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 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 percent...

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...

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...

SEC Ruling Sought On Challenge To GE 'Climate Change Policy'

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been asked to rule on whether General Electric (GE) must justify its highly publicized "Ecomagination" campaign to its shareholders. The request for an SEC decision comes from a free-market investment group that owns stock in the energy company giant, arguing that the campaign is merely an attempt to appease environmental activists and makes little business sense. But GE disputes the need for SEC involvement, saying that its efforts to promote energy efficient products...

EPA Air Study May Prompt Focus On Greater 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, because the data show the most significant cancer risk coming from benzene emissions that largely arise from vehicles, sources say. EPA is slated to announce the results of its latest National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA) based on 1999 data Jan. 11, according to an agency source. The NATA tracks emissions and estimated exposures from outdoor...

DEMOCRATS ARGUE SUPERFUND LAW ESSENTIAL TO REGULATING CAFOS

Key House Democrats are fighting a legislative push to exempt agricultural air emissions from Superfund law by arguing that the cleanup statute provides certain protections that are not available under air and water laws. But the legislative fight over the issue is likely to be deferred until 2006, after failed attempts to attach the legislative exemption as a rider to appropriations legislation, congressional sources say. Congress is considering whether to exempt manure from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) from cleanup...

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 Inside Washington Publishers. The documents pertain to states in EPA regions VI, VIII, IX and X, or what the agency terms the "U.S. EPA Great American West Eco-Region" and describe "conceptual work...

EPA REJECTION OF IGCC IN AIR PERMITS PAVES WAY FOR COAL PLANT BATTLES

EPA has set the stage for a new round of clean air confrontations with environmental groups by issuing a finding that permit writers do not have to consider requiring the use of coal gasification as a best available control technology (BACT) in new coal-fired power plants' Clean Air Act permits. EPA's announcement came one day before a hearing in front of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) -- a state with numerous pending proposals for coal-fired facilities -- where...

STATE SITING BIDS, DOE PACT PRESSURE CONGRESS FOR CLEAN COAL FUNDS

Congress will face increasing pressure to fully fund the Bush administration's $1 billion FutureGen zero-emissions power plant project, after the Department of Energy (DOE) announced last week that it had reached a deal with an industry consortium to build the plant and a host of states are competing for the plant within their borders, observers say. When President Bush first announced in 2003 the plan to build a power plant that would capture and sequester carbon dioxide (CO2), he promoted...

EPA AIR STUDY MAY PROMPT FOCUS ON GREATER 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, because the data show the most significant cancer risk coming from benzene emissions that largely arise from vehicles, sources say. EPA is slated to announce the results of its latest National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA) based on 1999 data Jan. 11, according to an agency source. The NATA tracks emissions and estimated exposures from outdoor...

EPA EYES COST-EFFECTIVENESS APPROACH TO ASSESS NEW PM CONTROLS

EPA senior staff are developing advice to states on how to consider the most cost-effective pollution control options when implementing the agency's proposed new particulate matter (PM) air quality standards, according to EPA sources and an internal agency proposal obtained by Clean Air Report . Text of the proposal is reprinted on page 4. Other relevant documents are available at InsideEPA.com. The advice, which will be included in an upcoming package intended to implement the new PM standard, appears aimed...

TEXT: AIR OFFICE PROPOSAL TO ASSESS COSTS, BENEFITS OF PM CONTROLS

Since we seem to be stuck on how to address potential costs in the RIA -- let me try out an approach -- based on using benefit/cost data -- that could also help guide us when it comes time for implementation. In 1997 we used $10,000/ton for unknown costs because we believed measures were available for much less than that. OMB disagreed, but said if we were going to use that number we should be willing to incorporate it into...

PROPOSED PM STANDARDS IGNITE DEBATE ON STRINGENCY, MONITORING

Proposed new standards for particulate matter (PM) EPA unveiled Dec. 21 are already touching off a debate over the adequacy of the limits and how to measure compliance with them, after EPA called for tightening the current daily fine particulate matter (PM2.5) standard but declined to endorse more stringent controls agency staff recommended. Relevant documents are available on InsideEPA.com. Environmentalists and some state officials are criticizing the agency's proposal, claiming it ignores EPA staff recommendations that the agency either issue...

STATES, ACTIVISTS RAISE CONCERNS OVER EPA DECISION TO DELIST AIR TOXIC

Activists and some state officials are challenging EPA's scientific rationale for a rare delisting of the solvent methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) from the Clean Air Act list of air toxics, warning there is too much uncertainty about MEK's health effects to warrant the delisting. EPA's action marks only the fourth time the agency has removed an air toxic from the list. Activists and states say it is too early to predict whether they will sue EPA over the rule, but...

STATE LAWMAKERS MAY FORCE MASSACHUSETTS TO REJOIN CLIMATE PACT

Massachusetts state lawmakers may pursue legislation next month forcing the state to join a regional greenhouse gas initiative, in order to overturn the decision by Gov. Mitt Romney (R) not to take part in the plan because of its cost, state officials say. Democrats who back the plan believe they likely have the votes to override a gubernatorial veto. Seven Northeast states unveiled Dec. 20 a memorandum of understanding (MOU) establishing the regional greenhouse gas initiative (RGGI), which sets up...

EPA SOFTENS STACK TESTING GUIDE FOLLOWING INDUSTRY, STATE CONCERNS

EPA has softened language in a final guidance governing how states conduct stack tests of air emissions at industrial sources from an earlier draft version, following a threatened lawsuit by two industry groups and pressure from state and local officials seeking more enforcement discretion. However, environmentalists say the final guidance may not be enough to ensure compliance with clean air permit requirements, and they may raise the issue in future court challenges of individual permits. In making the changes, EPA...

ACTIVIST SUIT SEEKS END TO EPA EXEMPTION FOR REFINERY UPSET EMISSIONS

Environmentalists are suing EPA to try to force the agency to revise its air toxic emissions standards for refineries, and end a long-standing exemption allowing refiners to burn off "upset" emissions like those that build up during refinery malfunctions, without incurring penalties for violations of air permits. However, industry officials say the exemption is necessary in order for refiners to function safely, because upset emissions can be unpredictable and uncontrollable. The industry will oppose any attempt to revise the standards...

CRITICS WARN EPA DIESEL ENGINE PLAN COULD SET BACK RETROFIT EFFORTS

State and industry officials are charging that a new EPA draft guidance intended to help state regulators credit diesel engine retrofit projects in their clean air plans could hurt the growing practice of constructing cleaner-burning diesel engines to combat local air pollution problems. The groups are especially concerned that the draft could delay distribution of key federal transportation funds that lawmakers recently allowed to be spent on diesel engine retrofits. The draft guidance, which EPA is seeking to finalize in...

NORTHEAST, MIDWEST AIR PLANS FACE HURDLES ON COST, IMPLEMENTATION

Plans to develop emissions control strategies for a "super-region" of 17 Midwest and Northeast states face a number of hurdles, including likely opposition from a range of industries that may have to install expensive emissions controls, according to state officials and other sources. Representatives from nine of the 17 states will meet in late January to discuss potential emissions reductions from power plants beyond requirements in EPA's recent mercury rule and clean air interstate rule (CAIR), in order to meet...

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 Inside Washington Publishers. 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"...

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