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.

THINK TANK EYES FORMING PANEL WITH EPA TO HELP COMPLETE MERCURY RULE

The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) may form a policy panel to provide advice on the feasibility of EPA's proposed mercury rule as the agency seeks to finalize the controversial plan, which would require utilities to reduce toxic mercury emissions for the first time. However, it is unclear what relationship the group would have with EPA, which has already disbanded one mercury advisory group and rejected suggestions to convene another. Any plan to hold such a forum has not been finalized,...

PENNSYLVANIA DEP, INDUSTRY JOIN FORCES TO OPPOSE EPA MERCURY PLAN

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Kathleen McGinty has persuaded the coal industry and its union to put aside differences with the state over EPA's proposed mercury plan, and join forces to seek to persuade the agency to back away from a proposal that they believe would disproportionately harm Eastern coal. McGinty, a Democrat who advised former Vice President Al Gore, along with the Pennsylvania Coal Association and the United Mine Workers of America, sent a letter to EPA...

STATES' STUDY ON MERCURY CONTROL BENEFITS MAY TIGHTEN EPA UTILITY RULE

A draft analysis conducted for Northeast states on the benefits of mercury controls for power plants could pressure the Bush administration to tighten its controversial proposed mercury rules because it increases the estimated health benefits of regulating mercury emissions over previous government and industry assessments, sources say. Increasing the estimated health benefits of reducing mercury makes it easier to justify the higher costs of imposing stricter controls. "If these new values are considered credible they would significantly boost the benefits...

WISCONSIN ACTIVISTS SEEK TOUGHEST-EVER BACT LIMITS FOR NEW COAL PLANT

Environmentalists in Wisconsin are pressing the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to require a proposed 500-megawatt, coal-fired power plant to meet clean air standards for nitrogen oxide (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) far lower than have ever been permitted before. A draft air permit issued in July for Wisconsin Public Service Corp.'s proposed Weston 4 plant would require stringent best available control technology (BACT) limits for NOx and SO2, but the Sierra Club is pressing hard for those limits...

INDUSTRY BLASTS STATE DIESEL EFFORTS, SAYS FEDERAL RULE DELAY POSSIBLE

Engine manufacturers are holding open the possibility that EPA could ease or delay a pending highway diesel engine rule, while criticizing an effort in several Eastern states to adopt California's identical standard as a backstop in case the high-profile federal rule does not go into effect as planned in 2007. Industry groups stress they do not expect EPA to delay implementation of the rule, and say they are on track to meet engine requirements to reduce nitrogen oxide and particulate...

EPA AWARDS $6 MILLION FOR WEST COAST DIESEL-REDUCTION PROJECTS

U.S. EPA Region IX and California air officials last week announced $6 million in EPA funding for West Coast projects to reduce diesel emissions from trucks, ships, locomotives and other diesel sources. The projects, funded in part by EPA's West Coast Diesel Emission Reduction Collaborative, include installing electric repowering facilities at truck stops to reduce idling, developing technology to reduce locomotive emissions and renovating some port facilities to provide electric powering for large cruise ships. The $6 million is a...

INDUSTRY DEMANDS CHANGES TO PM REPORT DESPITE LOOMING LEGAL DEADLINE

Industry groups are raising serious concerns about the capstone chapter of a key EPA document that could lead to tighter ambient air quality standards for particulate matter (PM), demanding that EPA revise the report even as the agency faces a court-ordered deadline to complete the PM "criteria document" by the end of the month. These groups are also objecting that a key EPA scientific advisory panel signed off on a revised version of the document without reviewing a myriad of...

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...

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