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.

Critics Say EPA's 'Residual Risk' Air Toxics Plan Fails To Protect Public Health

EPA's proposal for the first-ever "residual risk" air toxics standard could set important precedents for upcoming rules of the same kind, according to environmentalists who charge that the methods EPA used to set the residual risk limits are insufficient to protect public health. However, EPA officials defend the landmark plan by saying it does everything feasible to lower health risks from industrial facilities. At issue is the agency's proposed residual risk standard for coke oven batteries, which the agency unveiled...

DOE Expected To Delay Final Greenhouse Gas Plan Until After Election

The Department of Energy (DOE) has delayed revisions to a high-profile, voluntary greenhouse gas reporting program, making it unlikely that the department will meet a prior commitment to finalize the proposal around the time of the November election, according to DOE and industry officials. The delay means the Bush administration may be open to criticism for failing to finish the registry, given that the president cited the program as an urgent priority during an address on climate change in early...

States Blast EPA For Short Time To Review Model Changes For Interstate Air Rule

State groups are angry with EPA for changing the modeling method used to estimate pollution reductions achievable under the clean air transport rule without giving stakeholders enough time to comment. The groups say that using new modeling data to support an already-proposed rule is highly unusual and potentially problematic, adding they cannot evaluate in the 21 days EPA is allowing for comment whether the complex modifications are accurate and appropriate. "Clearly, to suggest that anything this exhaustive ought to have...

MIGRATORY BIRD RULE FOR MILITARY HEAVILY CRITICIZED IN PUBLIC COMMENTS

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) is facing significant opposition on its proposed rule giving the military a blanket authorization to incidentally kill or harm migratory birds during training activities, despite Congress' explicit call for the exclusion. FWS received more than 500 comments on its proposal to effectively exempt DOD from the regulatory requirements of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) for the "take" of migratory birds through military readiness activities, such as training. Take in this case refers...

NEW EPA GUIDE ON IMMUNOLOGICAL RISKS MAY TIGHTEN EXPOSURE LIMITS

EPA is planning new guidance to weigh for the first time how chemical exposures may increase human susceptibility to diseases by disrupting the immune system, a key agency official said late last month. The upcoming guidance could in time make such information on indirect health effects a key part of agency risk assessments and lead to stricter limits for chemicals. EPA currently does not consider such effects in deciding acceptable risk levels for chemical exposures because it lacks methods for...

WATCHDOG GROUPS RAMP UP FIGHT AGAINST INFORMATION QUALITY LAW

Environmentalists and other citizen groups are ramping up their efforts to fight the controversial data quality law, with one group calling for its repeal and another planning to push key legislators to seek a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the law's impact on EPA and other agencies' resources. The Center for Progressive Regulation (CPR) says in a recent letter to EPA and the White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) that a pending industry challenge of state ozone...

CPR CAL/EPA OVERHAUL VISION EXPECTED TO SPARK DEBATE, SOME BILLS

The California Performance Review (CPR) recommendations to eliminate Cal/EPA boards and convert all entities into divisions under an overarching department are expected to spark weighty discussion among officials and stakeholders, but very likely will not all come to fruition, sources said. A scenario may emerge where disparate interests will latch on to specific recommendations in the report, which could lead to pitched battles in the Legislature next year. Because of the sweeping nature of the recommendations to overhaul Cal/EPA and...

Opponents Of Paint Industry Petition Call For Repeal Of Data Quality Act

Academics who support environmental regulation are citing a recent data quality challenge by the paint industry that urges EPA to reject state ozone plans in their argument that the federal law allowing such challenges should be repealed. The Center for Progressive Regulation (CPR) argues in a recent letter to EPA and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that the industry challenge demonstrates how the Information Quality Act (IQA) can be used to delay regulations intended to protect public health...

California Proposes First-Time Greenhouse Gas Rule, Faces Industry Challenge

California air regulators have released a proposal for the nation's first regulation controlling greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, estimating the requirements would add $292 to the cost of cars and $308 to light trucks during the first phase of the rule, which would begin in 2009. The auto industry has already threatened to file a lawsuit claiming the state exceeded its authority in developing the standards, and sources say lawyers are going through the 1,000-page proposal and accompanying report to...

ARB WEIGHS MULTIPLE FACTORS TO DEFINE LARGE FARMS FOR REGULATION

Air board staff is embarking on a complicated effort to define large confined animal facilities (CAFs) for regulation under a controversial law passed last year that lifted a decades-old regulatory exemption for the facilities. Farm and dairy organizations that have expressed skepticism over initial formulas used to define large CAFs are closely following the air board approach because it will determine how many dairies will be regulated statewide. The Air Resources Board effort is required by a law signed last...

ELECTION FEARS PROMPT EPA TO DELAY GUIDE ON MERCURY DISCHARGE PERMITS

EPA is delaying the release of a controversial draft guidance that critics say could allow states to avoid setting strict clean water permit limits for mercury over fears that Democrats and environmentalists will criticize the administration's mercury control efforts in an election year, several EPA sources say. Relevant documents are available on InsideEPA.com. The draft guidance, obtained by Inside EPA , seeks to provide significant flexibility to water dischargers, including publicly owned treatment works and mining facilities, based on the...

NEW STUDIES HEIGHTEN CONFLICT ON MERCURY CONTAMINATION, SOURCES

Environmentalists and the electric utility industry are pushing competing studies in the latest face-off over mercury pollution, with environmentalists lamenting widespread toxic mercury contamination in fish and the industry claiming power plants generate almost none of the mercury in the environment. Recent data EPA compiled showing nationwide mercury contamination in fish is evidence that the Bush administration must require power plants to reduce emissions of the compound faster and more steeply than they are currently proposing, the U.S. Public Research...

TECHNOLOGY TO MEET EPA NOX RULE MAY POSE CHALLENGES FOR UTILITIES

A new emissions reduction technology known as selective catalytic reduction (SCR) that utilities are effectively required to use in complying with nitrogen oxide (NOx) standards for the eastern United States could create unintended air pollution, a problem that surfaced last month when a major power company was forced to shut down some SCR units at an Indiana facility. One industry source says utilities are "on [their] way to installing hundreds of these SCRs" to comply with the NOx rule and...

RESEARCH TYING AIR POLLUTION TO WESTERN DROUGHT MAY PROMPT EPA STUDY

New research showing a link between transported air pollution and drought could bolster staff calls within EPA's research office to study the growing body of scientific evidence linking this pollution to broader disruptions in weather patterns, agency sources say. Government officials say that if research suggesting weather patterns are at risk from transported emissions is borne out, it could prompt EPA to propose more stringent pollution control measures than are called for in its proposal to curb long-range transport of...

INDUSTRY QUESTIONS EPA CALL TO LOWER NEW POWER PLANTS' SO2 LIMITS

Power plants may be unable to meet stringent sulfur emissions limits EPA regions are asking states to include in a number of draft permits for proposed new power plants -- limits that EPA argues correct state reliance on data that underestimate emissions standards achievable by the facilities. In comments on proposed new power plants, EPA Regions VII and VIII said earlier this year that states should set lower sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions limits because the proposed power plants at issue...

DOE DATA SHOW NSR HAS LITTLE IMPACT ON PLANT EFFICIENCY, ACTIVISTS SAY

Environmentalists are claiming an Energy Department (DOE) chart showing that coal-fired power plants' energy efficiency has changed little since the mid-1960s undermines EPA and industry arguments that revising the new source review (NSR) air permit program will increase facilities' efficiency. "Old power plants don't change that much in terms of energy efficiency. That's what this document shows," one environmentalist says. "Any efficiency gains are pretty short term." The chart environmentalists are citing was prepared by DOE for EPA officials working...

WATCHDOG GROUPS RAMP UP FIGHT AGAINST INFORMATION QUALITY LAW

Environmentalists and other citizen groups are ramping up their efforts to fight the controversial data quality law, with one group calling for its repeal and another planning to push key legislators to seek a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the law's impact on EPA and other agencies' resources. The Center for Progressive Regulation (CPR) says in a recent letter to EPA and the Office of Management & Budget (OMB) that a pending industry challenge of state ozone pollution control...

University Findings On Air Pollution And Drought May Prompt EPA Research

New university research that links drifting air pollutants to drought throughout the West could bolster calls within EPA's research office to study the growing body of scientific evidence linking this pollution to broader disruptions in weather patterns, agency sources say. Government officials say that if research suggesting weather patterns are at risk from transported air emissions is borne out, it could prompt EPA to propose more stringent pollution control measures than are called for in its proposal to curb long-range...

Utility Commissioners Urge EPA To Revise Air Rule To Encourage Renewables

State utility regulators are urging EPA to revise its proposal for controlling air pollution that drifts over state boundaries, calling on the agency to support more emission credits to new power plants that use renewable and efficient sources of energy, such as wind and cogeneration facilities. The argument is detailed in comments submitted by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) to EPA that support the agency's general approach to promoting efficient new sources of electricity generation in the...

Technology To Meet EPA NOx Rule May Pose Challenges For Utilities

A new emissions reduction technology known as selective catalytic reduction (SCR) that utilities are effectively required to use in complying with nitrogen oxide (NOx) standards for the Eastern half of the country could create unintended air pollution. The problem surfaced last month when a major power company was forced to shut down some SCR units at an Indiana facility and could lead to greater emissions monitoring. One industry source says utilities are "on [their] way to installing hundreds of these...

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