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.

PARK SERVICE REFORMS FACE QUESTIONS OVER POSSIBLE AIR ACT VIOLATIONS

The Bush administration's controversial proposed changes in how the National Park Service (NPS) manages its facilities have sparked criticism from environmentalists, who say the plans may violate the Clean Air Act by removing park superintendents' responsibility for assessing whether new industrial development degrades air quality. The proposed changes have also attracted opposition from members of Congress. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) sent a Feb. 16 letter to NPS Director Fran Mainella raising concern that the new policies "propose a de-emphasis of...

WEHRUM EPA NOMINATION MAY PROMPT SENATE DEBATE ON IGCC, AIR TOXICS

The nomination of William Wehrum to head EPA's air office may prompt Senate scrutiny into issues such as technological requirements for power plants to cut emissions, Clean Air Act enforcement and EPA's air toxics agenda, observers say. President Bush announced Feb. 27 that Wehrum would be nominated to be EPA's Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation, after serving in an acting position since July 2005. Wehrum originally came to EPA's air office as a close associate of former Assistant Administrator...

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 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 (AAQTF) voted to approve several definitions that...

Report Showing Growth Of Nanotech Products Could Boost Research Bills

A soon-to-be-released 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...

Inhofe Refinery Permit Streamlining Plan Faces Slim Prospects

Senate environment committee chairman James Inhofe's (R-OK) scaled-back proposal to streamline the permitting process for new and expanding refineries faces stiff opposition from Democrats, making it unlikely to gather enough support to pass in an election year, industry and other sources say. Inhofe's March 7 proposal would allow governors to opt in to a program in which EPA, state and local regulators consolidate refinery permitting and approve or deny permits within 360 days for new refineries or 120 days for...

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...

EPA TO STREAMLINE AIR CONFORMITY RULES FOLLOWING AGENCIES' CONCERNS

Responding to concerns raised by the Defense, Energy and other departments, EPA this spring will propose new reforms to streamline a 13-year-old Clean Air Act rule ensuring that federal actions do not further erode air quality in areas that are not meeting the agency's health-based pollution standards, according to EPA documents and government sources. The proposal is still undergoing internal agency review, but EPA documents say the agency is considering a number of reforms to its 1993 "general conformity" rule...

REPUBLICAN LAWMAKER'S RETIREMENT MEANS UNCERTAIN FUTURE FOR RRPI

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...

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...

SENATE ENVIRONMENT PANEL EXPANDS FOCUS ON NANOTECHNOLOGY

Senate environment committee staff are beginning a bipartisan look at how environmental laws could be applied to regulate nanotechnology in anticipation of a possible hearing later this year. While the hearing has not yet been scheduled, the environment committee's interest in nanotechnology comes as several other House and Senate committees are beginning to consider the issue. Nanotechnology refers to materials that can be manipulated at the molecular level to create unique properties that are expected to have widespread uses, including...

High Court Petition In CO2 Suit Downplays Environmental Issues

State and environmentalist sources say their strategy in trying to get the Supreme Court to hear their appeal of a high-profile greenhouse gas emission lawsuit rests on attracting conservative justices to the case by downplaying the environmental aspects of their argument in favor of broader concerns. The groups are focusing on their assertion that a lower court decision, if allowed to stand, would allow all federal agencies to ignore statutory requirements at will. A host of attorneys general (AGs) and...

Inhofe Pushes Uniform Implementation Of EPA Rules Across Regions

Republican staff members on the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee have initiated an investigation into how EPA regions may vary in implementing and enforcing agency rules, saying EPA regional offices should be held accountable for inconsistent practices that may "unfairly" target small businesses. Committee staff members for Chairman James Inhofe (R-OK) would not specify the EPA regulations that they say are being implemented inconsistently, but the senator and his staff have spoken generally of early findings from the investigation...

INHOFE PUSHES UNIFORM IMPLEMENTATION OF EPA RULES ACROSS REGIONS

Republican staff members on the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee have initiated an investigation into how EPA regions may vary in implementing and enforcing agency rules, saying EPA regional offices should be held accountable for inconsistent practices that may "unfairly" target small businesses. Committee staff members for environment committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-OK) would not specify the EPA regulations that they say are being implemented inconsistently, but the senator and his staff have spoken generally of early findings from...

EPA To Streamline Air Conformity Rules Following Agencies' Concerns

Responding to concerns raised by the Defense, Energy and other departments, EPA this spring will propose new reforms to streamline a 13-year-old Clean Air Act rule ensuring that federal actions do not further erode air quality in areas that are not meeting the agency's health-based pollution standards, according to EPA documents and government sources. The proposal is still undergoing internal agency review, but EPA documents say the agency is considering a number of reforms to its 1993 "general conformity" rule...

AIR RULE COULD BE NEW FOCUS OF SUIT ON EPA POWER TO REGULATE CO2

EPA's just-released rule setting new source performance standards (NSPS) for electric utilities could become a new focus of litigation from states and environmentalists over whether the agency has authority to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions after a federal appellate court last year issued a largely inconclusive ruling on the issue. State attorneys general (AGs) and environmental groups are weighing whether to file a second legal challenge over the issue because EPA concludes in the NSPS rule that it lacks authority...

ANALYST: LAWMAKERS MUST DIRECT GOVERNOR'S CLIMATE CHANGE PLAN

The legislative analyst is recommending lawmakers take over direction of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Climate Change Initiative, in part by determining the feasibility of its emission-reduction targets, the costs and benefits of its chief implementation measures and whether the air board should take over program oversight. These determinations are critical to developing an overall climate change policy that should be put into statute, according to Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill. The analyst's recommendations are expected to help shape legislative proposals this year...

PUSH FOR GREENER INFRASTRUCTURE BONDS FACES REPUBLICAN BLOCK

While environmentalists pressure the Legislature to add environmental protection principles to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's infrastructure bond proposals, Assembly and Senate Republicans are mounting their own strategy to block these efforts, claiming they will unnecessarily slow much needed infrastructure repairs. It remains unclear how successful environmentalists' efforts will be to put their mark on the bond proposal, after key Republicans and Democrats this week exposed polarized views of such action. A coalition of about 35 environmental groups last week launched an...

LLOYD DEPARTURE TO CLEAN-VEHICLE GROUP LEAVES TOP TWO CAL/EPA POSITIONS VACANT

With the departure of secretary Alan Lloyd taking effect this week, the two top Cal/EPA positions are now vacant, prompting more speculation among stakeholders about replacements. A day after leaving the agency, Lloyd began March 1 a new job as president of The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), whose mission is to promote advanced, low-emissions transportation technology worldwide. It is unclear when the governor plans to appoint a new Cal/EPA secretary and undersecretary; the undersecretary position has been vacant...

INDUSTRY OBJECTS TO PROPOSED AUTO FEES TO CLEAN STORMWATER

Two new bills proposing auto-part and vehicle-registration environmental fees to bolster stormwater management are drawing early fire from the automobile and automotive parts industries. But local governments are applauding the legislation, which they argue allows them to fund projects to mitigate indirect pollution caused by vehicles. Both bills are seen as important because air and water regulators are just beginning to understand sources of indirect pollution, and because local governments are struggling to meet stiff water quality standards that in...

COMPANY CHARGES ARB SCHOOL BUS PROGRAM SHUTS OUT KEY TECHNOLOGY

A major manufacturer of engine-emission control systems is calling on lawmakers to overhaul a special air board program to reduce pollution from school buses, charging that rules shut out proven technology intended for older buses. The company is seeking legislative changes to the program that would allow more technology to qualify for grants, even though it currently does not meet board certification standards. Engine Control Systems, a worldwide manufacturer of exhaust retrofit systems designed to reduce particulate matter (PM) from...

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