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.

New Ethanol Study Seen Bolstering California Push For Fuel Waivers

A new study that found high emission increases from California vehicles running on ethanol-treated reformulated gasoline (RFG) may intensify the state's push for a wavier to the federal RFG oxygen mandate, sources tracking the issue say. California officials have argued for several years that refiners should be given maximum flexibility to meet the state's strict RFG pollutant emission limits, including the ability to produce non-oxygenated fuel if they desire. The state is awaiting a decision by EPA on whether it...

Administration's Analysis On Controlling Drift Could Weaken Various Air Rules

The Bush administration's decision to include a controversial analysis that finds reduced benefits for controlling particulate matter (PM) under the agency's upcoming rule to limit drift could weaken requirements for reducing the pollutant through other air regulations. EPA sources say the analysis could undermine future agency arguments about the cost-effectiveness of limiting particulates through technology-based standards on power plants, exhaust controls for vehicles, and other measures. The analysis lowers EPA's current estimate for reducing PM emissions in its Clean Air...

HIGH EMISSIONS FROM ETHANOL CONFIRMED; WAIVER CASE SEEN BOLSTERED

A new study that confirms considerable evaporative hydrocarbon emission increases from California vehicles running on ethanol-containing reformulated gasoline (RFG) may bolster the state's push for a wavier to the federal RFG oxygen mandate, and may confirm the need to amend the state's Phase 3 RFG rules to reduce ethanol use overall, sources said. The study, sponsored by the Air Resources Board and Georgia-based Coordinating Research Council, finds that a 5.7%-by-volume ethanol blend, which is the standard in California, increases permeation...

BUILDERS, ACTIVISTS BATTLE OVER ARB LAND-USE DECISION GUIDANCE

A key part of the air board's controversial draft guidance for local land-use decisions is the focus of an upcoming meeting expected to pit builders and other affected industries against environmental justice (EJ) and "smart growth" advocates. Board staff has been criticized by environmental justice activists of ignoring their recommendations to revise the draft guidance to make it more protective of communities near industrial areas. But builders fear the document could restrict much needed affordable and smart growth housing, as...

ARB REACHES OUT TO IMPROVE AGRIBUSINESS RELATIONS OVER NEW RULES

Air board officials are striving to improve relations with the agriculture industry, which has complained it is being blindsided by a flurry of first-time state and local control measures with little communication from regulators. State staffers are being directed to maintain regular contact with industry representatives, informing them of any new regulatory activities at the local air district or state agency levels. While the agriculture industry heavily supported Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in last year's recall election, several industry sources said...

POWER COMPANIES FUME OVER POSSIBLE FURTHER RECLAIM RE-ENTRY DELAY

Representatives of power companies operating in the Los Angeles area are irked over a proposal by South Coast air district staff to delay the companies' re-entry into the district's nitrogen oxide (NOx) credit trading program, RECLAIM, to ensure more pollution reductions. The proposal, floated in a recent staff white paper to be discussed at a public hearing next month, is seen by power producers as unfairly limiting their ability to sell legitimate credits to non-power facilities in the program. South...

DECISION TO LOWER PM BENEFITS IN CAIR RULE MAY AFFECT FUTURE AIR RULES

The Bush administration's decision to include a controversial analysis reducing the estimated benefits for controlling particulate matter (PM) in the agency's transport rule could prompt weaker requirements in future air regulations to limit PM -- including technology standards, mobile sources controls and other measures -- because they weaken agency arguments about the cost-effectiveness of these measures, EPA sources say. The analysis lowers EPA's current estimate for reducing PM emissions in the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) by as much as...

DEMOCRATS EYE BUDGET 'RIDER' TO REQUIRE EPA STUDY OF MERCURY RULE

Congressional Democrats may try to attach a legislative rider to EPA's upcoming budget bill that would force the agency to conduct studies on its controversial mercury emissions plan that top officials have so far declined to conduct. One House Democratic source says the rider would not ban EPA from finalizing its mercury trading proposal -- a plan critics say would delay adequate reductions for too long -- but would instead earmark funding the agency would be required to use to...

INDUSTRY EYES POSSIBLE FIXES TO IMPLEMENTATION OF EPA OZONE RULE

Industry officials are preparing to ask EPA to make a series of fixes that would likely ease requirements for complying with the agency's strict new ozone standard, according to an internal industry email. A number of industry groups, including the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), are considering filing an administrative petition with EPA that will ask the agency to change its rule implementing the agency's 8-hour ozone standard, according to an NAM email sent to its members and later distributed...

EPA Likely To Seek Full Appellate Review Of Rare 'Vacatur' Of Air Rule

EPA is planning to appeal a precedent-setting federal appellate decision vacating a clean air rule because agency officials fear it could set a dangerous precedent for immediately vacating defective air quality standards rather than remanding them to the agency for reconsideration, sources tracking the issue say. EPA is particularly worried that if the ruling is allowed to stand, future courts can rely on the precedent to vacate rules that could be easily remedied, leaving the agency without any standard and...

Industry Eyes Possible Fixes To EPA Implementation Of New Ozone Standards

Industry officials are preparing to ask EPA to make a series of fixes that would likely ease requirements for complying with the agency's strict new ozone standard, according to an internal industry e-mail. A number of industry groups including the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is considering filing an administrative petition with EPA that will ask the agency to make the changes to its rule implementing the agency's 8-hour ozone standard, according to a NAM e-mail sent to its members...

EPA To Decide On Easing Ozone Requirements For Michigan

EPA is poised to make a decision on a request by state regulators to ease ozone requirements for Detroit, arguing that the proposal would soften economic hardships throughout the southeast region of Michigan. The request has political implications as the state is a battleground in the presidential race, and the state's economic woes are viewed as a political vulnerability for President Bush's re-election bid. But environmentalists warn that approving the request would set a dangerous precedent for EPA's air program...

Democrats Eye Budget 'Rider' For EPA To Conduct Study On Mercury Rule

Congressional Democrats are considering plans to attach a legislative rider to EPA's upcoming budget bill that would force the agency to conduct studies on its controversial mercury emissions plan that top officials have so far declined to conduct. One House Democratic source says the rider would not ban EPA from finalizing its mercury trading proposal -- a plan critics say would delay adequate reductions for too long -- but would instead earmark funding which the agency would be required to...

OIL INDUSTRY SEEKS TO DOWNPLAY RISKS OF VAPOR INTRUSION IN EPA GUIDE

The oil industry is developing recommendations on assessing petroleum-associated air toxics risks in an effort to downplay EPA risk estimates in a forthcoming agency guidance on how to limit indoor air contamination caused by leaking underground storage tanks (USTs). The American Petroleum Institute (API) is finalizing its document and will present it to EPA as the agency develops an appendix to a controversial guidance on addressing so-called vapor intrusion, which refers to indoor air contamination resulting from soil contamination that...

DOD OBJECTS TO STRINGENT COLORADO INDOOR AIR STANDARDS FOR TCE

The Defense Department is calling Colorado's decision to adopt a stringent indoor air policy for trichloroethylene (TCE) premature, pointing to the unresolved controversy over the scientific values on which the state bases its screening and remediation policy. The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) Aug. 20 finalized an interim policy that sets 0.016 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m 3 ) of TCE in air as a screening level -- the first test to determine whether cleanup should be...

Senate Staff Eye Broad Tax Bill As New Vehicle To Renew Wind Energy Credits

Democratic and Republican staff in the Senate say renewal of a wind energy tax credit could be approved as part of catch-all tax code extension legislation if Congress fails to adopt comprehensive energy legislation or an export tax reform bill that both include the wind provisions. The energy legislation and export tax bill have been mired by partisan politics and passage this year appears uncertain at best for either proposal. With approximately three weeks remaining in this year's legislative session,...

NCSL ENVIRONMENT PANEL CHIEF FACES OPPOSITION TO CLEAN AIR PLANS

Maryland State Del. Jim Hubbard (D), the recently appointed chairman of the National Conference of State Legislatures's (NCSL) environment committee, is facing tough industry opposition to his plans for the group to formally oppose the Bush administration's air quality initiatives. Hubbard -- whose recent appointment drew opposition from the utility industry -- is taking the helm amid growing industry efforts to block NCSL and other state groups from adopting positions supporting strict environmental requirements, particularly on air quality issues. "There...

INDUSTRY WARNS ARB FARMERS READY TO 'COME UNGLUED' OVER SB 700

Dairy industry representatives warned air board staff last week that farmers are poised to "come unglued" over staff's forthcoming decisions to subject large confined animal facilities (CAFs) to first-time permits and pollution control measures. Staff is collecting input from industry in its effort to define large CAFs by next summer, as required by a controversial 2003 law that lifted a decades-old Clean Air Act regulatory exemption for California agriculture facilities. Air Resources Board staff is required to review scientific information,...

OIL INDUSTRY BALKS AT SOUTH COAST FLARE EMISSION REDUCTION PLAN

Oil industry representatives are opposing South Coast air district plans to craft regulatory amendments requiring flare emission reductions at refineries and other facilities, arguing that voluntary efforts have significantly reduced the pollution and that further controls are unnecessary and carry unacceptable costs. The industry's opposition may complicate or draw out district efforts to craft the regulatory amendments, despite the release of a new report that shows the flares result in substantial emissions of sulfur oxides (SOx). The rule amendments may...

ARB MAY SEEK L.A. CLEAN FLEET EXEMPTION UNDER EXISTING EPA WAIVERS

Air Resources Board officials may seek to legalize the South Coast air district's partially voided clean-fleet rules by asking U.S. EPA to include them in existing waivers granted to ARB by EPA for other Clean Air Act exemptions, such as for state rules cracking down on heavy-duty vehicle emissions, according to a district source. ARB would seek public comment on its potential proposal before petitioning EPA, said the district source. The Supreme Court ruled in April that when applied to...

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