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.

Several Northeast States Developing Greenhouse Gas Vehicle Standards

Several Northeast states are starting the regulatory process to adopt California's greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations for automobiles, even as an auto industry lawsuit is pending over the California rule. Vermont environmental officials on Aug. 2 formally announced they would adopt the California regulations. Industry and activist sources say that Connecticut, Maine and New Jersey are expected to soon follow with official statements that they are adopting the GHG regulations, following New York's decision to adopt the rules earlier this year...

INDUSTRY, ACTIVISTS REACH DEAL ON CEILING FAN EFFICIENCY STANDARD

After a last-minute compromise reached between energy efficiency activists and manufacturers, the energy bill President Bush signed Aug. 8 includes a first-time standard for ceiling fans and their light fixtures that is expected to yield major efficiency gains. Activists say the measure is an important victory in a bill that otherwise scaled back significant energy savings provisions the Senate version had included. The 11th-hour compromise with fan makers, including the retailer Home Depot, requires that ceiling fan lights meet efficiency...

EPA Rejects GAO Report By Citing Contentious Revised Equity Definition

EPA is refuting Government Accountability Office (GAO) criticisms that it downplayed environmental justice (EJ) considerations when drafting air regulations by arguing that the rules were evaluated under the agency's revised equity definition that drops race and income as factors in EJ policies. The GAO report , released last week, is the latest in a series of criticisms EPA is facing over its environmental justice policies, after Democrats and environmental groups blasted the agency over a recently released draft plan that...

EPA EYES NEW RISK APPROACH TO ADDRESS FACILITIES' AIR TOXICS EMISSIONS

EPA may craft a new rule that would overhaul its air toxics program by requiring individual pollution reduction plans for facilities that pose a high risk to public health, and exempting low-risk facilities from compliance with any future standards. The rule could replace a host of pending standards under the agency's "residual risk" program, which sets air toxics requirements for industrial sources that still pose a health risk after the agency issues maximum achievable control technology (MACT) rules for the...

DOE ROLE IN ENERGY BILL AIR TOXICS STUDY DRAWS WIDESPREAD SKEPTICISM

Environmentalists and industry sources claim a new study the energy bill requires Department of Energy (DOE) to conduct on the health impacts of refinery air toxics may have little value, because DOE has little experience in the area compared to EPA. A little-known provision in the new law asks the Secretary of Energy to report to Congress within six months on the "direct and significant health impacts" on people who live near refineries and petrochemical plants. The provision directs DOE...

CEMENT INDUSTRY FILES DATA CHALLENGE TO EPA'S DIOXIN EMISSION ESTIMATES

Cement makers have filed a data quality act challenge urging EPA to revise downward its estimate of dioxin emissions from hazardous waste-burning kilns, saying the overestimates could expose the facilities to legal attacks from environmentalists. The Cement Kiln Recycling Coalition (CKRC), which represents cement making companies that burn hazardous-waste derived fuels in their kilns, says emission estimates in EPA's latest inventory are inflated because the report uses an improper methodology. The coalition has filed a formal data-correction petition on EPA's...

STATES PUSHING EPA TO SLOW DECISION ON MAJOR OVERHAUL OF VOC POLICY

State officials are urging EPA to delay announcing its recent decision to initiate a rulemaking for overhauling the way it regulates ozone-forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs), charging that EPA developed the proposal after consulting mainly with industry groups. EPA is set before the end of August to more forward with its recent decision to issue an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) for a new rule on how to regulate the compounds based on their potential to form ozone, according...

ENERGY PANEL TO ADDRESS FUTURE OF NATION'S POWER SUPPLY

An influential public interest group, the Consumer Energy Council of America (CECA), has launched a blue-ribbon panel to craft a secure and diverse energy fuel supply for the next 20 years. The effort could prompt federal or state legislation with major implications for the coal, natural gas, renewable and nuclear industries, according to a CECA source. The panel, which met for the first time in late July, is addressing six priorities to guide its recommendations, including environmental protection, sustainable economic...

ACTIVISTS MOUNT CAMPAIGN FOR CITIZEN INVOLVEMENT IN AIR SETTLEMENTS

Activists are mounting a campaign to criticize EPA and state settlements with refineries and chemical plants for Clean Air Act violations, claiming communities have little say in environmental projects mandated in the settlements. Activists are organizing meetings with EPA officials to take issue with an agency policy for allowing companies to fund what are known as supplemental environmental projects (SEPs) instead of paying large fines for air act violations. The activists do not oppose the idea of SEPs, but claim...

ENVIRONMENTALISTS DISMISS IMPACT OF COURT ORDER ON EPA MERCURY RULE

Environmentalists are downplaying the impact of a court decision to reject suspending EPA regulation of mercury emissions from power plants pending further judicial review of the rule. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Aug. 4 rejected a motion by the plaintiffs in State of New Jersey et al. v EPA, seeking to stay the rule pending its review by the court. In its decision on the motion, the court found the plaintiffs did...

CLIMATE CHANGE CASES OPEN DOOR FOR PUSH ON LIMITING STANDING TO SUE

Major global warming cases moving through the federal judiciary have opened the door for a push by industry and the government to limit plaintiffs' ability to sue to enforce environmental laws, an effort that legal experts say could lead to a new Supreme Court review on the issue. Ensuring citizens have broad access to the courts is a top priority for environmentalists, who often rely on lawsuits to force industrial plants to limit pollution and require EPA and other agencies...

SEVERAL NORTHEAST STATES DEVELOPING GHG VEHICLE STANDARDS

Several Northeast states are starting the regulatory process to adopt California's greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations for automobiles, even as an auto industry lawsuit is pending over the California rule. Vermont environmental officials on Aug. 2 formally announced they would adopt the California regulations. Industry and activist sources say that Connecticut, Maine and New Jersey are expected to soon follow with official statements that they are adopting the GHG regulations, following New York's decision to adopt the rules earlier this year...

EPA FACES PRESSURE ON CLIMATE INDICATORS IN ENVIRONMENT REPORT

A panel of independent scientists is asking EPA to include new climate change indicators in an upcoming report on the state of the environment, a suggestion that could put the agency in an awkward position with the White House, which reportedly asked that similar indicators be removed from the report earlier this year. EPA will have to reconcile the scientific arguments against the likely wishes of the Bush administration, which has strongly opposed regulating greenhouse gases. EPA's Report on the...

CALIFORNIA EYES PORT FEE TO CUT EMISSIONS, WITH REGULATION POSSIBLE

California legislators will soon consider final approval of legislation to impose fees on shipping containers at two major ports in the state, in order to fund programs to reduce air pollution that could include local regulations as well as voluntary programs. Shipping industry sources oppose the fee and fear the bill could set a precedent for ports elsewhere in the country. A bill before the state assembly, SB760, would impose a $30 fee on each shipping container processed in the...

LEGISLATIVE PUSH WOULD CREATE EXEMPTIONS FOR LIVESTOCK POLLUTION

House lawmakers are floating draft legislation that would expand on earlier attempts to exempt air emissions from animal feeding operations from federal legislation, and also exempt the industry from Superfund cleanup requirements. The move could undercut groundbreaking new lawsuits charging the industry is liable for contamination and resource damages from animal manure. It comes as EPA has been working on a legal agreement with the agriculture industry to temporarily exclude it from certain emissions and other pollution reporting requirements. The...

NORTH CAROLINA FIGHTS EPA PLAN ADDRESSING BID FOR STRICT OZONE LIMITS

North Carolina state officials are vowing to challenge EPA's plan to reject their petition seeking strict controls on power plant emissions from upwind states and are calling for the agency to make the requirements more stringent than under the agency's clean air interstate rule (CAIR). The state wants EPA to set emissions limits in several upwind states beyond those in CAIR's cap-and-trade scheme for power plants, and to implement tighter deadlines than under CAIR. Also, the state is opposing an...

ENVIRONMENTALISTS SEE HOUSE VOTES TO DEFEAT ANWR IN BUDGET BILL

Environmentalists believe they may be close to convincing enough House lawmakers to vote against an upcoming budget bill because of concerns that it would allow oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The activists are in the initial stages of planning an aggressive campaign over the next month targeting a handful of House lawmakers who have opposed ANWR drilling in the past but supported a non-binding budget resolution, which will serve as the basis for the upcoming bill...

CRITICS SAY NEW FUEL ECONOMY STANDARDS MAY FAIL TO BRING IMPROVEMENT

The Bush administration is poised to release new mileage standards for light trucks that will change the way vehicles are classified, but sources familiar with the standards say they would not necessarily improve fuel economy. This comes as EPA's new fuel economy report shows that gains have remained flat for the past year, continuing a trend that reflects an increase in sales of less fuel-efficient vehicles despite rising gas prices. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will propose its...

EPA VOWED TO ISSUE FINE PARTICLE RULE PRIOR TO SENATE VOTE ON NOMINEES

Assurances by Bush administration officials that EPA would soon issue a rule to control fine particle pollution may have contributed to a behind-the-scenes deal that cleared the way for the Senate to confirm two nominees to head top spots at the agency, according to observers closely tracking the issue. Just prior to the Senate vote last month confirming EPA nominees Marcus Peacock as the agency's deputy administrator and Granta Nakayama to head the enforcement office, administration officials told Sen. James...

EPA SETTLEMENT DELAYS RELEASE OF MOBILE SOURCE AIR TOXICS RULE

EPA has delayed earlier plans to issue an air toxics rule for mobile sources by the end of this year, after reaching an agreement with environmentalists to propose the rule next year. The agency proposed a settlement July 22 with the Sierra Club and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, which had sued the agency in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for failing to meet statutory obligations to release a mobile source air toxics (MSAT) rule...

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