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.

NEW YORK, ENVIRONMENTALISTS PRESS INSURERS TO TARGET CLIMATE RISKS

Environmentalists and some New York state officials are pressuring major insurance companies to develop policies to reduce financial risks posed by climate change. Following three major hurricanes that hit Florida and the Gulf Coast, environmentalists are urging states to insist that insurers develop adequate reserves that deal with natural disasters that may stem from climate change. But conservatives are emphasizing statements from some state climatologists disputing claims that the hurricanes are linked to global warming. Meanwhile, two New York state...

EPA SEEKS TO RESTORE REDUCTIONS IN PM RESEARCH FUNDING FOR FY2005

EPA officials are working with Senate lawmakers to restore funding cuts to its particulate matter (PM) research program after the House cut $4.7 million from the Bush administration's roughly $59 million fiscal year 2005 budget request for the research. The move comes as the Senate Appropriations Committee Sept. 21 approved a bill that boosts EPA's science and technology account by $69 million above the administration's requested level, but it was not clear whether any of that increase could be applied...

NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR ANNOUNCES CONTROVERSIAL GREENHOUSE GAS PLAN

Outgoing New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey (D) announced a Sept. 16 proposal to redefine carbon dioxide (CO2) as an air contaminant, taking a dig at EPA, which last year concluded just the opposite. "While the Bush administration refuses to confront the serious consequences of rising greenhouse gas levels, New Jersey is taking the first steps toward real, regional initiatives that will reduce harmful carbon dioxide emissions," McGreevey said in a statement. Under the proposal, the state's Department of Environmental Protection...

USDA FINALIZES RULE TO EXPAND METHYL BROMIDE 'QUARANTINE EXEMPTION'

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Sept. 16 finalized its proposal to expand the use of methyl bromide's so-called quarantine exemption, calling for all imported wood packaging material to be either heat treated or fumigated with methyl bromide, which is otherwise banned. "This change will affect all persons using wood packaging material in connection with importing goods into the Untied States," the final rule says. Relevant documents are available on InsideEPA.com. The plan prompted concerns from senior government officials and...

PETROLEUM INDUSTRY SEEKS TO DOWNPLAY INDOOR AIR RISKS IN EPA GUIDANCE

The oil industry is developing recommendations on assessing the health risks posed by petroleum-related air toxins in an effort to downplay EPA risk estimates in an upcoming guidance on how to limit indoor air contamination caused by leaking underground storage tanks (USTs). The American Petroleum Institute (API) is completing a document that it will present to EPA for inclusion as part of an appendix to its controversial guidance on addressing so-called vapor intrusion, which refers to indoor air contamination resulting...

Facing Suit, EPA To Impose New Controls On Emissions From Motor Vehicles

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...

Coal Lobby Challenges Analysis Behind Northeast Talks For CO2 Cap

A group that promotes coal-fired generation of electricity is trying to bypass discussions among Northeast state staff on developing a regional carbon dioxide emissions cap -- by urging higher ranking state officials to intervene in an ongoing economic analysis that would support CO2 controls. The revisions sought by the group would raise the estimated costs of proceeding with the precedent-setting CO2 plan. In a Sept.17 letter to the head of the New York Public Service Commission (PSC), the Center for...

Senate Panel's Bill Provides Exemptions From Data Quality Act

Senators have included a little-noticed provision in the spending bill for the Commerce Department barring the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from implementing controversial data quality guidelines, which affect EPA and other federal agencies. If enacted, the provision could bar future challenges to NOAA studies on a range of issues, including climate change. Industry officials are objecting to the language, which they call an obstacle to implementing the Information Quality Act, saying the provision could thwart an outside party...

Leading House Republican Drafts Broad Bill To Curb Regional Clean Fuels

House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) appears to be revising an earlier bill that would limit 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 to cover a range of fuel programs regulated under the Clean Air Act. Some sources tracking the issue say the legislation could be introduced this week, but it is unclear whether he will seek a vote...

ACTIVISTS' BID FOR NAFTA INQUIRY MAY BACK FUTURE SUIT ON MERCURY PLAN

Environmentalists' bid for a NAFTA panel to investigate whether EPA is adequately enforcing the Clean Water Act by limiting emissions from coal-fired power plants could provide the groups with information to be used in future litigation against EPA's controversial mercury emissions control plans, an environmental attorney tracking the issue says. The bid also suggests first-time water law arguments environmentalists could use in future litigation against the Bush administration's mercury emissions control plan, although the environmental attorney stresses that groups have...

NAFTA Probe Of Mercury Rule May Help Potential Suit By Environmentalists

A request by environmentalists for a NAFTA panel to investigate whether EPA's plan to regulate power plants 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 environmental attorney tracking the issue says. The request also suggests first-time water law arguments that environmentalists could use in any potential lawsuit challenging the Bush administration's mercury plan, although the attorney stresses that groups have not made any determinations...

New Ethanol Study Seen Bolstering California Push For Fuel Waivers

A new study that found high emission increases from California vehicles running on ethanol-treated reformulated gasoline (RFG) may intensify the state's push for a wavier to the federal RFG oxygen mandate, sources tracking the issue say. California officials have argued for several years that refiners should be given maximum flexibility to meet the state's strict RFG pollutant emission limits, including the ability to produce non-oxygenated fuel if they desire. The state is awaiting a decision by EPA on whether it...

Administration's Analysis On Controlling Drift Could Weaken Various Air Rules

The Bush administration's decision to include a controversial analysis that finds reduced benefits for controlling particulate matter (PM) under the agency's upcoming rule to limit drift could weaken requirements for reducing the pollutant through other air regulations. EPA sources say the analysis could undermine future agency arguments about the cost-effectiveness of limiting particulates through technology-based standards on power plants, exhaust controls for vehicles, and other measures. The analysis lowers EPA's current estimate for reducing PM emissions in its Clean Air...

HIGH EMISSIONS FROM ETHANOL CONFIRMED; WAIVER CASE SEEN BOLSTERED

A new study that confirms considerable evaporative hydrocarbon emission increases from California vehicles running on ethanol-containing reformulated gasoline (RFG) may bolster the state's push for a wavier to the federal RFG oxygen mandate, and may confirm the need to amend the state's Phase 3 RFG rules to reduce ethanol use overall, sources said. The study, sponsored by the Air Resources Board and Georgia-based Coordinating Research Council, finds that a 5.7%-by-volume ethanol blend, which is the standard in California, increases permeation...

BUILDERS, ACTIVISTS BATTLE OVER ARB LAND-USE DECISION GUIDANCE

A key part of the air board's controversial draft guidance for local land-use decisions is the focus of an upcoming meeting expected to pit builders and other affected industries against environmental justice (EJ) and "smart growth" advocates. Board staff has been criticized by environmental justice activists of ignoring their recommendations to revise the draft guidance to make it more protective of communities near industrial areas. But builders fear the document could restrict much needed affordable and smart growth housing, as...

ARB REACHES OUT TO IMPROVE AGRIBUSINESS RELATIONS OVER NEW RULES

Air board officials are striving to improve relations with the agriculture industry, which has complained it is being blindsided by a flurry of first-time state and local control measures with little communication from regulators. State staffers are being directed to maintain regular contact with industry representatives, informing them of any new regulatory activities at the local air district or state agency levels. While the agriculture industry heavily supported Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in last year's recall election, several industry sources said...

POWER COMPANIES FUME OVER POSSIBLE FURTHER RECLAIM RE-ENTRY DELAY

Representatives of power companies operating in the Los Angeles area are irked over a proposal by South Coast air district staff to delay the companies' re-entry into the district's nitrogen oxide (NOx) credit trading program, RECLAIM, to ensure more pollution reductions. The proposal, floated in a recent staff white paper to be discussed at a public hearing next month, is seen by power producers as unfairly limiting their ability to sell legitimate credits to non-power facilities in the program. South...

DECISION TO LOWER PM BENEFITS IN CAIR RULE 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...

DEMOCRATS EYE BUDGET 'RIDER' TO REQUIRE EPA STUDY OF MERCURY RULE

Congressional Democrats may try to attach a legislative rider to EPA's upcoming budget bill that would force the agency to conduct studies on its controversial mercury emissions plan that top officials have so far declined to conduct. 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 the agency would be required to use to...

INDUSTRY EYES POSSIBLE FIXES TO IMPLEMENTATION OF EPA 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 email. A number of industry groups, including the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), are considering filing an administrative petition with EPA that will ask the agency to change its rule implementing the agency's 8-hour ozone standard, according to an NAM email sent to its members and later distributed...

Pages

Not a subscriber? Sign up for 30 days free access to exclusive environmental policy reporting.