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.

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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.

EIA FINDS NEWEST MCCAIN-LIEBERMAN BILL LOWERS COSTS, ADDS FLEXIBILITY

The Energy Information Administration (EIA), a branch of the Department of Energy, last week released a first-time analysis of a scaled-back version of the McCain-Lieberman climate change bill the senators prepared ahead of the failed vote on the measure last year. The report, prepared at the request of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), found the changes to the bill reduce near-term costs and add flexibility. Landrieu sought the revised analysis in May in response to speculation that the bill would soon...

CALIFORNIA GREENHOUSE GAS RULES LIKELY TO FACE LEGAL CHALLENGE

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) released a long-awaited draft plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles that is nearly certain to face a legal challenge from industry. The June 14 plan, which lists options for emission-reduction technologies the board says already exist, includes "low-rolling resistance" tires. The plan is expected to to add about a $1,000 to a vehicle's purchase price and focuses on reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases. The draft strategy does not include...

REFINERS URGE CONGRESS TO LESSEN IMPACT OF EPA'S OZONE RULES

The refining industry has suggested that Congress pass legislation either delaying implementation of EPA's stricter ozone standard or ensuring that regulators can take into account air quality benefits of other upcoming regulations when developing local pollution control plans, according to industry and congressional sources. The industry proposal was developed in preparation for a scheduled House vote on stalled energy proposals, which was originally set for last week but at press time was delayed until June 15 because of memorial services...

INDUSTRY DEALS MAY PRESSURE REGULATORS ON CLEAN-COAL TECHNOLOGY

Environmentalists and industry officials say two recent industry agreements on advanced coal gasification technology may pressure regulators to embrace the technology as an alternative to traditional coal-fired power generation. Environmentalists say the agreements could bolster their pleas that air quality regulators and utility commissions must consider requiring the technology -- integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) technology -- while some industry officials say the agreements could make it easier for banks and utilities to back the emerging technology. At issue is...

NORTHEAST ATTORNEYS GENERAL DEMAND PRESIDENTIAL RESPONSE ON TVA

Seven Northeast attorneys general (AGs) are urging President Bush to immediately order the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to remedy alleged clean air permit violations by installing pollution control equipment, arguing that only the president has the authority to require such actions now that the challenge to the government utility by EPA and the Department of Justice (DOJ) was lost in federal court and rejected for review by the Supreme Court. The demand is an attempt to hold President Bush directly...

ADVOCATES HAIL HEART ASSOCIATION LINK OF POLLUTION TO HEART DISEASE

The first-time acknowledgment by the American Heart Association (AHA) that air pollution is a serious cardiovascular risk is being applauded by environmental advocates who hope the scientific statement is only the beginning of AHA activism on the issue. They say the significance of a group such as AHA weighing in could boost efforts to require stringent reductions in air pollution and lead to even stricter clean air standards. The AHA has never before weighed in on clean air issues, but...

ACTIVIST REPORT OFFERS FIRST-TIME COMPARISON OF MULTI-POLLUTANT BILLS

A high-profile study released by environmentalists earlier this month is the first analysis to compare the health impacts of three major multi-pollutant bills pending in Congress, likely providing ammunition to opponents of the Bush administration's Clear Skies initiative. But electric utilities are blasting the report, saying it offers no proof that the power plants are the cause of the premature deaths. The report also comes just after government analysts released a new study finding that Clear Skies is the only...

DEMOCRATS USE ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES TO REACH RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES

Democratic activists seeking to narrow the Republican advantage among religious voters are promoting environmental issues as a way to reach voters who supported President Bush in the last election. At the same time, a key left-leaning group is launching a multi-year effort to court religious communities on issues that include the environment, noting recent interest from Christian, Jewish and other faith groups in mercury pollution and global warming. "These are not Democratic issues, not Republican issues. There is a majority...

UAW WON'T SUPPORT BUSH, DESPITE KERRY PLAN TO HIKE CAFE STANDARDS

The United Autoworkers Union (UAW) will not support the re-election of President Bush in part because of the loss of autoworker jobs under his administration, a United Autoworkers union lobbyist says. The union instead is supporting presumptive Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, despite the Massachusetts senator's uncertain views on raising mandatory fuel economy standards. UAW has historically opposed any mandatory rise in corporate average fuel economy (CAFE), but does not seem to be concerned that Kerry campaign literature supports almost...

COURT RULING MAY ELEVATE SNOWMOBILE ISSUE FOR NEXT WHITE HOUSE

A recent federal court ruling questioning EPA regulations for snowmobile engines may give environmental groups a new opportunity to push for stronger standards, though some environmentalists say a major change could depend on the presidential election. At the same time, however, the June 1 ruling dealt a major blow to environmentalists' push to require emissions catalyst technology for the engines, rebuffing a claim that EPA improperly failed to require the technology. The ruling also vacated an emissions standard EPA set...

EPA TO UNVEIL SCIENTIFIC REVIEW THAT MAY PROMPT TOUGHER AIR PARTICLE CONTROLS

An EPA scientific panel is expected within the next few days to release the latest version of its scientific document on the health effects of pollution from fine particles (PM2.5), which could lead to recommendations for stricter limits on the air pollutant. An agency source says EPA will soon unveil revised chapters of its "criteria document" for the pollutant, which aims to summarize relevant scientific findings. The agency's Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee's particulate matter review panel will consider the...

EPA TO INCLUDE CLIMATE CHANGE IN NEXT STATE-OF-ENVIRONMENT REPORT

EPA is planning to address global climate change in its next report on the state of the environment, a key agency official says, after removing a section on the topic from the inaugural version of the document. EPA's top science official, Paul Gilman, told reporters June 2 that the agency had omitted climate change from its report last year because it did not have time to review relevant comments from the White House and other parties. But, "This time we'll...

DEMOCRATS CHARGE ADMINISTRATION PLANS $150 MILLION CUT TO EPA'S FY06 BUDGET

House Democrats are citing a recently issued White House guidance to charge that the Bush administration plans to slash EPA's fiscal year 2006 budget $150 million from spending levels the administration requested for the agency in FY05. The charge comes as EPA officials have begun meeting to develop the agency's proposed FY06 budget request. Agencies generally submit their proposed budgets to the White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) shortly after Labor Day. Relevant documents are available on InsideEPA.com...

STUDY ON '03 BLACKOUT MAY PROMPT SCRUTINY OF EPA AIR MODELS

A soon-to-be-published study by the University of Maryland on the short-term air quality benefits resulting from last year's massive blackout along the East Coast may force regulators to reexamine the methods used for predicting emission reductions from environmental regulations. The study found air improvements following the blackout were greater than experts might have expected based upon the current understanding of the relative contribution of power plant emissions to air quality problems. While a source involved with the study says more...

METALS GUIDANCE MAY BOLSTER INDUSTRY PUSH FOR LESS TOXICS REPORTING

EPA officials say an upcoming guidance document on assessing public health risks from metals, including lead, will reiterate preliminary agency findings about scientific data gaps, a conclusion that is likely to bolster long-standing arguments by industry for eased reporting requirements. Sources say EPA's metals guidance will echo several "white papers" commissioned by the agency last year that highlighted problems in current agency methods for measuring "bioaccumulation," or how metals accumulate in the body, in setting appropriate reporting requirements for businesses...

EPA DECISION TO LIMIT TRI DATA REVISIONS SPARKS INDUSTRY CONCERN

EPA's decision to restrict industry's ability to revise data that has been submitted to the agency's Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) has prompted industry claims that EPA will release flawed information that could undermine the reliability and credibility of the program. The agency's decision is laid out in a May 19 letter to industry groups that report to the TRI, in which EPA information chief Kim Nelson describes efforts to streamline the program. Those measures include increased use of Internet reporting...

INDUSTRY ATTACK ON STATE AIR RULE TESTS REACH OF OMB PEER REVIEW GUIDE

Industry has launched a groundbreaking test of whether third parties can successfully request new federal peer reviews under a controversial White House guidance, calling for EPA to initiate review of state ozone pollution control plans that industry believes are based on inaccurate data. In a June 2 letter, the Sherwin-Williams paint company asked EPA and OMB officials to require peer review of a 2001 model rule and related studies developed by the Ozone Transport Commission (OTC) to limit ozone-forming volatile...

BUSH MAKES TWO EPA RECESS APPOINTMENTS IN FACE OF SENATE HOLDS

President Bush installed two EPA political appointees during last month's congressional recess, using a constitutional procedure allowing the White House to bypass a pending Senate hold on two of four EPA nominees whose consideration is being blocked. The appointments effectively deflate Sen. Jim Jeffords' (I-VT) leverage in a battle over EPA documents on several controversial proposals, the release of which he tried to force by putting holds on the nominees. And they are raising concerns among EPA staff that Bush...

Researchers Suggest EPA Reconsider Fine Particulate Matter Exposure Levels

Some scientific researchers are raising the idea that EPA may need to revamp the way it addresses fine particulate matter (PM2.5) because new studies are indicating that serious health effects -- even death -- are apparent at the lowest levels that are measurable. However, the notion is controversial because it would likely boost the importance of cost-benefit analyses when the Clean Air Act bars EPA from considering costs in setting ambient air quality standards. The issue was discussed at an...

SBA Pressures EPA For Industry Exemptions In Ozone-Depleting Chemical Phaseout

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is pressing EPA air chief Jeffrey Holmstead to allow significant exemptions for the foam insulation industry in a 2003 phaseout of a key ozone-depleting chemical, a move aimed at protecting small contractors that SBA says are not ready to start using more environmentally-friendly alternatives. While EPA has already signaled its intent to allow some relief through a needs-based application process, SBA is concerned that EPA's plan will prove insufficient because foam companies and contractors that...

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