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.

CAL/EPA DRAFTS GHG CAP-AND-TRADE PROGRAM OPTIONS AS PART OF CLIMATE POLICY

Cal/EPA is finalizing options to pursue a statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) emission cap-and-trade program, and the governor is expected to soon announce GHG emission reduction targets for the state, according to sources. The two efforts are considered significant because of California's size, and the potential that other states may follow suit, sources said. Cal/EPA is leading an "intergovernmental working group" to evaluate options for a comprehensive GHG cap-and-trade program for the state, according to agency sources. It is unclear when...

AUTOMAKERS AIM TO KEEP ARB GHG CHALLENGE IN COURT THAT RULED IN ZEV CASE

Auto industry attorneys are arguing that their lawsuit challenging the air board's greenhouse gas (GHG) emission regulation should stay in the federal district court in Fresno County, which favored them in a 2002 suit over the board's zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) regulation. Air board attorneys are seeking a transfer in venue to Sacramento based on technical federal venue rules, but several sources said the likely principal reason is to avoid the judge that ruled against them in the ZEV case. In...

SENATORS MAY PUSH DOD ENVIRONMENTAL WAIVERS IN CONFERENCE TALKS

The chairmen of the Senate armed services and environment committees are suggesting that long-sought legislation to exempt the military from provisions in key environmental laws could be added to the fiscal year 2006 defense authorization bill during conference committee negotiations likely this summer. The suggestion offers a glimpse into the senators' legislative strategy to enact the controversial exemptions. A push to attach the provisions to the defense bill during a congressional conference committee would bypass floor consideration in the Senate...

HOLMSTEAD OFFERS DEADLINE EXTENSIONS TO HELP STATES MEET PM RULES

EPA air chief Jeffrey Holmstead may grant states a five-year extension of deadlines to meet strict new standards for fine particles (PM2.5) and wants to give states more flexibility under a companion standard for ozone, he said during an interview with Inside EPA. Holmstead, who is assistant administrator for the Office of Air & Radiation, said May 12 the air office's chief goal going forward will be reducing fine particle pollution, which scientists identify as a major health problem. "We've...

EPA MAY REVAMP VAPOR INTRUSION TESTS FOR SOIL, WATER POLLUTANTS

EPA officials are discussing plans to raise the thresholds for triggering investigations of public health risks from indoor air pollutants that stem from groundwater and soil contamination beneath residential and industrial buildings, according to EPA sources and documents. While EPA lacks authority to regulate indoor air, the agency is seeking to address vapors that seep indoors from contaminated soil and groundwater under buildings, known as vapor intrusion. In 2002, EPA unveiled a draft guide, Guidance for Evaluating Vapor Intrusion to...

EPA, STATES TAP ENVIRONMENTAL DATA TO TARGET SECURITY VULNERABILITIES

EPA and state officials are planning an information exchange network that will use industry-generated and other environmental data to assess homeland security vulnerabilities. The project is being funded by an EPA grant and is part of a national homeland security strategy. The project will use a web-based network that could allow regulators from different states to share water security, waste shipment, air pollution, toxic release and other environmental data to target potential vulnerabilities that could pose a threat to public...

California Drafts Cap-And-Trade Options In Landmark Climate Change Policy

The California EPA has completed options to pursue a statewide greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade program, and the governor is expected to soon announce emission reduction targets for the state, according to sources. The effort has national implications because of California's size and the potential that other states may follow suit, sources say. Cal/EPA is leading an "intergovernmental working group" to evaluate options for a comprehensive greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program for the state, according to agency sources. It is unclear when...

EPA EYES VEHICLE, BENZENE FUEL CONTROLS IN FUTURE MOBILE SOURCE RULE

EPA's upcoming regulation of air toxics from mobile sources could place extra burdens on automakers by setting emission controls on vehicles, as well as setting new fuel limits on the major air toxic benzene. EPA is in settlement negotiations with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) and Sierra Club, which sued the agency early in 2004 for failing to promulgate a mobile source air toxics (MSAT) rule that is required under the Clean Air Act to regulate air toxics...

Dallas Ozone Settlement May Prompt Emission Controls For Cement Plants

A court settlement over an EPA ozone plan for Dallas, TX, will require state regulators to study the possibilities for implementing state-of-the-art emissions control technology at cement plants. The deal comes in the midst of a nationwide dispute over what to require in air permits for these high-polluting facilities. Environmental groups reached four separate court settlement agreements May 5 with EPA, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), and two county governments in the case Blue Skies Alliance et al...

EPA, States Tap Environmental Data To Target Security Vulnerabilities

EPA and state officials are planning an information exchange network that will use industry-generated and other environmental data to assess homeland security vulnerabilities. The project is being funded by an EPA grant, and is part of a national homeland security strategy. The project will use a web-based network that could allow regulators from different states to share water security, waste shipment, air pollution, toxic release and other environmental data to target potential vulnerabilities that could pose a threat to public...

HOUSE PANEL CUTS FUNDS FOR KEY WHITE HOUSE CLIMATE, DIESEL INITIATIVES

House appropriators have thrown into doubt a major climate change initiative the White House has highlighted as one of President Bush's key environmental priorities, after rebuffing the president's request for a dramatic increase in funds for the program in EPA's fiscal year 2006 budget. The House panel's cuts are also affecting other White House environmental priorities, including funding for diesel engine retrofits and a water program to clean up the Great Lakes. EPA sources say the 87 percent slash to...

LAWMAKERS TO RESOLVE KEY ENVIRONMENTAL DIFFERENCES IN HIGHWAY BILL

Congressional negotiators will have to try to iron out major differences in clean air and environmental review provisions in transportation funding legislation during an upcoming Senate-House conference committee. Sources say lawmakers are pushing for a swift compromise before expiration of the current transportation law at the end of May. The House and Senate versions of the bill include key differences, including changes to the rules for demonstrating that highway plans meet Clean Air Act "conformity" requirements. The Senate bill would...

HOLMSTEAD OFFERS DEADLINE EXTENSIONS TO HELP STATES MEET PM RULES

EPA air chief Jeffrey Holmstead may grant states a five-year extension of deadlines to meet strict new standards for fine particles (PM2.5), and also wants to give states more flexibility under a companion standard for ozone. These were among other issues he discussed in an exclusive interview with Clean Air Report. Holmstead, who is assistant administrator for the Office of Air & Radiation, said May 12 the chief goal in the air office going forward will be reducing fine particle...

SCIENCE PANEL MEMBERS OBJECT TO MAJORITY CALL FOR STRICT PM RULES

An EPA science advisory panel is facing internal dissent over endorsing a strict new pollution standard for fine particles (PM2.5), with some panelists raising concerns that the committee needs to achieve a better consensus on the issue before allowing EPA to move forward. The panel as a whole is also recommending the agency postpone consideration of a new pollution standard for larger particles, known as "PM coarse," as agricultural producers call for a rule that exempts rural areas. The agency's...

EPA CLAIMS LIMITED POWERS TO CONTROL LARGEST SOURCE OF DIOXIN

A new draft EPA report on dioxin emissions finds that backyard trash burning is now the largest source of the pollutant, which may limit the agency's ability to further reduce dioxin emissions because EPA says it lacks regulatory authority over the burning. But activists say the draft report, which shows dramatic reductions in U.S. dioxin emissions over the last decade, is based on limited data that ignores community-led efforts to shut down dioxin-emitting facilities and overstates the success of regulatory...

FOUNDRY AGREEMENT ON MERCURY MAY AFFECT UTILITY CONTROLS

An agreement by a New Jersey foundry to install a mercury-control technology identical to that used by some coal-fired power plants should force the electric utility industry to use the technology sooner than EPA is planning to require it, some state sources say. These sources point to the $9.3 million agreement by Atlantic States Cast Iron Pipe Company as an example of one industry's willingness to "provide something meaningful" that could pressure another industry sector, such as power plants, to...

EPA DOWNPLAYS RISKS OF SIGNIFICANT INCREASE IN TRI MERCURY RELEASES

EPA officials are downplaying the impact of a near doubling of total reported mercury releases to the environment between 2000 and 2003, saying they are due in part to errors in reports from two gold mines in Nevada, which will be corrected later this year. Agency officials say mercury released from the mines occurs in a form that poses less risk to human health and the environment, while mercury emissions from power plants and other sources, which pose the most...

ACTIVISTS THREATEN LAWSUIT TO FORCE INTERSTATE MERCURY CONTROLS

Environmentalists in Idaho are negotiating with Nevada officials to control mercury releases from mining operations that allegedly cross state boundaries, threatening that failure to reach an agreement could prompt a lawsuit under the Clean Air Act. Nevada officials say a three-year-old voluntary program to reduce mercury emissions has had significant success, but acknowledge that there has been confusion over pollution levels reported by mining operations in the state. The environmental groups argue that mercury water pollution in Idaho has been...

SMALL FARMERS EYE SUIT OVER REQUIRED FUNDING OF EPA SAFE HARBOR

Small pork producers are likely to sue the federal government over the funding mechanism for EPA's controversial enforcement safe harbor agreement with concentrated animal feeding operations, arguing farmers who do not support the initiative are being forced to pay for it through a mandatory industry fee. The dispute comes as a Supreme Court decision is pending on a constitutional challenge to the funding source, known as "checkoff dollars," which the pork industry is using to pay for its share of...

INDUSTRY, LAWMAKERS ASK EPA TO CLARIFY AIR RULES FOR AGRICULTURE

Agriculture groups are drafting a petition asking EPA to exempt some animal feeding operations from reporting air emissions under Superfund law, at the same time that House lawmakers included related language in EPA's spending bill. The actions come in the wake of major court decisions and settlements that suggest agriculture companies are liable under Superfund and the Clean Air Act for pollution from animal waste. A key senator is also pressing EPA to allow companies more time to decide whether...

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