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.

Environmentalists seek EJ expert to lead EPA Region 6

Regional environmental groups are urging the Biden administration to select one of three environmental justice experts they have identified to lead the agency’s Region 6 office, arguing the office needs a “strong regional administrator” to “stand up” to the petrochemical industry centered in the southwestern region. In a June 14 letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan, more than 30 environmental and environmental justice groups urge officials to appoint one of three potential candidates to become the next Region 6 administrator,...

EPA Puts ‘High Priority’ On Truck NOx, GHG Cuts As Internal Talks Proceed

EPA’s top air official is promising anxious states, environmental and industry groups that he places a “high priority” on reducing conventional air pollution and greenhouse gases from heavy-duty vehicles but is not yet able to offer a schedule for action as officials complete internal deliberations. “The administrator has heard your message, and shares your priority,” acting agency air chief Joe Goffman told a virtual meeting of the Clean Air Act Advisory Committee’s (CAAAC) mobile sources panel June 15, but EPA...

Colorado urged to re-write coal plant permit

Environmentalists are calling on Colorado regulators to re-write the air permit of a local coal-fired power plant, and to reclassify the surrounding area as “nonattainment” with federal sulfur dioxide (SO2) limits, in further fallout from a whistleblower claim that the state evaded necessary air pollution modeling for many facilities. In a June 11 letter to state air regulators, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), the Colorado Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity and four other community groups asked the...

EPA Plans Actions To Address SIP Backlog But Faces Long Road

EPA is telling its Office of Inspector General (OIG) that it is seeking more resources and taking other steps to resolve a long-running backlog in its approval of state implementation plans (SIPs) for attaining air quality standards, though the OIG says that while officials have made progress, they still have a long way to go. In a June 14 report , the watchdog says EPA has reduced the number of delays in SIP actions since 2015, in part by taking...

As Smoke Fears Rise, Regan Vows To Boost Monitoring, Revise Testing

EPA Administrator Michael Regan is promising senators that the agency will better monitor wildfire smoke and revise wood-stove testing in response to queries on what action he will take to protect the public from the increased releases of particulate matter from wildfire smoke and from smoke emitted by wood-burning heaters. His commitments, made during a June 9 hearing on EPA’s fiscal year 2022 budget before the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, come as EPA faces heightened interest in the adverse air...

EPA set to publish revised ozone designations

EPA is moving to expand some areas of the country deemed in “nonattainment” with federal ozone standards, and propose an expansion of others, starting periods for litigation and public comment, according to two notices published in the Federal Register June 14. In the first decision , EPA will enlarge areas in nonattainment with the agency’s 2015 national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) of 70 parts per billion (ppb) to include outlying areas of existing nonattainment zones. Areas in nonattainment...

EPA Slows Effort To Propose Truck Rule, Rejecting Broad Stakeholder Push

EPA is under pressure from industry and environmental groups to propose by the end of the year and finalize in 2022 a rule to limit nitrogen oxides (NOx) and possibly greenhouse gases from heavy-duty vehicles, but the agency’s new unified agenda shows officials have reclassified the rulemaking as a “long-term” action with no specific deadline. The delay suggests officials are grappling with a series of tough questions, including whether or how to address environmentalists’ calls to toughen existing rules for...

Biden Officials Float Details On ‘Whole-Of-Government’ Climate Rules

The Biden administration’s first semiannual regulatory agenda is providing new details on its “whole-of-government” approach to climate change, including efforts that go beyond traditional emission controls to boost renewable energy, improve efficiencies, mandate climate risk disclosures and develop advanced nuclear reactors. Historically, EPA has played a central role in setting climate regulatory requirements, which is still reflected in the Biden administration’s Spring 2021 Unified Agenda of pending regulations, issued June 11. However, the plan also reflects a broader focus, detailing...

EPA settlement appears to skirt Trump prohibition on SEPs

EPA and New Jersey officials have signed a new settlement that requires a local utility authority to conduct a “state environmentally beneficial project” that pays for electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, an approach that appears to skirt Trump-era prohibitions on supplemental environmental projects (SEPs). The June 11 settlement between EPA, New Jersey and the Atlantic Coast Utilities Authority (ACUA) resolves allegations of violations of the Clean Air Act and New Jersey air laws at ACUA’s wastewater treatment plant in Atlantic...

Signaling Priorities, EPA’s Unified Agenda Omits, Delays Key Air Rules

The EPA air office’s just-issued regulatory agenda omits some key rulemakings expected from the agency, such as revisions to air quality standards, or delays others without deadlines for action, as officials wrestle with prioritizing its actions while faced with a daunting workload and still-limited resources to deal with a multitude of problems. The agency’s spring 2021 regulatory agenda, released June 10, lists several major air rulemakings it will pursue in the near future, such as steps to shore-up the legal...

Biden Agenda Signals EPA’s Priority GHG Focus On Vehicles, Methane

EPA’s unified agenda of upcoming regulatory actions offers new details on agency timelines for prioritizing light-duty vehicle standards and oil and gas sector methane controls in its initial greenhouse gas regulations, while appearing to confirm GHG rules for power plants are proceeding on a slower regulatory track. The spring unified agenda, released June 11, also specifies a series of deadlines for controlling or revising rules related to hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and other non-fossil fuel related greenhouse gases that appear broadly in...

EPA set to publish 1-BP listing notice, starting comment period

EPA is publishing in the June 11 Federal Register its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) soliciting public comment on a host of issues related to its forthcoming first-time action to list the industrial solvent 1-bromopropane (1-BP) as a hazardous air pollutant (HAP) under the Clean Air Act. Publication in the Register will start a 45-day public comment period, until July 26, for stakeholders to weigh in on the notice . EPA says it intends to add 1-BP to...

EPA Will Reconsider PM2.5 Air Limits Using ‘Supplemental’ Science

EPA will reconsider the Trump EPA’s controversial decision to leave federal standards for particulate matter (PM) unchanged from their 2012 levels and will use an accelerated review process using supplemental scientific data to issue a final rule likely tightening the limits in “Spring 2023,” the agency announced June 10. “The most vulnerable among us are most at risk from exposure to particulate matter, and that’s why it’s so important we take a hard look at these standards that haven’t been...

EPA Chief Regan Aims For Long-Term ‘Electric Future’ In Transportation

EPA Administrator Michael Regan says he is aiming for an “electric future” for road transportation, though he sees a useful role for near-term measures to reduce diesel exhaust, greenhouse gases and other air emissions from vehicles, statements that may heighten tensions with the oil and biofuels industries who compete over liquid fuels markets. Speaking at a June 9 hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s panel on interior and environment, Regan defended the Biden administration’s fiscal year 2022 budget that seeks...

Industry Fears Regulatory Chaos If EPA Agrees To Regulate Methane As VOC

Industry attorneys say a petition by 400 environmental groups asking EPA to regulate the potent greenhouse gas methane as a volatile organic compound (VOC) and ozone precursor would cause regulatory chaos and set a terrible precedent for future Clean Air Act regulations, particularly because methane is not volatile. The attorneys say the air act was not written to regulate substances such as methane as VOCs so subjecting them to requirements intended to address truly volatile substances will have wide-ranging impacts...

Industry Urges EPA To Amend, Not Rescind, Trump Cost-Benefit Rule

Industry groups are urging EPA to amend rather than rescind a Trump-era cost-benefit rule to require consistent analysis throughout Clean Air Act rulemaking, rather than return to prior practice they say can be manipulated to overstate benefits. The industry officials were speaking at a June 9 EPA hearing on its interim final rule rescinding the prior administration’s cost-benefit rule that had been finalized in December. EPA will accept written comments on the interim final rule through June 14 and will...

Extensive PFAS Precipitation Levels Renew Call For Broad Federal Response

Early data from a joint EPA-Canadian monitoring network shows widespread deposition of both legacy and replacement short-chain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in precipitation in the Great Lakes, driving new calls from environmentalists for officials to adopt a “whole-of-government” approach to address the issue. The EPA monitoring data, analyzed by researchers at Indiana University, showed that “wet deposition of PFAS has clearly exceeded that” of a range of legacy contaminants in the region, including polychlorinated biphenyls, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, organochlorine...

Critics Eye Applied Challenges As EPA Rescinds Trump Cost-Benefit Rule

Free-market and other EPA critics are unlikely to challenge directly the agency’s plan to revoke a Trump-era rule significantly narrowing how it calculates the costs and benefits of Clean Air Act regulations but instead will wait to bring an applied challenge when the agency issues a rule that revives the broader analytical approach that had been used for decades. As EPA prepares to hold a June 9 hearing on its interim final rule rescinding the 11th-hour Trump cost-benefit rule, Steve...

OIG finds EPA engine test slump delays truck NOx rule

EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) in a new report finds that EPA testing of engines and fuels slumped during the COVID-19 pandemic, slowing the agency’s forthcoming rule tightening nitrogen oxides (NOx) limits for heavy-duty trucks. In the report released June 7, the OIG finds that the inability of staff to work in EPA’s National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory (NVFEL) in Ann Arbor, MI, during much of 2020 resulted in a dramatic reduction in engine and fuel testing for...

EPA Vows To List 1-BP As HAP In 2021, With Immediate Compliance Impact

EPA is pledging to add the industrial solvent 1-bromopropane (1-BP) to the list of hazardous air pollutants (HAP) regulated under the Clean Air Act this year, the first such addition to the list, with several industry sectors facing immediate compliance obligations as officials launch a data push to determine the scope of any regulatory implications. In a June 7 legal filing , EPA tells environmentalists who are suing over the agency’s failure to act that it intends to place 1-BP...

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