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.

EPA EXPANDS CLEAN-FUEL WAIVER NATIONWIDE IN AFTERMATH OF HURRICANE

EPA is expanding nationwide an emergency waiver from summertime clean-fuel requirements under the Clean Air Act in an effort to minimize oil supply disruptions that could send gasoline prices soaring as a result of Hurricane Katrina. The decision comes after the petroleum industry and at least one governor lobbied the agency to extend the waiver beyond just Gulf Coast states. The decision to expand the waiver is the first major action by EPA since the category 5 hurricane devastated the...

BIPARTISAN PANEL LAUNCHES NEW TALKS ON GREENHOUSE GAS PROGRAM

A bipartisan commission is convening a new round of discussions this week on designing a possible greenhouse gas reduction program, after Senate lawmakers cited uncertainties in how to craft such a plan as one reason for excluding greenhouse gas controls from the recently enacted comprehensive energy law. An agenda sent to participants by the group, known as the National Commission on Energy Policy (NCEP), says the talks are not intended to forge a consensus but to encourage "substantive discussion" between...

EPA QUIETLY UNVEILS GUIDE ALLOWING NEW STATE APPROACH FOR VOC RULES

EPA has quietly unveiled a long-planned change to its policy for regulating volatile organic compounds (VOCs), issuing an interim guidance that allows states to set the stringency of new rules on a sliding scale based on a compound's reactivity. The document, posted on EPA's website Aug. 26 ahead of planned publication in the Federal Register , encourages states to adopt the new approach where feasible. If states adopt a reactivity approach, those VOCs would be given ratings on a scale...

GROUPS FORECAST SLEW OF NEW RULES UNDER PM COARSE STANDARD

Observers from academia, industry and activist groups believe EPA will develop a host of new regulations for factories, the construction industry and even brake pad composition if the agency presses ahead with a new particulate matter (PM) standard for coarse particles known as urban "PM coarse." However, almost no interest group appears happy with an EPA proposal to regulate urban PM coarse and exclude rural areas from standards. Environmentalists believe the standard should apply everywhere, while industry groups argue there...

ACTIVISTS FEAR AIR IMPACTS OF REFINERY STARTUPS AFTER HURRICANE

Environmentalists are raising concerns that EPA may invoke a long-standing policy to waive penalties on Gulf Coast refineries shut down by Hurricane Katrina for exceeding permitted emissions limits if they all come back online at similar times and emit more pollutants than expected. At least nine Gulf Coast refineries were shut down because of the hurricane, according to an Aug. 31 Department of Energy report. Environmentalists think there may have been an increase in emissions during the emergency shutdown because...

GLOBAL WARMING SUIT HIGHLIGHTS APPEALS COURTS' SPLITS ON STANDING

A federal judge's decision last week allowing environmentalists and cities to sue U.S. export agencies over their failure to consider the global warming impacts of their decisions is highlighting a split in the appellate circuits over when plaintiffs have standing to sue in cases where defendants failed to follow procedural rules, according to legal experts. The experts say these differences between appellate courts could be the basis for parties to seek Supreme Court review on the issue. The Aug. 23...

White House's Hurricane Response Task Force Excludes EPA

The White House has convened a Cabinet-level task force in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that does not include EPA, prompting a number government watchdog groups to raise concerns that the exclusion may reflect an effort to downplay the extent of environmental contamination in the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast region. Also, the president's decision earlier this week to declare the hurricane a federal disaster grants the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), rather than EPA, prime authority over cleanup and other relief...

California Senate Rejection Of Air Board Chief Poses Challenges

The California Senate's rejection of Cindy Tuck to continue as head of the state's air board has environmental and industry sources agreeing that the vacancy may create a leadership vacuum at a time when the board will be considering important standards, including greenhouse gas controls and diesel engine requirements. The Senate move also presents the governor with a major challenge to quickly find a replacement, these sources say. By a 24-14 vote, the state Senate on Sept. 1 rejected Tuck's...

EPA Weighing Questions Over Scope Of Controversial NSR Regulation

EPA officials appear to be debating the scope of a controversial new rule adopting an interpretation of new source review (NSR) requirements that would further open the door to extensive modifications to existing power plants without case-by-case environmental reviews, according to knowledgeable sources and draft rule language. The options include an approach that would adopt the more lenient interpretation nationwide and an option that would restrict the flexibility to the 28 states subject to EPA's clean air interstate rule (CAIR)...

Environmentalists Fear Air Impacts Of Refinery Startups After Hurricane

Environmentalists are raising concerns that EPA may invoke a long-standing policy to waive penalties on Gulf Coast refineries shut down by Hurricane Katrina for exceeding permitted emissions limits if they all come back online at similar times and emit more pollutants than expected. At least nine Gulf Coast refineries were shut down because of the hurricane, according to an Aug. 31 Department of Energy report. Environmentalists think there may have been an increase in emissions during the emergency shutdown because...

EPA Quietly Unveils Guide Allowing New State Approach For VOC Rules

EPA has quietly unveiled a long-planned change to its policy for regulating volatile organic compounds (VOCs), issuing an interim guidance that allows states to set the stringency of new rules on a sliding scale based on the compound's reactivity. The document , posted on EPA's website Aug. 26 ahead of planned publication in the Federal Register , encourages states to adopt the new approach where feasible. If states adopt a reactivity approach, those VOCs would be given ratings on a...

EPA Expands Clean-Fuel Waiver Nationwide In Aftermath Of Hurricane

EPA is expanding nationwide an emergency waiver from summertime clean-fuel requirements under the Clean Air Act in an effort to minimize oil supply disruptions that could send gasoline prices soaring as a result of Hurricane Katrina. The decision came after the petroleum industry and at least one governor lobbied the agency to extend the waiver beyond just the Gulf Coast states. EPA issued a statement Aug. 31 announcing that the entire nation would be exempt from the seasonal fuel requirements...

Automakers Cite Bush CAFE Plan In Challenging California Greenhouse Rule

Lawyers for the automobile industry are citing language in the Bush administration's just-proposed fuel economy rule, which warns that state regulation of carbon dioxide (CO2) from vehicles is "expressly and impliedly preempted" by federal law, in an effort to back their long-standing challenge to California's vehicle greenhouse gas rule. One day after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) unveiled the proposed rule amending Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, plaintiffs in the case, Central Valley Chrysler-Jeep, Inc., et al.,...

Local Air Regulators Seek Smog-Reduction Credits From 'Smart Growth' Efforts

Air regulators in California are seeking innovative ways to obtain EPA backing for so-called smart growth initiatives as part of federally approved plans for reducing smog-producing ozone, in what could become a national model for the agency to award state implementation plan (SIP) credits based on land-use improvements, agency and other sources say. The move comes as many local areas are looking for new ways to meet the agency's recent stricter ozone and fine particulate matter standards, with options often...

EPA LOOKS TO SIMULATED CHEMICAL ATTACK TO BOOST RISK ASSESSMENTS

EPA sources say a recent simulated gaseous release in New York will help emergency workers respond to a chemical attack or a major accidental spill in densely populated areas, and could improve EPA's ability to assess public health risks from such releases. The federally funded simulation was conducted last week as part of a New York City research initiative, which will generate unprecedented data for EPA, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration and the...

EPA CAFO STUDY MAY INCLUDE CHICKEN FARMS AFTER TYSON JOINS PACT

Food giant Tyson Foods' participation in EPA's controversial clean air and Superfund consent decree may lead the agency's related study of farm sector emissions to focus on chicken farms because of the company's enormous holding in chicken farms. However, it is still not certain whether the agency has been able to win sufficient participation in the deal to study emissions from dairy and turkey farms, according to agency and industry sources. While the inclusion of pork producers and egg farmers...

Energy Law Study On Hidden Costs May Force Review Of Environmental Policies

A sweeping study of the hidden costs of energy use and production required by the newly enacted energy law could lead to re-appraisals of a slew of federal environmental policies on global warming, oil spills and mercury emissions, according to sources familiar with the little-noticed provision. The study, which will examine the oil, electricity, nuclear and renewables sectors, is included in the conference report for the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and must be completed by the National Academy of...

Experts Say California Uniquely Positioned To Advance Clean-Coal Technology

Energy policy experts say California environmental regulators are in the unique position to trigger major advances in clean-coal technology given the state's rising demand for energy and close proximity to coal-rich Western states. Also, the technologies are expected to factor importantly into the state's efforts to meet Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets, sources say. The recently enacted federal energy bill also contains large tax credits, loan guarantees and other financial incentives to stimulate the clean-coal technology...

EPA Air Office Pressed To Issue Rule Allowing Use Of Banned Methyl Bromide

EPA's air office is under growing pressure, both internally and from the chemical and agriculture industries, to issue a rule allowing additional uses this year of the banned pesticide methyl bromide, as agreed to by the parties to an international treaty. EPA has yet to issue the rule despite meeting two months ago with industry groups that highlighted the urgent need to move quickly. Industry officials fear the agency will act too late for them to be able to use...

Environmentalists Cite Greenhouse Gases In Opposing LNG Imports

A California coalition of environmentalists opposed to liquefied natural gas (LNG) is citing greenhouse gas concerns in a lawsuit challenging the state utility commission's long-term plan to boost natural gas supplies through increased imports of LNG. The argument raises an unusual claim in a case that has attracted national attention as the Bush administration, as well as California, promotes an expansion of LNG processing capabilities as a way to address rising demand for natural gas. Ratepayers for Affordable Clean Energy...

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