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.

INDUSTRY QUESTIONS BOARD'S RULE ON PRESERVING EVIDENCE AT SPILL SITES

A broad coalition of industry groups are arguing in comments to the Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) that it lacks Clean Air Act authority to finalize a proposed rule requiring industry to preserve evidence following spills and other accidents. The groups say the rule is arbitrary and capricious, and one attorney says, if finalized, industry is likely to challenge the rule in court. Industry sources earlier warned that while the plan was well-intentioned, the proposed regulatory language was...

NAS REPORT COULD PROMPT DEBATE OVER EPA ROLE IN SETTING AIR STANDARDS

An upcoming report by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) could prompt debate over whether EPA should have a new role in reviewing states' efforts to adopt California's mobile source emissions standards, which are generally stricter than EPA's. The report, State And Federal Standards For Mobile-Source Emissions , which was scheduled for release March 16, focuses on states' ability to "opt-in" to stricter California emission rules for cars, trucks and offroad engines to meet National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS)...

EPA Diesel Plan Faces FY07 Budget Limits After Deal On State Air Grants

Supporters of a new EPA program intended to encourage diesel engine retrofits have agreed to drop their push for a $150 million increase over the Bush administration's requested levels after state and local regulators raised objections that full funding for the diesel plan could prevent lawmakers from restoring funds for state clean air grants, sources involved with the discussions say. Key senators joined by a coalition of industry and environmental groups, who had been seeking the full $200 million in...

EPA Fuel Economy Test Procedure May Act As Disincentive For Hybrids

EPA's proposed new fuel economy test procedure could act as a disincentive for the production and purchase of hybrid vehicles by understating the fuel economy of such vehicles, according to officials from the hybrid manufacturer Honda. EPA is proposing to revamp fuel economy calculations for motor vehicles in order to improve the accuracy of mileage estimates provided to consumers. It would be the first update in decades to the methodology the agency uses, which is currently based on two tests...

White House Nanotech Research Document Could Disrupt EPA Studies

A first-time document under development by the Bush administration detailing the federal government's research needs for nanotechnology could disrupt EPA's ongoing long-term studies into the risks posed by the emerging technology, outside observers say. Celia Merzbacher, a top science policy adviser to the president, said March 15 at a National Toxicology Program nanotechnology conference in Arlington, VA, that a working group that includes EPA and the Energy and Defense departments will publish this spring the document that outlines the research...

EPA Developing Policy On CO2 Storage, But Faces Long-Term Questions

EPA is developing first-time guidelines addressing the permitting of pilot projects for underground carbon dioxide (CO2) storage -- an alternative to letting the greenhouse gas escape into the atmosphere -- in what agency and other sources say is likely a prelude to further decisions facing regulators on how to oversee geologic storage of the gas to combat global warming. But since the policy will focus on pilot projects, the agency will still face questions over how to deal with the...

Industry Calls For Relaxed Haze Rule Following New Emissions Study

Industry officials argue EPA should consider relaxing controls on regional haze, in the wake of a study that finds significant contributions from wildfires and from pollution that crosses international borders. The report by the industry-funded Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and three Harvard University scientists finds that factoring in the influence of uncontrollable transboundary pollution and wildfire frequency in EPA's 1999 regional haze rule could decrease the emissions reductions required from domestic sources. But an agency source says the rule...

Call For Technology Boost, CO2 Market Draws Broad Industry Backing

A new paper on the design of a greenhouse gas (GHG) market shows growing support for calls to focus any future policies on both emission cuts and incentives to develop new technologies. One source familiar with the paper's development says it attracted unprecedented industry participation, demonstrating a subtle change of industry views on the likelihood of such a regime just weeks before historic Senate talks are set to begin on how to structure a GHG market. The paper , Design...

Northeast States Face Controversies Over Bills To Implement RGGI

Northeast state legislators are taking up legislation to implement a historic greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program called the regional greenhouse gas initiative (RGGI), including an upcoming Massachusetts bill that would force the state to join the program over the objections of Gov. Mitt Romney (R). But the pending Massachusetts bill faces uncertain prospects this year since the state legislature has only a few months to secure passage. Massachusetts is considered a key state for the climate program because it is responsible...

EPA Trading Proposal For Refinery Fuel Air Toxic Limit Draws Criticism

EPA's new mobile source air toxics (MSAT) proposal is drawing criticism from states and activists because it would set up an emissions trading scheme for refineries to meet new limits on fuel content. But industry officials say the trading scheme is vital to help relieve the cost impacts of the rule, which they argue EPA has underestimated. The MSAT proposal, which EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson signed Feb. 28, would require refiners to reduce the content of the air toxic benzene...

Leading Conservatives Join Industry In Opposing Climate Nuisance Suit

Leading conservatives including controversial former Bush administration officials, a rejected Supreme Court nominee and the chairman of the Senate environment panel are urging a federal appeals court to reject a claim by states and environmentalists that the electric power industry's refusal to slash greenhouse gas emissions is a public nuisance that should be mitigated. In amicus briefs filed with the U.S Court of Appeals for the 2 nd Circuit on March 3 in State of Connecticut et al. v. American...

STATE LAWSUIT MAY BE LEGAL TEST FOR VALIDITY OF VAPOR INTRUSION MODELS

A recent lawsuit filed in a Pennsylvania state court where the plaintiffs are seeking damages for vapor intrusion and other contamination is raising legal questions about how private consultants and state regulators are utilizing a controversial model that is the basis for EPA's and other states' vapor intrusion guides. "This is an example of how vapor intrusion may be handled by the defense to contest a model that has been used," one real estate attorney says. One source says many...

SLEW OF VAPOR INTRUSION GUIDES COULD LIMIT APPLICATION OF EPA POLICY

A slew of state, local government and other guidance documents creating policies for detecting vapor intrusion and determining its risk could limit the application of a revised version of a controversial EPA guide expected later this year that is generally stricter than the state and other documents, sources say. Observers including state officials, environmentalists and real estate professionals say the strict EPA guide, which calls for extensive tests to determine vapor intrusion risks and stringent cleanup measures -- particularly for...

USDA ADVISORY PANEL BACKS TERMS TO EXEMPT FARMS FROM EPA RULES

A Department of Agriculture (USDA) advisory panel is backing new definitions for key regulatory terms that, if adopted, would in many cases exempt agricultural operations from Clean Air Act requirements and Superfund reporting regulations. The representatives are also calling for the creation of a special joint USDA-EPA workgroup to consider ways to implement the new definitions, according to sources on the panel. During a Feb. 28-March 2 meeting, the Agriculture Air Quality Task Force voted to approve several definitions that...

INCREASE IN NANOPRODUCTS COULD BOLSTER BILLS DIRECTING EPA RESEARCH

A recent report providing the first-ever public inventory of nanotechnology products has found the number of consumer goods containing nanoparticles significantly exceeds previous EPA estimates, a revelation that could boost the case for planned legislation directing new research into the potential benefits and risks the emerging technology poses, according to observers following the issue. Observers say they expect a number of bills to be introduced this year that will direct EPA research on the environmental and human health risks posed...

LEGAL GROUP TO BRIEF EPA ON APPLICATION OF LAWS TO NANOTECH

The American Bar Association's (ABA) environment committee will brief EPA attorneys and other officials later this spring on the application of existing environmental statutes to nanotechnology, an emerging field that many believe could provide great benefits but also may pose significant threats to human health and the environment. Plans for the briefing come as congressional lawmakers will also consider the same issues later this spring, and as proposals for new legislation are being drafted by environmental experts off Capitol Hill...

LAWMAKER'S RETIREMENT MEANS UNCERTAIN FUTURE FOR DOD EXEMPTIONS

Rep. Joel Hefley's (R-CO) decision not to seek reelection in 2006 signals an uncertain future for environmental exemptions legislation long sought by the Defense Department, according to several sources who have closely followed the legislation. During his 20-year tenure, Hefley, who currently serves as chairman of the House Armed Services readiness subcommittee, has won praise from environmentalists for blocking controversial legislative exemptions sought by DOD as part of its Readiness and Range Preservation Initiative (RRPI) effort to change pollution control...

INDUSTRY QUESTIONS BOARD'S RULE ON PRESERVING EVIDENCE AT SPILL SITES

A broad coalition of industry groups are arguing in comments to the Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) that it lacks Clean Air Act authority to finalize a proposed rule requiring industry to preserve evidence following spills and other accidents. The groups say the rule is arbitrary and capricious, and one attorney says, if finalized, industry is likely to challenge the rule in court. Industry sources earlier warned that while the plan was well-intentioned, the proposed regulatory language was...

EPA Plan For Ethanol Plants' Air Permits May Have Limited Application

EPA's just-issued proposal easing ethanol production facilities' ability to qualify for flexible "minor source" permits could have limited application, state sources say, because many ethanol plants will still be subject to other Clean Air Act permit programs. EPA on Feb. 28 proposed to raise the threshold for ethanol plants to be considered "minor sources," not subject to requirements under the prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) construction permit program, from 100 tons per year (tpy) of any criteria pollutant to 250...

EPA DEVELOPING POLICY ON CO2 STORAGE, BUT FACES LONG-TERM QUESTIONS

EPA is developing first-time guidelines addressing the permitting of pilot projects for underground carbon dioxide (CO2) storage -- an alternative to letting the greenhouse gas escape into the atmosphere -- in what agency and other sources say is likely a prelude to further decisions facing regulators on how to oversee geologic storage of the gas to combat global warming. But since the policy will focus on pilot projects, the agency will still face questions over how to deal with the...

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