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 PLAN TO STUDY LEAD ADOPTS REVISED HEALTH EFFECTS REVIEW PROCESS

EPA has developed a workplan for reviewing health effects data on lead air emissions that is intended to speed the process for considering whether regulatory revisions are necessary. The workplan adopts data review reforms EPA used to develop its health effects report on ozone, which is expected to be released within weeks. The lead review workplan, which will likely take years to complete, will summarize available data and studies on lead under categories such as toxicology, epidemiology and human exposures,...

Industry Group Seeks Air Act Revisions For Oil, Gas Wells

An industry group plans to ask Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) to clarify language in the Clean Air Act to ensure that EPA cannot aggregate oil and natural gas wells as a single source of criteria air pollutants, which could force federal clean air requirements on the wells. The Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) says the air act revisions are necessary to make the statute consistent for oil and natural gas wells, and that failure to do so could subject...

Industry Fears Sweeping Impact From Transboundary Pollution Suit

U.S. industry groups are urging a federal appeals court to overturn the recent district court ruling that found federal Superfund law can apply to transboundary contamination, saying the decision could prompt widespread retaliation against U.S. companies by a host of foreign governments over air and water pollution that crosses international borders. The arguments raised in recent amicus filings with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit suggest that the case could set a precedent allowing the extraterritorial application...

California Vapor Guide Sets Strict Limits In Future Use Of Polluted Sites

California has developed the nation's first-of-its-kind indoor air contamination guidance, requiring regulators to use conservative assumptions about future risks to account for uncertainty regarding the use of contaminated sites. The California effort could have an impact on federal standards, with EPA working on its own guidelines to address contaminants that seep indoors. According to one environmentalist following the issue, EPA may use the California document as a roadmap on how to require vapor intrusion testing and mitigation to limit risks...

EPA Plan To Study Lead Adopts Revised Health Effects Review Process

EPA has developed a workplan for reviewing health effects data on lead air emissions that is intended to speed the process for considering whether regulatory revisions are necessary. The workplan adopts data review reforms used by EPA to develop its health effects report on ozone, which is expected to be released within weeks. The lead review workplan, which will likely take years to complete, will summarize available data and studies on lead according to categories such as toxicology, epidemiology and...

Key Utility Lawyer Suggests 'Global Settlement' To Resolve NSR Suits

A key industry lawyer is suggesting that EPA, states, utilities, environmentalists and others involved in ongoing new source review (NSR) lawsuits may need to enter "global settlement" talks to resolve the litigation in exchange for the industry agreeing to implement standards contained in the agency's pending Clear Air Interstate Rule (CAIR). "One idea to put forward is a global settlement that would involve the pending [NSR] cases and the cases in the queue," Robert Sussman, a former EPA deputy administrator...

CLEAR SKIES' UNCERTAIN FUTURE RAISES QUESTIONS OVER INHOFE'S EFFORTS

Sen. James Inhofe's effort to move the Clear Skies bill out of his Environment & Public Works Committee early in the congressional session seems doomed, leading some observers to suggest that the Oklahoma Republican may be pursuing other legislative and political interests in pushing the legislation. Some critics and supporters of the bill say Inhofe may be pushing the legislation so he can bury the issue early this year before moving to more popular legislation pending before the committee, like...

NAS STUDY PLAN SIGNALS BROAD REVIEW OF AIR IMPACTS FROM NSR REFORMS

An upcoming interim report by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) on how it will evaluate the environmental impacts of the Bush administration's new source review (NSR) air permitting reforms may result in conclusions significantly different than past reviews by the Bush administration and state officials, sources say. Congress requested the study to resolve controversy over EPA claims about the air quality impacts of the regulatory changes. The academy's study plan, according to these sources, offers a broader review than...

OHIO DEAL MAY BE MODEL FOR REDUCING CHLOR-ALKALI MERCURY EMISSIONS

A recent agreement requiring an Ohio chemical manufacturer to install equipment to reduce mercury emissions caused by chlorine production may be a model for other states and EPA to follow in preventing similar releases from other chlor-alkali facilities, which are a major source of mercury in the environment. Under the settlement, Ohio EPA is agreeing to drop its legal action and waive more than $1 million in fines if Ashta Chemicals installs pollution-abating equipment that will put it into early...

COURT NARROWS PRECEDENT-SETTING DECISION 'VACATING' CLEAN AIR RULE

A federal appellate court has narrowed its landmark decision that vacated an EPA air rule it considered unlawful, rather than allowing it to remain in place while the agency revises it, in a ruling rejecting a Bush administration request to reconsider the case. The ruling, which backs an industry challenge to an EPA-approved list of alternatives to an ozone-depleting chemical, allows courts to decide whether rejected rules can remain in place while the agency revises them. The decision may quell...

Industry Challenges Constitutionality Of California VOC Emissions Fee

The National Paint and Coatings Association (NPCA) last month filed suit in a California court challenging the constitutionality of a new state fee program for volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. An NPCA source says the rule, if upheld, could devastate the industry in California and could encourage other states to proceed with similar programs. NPCA alleges that the fee is really a tax and does not meet California or federal requirements for levying a tax. The source says in 2003,...

EPA REBUFFS STATE PUSH FOR CONSISTENT FISH-CONSUMPTION ADVISORIES

EPA and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) are rejecting efforts by several states to harmonize state and federal fish-consumption advisories in order to avoid confusing a population already afraid to eat fish due to mercury contamination, which is largely caused by air pollution. The federal government's reaction is drawing criticism from environmentalists, who say that attitude undermines the goal of the EPA and FDA last year issuing a single, coherent message on fish consumption. States including Maine, Washington, Minnesota...

LOUISIANA GROUP PLANS LITIGATION TO MAINTAIN 1-HOUR OZONE STANDARD

Environmentalists in Louisiana are devising litigation aimed at forcing EPA to keep the 1-hour ozone standard, which the agency plans to revoke in June as it implements the stricter 8-hour standard. The litigation is important because the activists are the first to sue solely on the issue of keeping the older standard, and they believe their lawsuit could be resolved quicker than ongoing litigation over the 8-hour standard. The Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) sources worry that the new standard...

CRITICS, SUPPORTERS OF MERCURY RULE QUESTION NEW BENEFITS ANALYSIS

Industry groups and environmentalists are raising concerns about a new benefits analysis EPA plans to conduct as it prepares to finalize its controversial utility mercury emissions rule in March. Environmental groups, along with some state attorneys general, fear that EPA will use the new analysis to argue against calls for strengthening the rule. At the same time, industry groups say the agency is proposing an inappropriate new method for analyzing mercury's health risks, which could lead the agency to exaggerate...

OHIO DEAL MAY BE MODEL FOR REDUCING CHLOR-ALKALI MERCURY EMISSIONS

A recent agreement requiring an Ohio chemical manufacturer to install equipment to reduce mercury emissions caused by chlorine production may be a model for other states and EPA to follow in preventing similar releases from other chlor-alkali facilities, which are a major source of mercury in the environment. Under the settlement, Ohio EPA is agreeing to drop its legal action and waive more than $1 million in fines if Ashta Chemicals installs pollution-abating equipment that will put it into early...

EPA TAKES NO ACTION AGAINST MARYLAND FOR FAILING TO SET OZONE FINES

Environmentalists are criticizing EPA for failing to pursue sanctions from Maryland after the state failed to revise its clean air plan to impose fees on stationary sources coming if the Washington, D.C., area does not meet the 1-hour ozone standard. Activists say this lack of action is telling, because EPA is soon planning to revoke that standard as part of the transition to a stricter 8-hour ozone rule. Environmentalists are challenging this plan, and one group says it will soon...

GROUPS SUE EPA FOR FAILING TO UPDATE REFINERY POLLUTION CONTROLS

Environmental groups are suing EPA claiming the agency has failed to update new source performance standards (NSPS) for oil refineries despite a statutory requirement that it do so every eight years. EPA last set NSPS for refineries in the 1970s and '80s, and never set a requirement for emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), which is a major pollutant from these sources, the complaint alleges. Our Children's Earth Foundation and the Sierra Club sued the agency in U.S. District Court for...

COURT NARROWS PRECEDENT-SETTING RULING 'VACATING' CLEAN AIR RULE

A federal appellate court has narrowed its previous precedent-setting decision to vacate an EPA air rule in its rejection of a Bush administration request to reconsider the case. The latest ruling, which backs an industry challenge to an EPA-approved list of alternatives to an ozone-depleting chemical, grants future courts the discretion in allowing the agency to revise allegedly flawed regulations. The decision may quell fears by EPA officials who were worried that the previous decision would set a dangerous precedent,...

INDUSTRY SUES CALIFORNIA CLAIMING VOC EMISSIONS FEE IS UNLAWFUL TAX

The National Paint & Coatings Association (NPCA) last month filed suit in a California state court challenging the constitutionality of a new state fee program for volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. An NPCA source says the rule, if upheld, could devastate the industry in California and could encourage other states to proceed with similar programs. NPCA alleges that the fee is really a tax and does not meet California or federal requirements for levying a tax. The source says in...

ENVIRONMENTALISTS MAY SUE TEXAS TO REDUCE HAZE AT NATIONAL PARK

Environmentalists may use a major, five-year study on causes of air pollution at Texas Big Bend National Park in a possible lawsuit against either the state or EPA aimed at improving visibility at the site. Environmentalists believe litigation may be necessary to get the state to enact regulations aimed at curbing pollution from sources found to affect the park, including power plants. A successful suit could be duplicated in other states, because the report found emissions from across the country...

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