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.

Court Ducks ‘Major Questions’ In Vaccine Suits But Eyes Upcoming EPA Test

The Supreme Court’s new rulings on the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine rules for general industry and the health care sector appear to avoid broader limits on agencies’ authority, but one of the decisions incorporates the “major questions” doctrine that observers say could be fatal in upcoming arguments to EPA’s power plant rules. In a pair of Jan. 13 decisions, the justices blocked implementation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) “emergency” vaccination standard that would have applied to all...

EPA Plans Tighter Air Limits For Copper Smelters After Key Risk Finding

EPA is proposing to strengthen air toxics limits for primary copper smelters in the first such “risk and technology” review (RTR) of the Biden administration to find “unacceptable” health risks from an industry sector and to impose significant new controls, but the agency is stopping short of some major steps environmentalists have sought. In its Jan. 11 proposal EPA finds that “residual risks” to health remain from the sector, and that several pollutants and emissions points remain unregulated from the...

Court Sets Novel, But Narrow, Standing Precedent In Air Act Citizen Suit

The recent appellate ruling upholding a Utah environmental group’s standing to bring an enforcement action against parties responsible for mobile source emission violations under the Clean Air Act (CAA) sets a novel but narrow precedent in an area of the law that had long been considered limited to EPA, attorneys say. But while the panel holding by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit granted first-time standing to a private party to bring an enforcement action for mobile...

EPA proposes to disapprove Wyoming haze plan

In an escalation of a dispute with Wyoming over the state’s planned relaxation of air emissions controls to limit regional haze, EPA is proposing to disapprove the state’s modified plan for a coal-fired power plant operated by utility PacificCorp, a move that would force installation of costly controls at the plant, or even force its closure. In a Jan. 11 notice signed by regional Administrator KC Becker Jan. 11, EPA Region 8 proposes to disapprove the modified haze plan that...

EPA increases civil penalties to reflect inflation

EPA has issued a direct final rule effective Jan. 12 that increases civil penalties to account for inflation by just over 1 percent as required by federal law though the current rate of inflation is much higher. In a Jan. 12 Federal Register notice , the agency addresses both the maximum and minimum penalty for civil violations and seeks to “reflect inflation, maintain the deterrent effect of statutory civil monetary penalties, and promote compliance with the law.” A 2015...

EPA Plans Steps To Address IG Concerns Over Declining Air Permit Fees

EPA is planning to issue new guidance and take other steps to address concerns from the Office of Inspector General (OIG) that declining permit fees -- stemming in part from a drop in emissions -- are putting at risk its Clean Air Act Title V air operating permit program that is required to pay state, local and federal regulators to write the permits. In its Jan. 12 report , EPA’s Title V Program Needs to Address Ongoing Fee Issues and...


EPA Plans ‘Finding’ In Key Step Toward Regulating Lead In Aviation Fuel

EPA will propose a rule this year to determine whether lead in aviation fuel poses a threat to public health and the environment and plans to finalize the threshold “endangerment finding” in 2023, a move that could lead to an eventual phase-out of lead in fuel for hundreds of thousands of piston-engine aircraft which environmentalists have long sought. “Protecting children’s health and reducing lead exposure are interlocking priorities at the core of EPA’s agenda,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan, announcing...


Oil Sector Presses EPA To Increase Monitoring Flexibility In Methane Plan

The main oil and gas industry trade group is pressing EPA to adopt more flexible monitoring requirements in its proposed methane standards for new and existing sources in the sector, offering an early preview of what the industry will say in formal comments on the plan due later this month. Mike Sommers, president of the American Petroleum Institute (API), said during a Jan. 12 press event that the group’s comments would highlight broad support for the EPA proposal , but...

OMB reviews RFS ‘pathways’ rule for canola oil

EPA has sent for White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) review a draft proposed rule inviting comment on the greenhouse gas properties of various biofuels made using canola oil feedstock, part of a process of approving new fuels that qualify for credit under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). OMB’s website says, “In this proposed rule, the Environmental Protection Agency is providing an opportunity to comment on an analysis of the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions associated with certain biofuels...

EPA Moves To Enforce Ban On Startup, Malfunction Air Waivers In 10 States

EPA is moving forward with enforcement of its 2015 policy banning regulatory exemptions for air emissions during periods of facility startup, shutdown and malfunction (SSM) in multiple states, issuing findings that trigger potential sanctions and federal takeovers of state air planning in areas that failed to submit plans to implement the policy. In a notice scheduled for publication Jan. 12 in the Federal Register , EPA issues “findings of failure to submit” state implementation plans (SIPs) for areas in 10...

Researchers find rising health threat from wildfire smoke, ozone

Researchers are warning of an increasing threat to public health posed by the co-occurrence of high levels of ozone pollution with increased fine particulate matter (PM2.5) released by large wildfires in the western United States, as major fires become bigger and more frequent events in a warming and drying climate. In a study published Jan. 5 in the journal Science Advances , researchers from Washington State University, the University of California, University of Colorado and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric...

As High Court Denies Review, Biofuels Groups Look To EPA To Boost E15

Biofuels groups are looking to EPA to salvage summertime sales of 15 percent ethanol fuel (E15) with regulatory action, a step the agency has hinted it may take, after the Supreme Court denied their petition seeking review of a lower court ruling that effectively bans E15 sales during the summer months in much of the country. “The Clean Air Act provides ample authority for EPA to pave the way for the expansion of E15 nationwide and year-round and increase access...

DOJ, Sierra Club Oppose Ameren Bid To Retire Coal Plant As NSR Remedy

Correction Appended The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Sierra Club are urging a federal district judge to reject a request by Ameren to close a Missouri coal-fired power plant instead of installing court-mandated pollution controls as the remedy for violating the Clean Air Act’s new source review (NSR) requirements in a landmark enforcement action. The objection is key because it could signal similar future opposition to plans by coal generators to float early retirement of their plants as a...

PacifiCorp, Wyoming threaten suits over haze plan

Utility PacifiCorp and the State of Wyoming are each threatening legal action against EPA over the agency’s failure to approve or deny a Trump-era haze plan that relaxed air pollution control requirements at one of the company’s coal-fired power plants in the Cowboy State, after the Biden EPA indicated it will not approve the plan. In a notice of intent to sue letter sent to EPA Nov. 19, and recently uploaded to EPA’s website, PacifiCorp says it will sue in...

High Court Eyes Expanding ‘Major Questions’ Doctrine Ahead Of EPA Case

The Supreme Court appears poised to expand its use of the “major questions” doctrine to limit agencies’ regulatory authority after Jan. 7 oral argument over two COVID-19 vaccine rules, in a potential preview of how it could approach an upcoming case over EPA’s climate change policies where challengers have leaned heavily on the same principle. During oral argument in National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) vs. Department of Labor , several of the court’s six conservatives variously expressed skepticism over...

Groups Seek To Force EPA To Comply With 2008 Waste Combustor Ruling

Environmentalists are urging a federal appellate court to force EPA to “review and revise” emissions limits for a host of harmful pollutants released by large municipal waste combustors (MWCs) more than a decade after the court remanded Bush-era air standards to the agency over environmental groups’ concerns that they are too weak. In a petition for a writ of mandamus filed Dec. 21 with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, environmental groups press for...

Environmentalists sue EPA to force action on ozone plans

The Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Environmental Health are suing EPA to force the agency to issue findings that states failed to supply required ozone mitigation plans for major metropolitan areas including New York, Chicago and Dallas-Fort Worth, determinations that would start a two-year clock toward direct federal regulation. In a suit filed Jan. 5 with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the groups say EPA has missed Clean Air Act deadlines to find...

Texas seeks waiver for cross-border emissions in El Paso

Texas air regulators are seeking to avoid increased regulatory burdens for El Paso area businesses by seeking an exemption from Clean Air Act obligations based on the claim that emissions from Mexico are responsible for elevated ozone levels in the city. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is taking public comment through Jan. 21 on its demonstration to EPA showing that El Paso County would have attained the 2015 ozone national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) of 70 parts...

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