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.

USDA TASK FORCE PRESSES EPA TO ACT ON CROP-BURNING, FARM RULES

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) agricultural air quality task force is putting pressure on EPA to respond, after years of delay, to several contentious policy recommendations -- including a proposal to exempt agricultural burning from particular matter limits and one that exempts agricultural operations from regulatory mandates, promoting voluntary measures instead. A task force member who recently spoke with high-ranking EPA officials says the agency has promised to move forward soon. If EPA agrees to the recommendation on crop...

Sixth Circuit Declines To Broaden Landmark TVA Ruling To Superfund

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has declined to expand to the Superfund law the application of a landmark decision in which the 11th Circuit invalidated on constitutional due process grounds administrative penalties EPA levied under the Clean Air Act. In Gurley v. United States , the Sixth Circuit ruled that the 11th Circuit's landmark decision in Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) v. Whitman did not apply to Superfund law provisions allowing EPA to collect penalties when a defendant fails to...

States' Study On Benefits Of Mercury Controls 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 the analysis 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...

EPA PLANS INTERNATIONAL TALKS ON NEW DIESEL RULES FOR OCEAN VESSELS

EPA is preparing to hold multilateral discussions on a potential agreement that would limit diesel engine pollution from ocean-going vessels in North American ports, including cruise ships and cargo ships, agency officials say. Industry groups and environmentalists agree that ships are a significant source of diesel emissions, and that current international standards are likely not stringent enough. But industry groups are withholding an opinion on new standards pending studies on how they could impact fuel supplies. EPA air chief Jeffrey...

SENATE GOP 'RIDERS' TARGET ENVIRONMENTALISTS' LAWSUITS AGAINST CAFOS

Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) may seek to prevent future citizen lawsuits against concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) by attaching legislative riders to EPA's spending bill that exempt the facilities from Superfund and other environmental reporting requirements, according to a Craig staffer. If successful, the amendments appear likely to boost agriculture industry efforts to limit compliance with environmental requirements. The industry is also working with EPA to develop a "safe harbor" agreement that would temporarily exempt CAFOs from Clean Air Act...

INDUSTRY LOBBIES AGAINST POTENTIAL ILLINOIS POWER PLANT POLLUTION PLAN

The Illinois electric utility industry is seeking to stop the Illinois EPA (IEPA) from moving forward with power plant emission rules stricter than the federal government's, claiming that any such plan would put the state at a competitive disadvantage, cost jobs and severely threaten electricity reliability. If IEPA does move forward as expected with a recommendation for stringent emission rules, particularly for mercury, in a report mandated by the legislature and due by the end of this month, it would...

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. The move comes amidst a lengthy court battle with environmentalists who argued the agency had missed a self-imposed deadline to develop final 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...

DECISION TO LOWER PM BENEFITS IN CAIR MAY AFFECT FUTURE AIR RULES

The Bush administration's decision to include a controversial analysis reducing the estimated benefits for controlling particulate matter (PM) in the agency's transport rule could prompt weaker requirements in future air regulations to limit PM -- including technology standards, mobile sources controls and other measures -- because they weaken agency arguments about the cost-effectiveness of these measures, EPA sources say. The analysis lowers EPA's current estimate for reducing PM emissions in the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) by as much as...

EPA INTERSTATE AIR RULE ADDS TO FEAR IGCC WILL BE LONE CLEAN COAL OPTION

Key utility industry sources are warning that the administration's pending plan to control interstate emissions is just another example of how the government seems to favor integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) above all other clean coal technologies, a policy position many coal-fired power plant engineers argue is too restrictive. This criticism comes on the heels of a recent announcement that American Electric Power (AEP) plans to build the largest IGCC plant ever before the end of the decade. It also...

EPA GRANTS DETROIT'S 'BUMP-DOWN' REQUEST OVER ACTIVISTS' OBJECTIONS

EPA has granted a state request to ease ozone requirements for Detroit, MI, over environmentalists' objections that the request lacked any legal basis and that granting it would set a dangerous precedent for EPA's air program. The state used a novel method to assess air pollution levels by using rounding arithmetic to adjust a calculation of average ozone conditions. The decision also has political implications because Michigan is a battleground state in the presidential race, and Michigan's economic woes are...

INDUSTRY EYES POSSIBLE FIXES TO EPA IMPLEMENTATION OF NEW OZONE RULE

Industry officials are preparing to ask EPA to make a series of fixes that would likely ease requirements for complying with the agency's strict new ozone standard, according to an internal industry e-mail. A number of industry groups including the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is considering filing an administrative petition with EPA that will ask the agency to make the suggested changes to its rule implementing the agency's 8-hour ozone standard, according to an e-mail that NAM sent to...

GROUPS EYE FIRST-TIME DATA QUALITY LANGUAGE IN ENDANGERED SPECIES BILL

Conservative and environmental groups are closely watching a House bill that would amend the Endangered Species Act because it includes first-time language referencing the data quality act that would assure information disseminated by the government could be challenged in court, according to industry supporters of the language. Opponents of the data requirements, including environmental groups, say if the existing data quality law is incorporated into an organic, overriding environmental statute, it will also effectively limit federal agencies' ability to craft...

DEMOCRATS EYE BUDGET 'RIDER' FOR EPA STUDY ON MERCURY RULE

Congressional Democrats are considering plans to attach a legislative rider to EPA's upcoming budget bill that would force the agency to study alternatives to its controversial mercury emissions plan, after top officials have so far declined to move forward on this research. One House Democratic source says the rider would not ban EPA from finalizing its mercury trading proposal -- a plan critics say would delay adequate reductions for too long -- but would instead earmark funding which the agency...

SENATE STAFF EYE TAX BILL AS NEW VEHICLE TO RENEW WIND ENERGY CREDITS

Democratic and Republican staff in the Senate say renewal of a wind energy tax credit could be approved as part of catch-all tax code extension legislation if Congress fails to adopt comprehensive energy legislation or an export tax reform bill that both include the wind provisions. The energy legislation and export tax bill have been mired by partisan politics and passage this year appears uncertain at best for either proposal. With just a few weeks remaining in this year's legislative...

NAFTA PROBE OF MERCURY RULE MAY HELP POTENTIAL ENVIRONMENTALIST SUIT

A request by environmentalists for a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) panel to investigate whether EPA's plan to regulate power plants air emissions fails to adequately enforce the Clean Water Act could provide the activists with information for future litigation against the agency's controversial mercury proposal, an environmentalist attorney tracking the issue says. The request also suggests first-time arguments that environmentalists could use in any potential lawsuit challenging the Bush administration's mercury plan on water law grounds, although the...

APPELLATE RULING MAY LIMIT GROUPS' COURT ACCESS, LEGAL EXPERTS SAY

A recent appellate ruling dismissing an environmental group's attempt to stop a Forest Service timber sale, on the grounds that a different environmental group had already sought to litigate the issue, sets a disturbing precedent that could block environmental and industry groups' access to courts, legal experts and some environmentalists warn. These sources say the ruling may set a precedent by expanding a legal doctrine -- known as privity -- used to determine when parties in litigation share similar interests...

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...

COLORADO AGREES TO STUDY IMPACT OF AIR RULES ON ROCKY MOUNTAIN PARK

Colorado officials are undertaking an unusual effort to examine the impacts of pending federal pollution standards on air quality in Rocky Mountain National Park, acknowledging that they have not determined how a host of major initiatives would impact one of the most polluted parks in the West. If the state finds that future air standards will fail to protect the park, it could recommend additional controls on pollution sources in the state if officials show the controls would improve air...

PRO-ETHANOL GROUPS CITE LOW SMOG WHILE CARB SHOWS HIGH EMISSIONS

The battle over whether ethanol helps or hurts air quality is intensifying in California as a pro-ethanol group is pointing to the lowest smog levels in a decade during the first year that the state's ethanol use grew dramatically, while the state's air resources board released a report that "confirms" the corn-based additive increases vehicle emissions. The California Air Resources Board's (CARB) September report, Fuel Permeation from Automotive Systems, found, "Emissions increased on all 10 vehicle fuels systems studied when...

LEADING HOUSE REPUBLICAN DRAFTS BILL TO CURB REGIONAL CLEAN FUELS

House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) has revised earlier legislation limiting the number of regional clean fuels with new provisions that could prompt EPA to reduce the number of fuels nationally and expand the previous bill's emergency waiver provision, according to draft legislation obtaine by Inside Washington Publishers . Some sources tracking the issue say the legislation could be introduced this week, but it is unclear whether he will seek a vote on the measure, try to attach it to...

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