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.

Suit On EPA Air Toxics Rule Could Fuel Battle Over Mercury Plan

Environmentalists' litigation challenging EPA's air toxics rule for industrial boilers could help activists in any future challenge to provisions in the administration's controversial mercury rule that set different emissions standards for different coal types, environmentalists and industry sources say. Specifically, the maximum achievable control technology (MACT) rules for industrial boilers and mercury both call for separate standards, or subcategories, based on the type of fuel being regulated. Environmentalists believe the Bush administration is establishing requirements that distinguish between coal or...

Study Downplays Clean Water Effect Of Future Acid Rain Regulations

A preliminary EPA-New York state analysis downplays the likelihood that EPA's pending clean air interstate rule or other stringent future air emissions requirements will reduce high acidity levels in some Northeast lakes without additional acid neutralizing measures, agency sources say. The analysis is part of a state effort to develop aggregate pollution limits, known as total maximum daily loads (TMDL), for acid deposition in the Adirondack Mountains. Sources say the state's effort could lead to new -- and potentially stricter...

REPUBLICANS TAKE AIM AT WIDELY REFERENCED CLIMATE CHANGE STUDY

Senate Republicans are calling into question the validity of a scientific study that forms the basis of many climate change policies, including the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The Republican Policy Committee (RPC) is now highlighting arguments raised by economists who say the so-called hockey stick study, authored by Michael Mann and first published in 1998, includes faulty assumptions, unreliable methodology and cannot be trusted, these critics charge. The RPC released a report last month highlighting alleged...

INDUSTRY ARGUES FOR ELIMINATING CALIFORNIA MOBILE SOURCE WAIVERS

Industry groups are mounting a push to eliminate California's ability to set mobile source emissions standards independently from EPA, as well as the option for other states to adopt California rules. Groups are making this case in front of an ongoing National Academy of Sciences (NAS) panel looking at state mobile source standards, and they also anticipate future calls for legislation. The industry officials maintain that these special provisions for California, in place since the original 1970 Clean Air Act,...

CALIFORNIA MEXICAN TRUCK LAW MAY FACE ENFORCEMENT DIFFICULTIES

A new California law aimed at limiting increased air pollution from Mexican trucks may be difficult to enforce and also subject to legal challenge, sources say. Sources tracking the issue say the law appears to contain enforcement shortcomings that could severely limit the state's ability to mitigate even a fraction of the expected increase in pollution. And these sources say the law may be ripe for a challenge by U.S. parties under the Clean Air Act and federal commerce law,...

EPA SEEKS MORE SNOWMOBILE LIMITS IN YELLOWSTONE THAN NPS PROPOSES

EPA is urging the National Park Service (NPS) to better protect the environment than it is proposing to do in its new plan to allow 720 snowmobiles per day in Yellowstone National Park this coming winter. The agency submitted comments Sept. 20 on NPS' draft temporary winter use plan environmental assessment (EA), in which the park service identified a Clinton-era plan to replace snowmobiles with snowcoaches as the "environmentally preferred alternative" but then rejected that approach in favor of one...

CALIFORNIA'S CO2 RULE FACES MAJOR HURDLES BEFORE TAKING EFFECT

Implementation of California's landmark greenhouse gas regulations for passenger and light-duty vehicles faces several substantial administrative hurdles, in addition to a likely lawsuit by the auto industry. Not only must the California Air Resources Board (CARB) convince EPA that a Clean Air Act waiver is warranted to allow the rules to take effect, but it faces potential noncompliance by the industry based on arguments that there is inadequate lead-time to meet the new technology requirements, according to government and industry...

NORTHEAST GRAPPLING WITH KEY ISSUES FOR NATIONAL CLIMATE MODEL

Northeast regulators seeking to develop a landmark regional climate change program are confronting several issues that could make it difficult for the program to achieve its goal of becoming a national model for regulating greenhouse gas emissions, according to observers and participants in the effort. These sources say the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is working to addresses concerns that future regional restrictions on energy production will increase power imports and boost emissions in other areas. The issue, known as...

POWELL URGED TO OK INDEPENDENT RELEASE OF ARCTIC WARMING REPORT

A bipartisan group of senators is pushing Secretary of State Colin Powell to allow the stand-alone release of a key international report recommending policies to mitigate the effects of climate change on the Arctic. The group, including Senate science committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ), Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), is asking Powell to ensure that the report is presented to foreign ministers of the seven-nation Arctic Council later this year in stand-alone form after State Department officials sought...

INTERNATIONAL DISPUTE COULD HALT NEW CLIMATE GUIDELINES FOR SHIPS

An emerging global dispute is threatening to derail the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) development of first-time guidelines for calculating greenhouse gas emissions from ships, leaving EPA and other U.S. officials concerned that the disagreement could not only threaten the pending guidelines, but also undermine a host of future IMO standards on the environment and other issues. At an upcoming meeting of the IMO Marine Environmental Protection Committee, developing countries including India and China are expected to argue that they should...

THINK TANK EYES FORMING PANEL WITH EPA TO HELP COMPLETE MERCURY RULE

The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) may form a policy panel to provide advice on the feasibility of EPA's proposed mercury rule as the agency seeks to finalize the controversial plan, which would require utilities to reduce toxic mercury emissions for the first time. However, it is unclear what relationship the group would have with EPA, which has already disbanded one mercury advisory group and rejected suggestions to convene another. Any plan to hold such a forum has not been finalized,...

PENNSYLVANIA DEP, INDUSTRY JOIN FORCES TO OPPOSE EPA MERCURY PLAN

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Kathleen McGinty has persuaded the coal industry and its union to put aside differences with the state over EPA's proposed mercury plan, and join forces to seek to persuade the agency to back away from a proposal that they believe would disproportionately harm Eastern coal. McGinty, a Democrat who advised former Vice President Al Gore, along with the Pennsylvania Coal Association and the United Mine Workers of America, sent a letter to EPA...

STATES' STUDY ON MERCURY CONTROL BENEFITS MAY TIGHTEN EPA UTILITY RULE

A draft analysis conducted for Northeast states on the benefits of mercury controls for power plants could pressure the Bush administration to tighten its controversial proposed mercury rules because it increases the estimated health benefits of regulating mercury emissions over previous government and industry assessments, sources say. Increasing the estimated health benefits of reducing mercury makes it easier to justify the higher costs of imposing stricter controls. "If these new values are considered credible they would significantly boost the benefits...

WISCONSIN ACTIVISTS SEEK TOUGHEST-EVER BACT LIMITS FOR NEW COAL PLANT

Environmentalists in Wisconsin are pressing the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to require a proposed 500-megawatt, coal-fired power plant to meet clean air standards for nitrogen oxide (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) far lower than have ever been permitted before. A draft air permit issued in July for Wisconsin Public Service Corp.'s proposed Weston 4 plant would require stringent best available control technology (BACT) limits for NOx and SO2, but the Sierra Club is pressing hard for those limits...

INDUSTRY BLASTS STATE DIESEL EFFORTS, SAYS FEDERAL RULE DELAY POSSIBLE

Engine manufacturers are holding open the possibility that EPA could ease or delay a pending highway diesel engine rule, while criticizing an effort in several Eastern states to adopt California's identical standard as a backstop in case the high-profile federal rule does not go into effect as planned in 2007. Industry groups stress they do not expect EPA to delay implementation of the rule, and say they are on track to meet engine requirements to reduce nitrogen oxide and particulate...

EPA AWARDS $6 MILLION FOR WEST COAST DIESEL-REDUCTION PROJECTS

U.S. EPA Region IX and California air officials last week announced $6 million in EPA funding for West Coast projects to reduce diesel emissions from trucks, ships, locomotives and other diesel sources. The projects, funded in part by EPA's West Coast Diesel Emission Reduction Collaborative, include installing electric repowering facilities at truck stops to reduce idling, developing technology to reduce locomotive emissions and renovating some port facilities to provide electric powering for large cruise ships. The $6 million is a...

INDUSTRY DEMANDS CHANGES TO PM REPORT DESPITE LOOMING LEGAL DEADLINE

Industry groups are raising serious concerns about the capstone chapter of a key EPA document that could lead to tighter ambient air quality standards for particulate matter (PM), demanding that EPA revise the report even as the agency faces a court-ordered deadline to complete the PM "criteria document" by the end of the month. These groups are also objecting that a key EPA scientific advisory panel signed off on a revised version of the document without reviewing a myriad of...

WIND ENERGY EXPECTS MAJOR BOOST FROM NEW STATE, FEDERAL INCENTIVES

The wind energy industry is poised for a big growth spurt following the renewal of the long-awaited federal production tax credit through 2005 and New York state's adoption of a 25 percent renewable portfolio standard (RPS) by 2013, industry sources say. "Wind producers have been waiting for the RPS to be established and the production tax credit at the federal level to be reinstated," says one consultant. "Because of the potential for the industry to expand so much in New...

KEY SENATORS, ACTIVISTS ATTACK RISK-BASED OFF RAMP IN AIR TOXICS RULES

Environmentalists and key senators are challenging the Bush administration's landmark air toxics rules for plywood producers and industrial boilers, fearing they set a dangerous precedent exempting facilities from Clean Air Act requirements by downplaying the risks posed by ambient emissions and sources "co-located" at the facility. These critics warn if the rules stand, industries could petition EPA to apply the agency's risk-based methodology to existing rules and bog down the agency's air toxics program. While EPA officials say air chief...

UTILITIES ASK JUDGE TO DISMISS STATE CLIMATE CHANGE LAWSUIT

Five power companies filed joint and separate motions in federal court Sept. 30 asking that a lawsuit by state attorneys general (AGs) seeking greenhouse gas emission reductions be dismissed for lack of legal justification, including separation of powers, jurisdictional and standing grounds. The omnibus brief filed by American Electric Power (AEP), Cinergy, Xcel Energy, Southern Company and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York says, "Congress has affirmatively chosen not...

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