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.

Minnesota Offers First-Time Guidance On Indoor Pollution Vapors

Minnesota officials have issued first-time guidance for assessing the health risks posed by migrating indoor air pollutants that stem from groundwater and soil contaminated by petroleum wastes near residential and industrial buildings. The state is one of the first to address migrating groundwater and soil pollutants that can affect indoor air quality, and comes as EPA is working on its own national guidance to address contaminant vapors. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's vapor intrusion guidance for petroleum contaminated sites, which...

MEXICO TRUCKERS IRATE OVER BORDER INSPECTION LAW, NEW ARB REGS

Mexican trucking companies are blasting California's 2004 law requiring trucks entering the state beginning next year to meet U.S. emission standards, saying their operations are being unfairly discriminated against, possibly in violation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), according to sources. The Mexico truckers are also expressing apprehension about new air board regulations that will bolster the state's heavy-duty diesel engine inspections at border crossings, which have been proposed as a backstop should the 2004 law fail a...

ASSEMBLY FOCUS ON ARB INDOOR AIR REPORT MAY PLANT SEED FOR LEGISLATION

An Assembly select committee is planning an informational hearing early next month on the air board's disputed indoor air report, which may lead to one or more lawmakers pursuing legislation requiring emission reductions from major product categories or possibly new risk exposure thresholds related to indoor air. While some sources say new bills may not be introduced this year, the hearing could start the ball rolling for legislation to be introduced in 2006. The Assembly Air & Water Quality select...

EPA SCIENCE PANEL SEEKS UNUSUAL REVIEW OF COARSE AIR PARTICLE PLAN

An EPA science advisory panel has made the unusual decision to clear agency staff recommendations on pollution standards for larger air particles, known as "PM coarse," while reserving the right to further review the plan after it is sent to the agency administrator. The decision highlights lingering scientific concerns about assessing the health risks of particulate matter emissions in various parts of the country. The particulate matter review panel of the agency's Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) held a...

DEPARTING EPA ENFORCEMENT CHIEF FOCUSES ON NSR, REFINERY DEALS

EPA's acting enforcement chief Tom Skinner, who has announced that he will leave the agency this fall, says he will focus during his remaining time on reaching settlements with the utility industry in pending Clean Air Act new source review (NSR) cases and in cases under the agency's clean air enforcement initiative against oil refineries. Skinner wrote the White House May 24 asking President Bush to withdraw his nomination to become assistant administrator of the enforcement office, which has been...

Landmark Bush Visit To EPA Seen Further Deflating Staff Morale

President Bush's visit to EPA headquarters this week to witness Administrator Stephen Johnson's swearing in -- the first time the president has visited the agency -- has further undermined sagging staff morale, agency sources say, despite claims by administration supporters that the landmark visit was a boost to the agency. Deflated employee morale is raising enough concern among agency staff that some are withholding recommendations on enforcement actions, controversial policy decisions and innovative initiatives from senior managers, one key source...

Investment Firm Suggests Alternative MTBE Liability Approach

A major investment firm is suggesting that backers of the controversial safe harbor for manufacturers of the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) may have to scrap their current approach barring any product liability lawsuits and instead adopt an alternative approach that would cap total industry liability in the suits. "We think the safe harbor exactly as defined in the [House energy bill] is out. However, we believe there are other ways to achieve the same end, which ...

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 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...

EPA Science Panel Seeks Further Review Of Air Particle Rule

An EPA science advisory panel has taken the unusual move of clearing agency staff recommendations on pollution standards for larger air particles, known as "PM coarse," while reserving the right to further review the plan after it is sent to the agency administrator. The move highlights lingering scientific concerns about assessing the health risks of particulate matter emissions in various parts of the country. The particulate matter review panel of the agency's clean air scientific advisory committee (CASAC) held a...

DOMENICI SAYS AUTOMAKER FUEL EFFICIENCY INCENTIVES LIKELY IN ENERGY BILL

Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-NM) is indicating that the Senate's comprehensive energy legislation will include incentives for automakers to produce more efficient vehicles, amid calls for the Senate to consider stricter motor vehicle standards to combat rising gas prices. Domenici's comments came as the energy committee May 18 approved several provisions to be included in the Senate's broader energy bill, setting the stage for a more sweeping debate both in committee and on the floor...

EPA Agrees To Exclude Military Ships From International Fuel Rules

An agreement between EPA and other federal agencies has cleared the way for Senate legislation that would give EPA the power to set a nationwide requirement limiting the sulfur content of seagoing vessels, after the agency conceded to a Department of Defense (DOD) demand to exempt combat vessels and possibly other government-owned ships. An EPA source says the deal should break a deadlock over the legislation, which if enacted will commit the United States to participate in an international shipping...

SENATE TARGETS WASTE, REGIONAL WATER BOARDS FOR DOWNSIZING

Under the banner of "improving efficiency," a Senate budget subcommittee is crafting budget trailer language to significantly downsize membership on the regional water boards and the waste board. Stakeholders are reacting with varying levels of puzzlement and disapproval, noting that the proposal is still vague and leaves unanswered the big question of precisely which board positions will be eliminated. The Senate budget subcommittee with jurisdiction over Cal/EPA May 17 agreed on a 2-1 vote to draft trailer bill language that...

SOARING PM, NOX PRICES UNDERSCORE CREDIT SHORTAGE, INDUSTRY FEARS

Soaring prices for particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emission reduction credits (ERCs) statewide reflect a dearth of available credits that threatens California's industrial growth, particularly in terms of new power plant construction, according to sources. The market trend is again heightening pressure on local, state and federal regulators to brainstorm strategies for more credit generation, especially from mobile sources, to offset new and modified stationary source projects. But environmentalists remain vigilant that any new ERC-generating strategies not violate...

CAL/EPA DRAFTS GHG CAP-AND-TRADE PROGRAM OPTIONS AS PART OF CLIMATE POLICY

Cal/EPA is finalizing options to pursue a statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) emission cap-and-trade program, and the governor is expected to soon announce GHG emission reduction targets for the state, according to sources. The two efforts are considered significant because of California's size, and the potential that other states may follow suit, sources said. Cal/EPA is leading an "intergovernmental working group" to evaluate options for a comprehensive GHG cap-and-trade program for the state, according to agency sources. It is unclear when...

AUTOMAKERS AIM TO KEEP ARB GHG CHALLENGE IN COURT THAT RULED IN ZEV CASE

Auto industry attorneys are arguing that their lawsuit challenging the air board's greenhouse gas (GHG) emission regulation should stay in the federal district court in Fresno County, which favored them in a 2002 suit over the board's zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) regulation. Air board attorneys are seeking a transfer in venue to Sacramento based on technical federal venue rules, but several sources said the likely principal reason is to avoid the judge that ruled against them in the ZEV case. In...

SENATORS MAY PUSH DOD ENVIRONMENTAL WAIVERS IN CONFERENCE TALKS

The chairmen of the Senate armed services and environment committees are suggesting that long-sought legislation to exempt the military from provisions in key environmental laws could be added to the fiscal year 2006 defense authorization bill during conference committee negotiations likely this summer. The suggestion offers a glimpse into the senators' legislative strategy to enact the controversial exemptions. A push to attach the provisions to the defense bill during a congressional conference committee would bypass floor consideration in the Senate...

HOLMSTEAD OFFERS DEADLINE EXTENSIONS TO HELP STATES MEET PM RULES

EPA air chief Jeffrey Holmstead may grant states a five-year extension of deadlines to meet strict new standards for fine particles (PM2.5) and wants to give states more flexibility under a companion standard for ozone, he said during an interview with Inside EPA. Holmstead, who is assistant administrator for the Office of Air & Radiation, said May 12 the air office's chief goal going forward will be reducing fine particle pollution, which scientists identify as a major health problem. "We've...

EPA MAY REVAMP VAPOR INTRUSION TESTS FOR SOIL, WATER POLLUTANTS

EPA officials are discussing plans to raise the thresholds for triggering investigations of public health risks from indoor air pollutants that stem from groundwater and soil contamination beneath residential and industrial buildings, according to EPA sources and documents. While EPA lacks authority to regulate indoor air, the agency is seeking to address vapors that seep indoors from contaminated soil and groundwater under buildings, known as vapor intrusion. In 2002, EPA unveiled a draft guide, Guidance for Evaluating Vapor Intrusion to...

EPA, STATES TAP ENVIRONMENTAL DATA TO TARGET SECURITY VULNERABILITIES

EPA and state officials are planning an information exchange network that will use industry-generated and other environmental data to assess homeland security vulnerabilities. The project is being funded by an EPA grant and is part of a national homeland security strategy. The project will use a web-based network that could allow regulators from different states to share water security, waste shipment, air pollution, toxic release and other environmental data to target potential vulnerabilities that could pose a threat to public...

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