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.

WIND ENERGY EXPECTS MAJOR BOOST FROM NEW STATE, FEDERAL INCENTIVES

The wind energy industry is poised for a big growth spurt following the renewal of the long-awaited federal production tax credit through 2005 and New York state's adoption of a 25 percent renewable portfolio standard (RPS) by 2013, industry sources say. "Wind producers have been waiting for the RPS to be established and the production tax credit at the federal level to be reinstated," says one consultant. "Because of the potential for the industry to expand so much in New...

KEY SENATORS, ACTIVISTS ATTACK RISK-BASED OFF RAMP IN AIR TOXICS RULES

Environmentalists and key senators are challenging the Bush administration's landmark air toxics rules for plywood producers and industrial boilers, fearing they set a dangerous precedent exempting facilities from Clean Air Act requirements by downplaying the risks posed by ambient emissions and sources "co-located" at the facility. These critics warn if the rules stand, industries could petition EPA to apply the agency's risk-based methodology to existing rules and bog down the agency's air toxics program. While EPA officials say air chief...

UTILITIES ASK JUDGE TO DISMISS STATE CLIMATE CHANGE LAWSUIT

Five power companies filed joint and separate motions in federal court Sept. 30 asking that a lawsuit by state attorneys general (AGs) seeking greenhouse gas emission reductions be dismissed for lack of legal justification, including separation of powers, jurisdictional and standing grounds. The omnibus brief filed by American Electric Power (AEP), Cinergy, Xcel Energy, Southern Company and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York says, "Congress has affirmatively chosen not...

SPIKE IN UTILITY SO2 EMISSIONS PROMPTS CRITICISM OF TRADING PROGRAMS

EPA's new report showing a 4 percent increase in sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions from power plants in 2003 -- the first time acid rain emissions have increased since 1998 -- is leading environmentalists to question the benefits of politically popular emissions trading programs. EPA officials said the 400,000-ton spike in SO2, detailed in a new EPA report on acid rain emissions, is a result of utilities using long-held "banked" emission credits. Congress gave the companies the option of banking credits...

NEW ANALYSIS FINDS CAIR WILL SIGNIFICANTLY BOOST ELECTRICITY PRICES

A new study of EPA's proposed clean air interstate rule (CAIR) to reduce power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides shows the rule will cause electricity prices to rise 25 percent in 2010 and an additional 10 percent in 2015. The cost-increase finding is surprising and has not emerged in other studies, while EPA has touted the plan as striking a good balance between economic growth and environmental progress. The study, The Outlook for U.S. Steam Coal...

STATE OPPOSITION AT ECOS MEETING KILLS MULTI-POLLUTANT RESOLUTION

State environmental commissioners have tabled a vote on a draft resolution that would have urged EPA to include minimum air emissions control requirement for all power plants in is upcoming clean air interstate rule (CAIR) due to strong opposition to the plan. After a two-hour debate on the CAIR resolution Oct. 5 at the annual meeting of the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) in Oklahoma City, OK, commissioners killed voting on the plan, which would have also provided strong...

INSPECTOR GENERAL FINDS LITTLE PROGRESS ON SMOG REDUCTION

EPA's inspector general (IG) is out with a Sept. 29 report criticizing the agency and states for failing to reduce ozone precursor emissions in several major cities, prolonging urban problems with smog and related health problems. The IG finds EPA has seriously delayed cleanup of dangerous air pollution by letting cities postpone legally required cleanups. The report finds most of the nation's smoggiest cities have shown no significant improvement in the past decade; at least 21 of 25 cities have...

HIGHWAY BILL EXTENSION INCLUDES 2.5-CENT ETHANOL PROVISION

A bill allowing continued funding for highway projects from Sept. 30 -- the end of the 2004 fiscal year -- to June 1, 2005, transfers 2.5-cents-per-gallon in excise taxes from ethanol sales out of the general fund and into the highway trust fund, retroactive to the beginning of the 2004 fiscal year. With the House and Senate unable to reconcile differences on a massive highway bill, and states facing the loss of tens of billions of dollars in highway project...

INDUSTRY GROUPS PETITION EPA TO EXTEND 8-HOUR OZONE DEADLINES

Several industry groups, led by the American Petroleum Institute (API), filed a Sept. 24 petition with EPA asking the agency to extend the deadlines for complying with its strict 8-hour ozone rule. The groups argue that EPA's new analysis of the rule shows many communities will fail to meet the standard on time, unless local areas require significant additional emission cuts from sources other than those already subject to federal rules that industry believes are unnecessary. The petition for reconsideration...

UTILITIES DELAY ACTION ON NSR PACTS PENDING FINAL TRANSPORT RULE

Some power companies are reluctant to pursue settlements with EPA over alleged violations of the Clean Air Act's new source review (NSR) program until the EPA finalizes its regulation to curb transported air pollution, sources say. These utilities may be delaying action on the settlements at least in part because they are concerned that the pacts would create market disadvantages if their competitors were not subject to pollution-reduction requirements under the clean air interstate rule (CAIR) should it be delayed,...

ACTIVISTS WIN UNUSUAL MOTION TO POSTPONE WISCONSIN NSR SETTLEMENT

Environmentalists have convinced a Wisconsin district court to delay the approval of a consent decree between EPA and the utility We Energies in a highly unusual move that raises fresh questions about one of the few new source review (NSR) settlements proposed between a utility and the Bush administration in the midst of EPA NSR reforms. But at least one environmental watchdog group following the case is wary of the delay and wants to see the settlement enacted soon, in...

ACTIVISTS SEE IG STUDY AIDING ARGUMENTS IN EPA NSR RECONSIDERATION

Environmentalists say a recent inspector general's (IG) report that concludes EPA's new source review (NSR) routine maintenance rule hampered enforcement of the program could help critics pressure the agency to amend the rule as part of its ongoing administrative reconsideration process. Environmentalists and other critics of the rule believe key conclusions in the IG report, which finds flaws in both the agency's regulatory impact analysis and its selection of a cost threshold for exempting facilities' modifications from environmental review, expose...

INDUSTRY FACES TOUGH CHOICE ON METHYL BROMIDE ALLOCATION OPTIONS

Agriculture industry officials are facing tough choices in endorsing an approach for EPA to allocate limited quantities of the pesticide methyl bromide in 2005 because any system EPA adopts could also affect availability in future years, when access to alternative pesticides and other critical conditions may change. The issue is also important to EPA because it may inform how large an exemption to seek from international and domestic limits on the pesticide in 2006 and 2007. Methyl bromide users, producers...

Water Conservation Efforts Expected To Boost Utility Use Of Coal Gasification

Increasing concerns about water conservation, particularly in the West, are likely to boost the use of a new advanced coal gasification technology that is more efficient than traditional coal-fired power plants, with environmentalists already citing the issue in questioning proposed permits for new conventionally designed facilities, according to utility regulators, environmentalists and industry analysts. These sources say concerns about water supply are likely to become increasingly important to energy and water regulators, particularly in arid portions of the United States,...

Key Senators, Environmentalists Attack Exemption In EPA Air Toxic Rules

Environmentalists and two prominent senators are challenging the Bush administration's landmark air toxics rules for plywood producers and industrial boilers, fearing they set a dangerous precedent for excluding facilities from Clean Air Act requirements by downplaying the risks posed by ambient pollutants and emission sources "co-located" at a facility. These critics warn if the rules stand, industries could petition EPA to apply the agency's new risk-based methodology to existing rules and overhaul the agency's air toxics program. While EPA officials...

State Officials Decline To Vote On Plan For Limiting Multiple Air Pollutants

OKLAHOMA CITY, Oct. 5 -- State environment secretaries at their annual meeting have rejected voting on a draft resolution that would have urged EPA to include air emission control requirements for all power plants in its upcoming interstate air pollution rule. After a two-hour debate on the resolution, which would have provided strong backing for EPA's thrust on emissions trading, the Environmental Council of the States decided on Oct. 5 to put off a vote for now. The resolution would...

EPA LIKELY TO SEEK FULL APPELLATE REVIEW OF RARE AIR RULE 'VACATUR'

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...

California's CO2 Rule Faces Major Administrative Hurdle To Win EPA Waiver

Implementation of California's landmark greenhouse gas regulations for passenger and light-duty vehicles faces several substantial administrative hurdles over the next several years, in addition to a likely lawsuit by the auto industry. Not only must the state's Air Resources Board (ARB) convince the federal EPA that a Clean Air Act waiver is warranted to allow the rules to take effect, it faces potential noncompliance by the industry based on arguments that there is inadequate lead-time to meet the new technology...

UTILITIES DELAY ACTION ON NSR PACTS PENDING AIR TRANSPORT RULE RELEASE

Some power companies are reluctant to pursue settlements with EPA over alleged violations of the Clean Air Act's new source review (NSR) program until the Bush administration finalizes EPA's upcoming regulation to curb transported air pollution, sources say. The sources say some utilities may be delaying action on the settlements at least in part because they are concerned that the pacts would create competitive disadvantages if their competitors were not subject to the rule's requirements. One source tracking the issue...

NORTHEAST GRAPPLING WITH KEY ISSUES FOR NATIONAL CLIMATE MODEL

Northeast regulators seeking to develop a landmark regional climate change program are confronting several issues that could make it difficult for the program to achieve its goal of becoming a national model for regulating greenhouse gas emissions, according to observers and participants in the effort. These sources say the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is working to addresses concerns that future regional restrictions on energy production will increase power imports and boost emissions in other areas. The issue, known as...

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