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.

California Port Pollution Bill Seen As Environmental Test For Schwarzenegger

The California Legislature's just-passed bill that seeks to freeze air emissions from two ports presents Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) with a stark choice between siding with environmentalists who support the measure, or a long list of business groups that oppose it. Some Schwarzenegger administration officials have voiced opposition to the bill, but sources say the governor has not yet indicated his stance on the legislation. The bill, AB 2042, requires the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to develop...

REGION X POISED TO FINALIZE LANDMARK AIR RULE FOR TRIBAL LANDS

The White House is reviewing a final EPA Region X regulation that would for the first time implement clean air rules for all tribal lands in an entire EPA region, but the rule is facing fierce opposition from non-tribal residents who fear the measure does not guarantee them due process rights. Agency sources say they have addressed the due process concerns raised by non-tribal members by having federal, not tribal, entities take responsibility for implementing the requirements to preserve non-tribal...

ENGINE MAKERS TO PUSH FEDERAL CMAQ FUNDING FOR DIESEL RETROFITS

Engine manufacturers say they will press city planners to use federal highway funding under the Congestion Mitigation & Air Quality (CMAQ) program to pay for diesel retrofit projects. They argue that CMAQ is one of the few reliable sources of funding for retrofits in an era of tight budgets, and retrofits are more cost-effective than bike paths or improved public transit. Along with EPA, the industry is struggling to secure funding for voluntary retrofits that could supplement the air quality...

FEDERAL AGENCIES PURSUE NATIONAL POLICY TO REDUCE TRUCK-STOP IDLING

EPA is working with other government agencies to recommend new policies for reducing idling at truck stops in an effort to streamline what truckers now say is a confusing patchwork of regulations that differ from state to state. Idling reduction is pegged as a major environmental and energy issue, because idling trucks waste fuel and pump unnecessary pollution into the air. While the final result of these efforts is still unclear, agencies including EPA, the Department of Energy (DOE) and...

ENERGY, CONSERVATION MAY MAKE COLORADO KEY ELECTION BATTLEGROUND

Environmentalists may target Colorado as a newly emerging swing state in this year's presidential election, hoping to sway hunting and fishing groups by campaigning against the Bush administration's policies on natural resources. At the same time, environmental issues are rising to the forefront in the presidential, Senate and House races in the state, due in part to a local ballot initiative on renewable energy. The Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, one of several environmental groups active in the election, may...

INDUSTRY PREPARES TO FIGHT LANDMARK COLORADO RENEWABLE ENERGY PLAN

Colorado industry officials are planning an aggressive, multi-million dollar campaign to defeat the nation's first-ever state ballot initiative setting strict renewable energy standards, a referendum supporters and opponents agree could be the start of a successful new tactic to bypass state legislatures that oppose strict standards. State officials Aug. 17 gave final approval to a measure for Colorado's November ballot that would institute a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) forcing the state's seven largest utilities to generate 10 percent of their...

MISSOURI CITY'S VOTERS REJECT PLAN TO BUILD COAL-FIRED POWER PLANT

Voters in the Ozark Mountain city of of Springfield, MO, this month rejected a plan by its municipal utility company to build a new coal-fired power plant to satisfy the growing energy needs of the community, following a campaign launched by the local Sierra Club that urged voters to reject increased use of the fossil fuel. Though it is unusual for utilities to put such issues to a vote, some national environmental groups say the outcome illustrates the success of...

ACTIVISTS PAVE WAY FOR LITIGATION OVER STATE RULES ON 'UPSET' EMISSIONS

Environmentalists say they may file a lawsuit that could force EPA to overturn state rules on infrequent, large-scale industrial releases known as "upset" emissions, after one activist group issued a report charging that more than half of all states illegally exempt these events from enforcement under the Clean Air Act. Though the activists say that litigation could be years away, they argue they will have no choice if EPA and states do not take the initiative to regulate these emissions...

CHEMICAL INDUSTRY CITES 2003 CASE TO PUSH EPA EMISSIONS RULE DELAY

A group of chemical companies is citing the precedent set by a 2003 appellate ruling to urge EPA to delay implementation of part of a major air toxics rule and conduct an administrative review of the measure even as the agency continues settlement talks with the industry over the rule. The Aug. 11 petition, filed by Clariant America, Eastman Chemical Company and Rohm & Haas Company, asks EPA to stay the application of the leak detection and repair (LDAR) requirements...

ERRORS DELAY PUBLICATION OF MAJOR AIR TOXICS RULES BY MONTHS

Minor errors are causing lengthy delays in promulgating at least two court-ordered air toxics rules , delaying industry compliance and impeding litigation. While EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt signed both rules in February -- in time to meet the court-ordered deadlines -- the air rule for plywood manufacturers was not published until July 30 and the toxics rule for boilers has yet to be published in the Federal Register. However, EPA posted both regulations on its website and issued press releases...

EPA RELEASES GUIDE ON SIP CREDIT FOR RENEWABLE, EFFICIENCY PROJECTS

A new EPA guidance outlines how states can earn credit in their state implementation plans (SIPs) for energy-sector projects that promote renewable resources and efficiency, providing a boon for states that have been seeking ways to promote such efforts, according to state sources familiar with the Aug. 5 document. But EPA included so many quantification and analysis requirements that the guidance may actually prove to be a disincentive, according to one state source who worries that regulators may find the...

JUDGES REJECT ACTIVISTS' EFFORT TO BROADEN SCOPE OF BUSH NSR REFORM

In one of the first legal decisions on the issue, EPA's Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) has rebuffed an environmental group's effort to seek upgraded pollution controls at a power plant using a revised definition of what constitutes an "emissions unit" under the Bush administration's 2002 new source review (NSR) reforms. The board's Aug. 3 decision in In re: Rochester Public Utilities is one of the first interpreting the new definition of what constitutes an "emissions unit" subject to NSR, which...

INHOFE FIRES BACK AT DEMOCRATS IN CASE CHALLENGING BUSH NSR REFORMS

Senate environment committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-OK) is attacking recent Democratic legal arguments challenging the Bush administration's new source review (NSR) reforms, arguing in a new brief that Congress never intended to regulate existing power plants under the NSR program. The lawmakers' arguments -- laid out in amicus briefs in State of New York v. EPA -- center on whether Congress intended to require existing plants to eventually implement NSR, which requires state-of-the-art pollution controls when existing plants make major...

USDA SEEKS TO EXPAND USE OF METHYL BROMIDE 'QUARANTINE EXEMPTION'

The Bush administration is proposing to expand the so-called "quarantine exemption" for the ozone-depleting pesticide methyl bromide to allow its use in domestic agriculture shipments under the Montreal Protocol. Until now, the exemption has only been used to allow the pesticide to be sprayed on international shipments of nursery plants and crops. The move comes as House Republicans and pesticide industry groups are pressing the administration to seek increased allowances for the pesticide under the protocol's "critical use exemption" ahead...

MISSOURI SUIT ON EPA AIR RULE MAY BOOST CALLS FOR STRICTER LEAD LEVELS

A new Missouri lawsuit seeking more stringent EPA clean air rules for lead smelters could provide environmental and public health advocates another opportunity to push for stricter federal health limits on children's exposure to lead, sources following the issue say. Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon (D) earlier this month filed a citizen suit charging EPA with violating the Clean Air Act by failing to review its national ambient air quality standard for lead since 1990. Nixon is asking the U.S...

EPA INACTION PROMPTS INDUSTRY TO SEEK COURT ORDER ON LEAD REPORTING

Despite ongoing EPA efforts to review and possibly revise a controversial rule on reporting lead use and releases, a group representing small businesses is pushing a federal court for an immediate ruling to repeal the standard. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) recently filed a motion for summary judgment in its three-year-old lawsuit against the reporting requirements after EPA officials said it would be at least another year before the agency might revise the standard. Relevant documents are available...

NEW YORK IMPLEMENTS EMERGENCY RULES TO REDUCE ACID RAIN POLLUTION

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) last week announced emergency rules to require electric utilities to make significant reductions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2), after an earlier version of the acid rain rule was overturned by the state supreme court on a technicality. Additionally, a federal appeals court rejected a separate state law that imposed restrictions on credit trading, finding the restrictions were unconstitutional. The acid rain rules will take effect Oct. 1 for NOx...

DOUBTS RAISED ON EPA PACT TO REVIEW BATON ROUGE RFG REQUIREMENTS

EPA has agreed to reconsider a request by Baton Rouge, LA, to waive a federal reformulated gasoline (RFG) requirement even though the Clean Air Act bars such waivers for "severe" ozone nonattainment areas. An EPA Region VI source says the agreement takes the agency into "uncharted territory. To my knowledge, no process exists" to consider waiving a program that is required by the statute. The source would not elaborate on the specifics of the review until the case is resolved...

EPA, NOAA SAY EARTH OBSERVATION SYSTEM WILL HAVE DRAMATIC EFFECT

EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt and National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator Conrad Lautenbacher last week announced a 10-year plan to link the systems that monitor the Earth and the people that monitor such systems -- from satellites, to buoys, to radar, to air and water monitors. These efforts are expected to result in an unprecedented ability to forecast climate, weather and atmospheric events, administration officials say. However, Leavitt cautioned that improving human communications as part of the effort will...

STATES PRESS EPA TO REJECT PAINT INDUSTRY ATTACK ON OZONE PLANS

Eastern states are pressing EPA to reject a paint industry data quality challenge that alleges EPA should not approve several state ozone reduction plans, claiming the Information Quality Act (IQA) does not apply to the challenged information and that industry's effort threatens existing regulatory review procedures. The dispute addresses the degree to which information supporting state regulations subject to EPA approval are also subject to the IQA. In an Aug. 18 letter to agency and White House officials, the Ozone...

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