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.

EPA TAKES CAUTIOUS APPROACH TO SAB PUSH FOR ECOLOGICAL BENEFITS

Top EPA officials are taking a cautious approach to an effort by the agency's Science Advisory Board (SAB) to bolster the practice of estimating ecological benefits, in addition to human health benefits, as a way to strengthen EPA regulations, standards and policies. EPA officials say 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...

Key Study Could Hamper EPA Benefit Tallies, Reignite 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 seniors 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 compromised...

EPA, NAS NEAR DEAL ON REVIEW PANEL FOR AGENCY'S CHEMICAL RISK STUDIES

EPA and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) are close to finalizing a deal creating a new NAS standing committee to evaluate agency risk standards for toxics before EPA officials finalize their conclusions and submit them for interagency and White House review. Agency officials have said they hope the early input from NAS will temper concerns from industry officials and federal agencies, including the departments of Defense (DOD) and Energy (DOE), over risk assessments they fear could prompt stricter air...

EPA REGIONS PLAN STRATEGIES FOR WESTERN APPROACH TO ENVIRONMENT

EPA regions that include about 20 Western states are developing draft strategy documents for EPA Deputy Administrator Marcus Peacock laying out priorities to be tracked by each region to foster greater cooperation on energy, mining, agriculture, diesel emissions, tribal programs and border issues, according to documents obtained by Water Policy Report. The documents pertain to states in EPA regions VI, VIII, IX and X, or what the agency terms the "USEPA Great American West Eco-Region," and describe "conceptual work plans"...

KEY STUDY COULD HAMPER EPA BENEFIT TALLIES, REIGNITE FUROR OVER SENIORS

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 seniors 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 compromised...

EPA FACES FUNDING PRESSURES FOR COMPETING PROGRAMS IN FY07 REQUEST

As the Bush administration develops its fiscal year 2007 budget request, EPA is under competing pressures from Republicans, Democrats, environmentalists, industry groups and state officials to propose adequate funding for new and long-standing agency programs from a shrinking pot of discretionary dollars. But the administration's request is likely to disappoint some, if not all, of these groups, since observers expect significant cuts to the agency's budget as the White House seeks to control the skyrocketing federal deficit. EPA officials would...

OMB Poised To Issue Broad New EPA Risk Guide Based On Prior NAS Reports

The White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) is poised to release Jan. 9 sweeping new risk assessment guidance 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, according to sources familiar with the document. The White House effort is being spearheaded by departing OMB regulatory chief John Graham to prod agencies like EPA to adopt further...

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 Inside EPA . In addition, the group is calling for additional cleanup and sampling of contaminated sediment by EPA and other federal agencies, while questioning EPA conclusions that the soil contaminants probably...

New Schwarzenegger Agenda Includes Environmental Fees

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) recently unveiled agenda includes two new environmental fees to help pay for water and air quality protections, as well as an expansion of public-private partnerships, as ways to bring in much needed funding for key government programs. The governor's plan to use general obligation bonds and a variety of other revenue-generating strategies to pay for massive infrastructure improvements and the state's other essential programs is expected to be closely reviewed by other states facing heavy...

EPA Renewables Rule Leaves Key Questions On Fuel Mandate Unresolved

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...

EPA AIR TOXICS STUDY MAY PROMPT FOCUS ON NEW MOBILE SOURCE CONTROLS

EPA's imminent release of a comprehensive air toxics assessment could lead to pressure from states and activists for additional regulation of the mobile source sector, since the data show the most significant cancer risks come from benzene emissions mostly caused by vehicles, sources say. EPA is slated to announce Jan. 11 the results of its latest National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA) based on 1999 data, according to an agency source. The NATA tracks emissions and estimated exposures from outdoor sources...

ACRIMONY BETWEEN SOUTH COAST, ARB REFLECTS DUELING DIESEL POLICIES

An increasingly acrimonious relationship between the state air board and the South Coast air district over regulation of diesel engines reflects conflicting policies, but many stakeholders say the clashes may not be a bad thing for the state in general. The policy disputes are exploring the legal bounds of local, state and federal authority over diesel emission sources and are pushing the envelope on pollution reductions from locomotives, ships and trucks. But some of these more aggressive policies have also...

PANEL RECOMMENDS NOVEL DAIRY EMISSION CONTROL TECHNOLOGY

A diverse panel of experts is finalizing a report aimed at creating new best available control technology (BACT) guidelines for Central Valley dairies to reduce pollution from their facilities. The report is significant because it is the first attempt by the San Joaquin Valley air district to establish potential BACT, which is integral to hundreds of dairies complying with stringent new district emission rules. Valley dairies are under pressure from environmentalists and the air district to meet stringent emission reduction...

BATTLE BREWS OVER NEXT ARB CONSUMER PRODUCT CRACKDOWN

Another battle is brewing over the air board's controversial consumer products regulation, which is poised to include more products for volatile organic compound (VOC) emission reductions. A new survey of a plethora of consumer products and their emissions will serve as the basis for the amended rules, and is seen as the initial battleground over the regulation. The Air Resources Board considers the consumer products regulation, which is the most stringent in the country, a vital piece of its overall...

SMALL OIL MARKETERS PUSH ARB TO RESCIND GAS PUMP VAPOR RULE

Representatives of smaller gasoline stations are hopeful that an upcoming air board cost-effectiveness review of new gasoline vapor-reduction monitoring equipment will lead the board to eliminate a statewide requirement mandating the expensive technology. The dispute over the equipment marks another potential snag in the board's extensive regulation to reduce emissions from gas pump equipment, which is considered a major element of the state's plan to meet national ambient air quality standards. While most gas stations will be required to phase...

BOXER WIN ON SUPERFUND DATA MAY REVIVE PUSH FOR RENEWED INDUSTRY TAX

Sen. Barbara Boxer's recent success obtaining long-sought U.S. EPA data on the Superfund program -- and an agreement from Republicans to hold a rare oversight hearing on the program -- could provide the lawmaker with a key opportunity to make renewing the expired Superfund taxes an issue for Democrats heading into this year's midterm elections, sources said. The data -- which EPA compiled after Boxer blocked the administration's nominee to head the agency's waste office -- may show the health...

CARBON TRADING GROWTH PREDICTED, DESPITE MODEST MONTREAL OUTCOME

Although recent international negotiations in Montreal over the future of greenhouse gas reductions produced only a modest agreement on how to proceed with climate change actions, markets for trading carbon reduction credits are growing and will continue to strengthen in the coming years, according to a number of experts, who cite continuing momentum among states as a sign that emissions trading can be attractive to both regulators and businesses. Expectations for bigger carbon markets were given a boost by the...

STUDIES SHOW COST-EFFECTIVENESS PLAN COULD LIMIT STRICT EPA RULES

As scientists prepare to release a report the White House sought to implement a controversial approach for assessing the costs of EPA and other agencies' rules, two new documents suggest that if the agency were to adopt the so-called cost-effectiveness approach, it may not be able to cite a slew of regulatory benefits the agency currently uses to justify stringent regulations. The documents -- an EPA economic research strategy and a case study of EPA's non-road diesel rule developed by...

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...

EPA, MISSISSIPPI EYE POST-KATRINA 'BIO-BASED' ECONOMY TO ADDRESS DEBRIS

As part of the Hurricane Katrina recovery effort, EPA and Mississippi may develop a plan to encourage "bio-based" activities in the state that could include building an industrial facility to burn storm debris and vegetation planted to replace the vast acres of forestland the state lost to the storm. Additionally, the state is discussing constructing biomass pipelines to process and transport the fuel. In Mississippi, debris from fallen trees and other types of biomass -- or burnable, woody material --...

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