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.

D.C. Circuit rejects rehearing in E15 suit

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has rejected biofuels groups’ petitions for rehearing of its ruling scrapping the Trump-era authorization of 15 percent ethanol fuel (E15) for sale during the summer months, leaving ethanol producers scrambling for ways to ensure E15 sales next summer. In brief Sept. 9 per curiam decisions, the court rejects petitions for panel rehearing and rehearing by the whole court sitting en banc of its July 2 ruling in...

Environmentalists Suggest Methods To Tighten MATS Emissions Limits

Environmentalists are suggesting ways that EPA can justify tightening limits on mercury and other dangerous pollutants under its forthcoming reconsideration of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) for power plants, going beyond the reinstatement of a vital prerequisite legal finding scrapped by the Trump administration. In its proposed rule now under review by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), EPA is expected to rescind the Trump EPA’s determination that found regulation of power plant air toxics...

House Energy Panel Seeks Billions For EPA To Cut GHGs, Air Pollution

The House Energy & Commerce Committee is poised to mark up budget reconciliation measures Sept. 13 that would appropriate billions of dollars for EPA to cut greenhouse gases and conventional air pollution, while also imposing a controversial methane emissions fee on oil and gas producers that the sector strongly opposes. Once approved by the committee, the legislation would be included in a broader package by the Budget Committee, which will advance them to the House floor under so-called budget reconciliation...

Biden’s Push To Curb Aviation GHGs Creates Opening For Biofuels In RFS

A major new White House policy push to increase the supply of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) creates a new role for EPA to encourage biofuel production for aircraft under the renewable fuel standard (RFS) -- offering a crucial long-term market opportunity for biofuel producers. In a Sept. 9 fact sheet , the White House outlines a sweeping list of additional actions across the federal government and private industry to increase the supply of SAF to levels that could meaningfully curb...

House Panel Floats $150 Billion Clean Power Program In Budget Package

House Energy & Commerce Committee Democrats are floating details of their budget “reconciliation” bill including a clean electricity program with a tighter definition of qualifying facilities than an earlier panel proposal, alongside a sprawling collection of federal investments in low-carbon power, transportation, and buildings. Overall, the draft bill the committee is poised to release would spend just over $250 billion on climate-related efforts -- with $150 billion alone going toward a Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP) that offers payments for...

Environmentalists’ Lawsuit Raises Pressure On EPA To Issue SSM Policy

Environmentalists have filed a new lawsuit seeking to force action by EPA to eliminate most states’ regulatory exemptions for excess air emissions during periods of plant startup, shutdown and malfunction (SSM), likely reviving older litigation on the issue in an effort to push the agency to issue a new national policy. In their suit filed Sept. 8 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, groups including Sierra Club, Environmental Integrity Project and the Natural Resources Defense...

Environmentalists Seek ‘Protective’ EPA Methane Rules For Oil & Gas

Environmentalists are detailing a series of requests for EPA’s upcoming proposal to strengthen methane requirements for oil and gas equipment, pressing for “protective” standards without “carveouts” for low-producing wells that the advocates say are a significant contributor to emissions of the potent greenhouse gas. “Protective EPA rules that capitalize on readily available means to reduce methane and other pollution are common-sense and required to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and protect frontline communities,” 72 national and local environmental...

EPA Eyes Data Drive To Eventually Strengthen Power Plant Mercury Rule

EPA’s imminent proposal restoring the prerequisite legal finding that it is “appropriate and necessary” (A&N) to regulate air toxics emissions from power plants is expected to include an information-gathering drive to facilitate a possible future tightening of its landmark mercury and air toxics standards (MATS), sources say. While EPA is widely expected to reverse a Trump-era rule that scrapped the underlying A&N finding, and reinstate it bolstered by new information on costs and benefits, the MATS rule’s long-term future is...

Oil & Gas Groups Cite EPA Rules As Reason To Oppose Hill Methane Fee Plan

A coalition of national and local oil and gas groups and fuel users is citing EPA’s current and planned methane emissions rules for the sector to oppose congressional Democrats’ plan to enact a fee on such emissions in their pending budget “reconciliation” package, calling the Capitol Hill proposal “duplicative and unnecessary.” The industry pushback to the methane fee, led by the American Petroleum Institute (API), marks a rare case when industry is backing EPA regulation over other alternatives, just as...

EPA recruits advisors for NAAQS review panels

EPA is recruiting special panels of experts to advise the agency in its review of federal air standards for lead, nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx) and particulate matter (PM) as the agency rebuilds its pool of advisors after the dismissal of the Trump-era Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) and its recent reconstitution. In a Federal Register notice scheduled for publication Sept. 8, EPA seeks recruits for special panels to assist CASAC in its oversight of EPA reviews...

EPA Reconsiders Plan To Clarify Air Rules For Pyrolysis, Gasification Units

EPA is launching a long-term effort to clarify the Clean Air Act obligations of industrial pyrolysis and gasification processes that recycle plastics, create energy or produce fuel from food waste and other feedstocks, soliciting public input on the burgeoning field under a pre-rule plan that jettisons Trump-era proposals in favor of a fresh approach. In an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) slated for publication in the Federal Register Sept. 8, EPA says “there is considerable confusion in the...


NAS Panelist Faults EPA’s NAAQS Study-Selection Process As ‘Black Box’

A National Academy of Sciences (NAS) panelist is criticizing EPA’s process for selecting studies to support its national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) as a “black box,” even as the panel heard a presentation from an agency advisor who generally praised other aspects of the agency’s standard-setting process. The NAAQS process is in general “by far, the most open” to public participation and scrutiny when compared with other risk assessment and standard-setting processes, Dan Greenbaum, a frequent EPA advisor and...

EPA Grapples With Scientific Hurdles Of Cumulative Risk Amid Policy Push

Top EPA scientists say they are struggling to advance the use of cumulative risk or impact analyses to better account for the risks faced by poor and minority communities even as Administrator Michael Regan seeks to advance the use of such approaches and has requested an agency review of legal authority to do so. “The problem remains of how to bring to bear the complex interactions with the built social and chemical environment into our regulatory paradigm,” Andrew Geller, the...

Democrats Grapple With CEPP Details, Spending Levels In Budget Plan

Democrats and progressive groups are publicly grappling with crucial requirements for a proposed clean electricity program as lawmakers begin crafting detailed legislative text of their budget “reconciliation” bill, with such discussions potentially hinging on debate over the cost of the broader package. Details of the proposed clean electricity payment program (CEPP) -- a set of incentives and penalties designed to “mimic” a clean electricity standard (CES) while complying with Senate budget legislation rules -- remain under wraps. Analysis circulated last...

Midwest Utilities Warn EPA Over Aggressive Ozone Deal With Eastern States

The Midwest Ozone Group (MOG) of utilities and industrial companies is criticizing as unlawfully aggressive EPA’s proposed consent decree with East Coast states setting deadlines for agency action on state plans to mitigate interstate ozone pollution, escalating the group’s fight against EPA interstate ozone reduction mandates. While EPA has missed statutory deadlines to review state plans, MOG charged in part the proposed decree is unlawful because it provides EPA with a means of imposing federal requirements even though it may...

Midwest Democrats Urge Leaders To Boost Biofuels In Reconciliation Bill

Midwestern Democrats in the House and Senate are calling on their party leaders to include a series of measures to boost the biofuels sector in their forthcoming multi trillion-dollar legislative package being crafted under streamlined budget reconciliation procedures, with some of the measures aiming to overcome recent EPA court losses. In a Sept. 2 letter , the lawmakers urge Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) “to make sure that the upcoming budget legislation currently...

Broad Industry Coalition Joins Push To Preserve Trump NEPA Rule

A broad coalition of industry and labor groups is pressing the White House to preserve much of the Trump-era reforms to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) implementing rules as the Biden administration prepares to unveil a Phase 1 rule to begin reversing the controversial changes. The Unlock American Investment Coalition, spearheaded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, met with the White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) late last month to discuss the draft Phase 1 proposal by...

EPA settles with New Jersey over agency’s air violations

EPA has agreed to pay New Jersey a small financial penalty under a proposed settlement with the state to satisfy its enforcement action against an EPA laboratory that New Jersey says violated state clean air law. Under the plan announced in a Federal Register notice scheduled for publication Sept. 3, EPA will pay New Jersey $8,600 to resolve the violations at its pollution research laboratory in Edison, NJ, discovered during a 2019 inspection by the state. New Jersey alleges...

EPA Report Links Disproportionate Climate Impacts To Vulnerable Groups

A new peer-reviewed EPA report is for the first time connecting the likelihood that specific vulnerable populations will suffer disproportionate impacts from climate change, such as heat waves, poor air quality and flooding, providing the Biden administration with significant data to address its priority focus on climate change and environmental justice. For example, in one key finding, the data show that Black and African Americans are 40 percent more likely to live in areas with the “highest projected increases in...

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