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.

EXPIRING ICR AUTHORITY MAY ALLOW BOILERS TO AVOID MACT PERMIT 'HAMMER'

EPA may not renew an expiring information collection request (ICR) authorizing the agency to seek data from industry for air toxics permits, which could allow industrial boilers to avoid obtaining site-specific permits due to EPA's failure to promulgate a rule for the units by a court-ordered deadline, according to an agency official. If authority for the ICR is not renewed, the agency cannot collect the information it will need to consider the site-specific permit applications industry must soon file. The...

NORTHEAST MAY DELAY DECISION ON EMISSIONS 'LEAKAGE' IN CLIMATE PLAN

Northeast states may postpone a decision on how to prevent the displacement of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to other parts of the country under their regional greenhouse gas initiative (RGGI), in order to launch the program first and address the issue in future years, industry and environmentalist sources say. The states have long been concerned that power companies might decide to produce more electricity in areas that are not subject to the mandate, creating what is known as emissions "leakage."...

INDUSTRY GROUPS SEEK MODELING DETAILS TO ASSESS IMPACT OF RGGI CAPS

Industry officials are asking Northeast states to release detailed modeling results on the impact of a pending regional cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases, because they have unanswered questions on the cost of the program and how it will impact electricity consumers, industry they and other observers say. These concerns come as states have unveiled the broad outlines of new modeling results that show the economic impacts of the regional program could be much higher than in earlier predictions. Some industry...

CALIFORNIA FACES UNCERTAIN IMPACT FROM OUTCOME OF EPA CLIMATE CASE

A pending federal court decision on EPA's authority to limit greenhouse gases may be a key factor in a separate lawsuit over California's pending standards for automobiles, since both cases raise the issue of whether the Clean Air Act allows the regulation of carbon dioxide (CO2), sources involved in the cases say. Yet observers differ in their assessment of how the litigation on EPA's authority will affect the lawsuit over the California rules. Some industry officials believe that if the...

PRICE CONCERNS MAY BE HOLDING UP CALIFORNIA GHG REDUCTION PROPOSAL

California state officials' concerns about potential energy price impacts may be holding up a proposal to set statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets that could serve as a model for other states, sources say. California EPA (Cal/EPA) Secretary Alan Lloyd earlier this month told lawmakers that the proposal has been sent to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), but declined to provide details of the targets for emission reductions. While it is unclear which facilities the proposal will cover, it is...

EPA MAY EXEMPT AGRICULTURE FROM POSSIBLE COARSE PARTICLE STANDARD

EPA may consider ways to exempt animal feedlots and other rural sources from a possible strict new standard for particulate matter (PM) emissions, after members of a scientific advisory panel suggested that urban emissions pose the greater health risk, sources inside and outside the agency say. The way to address rural emissions is just one of the decisions that EPA leadership will face later this year, after scientific advisors called for strengthening the existing ambient air quality standards for fine...

STATE OFFICIALS BATTLE OVER LIMITS ON EXCEEDING EPA MERCURY STANDARD

Legislatures and governors in several states are locked in debates over whether they can set environmental standards stricter than EPA's, in light of widespread pressure from environmentalists to establish mercury emissions limits that are stronger than the new federal rule. The Indiana legislature is considering a new requirement preventing any air and water rules stricter than the federal government's. But other states, including New Mexico and Wisconsin, are wrestling with the impact of existing "no more stringent than" policies that...

CITIES SAID TO EYE HIGH COURT TO SETTLE CIRCUIT SPLITS OVER DOD AIR SUITS

TAMPA -- Municipalities and local governments are exploring litigation that could be a vehicle for the Supreme Court to resolve splits among several federal appellate circuits over whether the Clean Air Act (CAA) waives sovereign immunity for punitive damages, which would allow them to sue federal agencies for air violations, according to a defense department lawyer. Cities also want to resolve the separate question of whether federal courts have jurisdiction over state and local claims under the air law, the...

SUIT CHALLENGES EPA'S FACTORS TO DESIGNATE PM2.5 NONATTAINMENT AREAS

States and power companies are raising concerns over the factors EPA used to designate a slew of counties as out of attainment with the agency's standards for fine particles (PM2.5) by claiming in recently filed briefs the factors cannot be used because they never faced public comment. If the legal challenge succeeds, it would be significant because it would undermine EPA's basis for designating areas in nonattainment. However, one environmentalist involved in the suit says the argument may not succeed...

INDUSTRY SUIT TARGETS EPA GUIDANCE ON EMISSIONS STACK TESTING

Industry groups have filed a federal appellate challenge to an EPA guidance outlining procedures for Clean Air Act pollution stack testing programs, which industry says will bolster its leverage in ongoing discussions with the agency on changing the guidance while permitting full-scale litigation against it in the future. The filing is the latest complication in EPA's effort to respond to an inspector general (IG) report in 2000 faulting the agency's oversight of state and local stack testing programs and urging...

TRIBE WINS FIRST-TIME POWER TO REGULATE UTILITIES AFTER DEAL ON EPA RULES

The Navajo Nation has cut a first-time deal with two power plants located on tribal lands after they agreed to set permit levels no stricter than EPA levels, including for future mercury rules. Tribal sources say the deal -- which also allows the tribe to collect permit fees for use to develop additional clean air programs -- may be a model for other tribes seeking to win similar agreements with utilities located on their lands. The deal, which at press...

FASTER FISH TESTING MAY IMPROVE ACCURACY IN ASSESSING MERCURY LEVELS

Technology that can measure mercury in fish tissue within minutes may allow federal and state agencies to obtain more reliable readings of mercury levels in fish, possibly heightening pressure from environmentalists for tighter standards on power plant emissions, sources say. At the same time, wastewater industry sources, who argue their facilities are insignificant sources of mercury, say the technology may help EPA set more "reasonable" levels of mercury they are permitted to discharge. The wastewater industry argues that the major...

EPA CITES STATE LAWS TO PUSH 'BIG THREE' ON VOLUNTARY MERCURY PLAN

EPA is citing growing state efforts to require auto companies to pay for removing mercury switches from millions of vehicles that will soon be scrapped, in an effort to restart stalled talks on establishing a voluntary national program for preventing mercury emissions when smelting the vehicles, EPA and other sources say. The talks -- which include the Big Three automakers, the American Iron & Steel Institute (AISI), the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries and environmental groups, including Environmental Defense and...

EPA TO DELAY HAZE RULE BASED ON AGREEMENT WITH ENVIRONMENTALISTS

EPA has made an abrupt decision to delay issuing a landmark regional haze rule the agency was required by court order to issue April 15. The agency will delay the rule until June 15 based on an agreement with Environmental Defense, the group that brought the lawsuit setting the original deadline, agency officials say. Agency officials had indicated earlier this week that EPA was on track to complete the rulemaking. The initiative would require power plants and other industrial sources...

TESTING PROGRAM COULD RESULT IN RELAXED DIESEL RULE ENFORCEMENT

EPA is launching a testing program to assess the accuracy of procedures for measuring the sulfur content of diesel fuel, which could spur additional enforcement flexibility that the oil industry is seeking under a major rule which aims to reduce auto emissions by requiring cleaner fuel in highway vehicles beginning in 2006. EPA has also asked the industry to suggest options for addressing concerns that contamination of the low-sulfur fuel could prevent compliance with the rule's requirements, according to industry...

BOXER SEEKS TRANSPORTATION BILL AS VEHICLE FOR MEXICAN TRUCK RULES

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) is expecting to attach legislation to the comprehensive highway bill moving through Congress that would limit emissions from Mexican trucks expected to enter the United States in large numbers due to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). While the level of congressional support for the bill is uncertain, it comes as California state officials are raising concerns that a state law establishing similar requirements could be prone to a legal challenge. The senator attempted to...

NORTH AMERICAN AIR OFFICIALS EYE POLLUTION DATABASE REFORMS FOR EPA

Officials at EPA and the environment agencies of Canada and Mexico are recommending that North America develop an annual air emissions inventory, arguing the current system provides outdated information that makes it difficult for local authorities to develop effective pollution-reduction strategies. The recommendation was part of a briefing given by the officials at an April 11 meeting in Las Vegas of the North American Research Strategy for Tropospheric Ozone (NARSTO). Emission inventories are the basis of cap-and-trade programs for reducing...

NOVEL AIR-WATER POLLUTANT TRADING PROGRAM COULD SERVE AS MODEL

California and Nevada environmental agencies are jointly developing the first-ever pollution trading program that involves cross-media trading between air and water sources, which observers say could serve as a model for developing similar trading programs in other states. The trading plan is part of a larger effort to develop a water pollution cap known as a total maximum daily load (TMDL) for nitrogen in Lake Tahoe. It could set the stage for air-to-water trading in other areas of the country...

Navajo Deal On Limiting Utility Pollution May Be Model For Other Tribes

The Navajo nation has cut an unprecedented deal with two power plants located on tribal lands after they agreed to set permit levels no stricter than EPA levels, including for future mercury rules. Tribal sources say the deal -- which also allows the tribe to collect permit fees for use to develop additional clean air programs -- may be a model for other tribes seeking to win similar agreements with utilities located on their lands. The deal, which requires final...

EPA Identifies New Health Risks From Air Toxin Released During Forest Fires

New EPA data to be included in the agency's upcoming air toxics assessment will show a sharp increase in non-cancer health risks compared to data the agency released three years ago, with most of the risk coming from a pollutant released mostly by forest fires, as well as vehicle exhaust, agency sources say. While EPA currently classifies the pollutant -- known as acrolein -- as a hazardous air pollutant (HAP) subject to regulation under its air toxics program, observers say...

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