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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.

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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.

States, Allies Continue Venue Fight In Suits Over Auto GHG Preemption

States, environmental groups and local air officials are pushing back against Trump administration claims that litigation over Trump’s preemption of state vehicle emission rules belongs in appellate court, highlighting the legal downsides to the government’s strategy of severing the preemption action from a plan to weaken federal standards. The pushback surfaces in Nov. 14 responses to the government’s recent motion to dismiss federal district court challenges to the Department of Transportation’s rule preempting California’s auto greenhouse gas and zero-emissions vehicle...

EPA proposes to strengthen Texas SO2 trading program

EPA is proposing to add an “assurance” mechanism to backstop emissions limits under a controversial Texas sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions trading program, as part of the state’s plan to comply with haze reduction requirements. In a Nov. 14 Federal Register notice, EPA announces its supplemental proposal that would modify its August 2018 proposal to approve the Texas-only trading program, which EPA and the state established jointly in a Federal Implementation Plan (FIP) that serves as an alternative to traditional...

House, Senate Democrats float bill to phase out current RFS

House and Senate Democrats have reintroduced legislation to phase out the renewable fuel standard (RFS) in its current form, seeking to end conventional ethanol blending mandates after 2030 following a sunset beginning in 2020, while leaving open smaller production goals for cellulosic and other advanced biofuels. In companion bills introduced Nov. 14, Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) and Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) seek to sunset the RFS’ conventional, corn-based ethanol blending mandates, and instead boost advanced biofuels with lower greenhouse gas...

Upcoming House Bill To Prod Agency Focus On 2050 GHG Target

Over 100 House Democrats are poised to formally endorse legislation setting a national goal of a 100 percent clean energy economy by 2050 and urging federal agencies to take early steps to meet that target using existing authority, part of an effort to craft a broad legislative agenda and mobilize advocacy around climate policy. Rep. Don McEachin’s (D-VA) forthcoming measure will be unveiled weeks ahead of a separate discussion draft -- slated for release around the end of the year...


CASAC’s Majority Formally Rejects EPA Staff Call For Stricter PM2.5 NAAQS

Most members of a divided EPA Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) are rejecting an EPA staff policy paper that called for tightening the annual fine particulate matter (PM2.5) ambient air limit to protect human health, with the majority instead saying the existing limit is sufficiently protective of the public. In a Nov. 13 draft letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, CASAC endorses retaining the annual primary health-based national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) for PM2.5 of 12 micrograms per...

EPA pushes to consolidate RFS waiver suits in D.C. Circuit

EPA is pushing to consolidate litigation against the agency’s policy on granting small refiners waivers from renewable fuel standard (RFS) biofuel blending mandates in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, over the objections of refiners pursuing cases in regional appellate courts and biofuel producers trying to keep their challenge separate from refiners’ suits. The effort marks a contrast to prior rounds of litigation over RFS waivers in which EPA has said regional courts of appeals...

Bodine Defends Trump EPA’s Enforcement Efforts In Face Of Criticisms

EPA enforcement chief Susan Bodine is strongly defending the Trump administration’s commitment to environmental enforcement, using remarks at a Nov. 12 conference to repeatedly “push back” on the “misconception” that the administration is reducing enforcement efforts. Speaking alongside Justice Department (DOJ) environment chief Jeffrey Clark in a moderated panel discussion, Bodine emphasized EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s strong support of the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) and rejected criticisms that staff reorganizations, a new policy of generally deferring to...

EPA, DOJ Continue Talks On SEPs As Dispute Remains Unresolved

EPA and the Justice Department (DOJ) are continuing discussions on the use of supplemental environmental projects (SEPs), which are used to offset penalties in enforcement settlements, even as the agencies are at odds over DOJ policies seeking to limit -- and possibly bar -- their use. At the American Bar Association’s National Enforcement Conference in Washington, D.C., top EPA officials publicly touted the benefits of SEPs even as DOJ is weighing broader limits on their use. Both EPA enforcement chief...

House Democrats Seek To Bolster Expected Suits Over EPA Science Rule

House science committee Democrats sought to use their Nov. 13 hearing on EPA’s controversial proposed science transparency rule to bolster all but certain litigation over any final measure, though the agency witness largely declined to discuss details of a leaked draft supplemental proposal that has drawn scathing criticisms. Nevertheless, Democratic lawmakers’ questions and comments signaled some issues that critics are likely to raise in future litigation, including the agency’s use of a federal law to justify the rule even though...

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