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.

MICHIGAN GROUPS REACH UNUSUAL CONSENSUS ON MERCURY CONTROLS

Michigan is the latest of several states that could be moving toward a mercury emissions standard more stringent than EPA's, after activists and industry groups released an unusual consensus report acknowledging power plants in the state could likely exceed the federal mandate. Environmentalists view the report as a groundbreaking acknowledgment from industry that additional emissions cuts are achievable, even though business groups are pushing for voluntary cuts rather than a statewide rule. A coalition of environmental groups, electric utilities and...

ACTIVISTS SAY MANY RULES LACK ADEQUATE COMPLIANCE MONITORING

Environmentalists have submitted to EPA an extensive list of federal air rules they argue do not contain adequate mandates to monitor industry compliance, in the midst of an ongoing lawsuit challenging EPA's policies on monitoring requirements in federal air permits. While it is unclear how the agency might respond, EPA would face a daunting task if it tried to revise all of the air rules that activists cite in their list. Industry groups argue that monitoring requirements in existing air...

JUDGES PONDER POTENTIAL FEDERAL PLAN FOR PM CONTROL IN CALIFORNIA

Three federal appellate court judges are considering whether to direct EPA to draw up a federal implementation plan (FIP) for California's San Joaquin Valley to reduce particulate matter (PM), based on arguments by environmental attorneys that both EPA and the district have violated the Clean Air Act for years. A FIP for the area would be significant because it would take away flexibility local air district officials have to choose which rules to require over the next five years to...

EPA HAZE RULE BACKS OFF MANDATORY ANALYSIS OF WORST-CASE EFFECTS

EPA's recently released air visibility rule allows states to ignore projected worst-case impacts from a pollution source when deciding whether to exempt facilities from the rule's pollution control requirements, drawing criticism from environmentalists who say the provision could hinder regional haze reduction efforts. By adopting the flexibility provision, the agency appears to be addressing, at least partially, criticism from the Office of Management & Budget, which sought clarification on the burdens allegedly imposed on industry by an earlier version of...

EPA Refinery Settlements May Frustrate Lawsuits By Environmentalists

EPA's recent settlements with refineries could preempt lawsuits brought by environmentalists against the same facilities alleging numerous Clean Air Act violations, because the agency agreements resolve many of the same issues but achieve weaker emission controls than the environmentalists are seeking, according to sources involved in the suits. Representatives of several environmental groups, including the National Refinery Reform Campaign and the Environmental Integrity Project, will meet with EPA officials in mid-July to raise their concerns about the agency's recent refinery...

Industry Says Cuts Unlikely For Environment Funding In Highway Bill

Industry lobbyists say provisions that would provide funds to address stormwater runoff from roads and control air pollution from automobile traffic are likely to remain in final transportation legislation that is expected to be approved by a House-Senate conference committee next month. Environmentalists and some congressional lawmakers have been concerned that the funds would be restricted or cut as conferees work to meet a controversial spending limit imposed by the White House. A number of transportation lobbyists say because the...

California Air Chief Appointment Sparks Controversy

Environmentalists are raising concerns over Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's appointment of a pro-industry lobbyist to head the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which is known as a national trend-setter for controlling vehicle emissions and greenhouse gases. Environmentalists are concerned the appointment could slow the board's progress on a number of landmark air quality standards that are being closely watched as possible models by other states. Schwarzenegger June 28 picked Cindy Tuck -- a lobbyist and general counsel for the California Council...

Business Experts Brief Congress On Inevitability Of Climate Change Rules

Congressional staff and lawmakers are being told by business policy experts that momentum is building for the United States to adopt greenhouse gas controls, despite continuing opposition by the Bush administration and some members of Congress. Speaking at a June 27 congressional briefing on "The Investor Community and Climate Change," three panelists representing business and investor interests cited changes both inside and outside of Congress that they say indicate an eventual certainty that U.S. climate policy will include mandatory greenhouse...

Nation's Mayors Oppose Adding MTBE Liability Waiver To Highway Bill

Local officials, including the nation's mayors, are urging members of a House-Senate conference committee to reject rumored efforts by a prominent Republican congressman to attach a controversial liability waiver for manufacturers of the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) to pending highway legislation, arguing that the move would impose an unfunded mandate and leave local governments responsible for as much as $85 billion in cleanup costs for contaminated water supplies throughout the country. The local officials -- including the...

Mixed NSR Court Ruling Sparks Debate Over Enforcement Implications

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on June 24 upheld significant portions of EPA's controversial new source review (NSR) rules issued in 2002, while entirely rejecting two revisions to the rules intended to provide more flexibility for industry to upgrade plants without requiring new pollution controls. The decision has touched off sparring among industry, state, and environmental attorneys over its broader implications for EPA's NSR enforcement efforts, specifically the extent to which the ruling counters...

NEW PUSH FOR AIR QUALITY FUNDING THREATENED BY EQUITY CONCERNS

Efforts to create significant new funding for mobile source emission reduction programs are being seriously threatened by heavy opposition from environmental justice (EJ) activists over a key element of the plan, according to sources involved in the effort. Peripheral political issues related to the scheduled November special election are also leading some stakeholders to believe that a compromise is unlikely to be reached this year. While some stakeholders still hope to move a bill this year that would impose a...

ARB PROPOSES RELAXED PHASE-IN OF TRUCK DIAGNOSTIC RULE

Air board staff is proposing to phase in its controversial regulation to require heavy-duty engine makers to equip new engines with on-board diagnostic (OBD) systems similar to those already required in light- and medium-duty vehicles in California. With its revised proposal, staff is acknowledging manufacturers are likely to need more time to comply with OBD requirements while also redesigning engines to meet new state and federal emission standards for the 2007 and 2010 model years. However, even with the proposed...

JUDGES PONDER POTENTIAL FIP FOR SAN JOAQUIN PM-10 CONTROL

Three federal appellate court judges are considering whether to direct U.S. EPA to draw up a federal implementation plan (FIP) for San Joaquin Valley to reduce particulate matter (PM), based on arguments by environmental attorneys that both EPA and the district have violated the Clean Air Act for years. A FIP would be significant because it would take away flexibility afforded local air district officials to choose which rules to require over the next five years to attain the PM...

AUTO REPAIR GROUPS BLAST AIR BOARD DENIAL OF PZEV WARRANTY PETITION

Unhappy with a chilly reception from the air board, a task force of auto repair groups is expected to continue its push to get the board to drop regulations requiring long-term warranties for partial zero-emission vehicles (PZEVs). The task force will likely appeal last week's air board decision to reject its petition asking that the regulations be dropped, a source with the group said. The Air Resources Board mandates longer warranties -- 15 years or 150,000 miles -- for PZEVs...

EPA HAZE RULE BACKS OFF MANDATORY ANALYSIS OF WORST-CASE EFFECTS

EPA's air visibility rule allows states to ignore projected worst-case impacts from a pollution source when deciding whether to exempt facilities from the rule's pollution control requirements, drawing criticism from environmentalists who say the provision could hinder regional haze reduction efforts. By adopting the flexibility provision, the agency appears to be addressing, at least partially, criticism from the Office of Management & Budget, which sought clarification on the burdens allegedly imposed on industry by an earlier version of the rule...

A Carbon Tax In Time, Saves Nine

By Paul R. Portney Resources for the Future As an economist trained to look for the most efficient solutions to policy problems, I'm always delighted when I can say, however softly and cautiously, "Eureka!" As I've learned in my 33 years in Washington, D.C., highly efficient solutions aren't often found -- that is, seldom can we economists and policy analysts say, to paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, "A policy in time will save nine." While the policy I am proposing here won't...

Recent NSR Rulings Shift Focus To DC Circuit In Defining Emission Tests

The utility industry is redoubling its effort to convince the federal appeals court in Washington, DC, that EPA exceeded its authority in targeting emission increases under its new source review (NSR) enforcement program, citing a series of rulings this month by other courts that may make the court's views crucial to the future of the pending litigation, attorneys say. The industry argument, outlined in recent letters to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, has prompted...

Senate Hands Consolation Prize To Proponents Of Mandatory Climate Program

Opponents of greenhouse gas controls failed June 22 to block Senate approval of a non-binding resolution calling for Congress to adopt a mandatory climate change program, handing proponents of binding rules a consolation prize after the 38-60 defeat of a proposal by Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) for a cap-and-trade emissions program. While the resolution was approved by voice vote, a vote to kill the measure failed 43-54, and environmentalists are now arguing that it puts the...

California Lawmaker Eyes Push For First-Time Indoor Air Standards

A California lawmaker plans to propose legislation giving the state board that regulates air pollution standards first-time authority over indoor sources of pollution, in response to the board's controversial indoor air pollution report adopted in March. The California push could have national implications as other states may follow suit, particularly because EPA is forbidden under federal law from regulating indoor air pollution. The planned California legislation has been long sought by environmentalists, but building and chemical industry representatives are frowning...

EPA Haze Rule Backs Off Mandatory Analysis Of Worst-Case Effects

EPA's air visibility rule allows states the flexibility to ignore projected worst-case impacts from a pollution source when deciding whether a facility should be exempt from retrofit requirements, drawing criticism from environmentalists who say the provision could make it harder to control regional haze problems. By adopting the flexibility provision, the agency appears to be addressing, at least partially, criticism from the Office of Management and Budget, which sought clarification on the industry burdens of an earlier version of the...

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