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.

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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.

EPA DISHES OUT $6 MILLION FOR WEST COAST DIESEL-REDUCTION PROJECTS

U.S. EPA Region IX and state air officials this week announced $6 million of 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 diesel-reduction projects featured this...

SOUTH COAST RIPS CPR PLAN TO STREAMLINE PETROLEUM PROJECT PERMITTING

South Coast air district officials are ripping a recommendation in the administration's California Performance Review (CPR) report to streamline the local permitting process for petroleum infrastructure expansion. The board was expected Oct. 1 to approve a resolution opposing the CPR's recommendation, arguing that it improperly and haphazardly wrests legal authority from local agencies to review and approve appropriate permits. The strong response by the district adds to concerns amongst stakeholders about the potential for the environment and public input to...

CERTIFICATION POTENTIAL NEW HURDLE IN DISPUTED ARB LAWN MOWER REG

Manufacturers of lawn and garden equipment subject to a new California emission regulation are urging air board staff to help companies comply with critical engine certification procedures or face potential compliance problems with the rules. Special guidance documents are being drafted by board staff to accommodate the industry, with workshops expected to be held soon. The Air Resources Board's small off-road engine (SORE) regulation was approved by the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) just last week, nearly one full year...

ARB DETAILS PROPOSAL REQUIRING LOW-SULFUR DIESEL IN BOATS, TRAINS

Air board officials this week unveiled details to their proposal to require harbor craft and some locomotives to use ultra low-sulfur diesel fuel, which is aimed at reducing nitrogen oxide (NOx), particulate matter (PM) and sulfur oxides (SOx). Railroad representatives earlier this year raised questions about whether the rules will impact fuel availability and whether federal authority to regulate locomotives may preclude the state rules. Air Resources Board staff proposed this week that a standard for diesel fuel having a...

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

The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) may form a mercury 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. Any plan to hold such a forum has not been finalized, according to one ELI source, but it is being supported by former Acting EPA Administrator Marianne Lamont Horinko, who is now affiliated with ELI, an...

MANUFACTURERS CONTINUE PUSHING LIMITS ON SCOPE OF EPA TRANSPORT RULE

Large manufacturers, including industrial boilers, chemical plants and paper companies, are ramping up pressure on the Bush administration to exempt their facilities from the clean air interstate rule (CAIR) and future initiatives to restrict interstate air pollution transport. The group is urging the White House to only include an industrial source in CAIR if doing so would allow at least 16 new counties to attain national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS). This language, included in a supplement to the CAIR...

Utilities Delay Action On NSR Pacts Pending Air Transport Rule Release

Some power companies are reluctant to pursue settlements with EPA over alleged violations of the Clean Air Act's new source review (NSR) program until the Bush administration finalizes EPA's upcoming regulation to curb transported air pollution, sources say. The sources say some utilities might be delaying action on the settlements at least in part because they are concerned that the pacts would create competitive disadvantages if their competitors were not subject to the rule's requirements. One source tracking the issue...

Senators Urge Powell To Allow Independent Release Of Arctic Greenhouse Gas 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...

STATE OFFICIALS PUSH FOR NEW EMISSION CREDIT TRADING PROGRAMS

Top state air officials and stakeholder groups are beginning a major push to develop novel emission reduction credit (ERC) trading programs, as credits become scarcer by the day, threatening the ability of businesses to locate and expand in nonattainment areas. Leaders of the effort are optimistic that breakthroughs can be achieved, especially because U.S. EPA Region IX has joined the effort and is signaling it is open to innovative proposals -- a position that has not existed in past ERC-generation...

WIDESPREAD OPPOSITION SEEN KILLING CPR PLAN TO ELIMINATE ARB

Following a California Performance Review (CPR) Commission meeting that featured strong resistance to a recommendation to eliminate the air board, several sources are predicting that the proposal will be off the table when the governor decides which concepts to pursue in his effort to streamline state government. Other Cal/EPA reorganization proposals -- such as eliminating the regional water boards and consolidating waste management regulatory oversight -- face opposition but appear to have more traction than getting rid of the air...

FARMERS EXPECT SETTLEMENT TO EXEMPT MORE DAIRIES FROM SAN JOAQUIN RULE

Dairy industry representatives say they believe a lawsuit settlement reached this week with the San Joaquin Valley air district over new Clean Air Act permitting requirements for farms will exempt more existing and new dairies from permitting and future control measures. Industry officials expect new emission factors called for by the settlement that more accurately estimate current facility pollution levels will replace estimates now being used by the district that date back to the 1930s, sources said. Among other things,...

RISK, ENFORCEMENT DEBATED IN ARB WOOD-PRODUCT FORMALDEHYDE RULE

Air board officials and industry representatives are continuing to debate enforcement issues and the risk assessment basis of an evolving control measure to reduce formaldehyde emissions from a variety of composite-wood products. The rule -- the first of its kind in the nation -- has potentially widespread impacts, including that it may be copied by other states looking to reduce indoor pollution. But it also threatens to hurt U.S. industry if enforcement is insufficient to target furniture and other products...

TOP BUSH AIR OFFICIAL SAYS OXYGENATE REQUIREMENT 'MAY NOT BE NEEDED'

The Bush Administration's top air official says a controversial oxygenated fuel requirement "may not be needed," adding that U.S. EPA is hoping comprehensive energy legislation would relieve states like New York and California from having to blend their gasoline with oxygenates, such as MTBE or ethanol. The statement fuels speculation that the administration is inclined to grant such waivers. "We kept hoping Congress would deal with it, but we now have an independent responsibility to deal with it," said Jeffrey...

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 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 emissions controls 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 associated...

FACING ACTIVISTS' LAWSUIT, EPA TO ISSUE NEW RULES ON MOBILE SOURCE TOXICS

EPA plans next year to propose new controls on air toxic emissions from motor vehicles -- one of the largest sources of hazardous air pollutants in the country -- amid a lengthy court battle with environmentalists who claim the agency missed a self-imposed deadline to finalize rules this year. Petroleum industry officials say they have not yet taken a position on such a rule, but raise concerns that it could be more difficult to control vehicle emissions following an expected...

EPA LIKELY TO SEEK FULL APPELLATE REVIEW OF RARE AIR RULE 'VACATUR'

EPA is planning to appeal a precedent-setting federal appellate decision vacating a clean air rule because agency officials fear it could set a dangerous precedent for immediately vacating defective air quality standards rather than remanding them to the agency for reconsideration, sources tracking the issue say. EPA is particularly worried that if the ruling is allowed to stand, future courts can rely on the precedent to vacate rules that could be easily remedied, leaving the agency without any standard and...

STATE COMMISSIONERS DEBATE NEW POLICY ON MULTIPOLLUTANT CONTROLS

State environmental commissioners are debating a resolution that would urge EPA to include a minimum air emissions control requirement for all power plants in upcoming federal multipollutant control rules likely to rely significantly on emissions trading, according to a state source familiar with the debate. The debate comes in advance of the Environmental Council of the States' (ECOS) annual meeting Oct. 3-5, where ECOS will discuss possible revisions to a three-year-old policy statement on multipollutant emissions reductions. Another state source...

REGIONS PUSH LOCAL OFFICIALS FOR STRICT MERCURY LIMITS IN WATER PERMITS

Regional EPA officials are urging state and local regulators to require strict numeric discharge limits in their water permits based on the amount of mercury in fish tissue -- despite the agency's support for a more flexible approach in a pending draft guidance. Region X says in comments filed Sept. 20 on a draft implementation guidance for Idaho's mercury water quality criteria that the state's permitting approach may be insufficiently protective of water quality because it allows dischargers to implement...

SPIKE IN UTILITY SO2 EMISSIONS PROMPTS CRITICISM OF TRADING PROGAMS

EPA's new report showing a 4 percent increase in sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions from power plants in 2003 -- the first time acid rain emissions have increased since 1998 -- is drawing criticism from environmentalists over the benefits of emissions trading programs. EPA officials said the 400,000-ton spike, detailed in an EPA report on acid rain emissions, is due to utilities using long-held "banked" credits -- an incentive Congress gave the companies in the early 1990s for making additional emission...

NORTHEAST STATES WORRY OVER EPA GUIDE WAIVING SOME OZONE MANDATES

EPA's plan to continue waiving some nitrogen oxide (NOx) reduction requirements as states transition to implementing the agency's new 8-hour ozone rule is reviving northeast states' concerns about potential increases in ozone transported from upwind states obtaining the exemptions, state sources say. EPA is proposing in a Sept. 1 draft guidance -- which updates a 1993 guidance on ozone rule implementation -- to continue waiving NOx requirements under section 182(f) of the Clean Air Act in areas where lowering emissions...

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