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 WEIGHS INTERIM RULE TO IMPLEMENT ENERGY LAW'S FUEL MANDATE

EPA is considering whether to issue an interim rulemaking by early next year offering ground rules for a flexible renewable fuel credit trading program, in light of newly enacted energy legislation establishing a renewable fuels mandate beginning Jan. 1, 2006, according to agency and oil industry sources. The agency is considering the interim rule amid industry concerns that a possible EPA resource crunch could complicate the agency's ability to provide clear requirements to companies planning their compliance strategies under the...

Kentucky Ruling Could Boost Use Of Clean Coal In Utility Air Permits

An administrative decision on a permit for a major coal-fired power plant in Kentucky could set a precedent forcing companies nationwide to evaluate the use of integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) technology for new or modified facilities. The technology is believed to have significant environmental benefits because it easily allows capture of carbon dioxide (CO2) and may also limit other harmful emissions. EPA now allows states to decide whether to require the evaluation of IGCC, but environmentalists say they are...

CAL/EPA, EPA PLAN ASBESTOS RISK ASSESSMENT TO PRODUCE RULE FACTORS

Health hazard office, air board and U.S. EPA officials plan to launch a risk assessment for naturally occurring asbestos to produce key factors that local officials and other regulators can use to craft future emission reduction rules for construction and related projects, according to EPA Region IX officials. The air board will also review two of its asbestos air toxic control measures (ATCMs) to determine whether they need to be updated, or if a new ATCM should be drafted, the...

SENATE SETS TUCK CONFIRMATION HEARING; SIDES DISPUTE CONSEQUENCE

Senate leaders plan to schedule an Aug. 31 confirmation hearing for recently appointed air board chair Cindy Tuck, the consequence of which is being disputed among opposing stakeholders. Major environmental groups lobbying the Senate to reject Tuck see the quick action to set the hearing as a strong sign that she will be unseated. But industry representatives, who claim they also have been pushing for a prompt hearing, say they are confident that Senate Democrats will back Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's...

INDUSTRY MAY CHALLENGE ARB JURISDICTIONAL CLAIM IN SHIP ENGINE RULE

Shipping operators may challenge air board claims that it has jurisdiction extending 24 miles into the Pacific Ocean to regulate emissions from vessel auxiliary engines, based on concerns that such a rule may violate federal and international maritime laws. The rule, which aims primarily to reduce diesel emissions from vessels' non-propulsion engines, is considered important in the air board's campaign to reduce toxic pollution at and near state ports, and could provide a model for other states. At issue is...

REVISED BILL ADDS GHG EXPERT TO ARB; GOVERNOR'S STANCE UNCLEAR

Further revisions to a bill expanding the membership of the air board call for a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions expert to satisfy environmentalists' requests and to quell concerns that an even-numbered panel may create parliamentary problems, such as tie votes. However, though the bill has bipartisan support, the Schwarzenegger Administration has not yet indicated whether it backs the measure, which may contradict one of the governor's early stated desires to "blow up the boxes" of government, to reduce bureaucracy. The...

BACKERS SCRAMBLE TO SAVE BILL TRANSFERRING SMOG CHECK TO ARB

Backers of a bill shifting Smog Check program administration to the air board are scrambling to save the measure in the face of Schwarzenegger Administration opposition, and may consider significant amendments, according to sources. Environmentalists consider the measure critical to vastly improving the effectiveness of the vehicle inspection and maintenance program, which has struggled to reduce pollution to even half of what program administrators had predicted. The bill, AB 386 (Assemblywoman Sally Lieber, D-Mountain View), is pending in the Senate...

LEGISLATURE OKS RESOLUTION PUSHING COASTAL SULFUR EMISSION REDUCTION AREA

Lawmakers have approved a resolution calling on Congress to advance an international process requiring ships off the California coast to reduce sulfur emissions. Proponents say sulfur emission reductions are key in decreasing overall ship exhaust pollution, which inundates California ports, especially in Los Angeles and Long Beach. The resolution, AJR 8 (Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla, D-Pittsburg), asks Congress to ratify an international treaty called "MARPOL 73/78 Convention," which would allow regions to petition the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to declare areas...

EPA WEIGHS INTERIM RULE TO IMPLEMENT ENERGY LAW'S FUEL MANDATE

U.S. EPA is considering whether to issue an interim rulemaking by early next year offering ground rules for a flexible renewable fuel credit trading program, in light of newly enacted energy legislation establishing a renewable fuels mandate beginning Jan. 1, 2006, according to agency and oil industry sources. The agency is considering the interim rule amid industry concerns that a possible EPA resource crunch could complicate the agency's ability to provide clear requirements to companies planning their compliance strategies under...

COUNTIES FEAR LINGERING MTBE CONCERNS MAY DIVERT TANK CLEANUP FUNDS

Local government officials are mounting a lobbying campaign to ensure Congress lives up to its pledge outlined in recently approved energy legislation to increase cleanup funding for contamination from leaking underground storage tanks. At the same time, the officials are raising concerns that the funds could be diverted to clean up the controversial gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), which the officials say may not necessarily leak from underground tanks. The local officials are responding to energy legislation Congress...

KENTUCKY RULING COULD FORCE CONSIDERATION OF IGCC IN CLEAN AIR PERMITS

An administrative decision on a permit for a major coal-fired power plant in Kentucky could set a precedent forcing companies nationwide to evaluate the use of integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) technology for new or modified facilities. The technology is believed to have significant environmental benefits because it easily allows capture of carbon dioxide (CO2) and may also limit other harmful emissions. EPA now allows states to decide whether to require the evaluation of IGCC, but environmentalists say they are...

STATUS OF EPA FARM STUDY UNCERTAIN DESPITE SURGE IN PARTICIPANTS

Despite EPA's recent announcement of a surge of participants in its agriculture industry agreement, it remains unclear whether the study of agriculture emissions required by the decree will be able to focus on all agricultural sectors, EPA and industry sources say. The agreement exempts industry from clean air enforcement in exchange for paying a fine and taking part in the study. The study can only apply to particular types of farms, such as poultry or dairy operations, if enough companies...

ENVIRONMENTALISTS QUESTION EPA REVIEW OF RISK-BASED AIR TOXICS RULE

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is warning that EPA must initiate a new air toxics rulemaking process because the agency's administrative reconsideration of its controversial risk-based exemptions for industrial boilers and process heaters unlawfully broadens the universe of emissions sources eligible for the waiver. "Extending the risk-based exemptions beyond the large solid-fuel subcategory [of industrial boilers and process heaters] is not simply a 'clarif[ication]' of the final rule but a fundamental change that requires a separate notice and comment...

EPA Drafting NSR Rule Backing Industry Approach For Measuring Emissions

EPA is working on a regulation that would back the electric utility industry's interpretation of how to measure pollution increases under the new source review program (NSR), raising questions over whether the agency is retreating from the approach used to pursue alleged violations by Duke Energy and other utilities, according to knowledgeable sources. The work comes with EPA air chief Jeffrey Holmstead poised to depart the agency amid speculation that the air office is poised to issue one or more...

Congressional Study Details EPA Power To Regulate Chemical Security

Congressional researchers are suggesting that EPA has always had the statutory authority needed to force the chemical industry to shore up security vulnerabilities, even though the Bush administration has downgraded the agency's role on the issue in favor of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The issue of whether EPA can secure the industry may reemerge if an upcoming legislative push in the Senate fails to gain traction, particularly because the administration recently testified to Congress that voluntary programs fail...

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 published in the Federal Register Aug. 9 a proposed settlement 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...

Status Of Farm Emissions Study Uncertain Despite High Participation

EPA's pending study of agriculture emissions faces an uncertain future, despite a late enrollment surge in the controversial consent decree that exempts industry from clean air enforcement in exchange for taking part in the study. Agency officials say about 2,200 companies in 37 states are participating in the consent agreement, representing as many as 4,000 individual farms, but it remains unclear whether significant numbers of key agricultural sectors will take part. The study can only apply to particular types of...

Environmentalists Question EPA Review Of Risk-Based Air Toxics Rules

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is warning that EPA has to initiate a new air toxics rulemaking process because the agency's administrative reconsideration of its controversial risk-based exemptions for industrial boilers and process heaters unlawfully broadens the universe of emissions sources eligible for the waiver. "Extending the risk-based exemptions beyond the large solid-fuel subcategory [of industrial boilers and process heaters] is not simply a 'clarif[ication]' of the final rule but a fundamental change that requires a separate notice and...

Energy Law Study Could Back Use Of Cross-Source Emissions Trading

The new national energy law requires EPA to evaluate the idea of allowing companies to trade air emissions credits between mobile and stationary sources of pollution, a mandate that environmentalists fear is the first step towards authorizing widespread use of the controversial practice. Such a practice could allow power plants and other stationary sources to offset emissions increases by purchasing credits from vehicles that cut pollution, thereby expanding traditional cap-and-trade programs that have focused on reducing emissions of individual pollutants...

DPR MANIPULATED VOC EMISSIONS DATA, ACTIVISTS CLAIM IN NEW FILING

The pesticides department manipulated data to lessen its obligation to reduce volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions, according to a new claim by environmentalists and community groups in an ongoing lawsuit. The case is significant because the department could be required to draft and enforce new regulations on pesticide users in some regions to reduce the ozone-forming compounds. The Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment (CRPE) intends to add the new claim at an Aug. 29 hearing in the case...

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