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.

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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.

EPA Faces Environmental, EV Sector Calls To Tighten Vehicle GHG Plan

Environmentalists and some industry groups are pressing EPA to tighten its proposed near-term vehicle greenhouse gas plan to spur more emissions cuts and possibly greater electric vehicle (EV) adoption than the agency’s preferred option, highlighting the pressure officials face to write ambitious standards. The groups’ appeals, raised at EPA’s Aug. 25-26 public hearing on its proposed update to model year 2023-2026 rules, come as outside observers and the agency itself cite the rules as just a first step toward stricter...

Oil-state Republicans urge EPA to waive 2020 RFS

A group of 17 Republican senators from oil-producing and refining states is pressing EPA to waive its renewable fuel standard (RFS) for 2020, and to reduce biofuel blending obligations for refineries in its forthcoming proposed volumes rules for 2021 and 2022, as the agency nears proposal of those rules. In their Aug. 23 letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan, the group led by Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) say, “In light of COVID-19’s impact on the...

Environmentalists Renew Push For EPA To Reduce Lead In Aviation Fuel

Environmentalists are reviving their years-long push for EPA to regulate leaded general aviation fuel (avgas) used for piston-engine aircraft, the largest remaining source of U.S. lead emissions, after the Obama administration punted the request and the Trump EPA declined to act. In an Aug. 24 petition , groups including Friends of the Earth, represented by law firm Earthjustice, again ask EPA to make an endangerment finding under section 231 of the Clean Air Act that leaded avgas contributes to air...


EPA Signals Technology Enables Tougher Oil & Gas Methane Standards

A top EPA air official is signaling that the agency’s forthcoming proposal to limit methane releases from new and existing oil and gas equipment will rely on improved technology to impose much more stringent limits than current, Obama-era rules limiting releases of the potent greenhouse gas at new facilities. EPA officials have “been talking to a wide range of experts and stakeholders as we have been working to develop this proposal in order to get their input, and one of...

EPA Seeks To Block Nationwide Review Of Offshore Air Permit Dispute

EPA is asking a federal appellate court to dismiss oil-giant Chevron’s challenge to its recent decision rejecting Trump-era air permitting waivers for oil platform decommissioning off the California coast, a move that aims to avoid a national precedent on what it claims is a purely local issue even as a series of major East Coast projects await permitting. In an Aug. 23 motion the agency asks the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to dismiss Chevron...

In Win For EPA, 8th Circuit Backs Retroactive NSR Enforcement Power

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit has ruled to largely uphold injunctive relief imposed on utility Ameren Missouri by a federal district court for violating the Clean Air Act’s new source review (NSR) requirement, safeguarding a major EPA enforcement tool and seeking to avoid a split with other courts on the same issue. In its Aug. 20 unanimous ruling in USA and Sierra Club v. Ameren Missouri , a three-judge panel upheld the key principle that courts...

EPA’s Methane Rules May Hinge On Hill Panel’s Bid To Boost Legal Basis

As EPA writes new climate rules for the oil and gas sector, the regulation’s fate may hinge in part on House Democrats’ report that sought to bolster an important legal argument supporting the agency’s rules for the sector and potentially others whose emissions may be subject to regulation in the future. At issue is the ease with which EPA can begin regulating climate-warming pollution from industries it already regulates under section 111 of the air law for their conventional air...

EPA readies plan to lower RFS biofuel volumes

EPA is close to sending its overdue proposal setting biofuel blending volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for 2021 to the White House for pre-publication review, with recent reports indicating the plan may reduce blending volumes for this year in response to lowered fuel demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. By law, EPA must set final volumes by Nov. 30 each year for the following year, but the agency has yet to even propose volumes for 2021, citing difficulties...


D.C. Circuit stays RFS suit as EPA mulls reconsideration of 2020 rule

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has accepted EPA’s request to further delay litigation against the agency’s renewable fuel standard (RFS) for 2020 while the agency decides whether to reconsider the rule in the light of a recent high court ruling, rejecting biofuels groups’ motion to proceed with the case. In a brief Aug. 19 order , the court grants continued abeyance until Sept. 9 in RFS Power Coalition, et al. v. EPA , a...

EPA alumni urge broader expertise in PM NAAQS panel

Former EPA air and scientific staff are urging EPA to ensure greater breadth of expertise in its special panel that will assist the agency in reconsidering and likely tightening its particulate matter (PM) national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS), calling for a wider skillset than that of an Obama-era panel dismissed by the Trump EPA. In Aug. 19 comments to the agency, members of the Environmental Protection Network (EPN) of former EPA employees approve of the Biden administration’s decision to...

Separate EPA, NHTSA Auto Plans Reflect Looser Tie Between Agencies

The Biden administration’s separate proposals governing vehicle greenhouse gases and fuel economy from EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reflect a wider separation between the two agencies than previous rules, even if it is not a full “decoupling” as some environmentalists have advocated. During the Obama administration, officials “harmonized” EPA and NHTSA fuel economy standards, which California officials also largely adopted. The Trump administration’s rollback of vehicle standards was also jointly issued by the two agencies. But...

CBD targets farm emissions in Arizona, Colorado air plans

The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) is suing EPA over its approval of an Arizona air quality plan that the group says fails to control air emissions from farm equipment, and is threatening a lawsuit to force EPA to issue a reconsidered ozone reduction plan for the Denver area that the group says also fails to address agricultural sources. In a lawsuit filed Aug. 13 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, CBD challenges EPA’s June 16...

Environmentalists sue EPA to force RCRA regulation of PVC

Environmentalists are suing EPA for failing to act on its seven-year-old petition to regulate the common plastic polyvinyl chloride (PVC) as a hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA), arguing PVC releases toxic chemicals and carcinogens into the air, water and food chain. The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) Aug. 19 filed suit against EPA in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, arguing the agency violated both RCRA and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by...

Gulf Coast Industrial Plants Face Increased Scrutiny Over Equity Concerns

Two Gulf Coast industrial plants are facing increased scrutiny over their potential adverse effects on local minority communities, underscoring the Biden administration’s efforts to address concerns that such communities face a heavier pollution burden than other areas. In a bow to several state attorneys general and environmentalists, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Aug. 18 that it will now require a full environmental impact analysis of a proposed massive petrochemical plant in St. James Parish, LA, citing in particular...

EPA Officials Tout Range Of EJ Actions In Response To NEJAC Concerns

EPA political leaders are citing a wide array of ongoing and planned actions that they say will respond to a host of unfulfilled recommendations sought by the agency’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC), a body that was largely sidelined by the Trump administration but is now central to President Joe Biden’s equity agenda. Speaking on a virtual meeting of the NEJAC Aug. 18, a top agency leader as well as key program office officials lined up to pledge their...


Court extends stay as EPA weighs site-remediation air toxics rule

A federal appeals court has agreed to EPA’s request to extend for another 16 months a stay of litigation that seeks review of a Trump EPA air toxics rule that exempts waste-site remediation work from the regulation’s requirements, given the Biden administration’s intent to reconsider the requirements and take final action by the end of 2022. In an Aug. 18 order , the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit stayed the litigation -- Concerned Citizens for...

EJ Advocates Ask EPA For Partner Role In Selecting Air Monitoring Projects

Environmental justice (EJ) advocates are urging EPA to give them autonomy from state and municipal authorities in selecting community air monitoring projects that will receive agency funding, reflecting distrust between some groups and their local regulators over monitoring requirements for overburdened areas. Local “air districts have been the problem,” and prioritizing such local regulators with the new funding would really be a “disservice” to EJ communities, Beto Lugo-Martinez, executive director of the group Clean Air Now, which seeks to improve...

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