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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.

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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.

NAFTA Probe Of Mercury Rule May Help Potential Suit By Environmentalists

A request by environmentalists for a NAFTA panel to investigate whether EPA's plan to regulate power plants fails to adequately enforce the Clean Water Act could provide the activists with information for future litigation against the agency's controversial mercury proposal, an environmental attorney tracking the issue says. The request also suggests first-time water law arguments that environmentalists could use in any potential lawsuit challenging the Bush administration's mercury plan, although the attorney stresses that groups have not made any determinations...

New Ethanol Study Seen Bolstering California Push For Fuel Waivers

A new study that found high emission increases from California vehicles running on ethanol-treated reformulated gasoline (RFG) may intensify the state's push for a wavier to the federal RFG oxygen mandate, sources tracking the issue say. California officials have argued for several years that refiners should be given maximum flexibility to meet the state's strict RFG pollutant emission limits, including the ability to produce non-oxygenated fuel if they desire. The state is awaiting a decision by EPA on whether it...

Administration's Analysis On Controlling Drift Could Weaken Various Air Rules

The Bush administration's decision to include a controversial analysis that finds reduced benefits for controlling particulate matter (PM) under the agency's upcoming rule to limit drift could weaken requirements for reducing the pollutant through other air regulations. EPA sources say the analysis could undermine future agency arguments about the cost-effectiveness of limiting particulates through technology-based standards on power plants, exhaust controls for vehicles, and other measures. The analysis lowers EPA's current estimate for reducing PM emissions in its Clean Air...

HIGH EMISSIONS FROM ETHANOL CONFIRMED; WAIVER CASE SEEN BOLSTERED

A new study that confirms considerable evaporative hydrocarbon emission increases from California vehicles running on ethanol-containing reformulated gasoline (RFG) may bolster the state's push for a wavier to the federal RFG oxygen mandate, and may confirm the need to amend the state's Phase 3 RFG rules to reduce ethanol use overall, sources said. The study, sponsored by the Air Resources Board and Georgia-based Coordinating Research Council, finds that a 5.7%-by-volume ethanol blend, which is the standard in California, increases permeation...

BUILDERS, ACTIVISTS BATTLE OVER ARB LAND-USE DECISION GUIDANCE

A key part of the air board's controversial draft guidance for local land-use decisions is the focus of an upcoming meeting expected to pit builders and other affected industries against environmental justice (EJ) and "smart growth" advocates. Board staff has been criticized by environmental justice activists of ignoring their recommendations to revise the draft guidance to make it more protective of communities near industrial areas. But builders fear the document could restrict much needed affordable and smart growth housing, as...

ARB REACHES OUT TO IMPROVE AGRIBUSINESS RELATIONS OVER NEW RULES

Air board officials are striving to improve relations with the agriculture industry, which has complained it is being blindsided by a flurry of first-time state and local control measures with little communication from regulators. State staffers are being directed to maintain regular contact with industry representatives, informing them of any new regulatory activities at the local air district or state agency levels. While the agriculture industry heavily supported Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in last year's recall election, several industry sources said...

POWER COMPANIES FUME OVER POSSIBLE FURTHER RECLAIM RE-ENTRY DELAY

Representatives of power companies operating in the Los Angeles area are irked over a proposal by South Coast air district staff to delay the companies' re-entry into the district's nitrogen oxide (NOx) credit trading program, RECLAIM, to ensure more pollution reductions. The proposal, floated in a recent staff white paper to be discussed at a public hearing next month, is seen by power producers as unfairly limiting their ability to sell legitimate credits to non-power facilities in the program. South...

DECISION TO LOWER PM BENEFITS IN CAIR RULE MAY AFFECT FUTURE AIR RULES

The Bush administration's decision to include a controversial analysis reducing the estimated benefits for controlling particulate matter (PM) in the agency's transport rule could prompt weaker requirements in future air regulations to limit PM -- including technology standards, mobile sources controls and other measures -- because they weaken agency arguments about the cost-effectiveness of these measures, EPA sources say. The analysis lowers EPA's current estimate for reducing PM emissions in the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) by as much as...

DEMOCRATS EYE BUDGET 'RIDER' TO REQUIRE EPA STUDY OF MERCURY RULE

Congressional Democrats may try to attach a legislative rider to EPA's upcoming budget bill that would force the agency to conduct studies on its controversial mercury emissions plan that top officials have so far declined to conduct. One House Democratic source says the rider would not ban EPA from finalizing its mercury trading proposal -- a plan critics say would delay adequate reductions for too long -- but would instead earmark funding the agency would be required to use to...

INDUSTRY EYES POSSIBLE FIXES TO IMPLEMENTATION OF EPA OZONE RULE

Industry officials are preparing to ask EPA to make a series of fixes that would likely ease requirements for complying with the agency's strict new ozone standard, according to an internal industry email. A number of industry groups, including the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), are considering filing an administrative petition with EPA that will ask the agency to change its rule implementing the agency's 8-hour ozone standard, according to an NAM email sent to its members and later distributed...

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