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 SEEKS COMMENT ON PLANS TO RAISE THRESHOLD FOR INDOOR AIR STUDIES

EPA is publicly discussing plans to raise the proposed threshold for determining whether to investigate indoor air contamination which stems from groundwater and soil contamination beneath residential and industrial facilities. Agency officials are discussing the changes in an effort to finalize the screening test in a controversial guidance later this fall. In the past few weeks, agency staff have briefed state, community and industry officials on their plans in an effort to get their feedback on the changes. While EPA...

RULING OPENS DOOR TO NEW TRI EXEMPTIONS FOR OZONE-FORMING CHEMICALS

A federal appellate ruling backing a chemical industry petition to exempt a widely used solvent from reporting under EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) could help industry seek similar exemptions for a host of other chemicals the agency has regulated because they become toxic after release. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled May 10 that the solvent Methyl Etheyl Ketone (MEK) is not a "toxic" chemical as defined under the Emergency Planning & Community Right-to-Know...

EPA TO ADDRESS ALLEGED RISKS FROM METHYL BROMIDE SUBSTITUTE

EPA will soon respond to environmentalists' objections to the agency's possible approval of an agricultural fumigant that could serve as an alternative to the ozone-depleting chemical methyl bromide, which is being phased out under an international agreement. The Fluoride Action Network Pesticide Project last month asked EPA for a public hearing on the first-time use standards of sulfuryl fluoride, which the group says could lead to bone damage and neurological problems particularly in children. The comments responded to a Federal...

DOD'S ENVIRONMENTAL EXEMPTIONS FAIL TO WIN SENATE PANEL'S BACKING

Defense Department (DOD) efforts to win exemptions for the military from a host of environmental requirements appear to have suffered a major setback after a key Senate panel failed to include the exemptions in the defense authorization bill for fiscal year 2006. The Senate Armed Services Committee had been expected to consider the provisions, known as the Readiness and Range Preservation Initiative (RRPI), during its May 10-12 markup of the defense bill. But despite support from Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK)...

HOUSE PANEL KILLS FUNDS FOR KEY WHITE HOUSE WATER, AIR INITIATIVES

House appropriators have thrown into doubt major water and air initiatives touted by the White House as President Bush's key environmental priorities, by rebuffing the president's request for a dramatic increase in funds for the programs in EPA's fiscal year 2006 budget. EPA sources say the dramatic cuts, of 44 percent and 87 percent to a Great Lakes cleanup program and a greenhouse gas reduction initiative, respectively, might prevent the agency from meeting the programs' stated goals. "We really need...

EPA'S NONPOINT SOURCE AUTHORITY AT HEART OF MERCURY EMISSIONS DEBATE

The scope of EPA's authority to regulate nonpoint source pollution under the Clean Water Act (CWA) is at the heart of the Bush administration's recent efforts urging a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) panel to forgo an in-depth investigation into whether EPA is meeting environmental obligations to curtail mercury emissions from power plants. The Bush administration is arguing that EPA has no authority under the CWA to regulate nonpoint sources of pollution -- such as air deposition of mercury...

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...

Industry, Lawmakers Seek Air Rule Exemptions For Animal Farms

The agriculture industry is drafting a petition asking EPA to exempt some animal feeding operations from reporting air emissions under federal waste and air laws, at the same time that House lawmakers included similar 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...

SOURCES SAY DECISION BACKING L.A. CLEAN-FLEET RULES MAY NOT STAND

A U.S. district judge's ruling last week that many view as essentially reversing a Supreme Court decision that struck down the South Coast air district's clean-fuel fleet rules may not survive an appeal or amended motion, according to sources tracking the case. The ruling -- which both sides agree opens the door for regulators nationwide to require local agencies to buy alternative-fueled vehicles -- is expected to be challenged by engine makers through either an amended motion to the court,...

AUTO REPAIR GROUPS PETITION ARB TO REVOKE PARTIAL ZEV WARRANTY REGS

Claiming grave financial impacts from long-term warranties for partial zero-emission vehicles (PZEVs), a coalition of automobile repair groups is petitioning the air board to drop regulations requiring those lengthier warranties. The groups claim longer warranties are burdensome for repair shops and do not actually work to decrease emissions from the vehicles. The groups have not indicated whether they will sue the board should the petition be denied. Air Resources Board rules requiring the longer warranties went into effect with the...

FARMERS LIVID OVER ARB DRAFT LARGE CAF DEFINITION SETTING PERMIT NET

Agriculture industry organizations are livid over an air board draft proposal that defines large dairies and cattle ranches for the purposes of permitting and mitigation requirements, arguing the definition is based on incomplete science and overstates the industry's impact on air quality. The definition is a key benchmark in the first-time regulation of farms that until recently have been exempted from Clean Air Act rules. While environmentalists are generally supportive of the Air Resources Board's proposal, they say they will...

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...

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...

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...

GROUPS DISPUTE IMPACT OF RULING FINDING CROP BURNING EXEMPT FROM RCRA

Environmentalists and industry officials are disputing whether a federal court ruling that said agricultural practices cannot be regulated under the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) creates exemptions from the law for other sectors, after the Supreme Court declined to review last year's decision exempting crop burning from RCRA regulation. Environmentalists involved in the case argue the federal court decision would allow almost any industry to argue for an exemption from RCRA, but industry observers counter the decision applies only...

EPA To Correct Data On Mercury Releases In Latest TRI Report

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. The erroneous information was included in the agency's latest analysis of data compiled under the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI). EPA officials say mercury released from the mines occurs in a form that poses less risk...

House Panel Seeks Scientific Study Of PCB Cleanups At 'Mega Sites'

The House Appropriations Committee has ordered EPA and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to again review the effectiveness of dredging sediments contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), with the latest report focusing on dredging at Superfund "mega-sites." But environmentalists are charging the instruction -- contained in the committee's May 11 conference report that accompanies EPA's fiscal year 2006 budget -- is designed to delay dredging at New York's Hudson River, and say they will press New York Democratic Sens. Charles...

Ruling Opens Door To Toxic Reporting Exemptions For Other Solvents

A federal appellate ruling backing a chemical industry petition to exempt a widely used solvent from reporting under EPA's Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) could help industry seek similar exemptions for a host of other chemicals the agency has regulated because they pose an indirect public health threat by interacting in the environment. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled May 10 that the solvent methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) is not a "toxic" chemical as defined...

High Court Rejection Of Crop-Burning Case Prompts Debate Over RCRA Rules

Environmentalists and industry officials are sparing over whether a federal court ruling that agricultural practices cannot be regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) would create exemptions for other industry sectors. The debate has intensified since the the Supreme Court last week declined to review the lower court's decision to exempt crop burning from RCRA regulation. Environmentalists involved in the case are raising concerns that the lower court ruling would allow almost any industry to argue for an...

EPA May Join Administration Panel Reviewing Regulatory Burdens

The Commerce Department plans to ask EPA and other agencies to join a new advisory panel that will examine the impact of federal regulations on the manufacturing industry. The effort is intended to ease government burdens and reinvigorate the industry sector, but critics say it could undermine environmental and public health safeguards. Commerce officials will send a letter this week to the heads of various agencies, including EPA, seeking their involvement on an Interagency Working Group on Manufacturing. A department...

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