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.

OZONE SETTLEMENT MAY PROMPT NEW CONTROL MANDATES AT CEMENT PLANTS

A court settlement over an EPA ozone plan in Texas will require state regulators to study the possibilities for implementing state-of-the-art emissions control technology at cement plants. The deal comes in the midst of a nationwide dispute over what to require in air permits for these high-polluting facilities. Environmental groups reached four separate court settlement agreements May 5 with EPA, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), and two county governments in the case Blue Skies Alliance et. al v...

RULING OPENS DOOR TO NEW TRI EXEMPTIONS FOR OZONE-FORMING CHEMICALS

A federal appellate ruling backing a chemical industry petition to exempt a widely used, ozone-forming solvent from reporting under EPA's Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) could help industry seek similar exemptions for a host of other chemicals the agency has regulated because they become toxic after release. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled May 10 that the solvent methyl etheyl ketone (MEK) is not a "toxic" chemical as defined under the Emergency Planning & Community...

NEW HAMPSHIRE DELAYS MERCURY BILL PENDING NEW TECHNOLOGY STUDY

New Hampshire lawmakers have postponed consideration of a bill to control power plant mercury emissions at far more stringent levels than under EPA's controversial new rule, pending the results of a pilot project to evaluate possible control technology. The state's Science, Technology & Energy Committee voted May 4 to "retain" the bill until its next legislative session, which means the committee will not take it up again until next year. Lawmakers indicated they needed more information in order to assess...

DUKE SAYS CARBON FEE COULD FUND OTHER CORPORATE TAX REFORMS

Duke Energy is intensifying its push for an economy wide carbon tax, touting the concept in a new proposal to a presidential advisory panel as a way to generate government revenues that could pay for other corporate tax breaks. "A carbon tax could support tax reform, reduce carbon dioxide emissions and advance sound energy and environmental policies," the company says in its April 29 submission to the President's Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform. The panel has received recommendations from...

EJ ACTIVISTS LAUNCH NEW STRATEGY IN PESTICIDE SUIT OVER AIR EMISSIONS

California environmental justice (EJ) advocates have advanced their suit alleging the state's Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) has failed to live up to its obligations under the Clean Air Act to reduce emissions from pesticide sprays. A U.S. district judge rejected DPR's motion to dismiss the case last month. The suit is the first time EJ advocates have gone after pesticide spraying under a Clean Air Act's state implementation plan (SIP), which is a blueprint for how areas plan to...

DECISION BACKING L.A. CLEAN-FLEET RULES MAY NOT STAND, OBSERVERS SAY

A U.S. district court judge's ruling earlier this month may not survive after the court essentially reversed a Supreme Court decision that struck down the California South Coast air district's clean-fuel fleet rules, according to sources tracking the case. The ruling -- which both sides agree opens the door for regulators nationwide to require local agencies to buy alternative-fueled vehicles -- is expected to be challenged by engine makers through either an amended motion to the district court or an...

Massachusetts May Set Nation's First Policy On Siting Wind Projects

Massachusetts environmental officials are working on the nation's first comprehensive policy on the siting of onshore wind farms and are considering stringent levels of review that could make it more difficult for future wind projects to win approval. The policy will set criteria for environmental reviews of all future wind farm projects in Massachusetts, one state official says. These could include certain triggers leading to the rejections of some projects, including one requirement that would ban projects in areas with...

EPA Air Chief May Offer States More Time To Reduce Soot

EPA air chief Jeffrey Holmstead may grant states a five-year extension to meet new air standards for fine particles (PM2.5), and also wants to give states more flexibility under a companion standard for low-level ozone. These were among other issues he discussed in an exclusive interview with Clean Air Report. Holmstead, who is assistant administrator for the Office of Air & Radiation, said May 12 the chief goal in the air office going forward will be reducing fine particle pollution,...

EPA Eyes Vehicle Emission, Benzene Controls In Upcoming Mobile Source Rule

EPA's upcoming regulation on air toxics from mobile sources could place extra burdens on automakers by establishing new emission controls for vehicles, as well as setting new fuel limits on benzene. EPA is in settlement negotiations with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) and Sierra Club, which sued the agency early in 2004 for allegedly failing to promulgate a mobile source air toxics (MSAT) rule as required under the Clean Air Act. Sources involved with the lawsuits would not...

Senators May Push DOD Environmental Waivers In Conference Talks

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

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...

Foundry Settlement On Mercury Emissions May Affect Utility Controls

An agreement by a New Jersey foundry to install a mercury-control technology identical to that used by some coal-fired power plants could force the electric utility industry to use the technology sooner than EPA is planning to require it, some state sources say. These sources point to the $9.3 million agreement by Atlantic States Cast Iron Pipe Company as an example of one industry's willingness to "provide something meaningful" that could pressure another industry sector, such as power plants, to...

Lawmakers To Resolve Key Environmental Differences In Highway Bill

Congressional negotiators will have to try to iron out major differences in clean air and environmental review provisions in transportation funding legislation during an upcoming Senate-House conference committee. Sources say lawmakers are pushing for a swift compromise before expiration of the current transportation law at the end of May. The House and Senate versions of the bill include key differences, including changes to the rules for demonstrating that highway plans meet Clean Air Act "conformity" requirements. The Senate bill would...

EPA May Revise Testing Of Indoor Vapors From Soil, Groundwater Pollutants

EPA officials are discussing plans to toughen the proposed requirements for investigating the public health risks from indoor air pollutants that stem from groundwater and soil contamination beneath residential and industrial buildings. Agency officials are discussing the changes in an effort to finalize a screening test in a controversial guidance later this fall. In the past few weeks, agency staff have briefed state officials and industry representatives on their plans in an effort to receive feedback on the possible revisions...

EPA SEEKS COMMENT ON PLANS TO RAISE THRESHOLD FOR INDOOR AIR STUDIES

EPA is publicly discussing plans to raise the proposed threshold for determining whether to investigate indoor air contamination which stems from groundwater and soil contamination beneath residential and industrial facilities. Agency officials are discussing the changes in an effort to finalize the screening test in a controversial guidance later this fall. In the past few weeks, agency staff have briefed state, community and industry officials on their plans in an effort to get their feedback on the changes. While EPA...

RULING OPENS DOOR TO NEW TRI EXEMPTIONS FOR OZONE-FORMING CHEMICALS

A federal appellate ruling backing a chemical industry petition to exempt a widely used solvent from reporting under EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) could help industry seek similar exemptions for a host of other chemicals the agency has regulated because they become toxic after release. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled May 10 that the solvent Methyl Etheyl Ketone (MEK) is not a "toxic" chemical as defined under the Emergency Planning & Community Right-to-Know...

EPA TO ADDRESS ALLEGED RISKS FROM METHYL BROMIDE SUBSTITUTE

EPA will soon respond to environmentalists' objections to the agency's possible approval of an agricultural fumigant that could serve as an alternative to the ozone-depleting chemical methyl bromide, which is being phased out under an international agreement. The Fluoride Action Network Pesticide Project last month asked EPA for a public hearing on the first-time use standards of sulfuryl fluoride, which the group says could lead to bone damage and neurological problems particularly in children. The comments responded to a Federal...

DOD'S ENVIRONMENTAL EXEMPTIONS FAIL TO WIN SENATE PANEL'S BACKING

Defense Department (DOD) efforts to win exemptions for the military from a host of environmental requirements appear to have suffered a major setback after a key Senate panel failed to include the exemptions in the defense authorization bill for fiscal year 2006. The Senate Armed Services Committee had been expected to consider the provisions, known as the Readiness and Range Preservation Initiative (RRPI), during its May 10-12 markup of the defense bill. But despite support from Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK)...

HOUSE PANEL KILLS FUNDS FOR KEY WHITE HOUSE WATER, AIR INITIATIVES

House appropriators have thrown into doubt major water and air initiatives touted by the White House as President Bush's key environmental priorities, by rebuffing the president's request for a dramatic increase in funds for the programs in EPA's fiscal year 2006 budget. EPA sources say the dramatic cuts, of 44 percent and 87 percent to a Great Lakes cleanup program and a greenhouse gas reduction initiative, respectively, might prevent the agency from meeting the programs' stated goals. "We really need...

EPA'S NONPOINT SOURCE AUTHORITY AT HEART OF MERCURY EMISSIONS DEBATE

The scope of EPA's authority to regulate nonpoint source pollution under the Clean Water Act (CWA) is at the heart of the Bush administration's recent efforts urging a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) panel to forgo an in-depth investigation into whether EPA is meeting environmental obligations to curtail mercury emissions from power plants. The Bush administration is arguing that EPA has no authority under the CWA to regulate nonpoint sources of pollution -- such as air deposition of mercury...

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