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.

NAS Panelist Faults EPA’s NAAQS Study-Selection Process As ‘Black Box’

A National Academy of Sciences (NAS) panelist is criticizing EPA’s process for selecting studies to support its national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) as a “black box,” even as the panel heard a presentation from an agency advisor who generally praised other aspects of the agency’s standard-setting process. The NAAQS process is in general “by far, the most open” to public participation and scrutiny when compared with other risk assessment and standard-setting processes, Dan Greenbaum, a frequent EPA advisor and...

EPA Grapples With Scientific Hurdles Of Cumulative Risk Amid Policy Push

Top EPA scientists say they are struggling to advance the use of cumulative risk or impact analyses to better account for the risks faced by poor and minority communities even as Administrator Michael Regan seeks to advance the use of such approaches and has requested an agency review of legal authority to do so. “The problem remains of how to bring to bear the complex interactions with the built social and chemical environment into our regulatory paradigm,” Andrew Geller, the...

Democrats Grapple With CEPP Details, Spending Levels In Budget Plan

Democrats and progressive groups are publicly grappling with crucial requirements for a proposed clean electricity program as lawmakers begin crafting detailed legislative text of their budget “reconciliation” bill, with such discussions potentially hinging on debate over the cost of the broader package. Details of the proposed clean electricity payment program (CEPP) -- a set of incentives and penalties designed to “mimic” a clean electricity standard (CES) while complying with Senate budget legislation rules -- remain under wraps. Analysis circulated last...

Midwest Utilities Warn EPA Over Aggressive Ozone Deal With Eastern States

The Midwest Ozone Group (MOG) of utilities and industrial companies is criticizing as unlawfully aggressive EPA’s proposed consent decree with East Coast states setting deadlines for agency action on state plans to mitigate interstate ozone pollution, escalating the group’s fight against EPA interstate ozone reduction mandates. While EPA has missed statutory deadlines to review state plans, MOG charged in part the proposed decree is unlawful because it provides EPA with a means of imposing federal requirements even though it may...

Midwest Democrats Urge Leaders To Boost Biofuels In Reconciliation Bill

Midwestern Democrats in the House and Senate are calling on their party leaders to include a series of measures to boost the biofuels sector in their forthcoming multi trillion-dollar legislative package being crafted under streamlined budget reconciliation procedures, with some of the measures aiming to overcome recent EPA court losses. In a Sept. 2 letter , the lawmakers urge Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) “to make sure that the upcoming budget legislation currently...

Broad Industry Coalition Joins Push To Preserve Trump NEPA Rule

A broad coalition of industry and labor groups is pressing the White House to preserve much of the Trump-era reforms to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) implementing rules as the Biden administration prepares to unveil a Phase 1 rule to begin reversing the controversial changes. The Unlock American Investment Coalition, spearheaded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, met with the White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) late last month to discuss the draft Phase 1 proposal by...

EPA settles with New Jersey over agency’s air violations

EPA has agreed to pay New Jersey a small financial penalty under a proposed settlement with the state to satisfy its enforcement action against an EPA laboratory that New Jersey says violated state clean air law. Under the plan announced in a Federal Register notice scheduled for publication Sept. 3, EPA will pay New Jersey $8,600 to resolve the violations at its pollution research laboratory in Edison, NJ, discovered during a 2019 inspection by the state. New Jersey alleges...

EPA Report Links Disproportionate Climate Impacts To Vulnerable Groups

A new peer-reviewed EPA report is for the first time connecting the likelihood that specific vulnerable populations will suffer disproportionate impacts from climate change, such as heat waves, poor air quality and flooding, providing the Biden administration with significant data to address its priority focus on climate change and environmental justice. For example, in one key finding, the data show that Black and African Americans are 40 percent more likely to live in areas with the “highest projected increases in...


Court Ruling Bolsters Regulators’ Need For ‘Events’ Waivers As Fires Rage

As massive wildfires continue to burn in western states, the recent ruling upholding EPA’s air-standards waiver for Arizona based on ozone from distant fires highlights the growing importance of such exemptions to regulators faced with increasing impacts, though some fear they are not adequately protecting public health from such “exceptional events.” One western state air quality official says the ruling will assist state, local and tribal regulators in avoiding nonattainment designations for national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) when there...

VW asks high court to review second air act preemption case

Automaker Volkswagen (VW) has launched a second appeal to the Supreme Court seeking to confirm federal preemption of state or local efforts to enforce against manufacturers for post-sale changes to vehicle fleets that result in air emissions beyond permissible levels, after the Ohio Supreme Court found the state can bring its own action. VW Aug. 27 filed a petition asking the justices to review the Ohio court’s holding earlier this summer in State of Ohio ex rel. Dave Yost, Ohio...

EPA Enforcement Focus Yields Aftermarket-Parts Deals Amid IG Inquiry

EPA’s two-year-old enforcement focus on aftermarket parts manufacturers has yielded a series of new settlements to halt sales of illegal “defeat devices” that bypass or render inoperative EPA-certified emission controls on mobile sources, though the agency still faces an Office of Inspector General (OIG) inquiry into the program. Over the past few days, EPA has announced three Clean Air Act settlements with aftermarket parts companies across the country. For example, EPA won a surprise deal with Arizona-based Gear Box Z...

Hurricane Ida triggers focus on chemical plant safety issues

The massive Hurricane that hammered Louisiana earlier this week is refocusing attention on the environmental risks posed by the state’s petrochemical industry. Just days before Hurricane Ida made landfall, a former Army general who led the Defense Department’s (DOD) task force on Hurricane Katrina in 2005 called for state and federal agencies to halt the permitting of liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and other large fossil fuel projects in the Gulf Coast’s so-called hurricane alley. Retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré,...

Environmentalists Step Up ‘Rights’ Claims To Bolster EJ Elevation Effort

Environmental and community groups are stepping up their claims that state and local regulators are failing to abide by the Civil Rights Act (CRA) in their permitting decisions, filing petitions with EPA and other agencies at a more rapid pace than in the past in response to efforts by President Joe Biden to prioritize environmental and racial justice concerns. Over the past few days, for example, groups in Texas and New York have filed separate petitions under Title VI of...

As EPA issues hurricane fuel waiver, RFA pushes more ethanol

EPA has issued waivers from federal fuel volatility limits for Louisiana and Mississippi to alleviate fuel supply concerns in the wake of Hurricane Ida, as the storm spurs advocacy from the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) which is pushing for regulatory waivers to allow increased ethanol sales to help meet any shortfall in fuel. EPA announced Aug. 31 an emergency waiver of the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) requirements in Louisiana and Mississippi to help improve the fuel supply beginning August 30...

Texas sues EPA over SO2 nonattainment designations

Texas is suing EPA over its refusal to lift its Clean Air Act “nonattainment” designations for several counties that have failed to meet federal sulfur dioxide (SO2) standards, after the Trump EPA initially proposed to use an “error correction” procedure to lift the findings in the light of power plant closures that reduce SO2 emissions. In a lawsuit filed Aug. 25 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, Texas sued EPA to overturn its June 29 denial...

EPA’s Regan Pledges ‘Aggressive Approach’ For Power Sector GHG Rules

EPA Administrator Michael Regan says his agency is taking a “fresh look” at options for regulating greenhouse gases from both new and existing power plants, arguing that a forthcoming proposal would include lessons learned from defunct rules issued by the past two administrations while aiming for a “very aggressive approach.” Regan offered new details on the highly anticipated power sector rules during Aug. 30 remarks as part of a wide-ranging event hosted by think tank Resources for the Future (RFF),...

Petition Ups Pressure On EPA To Widen Scope Of Title V Air Permit Review

Pressure is mounting on EPA to widen its review of Clean Air Act Title V state operating permits to include underlying air permits and states’ choice of permits required, as environmentalists again press the agency to revoke a Trump-era doctrine that EPA will not “second-guess” states’ air permitting decisions. Indiana citizens filed an Aug. 6 petition seeking to reverse the Trump-era policy, asking EPA to object to the Title V and NSR permits for a proposed plant using kilns to...

States Urge EPA To Speed NOx Rules For Large Vessels As Truck Push Fails

State officials are urging EPA to speed plans for new regulations to cut releases of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from ocean-going vessels, locomotives and aircraft, even as the agency rejects their call to accelerate new rules to slash emissions of the ozone-forming pollutant from heavy-duty (HD) trucks. In addition to the truck sector, “There are also several other important ‘federal source’ categories within the heavy-duty mobile source sector for which EPA needs to develop pathways to reduce emissions, namely ships,...

Biofuels Groups Eye Long-Term Vehicle GHG Rule As Venue For Sector

Biofuels groups are largely shifting their advocacy focus to future EPA rules, including its longer-term vehicle greenhouse gas standards, as they push ethanol and other biofuels as a low-carbon strategy, after the agency’s near-term auto GHG plan omitted discussion of biofuels as a potential compliance tool. The strategy surfaced in testimony from multiple biofuel backers at an Aug. 25-26 public hearing on EPA’s proposal for vehicle GHG limits from model year 2023-2026, a policy that focuses largely on other strategies...

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