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.


Minnesota high court rejects ‘sham’ Clean Air Act permit appeal

A recent ruling by the Minnesota Supreme Court rejects environmentalists’ argument that the state’s pollution control agency is obligated to investigate allegations of “sham permitting” when an industry applicant first seeks a “synthetic minor” air permit that is weaker than a “major source” permit under the Clean Air Act. In its Feb. 24 unanimous opinion In the Matter of Issuance of Air Emissions Permit No. 13700345-101 for PolyMet Mining, Inc., City of Hoyt Lakes, St. Louis County, Minnesota, the...


DOJ Signals Opposition To Youth Climate Plaintiffs’ High Court Petition

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is strongly urging a federal appellate court to reject a request by youth plaintiffs pursuing a constitutional climate change suit against the government that would clear a path to allow them to petition the Supreme Court to reinstate their case, signaling the Biden administration may not be willing to settle the matter or reverse its predecessor’s opposition. DOJ has also recently skipped an opportunity to reverse the Trump administration’s stance in support of oil companies...

States, environmentalists oppose ‘indefinite’ pause in auto GHG suit

Nearly two dozen states, several major cities and 12 environmental groups are opposing the Biden administration’s request for an “indefinite” pause in litigation challenging the Trump administration’s rollback of vehicle greenhouse gas standards, though they say they are willing to allow for a six-month delay. While the challengers “welcome” the Biden administration’s review of the policy, “the harms resulting from these unlawfully lax standards grow larger and larger with each passing model year of vehicle sales,” says a March 1...

EPA defends push for abeyance in 2020 RFS suit

EPA is defending its push to pause litigation over the 2020 renewable fuel standard (RFS) pending the Supreme Court’s ruling in a separate case over compliance waivers for small refiners, rejecting arguments from biofuels and oil industry groups that the high court action applies only to part of litigation over the 2020 rule. In a Feb. 25 filing in the consolidated U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit case RFS Power Coalition v. EPA, et al....

Montreal Protocol Feedstock Method Could Be Model For Reducing GHGs

The United Nation’s Montreal Protocol treaty to protect the stratospheric ozone layer, which has evolved into a program that phases out product feedstocks that also have high global warming potential, could be used as a model to achieve reductions of other greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxides (N2O), experts say. During a Feb. 25 Environmental Law Institute (ELI) web event, these experts discussed the history of the successful protocol and the opportunities it continues to offer. The multilateral...

Industry Raises Concerns Over EPA HFC Exemptions, Unreported Imports

Chemical companies and other industries are raising concerns over EPA’s plan to phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) using new statutory power, including questions about data gaps over unreported HFC imports, allowances for critical use exemptions, what metric to use to set the phasedown and criticisms of the short public comment period. At press time, EPA had received and posted online 27 comments on its Feb. 11 notice of data availability (NODA) seeking input by Feb. 25 on a phasedown baseline using...

Northeast States Urged To Adopt Strict California Vehicle Emissions Rules

A coalition of 86 environmental groups is urging Northeastern states to adopt California’s strict policies for cutting greenhouse gases and conventional air pollutants from heavy duty vehicles, fighting claims from engine manufacturers that the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) rules are ill-suited for adoption by other states. In a Feb. 25 letter to the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM), representing air regulators in eight states, the coalition of local and national groups asks Northeastern states to adopt...


Public Citizen urges Biden to expand EPA regulatory freeze

Public Citizen is urging President Joe Biden to expand his administration’s regulatory “freeze” of rules issued by the Trump administration, saying at least 25 deregulatory actions by the prior administration, including several EPA rules, violated the Congressional Review Act (CRA) and can be reversed quickly. In a new report , the watchdog group says that even though these rules were published as final rules in the Federal Register , many never took legal effect under the CRA because they were...

Groups Seek 60 Percent Stringency Hike In Vehicle GHG Limits By 2030

Major environmental groups are urging President Joe Biden to significantly tighten vehicle greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards, including requiring an ambitious 60 percent reduction in emissions by 2030 compared to current levels and setting a goal of making all new cars and light-duty trucks zero-emitting by 2035. In a Feb. 25 letter to Biden , a coalition of 24 groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and others ask to work...


Biden Officials Issue ‘Interim’ Carbon ‘Costs’ Based On Obama Approach

The Biden administration has unveiled its “interim” social cost of carbon (SCC) metric that will be used to calculate the benefits of climate change rules, restoring the Obama-era approach with an upward adjustment for inflation, even as the administration is conducting a broader overhaul of the metric for release in 2022. “This interim step will enable Federal agencies to immediately and more appropriately account for climate impacts in their decision-making, while we continue the process of bringing the best, most...


Environmental Equity Focus Could Constrain Biden EPA’s Climate Policy

President Joe Biden’s commitment to focus on environmental justice (EJ) in all federal government actions will be a significant factor shaping his administration’s policies to fight climate change that could limit EPA and other agencies’ regulatory options for tackling greenhouse gas emissions, according to environmental lawyers. Speaking on an American Law Institute Continuing Legal Education webinar Feb. 25, environmental lawyers from industry and environmental groups said EJ concerns might limit agencies’ options to tackle GHGs from stationary sources such as...

Ozone Suit Adds To Pressure On EPA For NAAQS Species Assessments

The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) has filed a lawsuit claiming the Trump EPA’s decision to retain the existing ozone ambient air limits is unlawful because the agency did not conduct an Endangered Species Act (ESA) review of the policy, echoing a similar recent CBD species challenge to EPA’s retention of particulate matter (PM) limits. Both lawsuits are pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and if either case succeeds it could establish a...


Georgia state bill would tighten oversight of facilities emitting EtO

A measure pending in the Georgia state legislature would increase scrutiny of facilities using and emitting the carcinogenic solvent ethylene oxide (EtO), reflecting heightened public concern over emissions of the chemical that a 2016 EPA risk assessment found to be far more harmful to humans than previously thought. The draft legislation, House Bill 3 and its companion Senate Bill 180 -- introduced in January and February, respectively -- would allow the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) to install monitoring...

Regan Might Face Diminished EPA Role, ‘Turf Wars’ With White House

Administration observers are questioning whether Michael Regan, President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead EPA, could face a diminished role if he wins Senate confirmation due to the large number of Obama-era officials who have returned to the agency and the White House to work on implementing Biden’s environmental agenda. And these sources also say that because there are so many officials now working on climate change policies across the Biden administration, this could lead to “turf wars” between EPA and...

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