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.

EEI OFFICIAL PREDICTS EPA WILL LOWER COST THRESHOLD IN NSR REFORM

SAVANNAH, GA -- An Edison Electric Institute (EEI) official expects EPA to tighten the controversial 20 percent cost threshold the agency finalized in its contentious new source review (NSR) equipment replacement rule, which determines whether utilities are exempt from emission control requirements when modifying their plants. Quin Shae, EEI's environment group director, told a National Conference of State Legislature's (NCSL) meeting here that he expects EPA to lower the 20 percent exemption when the agency replies to a petition for...

NEW MOBILE SOURCE MODEL MAY BOOST CALLS FOR STRICTER REGULATIONS

EPA's ongoing development of a new generation mobile source model that will, for the first time, include uncertainty as a factor among other unprecedented features, could convince Congress that additional regulation of mobile sources is necessary, according to an EPA official. The model under development, Motor Vehicle Emissions Simulator (MOVES), previously known as the New Generation Model, is a new software framework designed to ultimately replace the current model, MOBILE6. MOVES will include uncertainty in data collection and projection of...

INVESTORS EXTEND CLIMATE CHANGE PUSH TO REAL ESTATE, MANUFACTURERS

Sustainable investment groups are planning to ask real estate companies how they are taking action to reduce energy use that contributes to global warming, as part of a push to extend a shareholder climate change campaign to a broader range of industries. The shareholder groups also expect to file new resolutions at manufacturing companies, while continuing efforts from past years to target automakers and power plants. A source with the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility says that shareholders are broadening...

POWER COMPANY CLIMATE REPORTS MAY BOOST LEGISLATIVE MOMENTUM

Investor groups say reports issued to shareholders this year by two electric power companies may increase momentum for greenhouse gas (GHG) legislation similar to the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act. While not endorsing any new law, the reports acknowledge that future climate mandates for the power sector are all but certain. "For them to recognize that greenhouse gas regulation is inevitable, that's a big step," one source with an investor group says. Sustainable investment sources say a new report issued by...

DOJ SEEKS REVERSAL OF OPEN RECORD RULES FOR SOME ADVISORY PANELS

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is asking the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to reverse an earlier ruling that applied the open record requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) to executive branch task forces that informally included non-governmental members. Oral arguments are scheduled for Jan. 27 in the case, which is on remand from the Supreme Court. Critics of the government's position say if DOJ in its appeal of the long-running case...

CRITICS SAY AUTOMAKER SUIT OVER CALIFORNIA CLIMATE RULE PREMATURE

California state officials and environmentalist attorneys say the lawsuit filed last week by the auto industry to overturn the state's greenhouse gas auto regulation is aimed at slowing momentum behind the adoption of similar rules elsewhere, and is an effort to "make people nervous" in California and other states. They add that the suit is almost certain to be dismissed because it was filed while the rule is not yet final. But auto industry sources say there is no ulterior...

POSSIBLE IDAHO PACT COULD HELP ACTIVISTS PUSH FOR CAFO CONTROLS

Environmentalists may agree to a court settlement in the coming weeks that could strengthen their campaign for strictly enforced air permitting requirements at concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). The settlement could mandate emissions controls at a large Idaho dairy, and comes after a district court ruled for the first time that feedlots must be regulated under the Clean Air Act. The Idaho Conservation League is trying to reach a settlement with K&W Dairy in the next few weeks, or the...

MINERS BACK CALL FOR GREENHOUSE GAS LIMITS IN BIPARTISAN ENERGY REPORT

The United Mine Workers of America is endorsing recommendations by a bipartisan energy policy commission that call for mandatory controls on greenhouse gas emissions in conjunction with a new federal program to promote specific clean-coal technology. Sources say the endorsement may indicate growing momentum for global warming regulations, but backs policy initiatives less stringent than a climate change bill by Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT). Mine workers in the past have raised concerns about the potential economic...

REPORT FINDS POWER COMPANIES UNPREPARED FOR CLIMATE CHANGE ACTION

As pressure builds for the Bush administration to return to its 2000 campaign promise supporting mandatory action to combat climate change, a new report by environmentalists finds that both U.S. power companies and their European counterparts are ill-prepared to reduce greenhouse gases. However, the report finds that European companies fare better than those in this country. Proponents of climate change controls are becoming increasingly vocal in trying to convince the president that a climate change mandate could be an important...

EPA REGIONAL STAFF ADVISED OF MERCURY CAP-AND-TRADE BENEFITS

EPA headquarters officials are advising regional administrators and staff on the benefits of the agency's cap-and-trade mercury proposal, as well as the likely global origins of the majority of U.S. mercury contamination, as part of an agency effort to educate its staff about the contaminant, according to agency staffers. Regional administrators and other staff in recent weeks have attended the 8-hour training sessions, referred to as "mercury school" by some EPA officials, at agency headquarters in Washington, D.C. The effort...

EPA MAY EXPAND INNOVATIVE NEVADA PLAN ON MERCURY FROM GOLD MINES

EPA is evaluating the effectiveness of a recently instituted plan to reduce mercury emissions from Nevada gold mining operations -- a major source of U.S. mercury pollution -- to determine whether the voluntary initiative should be expanded to other regions at a time when skyrocketing gold prices are prompting more companies to start mining gold, EPA sources say. EPA has targeted gold mining as a major contributor to mercury emissions, and Nevada, which houses 80 percent of U.S. gold production,...

STATE LAWMAKERS URGED TO LIMIT OPT-OUTS FROM EPA MERCURY PLAN

Electric utility representatives are urging conservative state legislators and other state officials to prevent their states from using an air act provision to opt out of EPA's plan to trade mercury emissions credits -- even though the agency's preferred approach allows states to do so. The utilities' effort creates a dilemma for conservative legislators, forcing them to choose between free-market ideals embodied by EPA's trading plan, and protecting states' rights to enact standards distinct from a federal standard, says a...

ADVISORY GROUP STRUGGLES TOWARD CONSENSUS ON MAJOR AIR REPORT

A Clean Air Act Advisory Committee (CAAAC) workgroup is poised to issue major recommendations this month for changes to the way EPA regulates air quality. But it remains unclear to what extent the workgroup will be able to come to an agreement, and group members may postpone discussion of some issues until next year, sources say. A draft of the report the workgroup is preparing for CAAAC calls for new air monitoring requirements, controls on industrial boiler emissions, and changes...

AIR OFFICE SEEKS CANCER GUIDE'S RELEASE TO ISSUE TOXICS STANDARD

EPA air officials have asked the agency's research office to finalize its draft cancer risk assessment guidelines by March 31 so the air office will not be prohibited from issuing "residual risk" air toxics standards as set out in a little-noticed provision of the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments. In response, top EPA officials may request that the White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) forego a final round of interagency review of the cancer risk guidelines to meet...

SCHWARZENEGGER EXPECTED TO TAP AIR BOARD CHAIRMAN AS NEW CAL/EPA CHIEF

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is expected to select the California Air Resources Board (CARB) chairman Alan Lloyd as the state's next environment secretary, a possible selection with national implications given Lloyd's strong support for the state's leading efforts on global warming and new energy sources. According to lobbyists and government sources, the governor's emphasis on reducing air pollution as part of what he has presented as an aggressive environmental action plan was a significant factor in tapping Lloyd --...

CALIFORNIA BILL SEEKS MORE SUPPORT FOR GREENHOUSE GAS REGISTRY

A bill introduced by California assemblywoman Fran Pavley (D) aims to entice more companies to participate in the state's voluntary greenhouse gas (GHG) emission registry. The bill, AB 32, introduced Dec. 6, directs the California Climate Action Registry to work with Cal/EPA and the energy commission to develop more industry- and project-specific GHG emission reporting protocols to bolster participation in the registry and provide companies streamlined guidance. The protocols cover monitoring, estimating, calculating, reporting and certifying GHG emission reduction projects...

DOE ADVISORS URGE EPA TO REVISIT CLEAN AIR COMPLIANCE DEADLINES

A newly issued report by a Department of Energy (DOE) advisory body calls on EPA to revisit compliance deadlines for implementing national ambient air quality standards as one of a number of measures to ensure adequate domestic refining oil capacity. "As presently structured, attainment deadlines precede the benefits that will be achieved from emissions reductions already planned," the report from DOE's National Petroleum Council states. The recommendations are part of a study sought by outgoing DOE Secretary Spencer Abraham that...

PEDIATRICIANS FIND EPA AIR QUALITY STANDARDS DO NOT PROTECT CHILDREN

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that EPA's new ambient air quality standards for ozone and fine particulate matter (PM2.5), finalized in 1997, are not stringent enough to prevent adverse health effects in children. The group says EPA's air toxics strategies are inadequate for children as well. The move is significant because it demonstrates the increasing involvement of patient and other medical groups in environmental policy debates and could back environmentalists' efforts to push EPA to tighten public health...

U.S. WEIGHS DELAYING METHYL BROMIDE CUTS BY TRIMMING HALON SUPPLY

The Bush administration is evaluating a plan to slow the phase-out of the controversial pesticide methyl bromide by destroying stockpiles of the ozone-depleting fire suppressant halon, a plan that proponents say could offset any harm from continued use of the pesticide, according to government and other sources. Additionally, at press time, EPA was expected to issue its proposal Dec. 15 for critical use exemptions allowing farmers to continue to spray methyl bromide on crops after winning approval for the plan...

EPA Delay Of Formaldehyde Review Raises Doubt About Air Act Waivers

EPA has agreed to a request by Senate environment committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-OK) to delay a formaldehyde risk review, prompting questions among plywood makers, the natural gas turbine industry and state air regulators about proposed Clean Air Act exemptions for the pollutant. The industry groups sought the exemptions by arguing that formaldehyde emissions from their operations posed minimal risks. But the delay in EPA's risk review may alter the data that the agency relied on when initially proposing to...

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