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.

Illinois' Stringent Mercury Proposal May Serve As Model For States

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's (D) recent proposal to mandate stringent mercury emission cuts from power plants at levels far beyond those required in an EPA rule could become a model for other states, since Illinois is the first major coal-producing state to propose such a strict regulation, state officials and activists say. These sources believe the proposal could give lawmakers in other states with a strong coal industry presence, such as Pennsylvania, the confidence necessary to propose their own mercury...

STATES RAISE CONCERN OVER POSSIBLE ELIMINATION OF SOME AIR TOXICS RULES

State officials and activists are alarmed by EPA suggestions that it may eliminate emissions controls on air toxics from some industrial sources, based on scientific reviews that conclude these source categories no longer pose any remaining health risks. These sources are worried that residual risk proposals EPA issued late last year for two relatively obscure source categories could set a troubling precedent for dozens of other "residual risk" rules the agency is preparing to propose. These rules are intended to...

ACTIVISTS WEIGH LITIGATION OVER AIR TOXICS RULE FOR INCINERATORS

Environmentalists are weighing litigation over EPA's recent rule to reduce air toxic emissions from a category of waste incinerators because they say the emission controls mandated by the rule are not stringent enough. The activists also believe EPA is providing too many exemptions to the rule for a host of industry sectors. Activists argue the agency's Dec. 16 rule establishing maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards for other solid waste incinerators (OSWI) sets weak controls that do not reflect the...

SWEEPING EPA NAAQS REVIEW MAY ERODE STAFF ROLE IN SETTING STANDARDS

EPA staff and outside observers are concerned that a new Bush administration plan to comprehensively evaluate the process for setting air standards for particulate matter (PM) and other criteria pollutants may undermine the key role that agency staff play in developing the scientific basis for updating standards. The critics say the evaluation may have been prompted by Bush environment officials' perception last fall that their options for setting new PM standards were limited by the advice they received from career...

BUDGET FIGHTS EXPECTED OVER RESEARCH FOR RENEWABLES, HYDROGEN

Industry sources expect the Bush administration to spark major fights over renewable energy funding when it releases the fiscal year 2007 budget in the next few weeks, with the administration likely to propose sharp cuts to funds for research on some renewable energy sources. At the same time, other industry groups and members of Congress are pressing the administration to increase funding for hydrogen and fuel cell initiatives that President Bush has touted in the past -- possibly setting up...

EPA RENEWABLES RULE FAILS TO RESOLVE KEY QUESTIONS ON FUEL MANDATE

EPA has set the stage for future battles over implementing a renewable fuels standard from the 2005 energy law, by issuing an interim regulation that does not require individual refiners to use a minimum amount of ethanol in 2006, and omitting from the rule key details affecting the program's future implementation through 2012. The direct final regulation, which EPA released Dec. 28, codifies a requirement in the energy law for the oil industry to ensure that at least 2.78 percent...

ILLINOIS' STRINGENT MERCURY PROPOSAL MAY SERVE AS MODEL FOR STATES

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's (D) recent proposal to mandate stringent mercury emission cuts from power plants at levels far beyond those required in an EPA rule could become a model for other states, since Illinois is the first major coal-producing state to propose such a strict regulation, state officials and activists say. These sources believe the proposal could give lawmakers in other states with a strong coal industry presence, such as Pennsylvania, the confidence necessary to propose their own mercury...

STUDY ON FORESTS' RISKS MAY HOBBLE POLICIES ON 'SINKS' FOR CO2 EMISSIONS

A recently published study detailing potential water and soil damage caused by planting trees to capture and store carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions -- which are known as carbon "sinks" -- could complicate EPA and other groups' policies to encourage the practice as a way to slow global warming, according to one of the study's authors. Tree planting to create carbon "sinks" is considered a viable way to reduce the effects of global warming, since trees naturally absorb CO2. For example,...

HUMAN RIGHTS FINDING ON CLIMATE CHANGE COULD SPUR ACTIVIST LAWSUITS

A recent human rights petition accusing the United States of inaction on global warming could encourage future lawsuits from environmentalists against government agencies or corporations by establishing for the first time an obligation under international law for the United States to address climate change, activists tracking the petition say. A member of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, which represents indigenous peoples in the Arctic regions of the United States and Canada, filed the petition in December with the Inter American Commission...

REPORT TO NEW ORLEANS MAYOR CALLS FOR EPA ACTION ON MOLD, SEDIMENT

An advisory panel to the city of New Orleans on EPA and the federal government's hurricane response is expected to call for greater attention to mold contamination, even though the agency lacks the authority to regulate indoor air pollutants such as mold, according to preliminary recommendations obtained by Clean Air Report. The panel is also calling for additional cleanup and sampling of contaminated sediment by EPA and other federal agencies, while questioning EPA conclusions that the soil contaminants probably do...

SEC RULING ON GE PLAN MAY SHAPE FIGHT OVER CORPORATE GREEN STRATEGIES

The Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) may influence the extent to which companies must disclose the nature of their sustainability efforts when it rules on a resolution demanding that General Electric (GE) justify its highly publicized "ecomagination" campaign to its shareholders. But GE disputes the need for SEC involvement, saying its efforts to promote energy efficient products do not constitute a climate change "policy," as the investment group contends, but is merely a "strategy" that can be excluded from the...

STUDY COULD HARM EPA BENEFIT TALLIES, SPUR FUROR OVER SENIOR CITIZENS

A National Academies panel is preparing to unveil a study long-sought by departing White House regulatory chief John Graham that could help the Office of Management & Budget (OMB) implement a controversial approach for assessing the effectiveness of health regulations. However, the study could reignite criticisms from EPA staff, environmentalists and senior citizens' groups who say the cost-effectiveness approach ignores ecological and other non-monetary benefits that EPA often uses to justify strict standards and devalues the lives of those with...

OMB ISSUES BROAD NEW FEDERAL RISK GUIDE BASED ON PRIOR NAS REPORTS

The White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) released Jan. 9 sweeping new draft risk assessment guidance for federal agencies highlighting where EPA has fallen short of key recommendations made by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and other bodies since the federal government began employing risk approaches in the 1970s. The White House effort is being spearheaded by departing OMB regulatory chief John Graham to prod agencies like EPA to adopt further reforms in detailing the uncertainty surrounding...

EPA TAKES CAUTIOUS APPROACH TO SAB PUSH FOR ECOLOGICAL BENEFITS

Top EPA officials are questioning whether the agency can significantly boost its use of ecological benefits estimates despite an effort by the Science Advisory Board (SAB) urging the agency to bolster the practice when justifying regulations, standards and policies. EPA officials say that while they welcome the use of ecological benefits in developing policy, particularly for regional approaches, they are concerned that resource constraints, White House oversight and judicial review could dampen future efforts. Valuing ecological benefits could strengthen regulations...

LEAD PAINT RULE WITH LIMITED SCOPE DRAWS INDUSTRY, ACTIVIST FIRE

EPA's recently proposed lead paint-renovation rule, which partially restricts its application to housing with children under six, is drawing fire from both home builders for being overly burdensome and safe housing advocates for being insufficiently protective. Although some sources said before the rule was released that its limited scope was intended to ease burdens on small businesses, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) claims in a Dec. 29 statement that the rule "will add delays to renovation projects and...

EPA PROPOSES ACCELERATING STATE EMISSIONS REPORTING REQUIREMENTS

EPA is proposing to accelerate the reporting of emissions data to EPA by state and local agencies, a move that state air officials generally welcome as a tightening of reporting deadlines that will help EPA establish more up-to-date information on emissions nationwide. EPA on Dec. 22 proposed a rule that would from 2008 onward require faster reporting to the agency of emissions inventories by states. An emission inventory is a state's collection of emission data from all sources, including mobile...

New Nanotech Law Should Focus On Limiting Risks, Key Report Urges

A just-released report on addressing risks posed by nanomaterials is recommending that any new law regulating the technology focus on preventing risks posed by the emerging products, as opposed to the remediation of pollution and exposure, which most current environmental laws target. The law would focus on the products, not the environment, because once the "materials gets into the environment, it is probably too late to take remedial measures," the report says. The suggestions come as observers expect Congress will...

Activists Weigh Litigation Over Air Toxics Rule For Incinerators

Environmentalists are weighing litigation over EPA's recent rule to reduce air toxic emissions from a category of waste incinerators because they say the emission controls mandated by the rule are not stringent enough. The activists also believe EPA is providing too many exemptions to the rule for a host of industry sectors. Activists argue the agency's Dec. 16 rule establishing maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards for other solid waste incinerators (OSWI) sets weak controls that do not reflect the...

SWEEPING EPA NAAQS REVIEW MAY ERODE STAFF ROLE IN SETTING STANDARDS

EPA staff and outside observers are concerned that a new Bush administration plan to comprehensively evaluate the process for setting air standards for particulate matter (PM) and other criteria pollutants may undermine the key role that agency staff play in developing the scientific basis for updating standards. The critics say the evaluation may have been prompted by Bush environment officials' perception last fall that their options for setting new PM standards were limited by the advice they received from career...

NANOTECHNOLOGY EXPERTS SEE INDUSTRY BENEFIT FROM CAL/EPA ROLE

California nanotechnology industry experts are recommending greater interaction and cooperation with the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) to advance cutting-edge technology, including pilot projects to demonstrate the commercial application of nanotech products. An expert panel is recommending highly visible interaction with environmental regulators partly as a way to avert potential negative public reaction and avoid some of the pitfalls suffered by the manufacturers of genetically modified foods. What remains unclear is Cal/EPA's potential future regulatory role over nanotechnology, which to...

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