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.

Outlook 2005 Clean Air Tracking

REGULATION Air Rule For Region X Indian Reservations EPA is expected to finalize in 2005 a first-time federal implementation plan (FIP) that contains basic air rules that would apply to all Native American reservations in the Region X states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho. EPA says the rules are needed "to establish a level playing field and create basic federally enforceable rules" under the air act for sovereign Native American lands, which presently have no clean air restrictions. But opponents...

Outlook 2005 New Source Review Tracking

New Rulemakings EPA has repeatedly indicated its intention to issue additional regulations increasing flexibility under the NSR program, with agency air officials now saying the agency could issue proposed rules sometime in the spring. Specifically, the new reforms would make it easier to disaggregate, or count separately, several changes at a facility, lessening instances when environmental reviews are triggered. Also at stake are rules for measuring the effects of changes that remove bottlenecks in industrial operations, as well as new...

Moderate Democrats Offer Environment Agenda For Western, Rural Voters

A centrist Democratic think tank has developed an environmental policy agenda for the next four years that is intended to appeal to western and rural voters. The policy recommendations are based on local and state initiatives that emphasize market-based approaches to reducing environmental contaminants, such as a cap-and-trade program for carbon dioxide emissions. The agenda , released last month by the Democratic Leadership Council's Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), comes as the party is sifting through its policy priorities following last...

Scientists Question Utility Claims About Air Pollution Health Effects

Scientists involved in a major study on the health effects of tiny soot particles in the Atlanta metropolitan area say a utility group that is funding the effort is "inappropriately" interpreting initial findings in a way that could ease future emission controls. The utility group says the findings show that power plant emissions have a "miniscule" impact on cardiovascular health when compared to air pollution from vehicles. The scientists say the study results so far are inconclusive as to the...

EPA Eyes Overhauling Air Pollution Prevention Rules For Wilderness Areas

EPA is considering revamping the way it sets air pollution limits in its prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) permit program for national parks and other pristine areas. In an upcoming proposal due out early next year, the agency may change its traditional approach from one that allows new and modified emission sources to incrementally increase pollution, to a policy that would essentially set a fixed cap defining how much total pollution an area can sustain before negative impacts are felt...

EPA Could Extend Mercury Deadline To Stretch Clear Skies Debate

Despite widely-held assumptions to the contrary, EPA could delay its controversial mercury regulations on power plants beyond a March deadline negotiated with environmentalists, in the event the Bush administration and congressional Republicans want more time to debate Clear Skies legislation in 2005, legal experts say. The experts are pointing to a number of options EPA has, including renegotiating a legal deadline with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to issue the rule by March 15, or exploiting alleged weaknesses in...

EPA Air Toxics Program Faces Key Legal Test On Risk-Based Exemption

EPA's air toxics program is facing a key test over the legality of its controversial risk-based exemptions, with observers expecting continued controversy if the agency expands its use of an approach exempting some industrial sources from stringent requirements for installing costly pollution control technologies. In the two pending suits, which could be briefed starting this year, environmentalists charge the agency has unlawfully granted exemptions for industrial boilers and plywood and composite wood products, instead of following the strict maximum achievable...

EPA Advisers Issue Surprise Call To Study CO2 Emissions Cuts

An EPA advisory committee's new air quality report includes a surprise recommendation for the agency to help states evaluate reductions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases that may be achieved under rules primarily intended to curb pollutants such as ozone and particulate matter. The committee added the recommendation to a comprehensive report that calls for major changes in the way EPA regulates air quality. Members of the committee note the report has ambitious goals, but acknowledge that implementing...

Business Opportunities May Complicate U.S. Opposition To CO2 Rules

Some U.S. industry groups see increasing business opportunities over the next several years in efforts to slow global warming, though it is not clear that those opportunities will be enough to tip the domestic political balance toward mandatory controls on greenhouse gas emissions in 2005, according to industry sources, consultants, and environmentalists. President Bush's victory in the November election makes it less likely that mandatory U.S emissions controls will occur anytime soon, given his long-standing opposition to such limits, according...

SENATE GOP TO ALLOW STATES TO GO BEYOND FEDERAL RULES IN CLEAR SKIES

Senate Republicans will include new language in the Clear Skies bill they are planning to re-introduce in January to allow states to require more stringent emission reductions than the pollution caps to be imposed by the federal government, sources say. The change appears aimed at broadening support for the long-stalled bill, which Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), chairman of the Environment & Public Works Committee, has vowed to make a top priority in early 2005. Sources familiar with the strategy say...

SCIENTISTS ACCUSE INDUSTRY OF MANIPULATING MAJOR PM2.5 STUDY'S RESULTS

Scientists involved in a major Atlanta-area study on the health effects of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution say the utility group funding the study is "inappropriately" interpreting its initial data as evidence that power plant emissions have a "miniscule" impact on cardiovascular health, when compared to other PM2.5 sources such as mobile emissions sources. The scientists say the study results so far are inconclusive as to the health impacts of power plants, and they caution that Atlanta may not be...

ACTIVISTS SAY GEORGIA POWER CASE INDICATES LEGAL TOOL FOR PM CUTS

Environmentalists say a recent court victory highlights their ability to use citizen suits as a tool to force utilities to reduce particulate matter (PM) emissions, handing groups a possible strategy to seek emissions cuts beyond the pending requirements under EPA's new nonattainment designations for fine particles. A federal district court issued a Dec. 14 order in Sierra club et al v. Georgia Power Company, ruling that a facility owned by the company violated what are known as "opacity" limits between...

BAUCUS COULD PLAY KEY ROLE IN SENATE PANEL'S CLEAR SKIES DEBATE

Senate Republicans' ability to pass President Bush's Clear Skies bill out of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee by next March could rest on Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), who has recently sided with Republicans on key environmental bills but has been hesitant to endorse the president's utility pollution plan. Baucus could be the critical swing voter now that Republicans have increased their current one-seat advantage on the panel to two seats, after the GOP strengthened its control of the...

EPA EYES MAJOR REVISIONS TO PSD PROGRAM IN UPCOMING PROPOSAL

EPA is considering revamping the way it sets pollution limits in its prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) permit program for national parks and other pristine areas. In an upcoming proposal due early next year, the agency may change its traditional approach from one that allows new and modified sources to incrementally increase pollution, to a policy that would essentially set a fixed cap defining how much total pollution an area can sustain before negative impacts are felt. The potential new...

CALIFORNIA POWER REGULATORS APPROVE GROUNDBREAKING CO2 MANDATE

California utility regulators are requiring power companies to take the costs of greenhouse gas emissions into account when making long-term energy purchases, in a move that environmentalists say may discourage the use of coal generation in favor of cleaner forms of energy. The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) adopted the new mandate Dec. 16 as part of its approval of long-term energy procurement plans for three major utilities in the state. Two of the utilities are supporting the new greenhouse...

EPA, DOE EYE STUDY ON BENEFITS OF COAL GASIFICATION POWER PLANTS

EPA and the Department of Energy (DOE) are launching a new study on the environmental impacts of generating electricity with a clean-coal technology known as integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC), including the effect of air pollution. The study could boost federal and state efforts to encourage use of the technology in environmental permits or legislation, according to EPA and industry sources. The study may examine the costs of installing additional emission controls when using the technology, which experts say could...

EPA ADVISORS ISSUE CALL TO STUDY CO2 'CO-BENEFITS' OF EMISSIONS CUTS

An EPA advisory committee's new air quality report includes a surprise recommendation for the agency to help states evaluate reductions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases that may be achieved under rules primarily intended to curb pollutants such as ozone and particulate matter. The committee added the recommendation to a comprehensive report that calls for major changes in the way EPA regulates air quality. Members of the committee note the report has ambitious goals, but acknowledge that implementing...

OREGON'S CARBON TRADING PLAN NEEDED SOONER, ENVIRONMENTALISTS SAY

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D) has signed off on the state's first-time plan to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but environmentalists are calling for the effort to begin at least two years earlier than scheduled. The Oregon plan -- which includes a range of energy-efficiency and emissions requirements, such as adopting California's GHG auto standard and requiring utility companies to use renewable sources of energy -- follows a series of recommendations made to the governors of all three states in...

CALPERS MAY LOOK FOR AUTOMAKER CONFLICTS OF INTEREST IN GHG DISPUTE

The California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) is threatening to probe major auto company directors for potential conflicts of interest if the companies do not sufficiently respond to their questions about the industry's lawsuit against the state air board's greenhouse gas (GHG) regulation. The pension fund board may also seek the inclusion of other major investor groups against the auto companies, pursue "proxy battles," and file an amicus brief defending the state in the lawsuit. CalPERS' investment committee agreed earlier...

ENVIRONMENTALISTS WARN AGAINST REDUCING AIR POLLUTION MONITORS

The National Park Service (NPS) will likely have to reduce the amount of monitoring it conducts at some of its sites due to budget cuts, a move that environmentalists say could have serious implications for the park service's ability to assess the air quality impacts of dozens of planned new power plants near the parks. Speaking at an EPA Office of Air & Radiation workshop earlier this month, the park service's Chris Shaver said that in parks where there have...

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