federal ozone standards. “We are pleased that [the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD)] has agreed to a timeline to adopt this ozone fee rule,” said Earthjustice attorney Adrian Martinez in a Feb...

House Republicans Decry ‘Onslaught’ Of EPA Rules On Small Business

House Small Business Committee Republicans are warning EPA of “major” adverse impacts on small business of its rules on sterilizers, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), power plant greenhouse gases and other issues, asking the agency for more information on such impacts, and venting their frustration over compliance costs at a panel hearing. In a Feb. 14 letter to Administrator Michael Regan, panel Republicans led by Chairman Roger Williams (R-TX) write “regarding five of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rules and...

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