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.

Climate Law Seen Easing Path To Tougher EPA Truck Rules Based On EVs

Multiple observers argue the recently enacted climate law will ease the path for stricter EPA rules that assume much higher levels of heavy truck electrification, though several sources suggest the main venue for this dynamic could be a “Phase 3” greenhouse gas rule expected next spring rather than EPA’s pending truck emissions proposal. The budget reconciliation law, known as the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), is already prompting renewed calls including from a former top EPA official for the agency to...

Senators Eye Possible Narrowed Race Car Air Act Exemption In Bid For Deal

Members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) are pushing for a bipartisan compromise that could boost support for a bill to exempt racecar drivers and their equipment suppliers from Clean Air Act enforcement against “defeat devices” that remove air emissions controls, but key concerns remain among Democrats. At a Sept. 7 hearing of the panel, Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ), a co-sponsor of legislation introduced by Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), pressed for a solution that would persuade more...

Democrats Call To Expand Justice40 Initiative As IRA Funding Begins

As the Biden administration prepares to spend billions of dollars in climate and other spending from the just-enacted Inflation Reduction Act, scores of congressional Democrats are urging top officials to broaden their commitment to environmental justice (EJ) by strengthening its Justice 40 initiative. In an Sept. 6 letter , 60 House and Senate Democrats urge officials to take a series of steps to strengthen the program, including by measuring progress through direct investments rather than “benefits,” creating a White House...


EPA, L.A. Officials In Talks To Avoid FIP In Ozone Nonattainment Region

EPA and Los Angeles regional air regulators are holding behind-the-scenes talks to resolve differences about how the southern California area can advance an acceptable plan to meet national air quality standards for ozone and avoid EPA having to impose a federal implementation plan (FIP) with prescriptive pollution-reduction measures. The talks come several months after the South Coast air district, which covers the greater Los Angeles region, threatened to sue EPA for not approving its state implementation plan (SIP) for attaining...

EPA Defends Expanded Ozone ‘Nonattainment’ Zones In Key Legal Tests

EPA is defending its decision to expand areas around El Paso and Denver deemed in “nonattainment” with federal ozone standards from legal attacks by Texas and Weld County, CO, rejecting Texas’ claims that the agency action is unlawfully “retroactive,” and criticisms of its technical methodology by Weld County officials. The suit, Board of County Commissioners of Weld County, CO, et al ., now before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, tests key agency powers and...

EPA Advances Proposal To Redo CAA Section 111(d) State Plan Process

EPA is advancing a new rulemaking to govern how long states have to submit compliance plans for Clean Air Act section 111(d) standards and how long the agency has to review them, with the White House recently launching inter-agency review of the draft proposal. The Biden administration’s description of the rule -- which arrived at the Office of Management & Budget (OMB) for review on Sept. 2 -- says it will respond to an appellate court’s vacatur of Trump-era deadlines...

EPA Denial Of Texas Offshore Oil Terminal Air Permits Sets Tough Precedent

EPA’s recent denial of air permits for a Texas offshore oil transfer terminal sets a tough precedent for other potential offshore permitting decisions, after the agency found the Trump administration wrongly cited regulatory ambiguity to exempt the project from air toxics rules that in fact clearly apply to marine tank loading facilities. In a Sept. 1 letter to the offshore facility developer Bluewater Texas Terminals, LLC (BWTX), David Garcia, director of the Air and Radiation Division in EPA Region 6,...

Environmentalists deride ‘sustainable’ jet fuel

The environmental group Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) in a new report is attacking the Biden administration’s plan to slash greenhouse gases from aviation by using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), saying the raw materials for the fuel are in most cases unsustainable, and not available in sufficient quantity anyway. The administration's strategy relies on SAF, a biofuel made from various feedstocks, to provide liquid fuel for aircraft. Aviation remains one of the most difficult sectors to decarbonize, given the need...

Importers, Manufacturers Tussle Over EPA’s Baseline For HFC Phasedown

Companies that import hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are renewing their calls for EPA to alter its approach to the key issue of the baseline in the agency’s process for allocating credits to various companies under its program to sharply phase down production and imports of the climate-warming chemicals often used in refrigeration. The baseline is a calculation of how much HFCs a company produced or used in a range of years, which drives the amount of credits it will receive under the...

Senate EPW To Weigh Bill To Protect Auto Racers From EPA Enforcement

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) is slated to hold a hearing to consider a bipartisan bill to shield the auto racing sector from EPA enforcement action against makers and users of “defeat devices” that remove air emissions controls, along with bills barring greenhouse gas permits in farming and mitigating wildfire smoke impacts. At the Sept. 7 hearing, senators will discuss S. 2736, the latest iteration of draft legislation sponsored by Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) aimed at prohibiting...

8th Circuit Rulings Maintain Trump-Era ‘Common Control’ Air Permit Policy

Two recent rulings from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit leave in place Trump-era determinations from state and federal air regulators allowing a coal-fired power plant, mine and associated facilities to avoid “aggregation” as a single pollution source under the doctrine of “common control,” preserving the policy status quo for now. In a 2-1 ruling issued Aug. 31, the court rejects the case of ranchers Casey and Julie Voigt, who contested the Clean Air Act Title...

Biden Nominates NYU’s Revesz To Serve As OIRA Administrator

President Joe Biden is nominating Richard Revesz of New York University (NYU) law school to serve as the administrator of the White House Office of Information & Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), a key office that conducts interagency reviews of EPA and other federal rulemakings before they are released. Revesz, who founded NYU’s Institute for Policy Integrity (IPI), has long been considered a top nominee but could not be reached for comment. The White House in a Sept. 2 announcement of Biden’s...

EPA wins limited abeyance for EtO chemical suit

A federal appeals court has granted a limited further abeyance in litigation challenging EPA’s Trump-era chemical industry air rule that for the first time employed the agency’s tough 2016 risk value for the solvent ethylene oxide (EtO), refusing EPA’s request for an open-ended abeyance amid criticism from industry and environmentalists. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Sept. 1 extended abeyance in Huntsman Petrochemical LLC v. EPA through Dec. 15, when further motions to govern...

EPA Extends Small Refiners’ RFS Deadlines, Amid Criticism From All Sides

EPA has again extended deadlines for small refineries to comply with renewable fuel standard (RFS) biofuel blending mandates, but refiners are greeting the extension with skepticism, saying it fails to address their problems, while biofuels groups say the additional extension is unwarranted and undermines the RFS program. In a final rule scheduled for publication in the Federal Register Sept. 2, EPA gives small refineries -- those processing up to 75,000 barrels of crude oil daily -- an alternative schedule...

Study Sharply Boosts Carbon ‘Cost’ Estimates, Likely Aiding Biden Update

A major new study led by a consortium of economists and other academics is concluding that the per-ton damages from carbon dioxide emissions are more than triple those under current government estimates, findings that could aid the Biden administration’s ongoing update to the values that are a key input to climate-related policies. The Sept. 1 study in the journal Nature , led by Resources for the Future (RFF) and the University of California-Berkeley, says the significantly higher climate damages estimates...

CEQ Issues Guide For Agencies To Meet Sweeping Biden GHG Targets

The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) is releasing instructions for how EPA and other federal agencies should implement a sweeping executive order (EO) from President Joe Biden that targets a major shift in spending to make the federal government carbon-free. CEQ calls its 73-page plan , quietly released Aug. 31, “a major step forward in achieving the goals” of Biden’s order, which seeks to “lead the world by example again -- transforming how it builds, buys and manages...

EPA Plan Imposes Tougher Ozone Controls On Pennsylvania Power Plants

Responding to a remand from a federal appeals court, EPA has imposed tougher controls on ozone-forming air pollution from Pennsylvania power plants, in an action that could set a precedent in other states on how the agency sets emissions limits in areas violating ozone standards. EPA’s Aug. 31 rule overrides a series of objections by the state and power generators, as the Keystone State continues to advocate its own, possibly weaker emissions mandates. While the agency’s action applies just to...

5th Circuit Backs Citizens’ Standing In Exxon Suit, But More Appeals Loom

A divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit has affirmed environmentalists’ standing to sue oil giant ExxonMobil Corp. for thousands of Clean Air Act violations and upheld a record penalty, but the dissent points to en banc review or even its elevation to the Supreme Court, with the outcome in doubt for the plaintiffs. In its 2-1 Aug. 30 opinion and ruling in Environment Texas Citizen Lobby (ETCL), et al. v. ExxonMobil Corp., et...

EPA Agrees To States’ Request To Drop PM2.5 Monitoring Funding Match

Correction Appended EPA has agreed to states’ requests that it drop a plan to require them to provide matching funds for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) monitors, newly final National Program Guidance (NPG) for the agency’s Office of Air & Radiation (OAR) shows, making it easier for states to boost such monitoring, especially in environmental justice (EJ) communities. EPA this week released the final OAR NPG along with NPGs for seven other programs, including a first-time NPG for EJ and...

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