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.

Trump science advisers appeal CASAC ruling

Former Trump-era EPA science advisers are appealing a district court ruling against their suit seeking to dismiss the current Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) that advises EPA on setting federal air standards, in a move that could once more cast doubt over crucial reconsiderations of limits for ozone and particulate matter (PM). In a Nov. 18 procedural filing with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in S. Stanley Young, et al., v. EPA, et al. ,...

CARB Crafts New Options In Novel Locomotive Rule, But Faces Federal Suits

The California air board is encouraging its staff to negotiate additional options for compliance with its proposed landmark locomotive regulation, primarily with public rail agencies, while chastising national private railways for continuing to threaten lawsuits to overturn the regulation once it is finalized in the spring. “[I]t’s time that the national railroads come to the table. You say that we should give you more time, that it’s too hard [to comply] -- but where have you been for the last...

CARB OKs Construction Fleet Rules Amid Claims It Will Stymie Key Projects

California air regulators have adopted new rules for diesel-fueled construction vehicles that require renewable diesel fuel use starting in 2024 and the phaseout of dirtier engines, despite charges from industry that the rules could take up to 33 percent of such equipment out of operation and stymie critically needed housing and clean transit projects in the state. “The oldest off-road diesel-fueled vehicles with no emission controls are 80 times as polluting as a similar sized off-road vehicle purchased today,” said...

Refiners Detail Legal Arguments Against EPA’s RFS Waiver Denial Policy

A coalition of small refiners is sketching out its legal arguments against EPA’s blanket policy of denying all petitions from smaller refineries for economic hardship waivers from the renewable fuel standard (RFS), as many refiners seek to overturn the agency’s mass denials of their waiver applications earlier this this year. In their Nov. 18 statement of issues a group of 11 small refiners led by American Refining Group, Inc. say EPA’s blanket denial policy is unlawful. The consolidated suit ,...

D.C. Circuit Judges Pose Tough Questions For Both Sides In EPA HFC Suit

An appellate court panel posed tough questions for both sides in industry litigation challenging aspects of EPA’s program to phase down climate-warming hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), with the petitioners charging the agency lacks authority to regulate HFC “blends” and restrict the type of containers used to package the refrigerant chemicals. During Nov. 18 oral arguments, three judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit offered tough questions for attorneys representing both EPA and industry groups challenging the...

EPA Draws Competing Calls For Overhauling California’s Clean Bus Plan

As EPA weighs California’s request to approve its clean bus rules as part of its clean air plan, the agency is facing competing calls from refiners and environmental justice (EJ) groups to work with state regulators to overhaul the rules, with refiners seeking to scale back the measure to address legal concerns while EJ groups say it needs to be enforceable. “Although states are free to set more stringent standards for state-owned fleets, the [Innovative Clean Transit (ICT)] regulation fails...

Reversing Trump-Era Decision, EPA Subjects Shuttered Refinery To PSD

Reversing a Trump-era decision, EPA is requiring a Virgin Islands refinery to obtain a strict clean air permit if it wants to re-open after determining that under the agency’s facility “reactivation policy,” it would be considered a “new source,” the latest sign of how EPA is using regulatory tools to address environmental justice (EJ) concerns. EPA Administrator Michael Regan and Region 2 Administrator Lisa Garcia announced Nov. 17 that the agency had notified the refinery’s new owners -- Port Hamilton...

White House completes review of canola oil RFS approval

EPA is poised to finalize its approval of canola oil as a feedstock for the manufacture of “advanced” low-carbon fuels qualified to earn credit under the renewable fuel standard (RFS), after the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) completed review of the measure. OMB completed review of the rule Nov. 15, according to OMB’s website, clearing the way for publication in the Federal Register in the near future. The regulation is an important step to attain Biden...

Environmentalists Fretting Over Delays To Major Air Standards Reviews

Environmentalists are growing increasingly anxious over delays to EPA’s high-profile reconsiderations of air quality standards for ozone and particulate matter (PM), as a proposal likely to tighten PM limits languishes under White House review, and a review of the science and policy backing a potential tougher ozone limit takes longer than expected. “We are out of time,” Earthjustice Legislative Director for Healthy Communities Raul Garcia said on a Nov. 15 press call where speakers urged EPA to immediately release the...

CARB Boosts 2030 GHG Target In Final Proposed Climate ‘Scoping Plan’

California air regulators are increasing their 2030 greenhouse gas-reduction target by 8 percentage points -- to 48 percent below 1990 levels -- in their final proposed 2022 climate change “scoping plan” update, while estimating that the sweeping strategy can reduce anthropogenic GHG emissions 85 percent and achieve “carbon neutrality” by 2045. “This plan will indeed be very difficult to achieve because of the scale of the task, and the speed with which it needs to be delivered. For example, we...

EPA Floats Structure, Rationale For Third-Party Methane Monitoring Plan

EPA is filling in the details of a proposed program that could enable third parties to report large methane leaks and seek remediation from oil and gas operators, with the agency seeking to broaden third-party monitoring of such emissions while also ensuring the approach is legally defensible and produces reliable reports. The details of the proposed “super-emitter response program,” outlined in EPA’s Nov. 11 supplemental methane standards for the sector, include an emissions threshold targeting the “most significant and harmful...

EPA Sets Out IRIS Assessment Plan For Cobalt, Targeting Air Emissions

EPA’s draft plan for an Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) assessment of cancer risks from cobalt inhalation -- a key component in electric vehicle (EV) batteries -- says it is performing the review at the air office’s request and could focus on industrial emissions, though the metal is also on the TSCA office’s list of potential regulatory priorities. The IRIS program released its assessment plan for cobalt on Nov. 14, laying out a scope and draft approach for the agency’s...

EPA urged to quickly propose tougher PM limits

A broad coalition of over 160 environmental groups is pressing the White House and EPA to quickly publish a proposed revision of federal air standards for particulate matter (PM), warning the Biden administration not to “play political games” by delaying the release of the plan that has been under pre-publication review since August. On a Nov. 15 press call, Earthjustice Legislative Director for Healthy Communities Raul Garcia said that EPA must release the proposal on national ambient air quality standards...

Climate Scientists Sue EPA Over Denial Of Novel GHG Regulatory Petition

A group of climate scientists is challenging EPA’s denial of their novel petition asking the agency to use the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to phase out greenhouse gas emissions, charging that other ongoing federal steps will not “eliminate” health and environment risks posed by such emissions and that TSCA rules are thus in order. “TSCA mandates that EPA regulate to eliminate the risk of injury to health and the environment posed by greenhouse gas emissions, either directly under TSCA...

EPA Adopts Status-Quo PM Emissions Standards For Aircraft Engines

EPA has finalized its rule adopting internationally agreed-upon fine particle standards for aircraft engines at levels already achieved by industry, rejecting environmentalists’ arguments that it has a statutory duty to issue tougher limits and setting the stage for another likely legal fight similar to that seen over the agency’s greenhouse gas limits for aircraft. In the final rule signed by Administrator Michael Regan Nov. 14, EPA sets a series of limits on particulate matter (PM) from new and in-production engines...


CASAC Splits On EPA Ozone Assessment But Declines To Seek Changes

EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) appears likely to explicitly find EPA need not alter the Trump-era integrated science assessment (ISA) that underlies the agency’s reconsideration of federal ozone standards, pleasing environmentalists seeking to quickly finish the review, but the panel remains divided and critical of the ISA. During a meeting of the CASAC special ozone review panel Nov. 14, Elizabeth Sheppard, chair of both the special panel and the seven-member chartered CASAC, outlined proposed changes to an earlier...

EPA Methane Plan Seeks Input On Fee Exemption But Omits IRA Analysis

EPA’s supplemental oil and gas methane proposal is seeking input on the thorny issue of when its final rule would trigger an exemption from Congress’ new fee on “waste” emissions from the sector, even though the agency is not analyzing how the new methane legislation will affect its own standards. That omission could mean that EPA might be overstating the costs of its proposed controls, depending on how implementation plays out for the methane provisions in this Inflation Reduction Act...

Recycler Slams EPA Over Chicago Permit Opposition, Highlighting EJ Battle

A Chicago metal recycling facility that failed to win a local permit after EPA Administrator Michael Regan opposed it on environmental justice (EJ) grounds is blasting the agency’s action, charging that officials opposed its permit even though it planned to comply with enforcement office advice for the kinds of controls such facilities should install. The criticism underscores the difficulties that EPA and other regulators will continue to face in seeking to address cumulative EJ impacts when permit applicants otherwise comply...

Environmentalists Resist Exxon Push To Rehear Key Citizen Suit Case

Environmentalists are pushing back against Exxon’s bid for en banc rehearing of a key Clean Air Act citizen enforcement suit by the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, in a test of Supreme Court standing precedent, arguing that Exxon is trying to create a circuit split with a novel new test for standing in such lawsuits. In their Nov. 10 opposition to Exxon’s rehearing request in Environment Texas Citizen Lobby (ETCL), Inc. v. ExxonMobil Corp. ,...

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