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.

DOJ’s Kim Vows Focus On Corporate Crime, ‘Sector-Wide’ Civil Enforcement

Todd Kim, who leads the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Environment & Natural Resources Division (ENRD), plans to prioritize corporate environmental crimes as well as “sector-wide” civil enforcement as part of efforts to “encourage and incentivize compliance with environmental laws” by regulated entities. “I want to stress that enforcement of the criminal provisions of the environmental laws is a priority for me,” Kim said in Dec. 14 remarks to the American Bar Association’s virtual National Environmental Enforcement Conference. “Vigorous criminal enforcement...

North Dakota Asks High Court To Reinstate Trump Power Plant GHG Rule

North Dakota officials are asking the Supreme Court to re-instate the Trump EPA’s Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) power plant rule, taking a narrower approach than other petitioners in the case over the scope of EPA’s greenhouse gas authority under the Clean Air Act. The state in a Dec. 13 merits brief in consolidated litigation known as West Virginia, et al. v. EPA, et al., asks the high court to overturn a January ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals...

EPA gets new air enforcement director

EPA has tapped a former EPA regional lawyer and environmentalist to lead its air enforcement division after its former acting director, the “primary architect” of the agency’s $17 billion settlement with Volkswagen over its emissions cheating scandal, left for a position at Ford Motor Company. Mary Greene, a former EPA assistant regional counsel who most recently worked for the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), has been tapped as the new air enforcement division director within the Office of Enforcement & Compliance...

EPA announces community air monitoring grants

EPA Dec. 13 announced the availability of $20 million in competitive grants to provide communities with local air monitoring from Congress’ COVID-19 rescue funding, part of the agency’s broader effort to deliver greater environmental justice (EJ) to areas historically overburdened by pollution. “This funding will support communities that need better information about air quality in their neighborhoods and reflects EPA’s commitment to deliver environmental justice for our most vulnerable populations,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan in a statement. The grants,...

Despite Stance In High Court Litigation, EPA Hints At Support For E15 Fuel

Even as it opposes Supreme Court review of an appeals court ruling that bars most summertime sales of 15 percent ethanol (E15) fuel, EPA is opening the door for alternative policies to continue summer sales, such as measures that would place E15 on an equal regulatory footing with ubiquitous E10 fuel in certain states. In a Dec. 8 brief filed in Growth Energy v. American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) , EPA opposes high court review of the U.S. Court...

EPA Launches Series Of New Rules To Strengthen Major Policy Items

EPA is launching a series of new rulemakings to address major policy issues across its media areas, including new Clean Air Act emissions standards for power plants, a more-permanent measure defining the reach of the Clean Water Act and new rules governing perfluorinated chemicals, according to the agency’s just-released unified agenda. In addition, the agency is also setting new deadlines for its closely watched chemical risk management rules under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), according to the agenda ,...

Vilsack defends EPA plan to cut, then boost, RFS targets

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is defending EPA’s proposal to cut back, then later increase, required biofuel blending volumes under the renewable fuel standard (RFS), arguing the move merely reflects the reality of decreased overall fuel consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic. Reacting to criticism of the Dec. 7 proposal from lawmakers representing biofuels-producing states, Vilsack told Politico this week that the attacks on the rule are unwarranted. Vilsack, previously a governor of Iowa, is a longstanding supporter of biofuels. “It's...

EPA Offers Lengthy Timelines For Major Aspects Of Climate Agenda

EPA is floating new updates for its major climate regulatory initiatives addressing power plants, vehicles and the oil and gas sector, including new timelines for rules that may stretch out toward the end of President Joe Biden’s current four-year term. The updates are included in the agency’s Fall 2021 Unified Agenda, which was released Dec. 10. In one high-profile update to its plans, EPA projects that it will release proposed greenhouse gas standards for existing power plants in July 2022,...

CARB Adopts Landmark Small-Engine Rules, Truck Smog Check Program

California’s air board has approved landmark rules requiring new small off-road engines (SORE) used in lawn and other outdoor equipment to have zero emissions beginning in 2024, as well as a first-time smog check program for heavy-duty diesel trucks, both of which aim to dramatically cut conventional and climate pollution in the Golden State. “This is the biggest day for clean-air action in California in over 12 years, and it’s about time that diesel trucks face the kind of smog...

CASAC’s Call For Tighter PM Limits Could Pose Problems In Multiple States

EPA’s adoption of substantially tighter federal limits for fine particulate matter (PM2.5), as clean air science advisers are urging, would pose challenges for multiple states and especially California, state sources say, though some regions in the Golden State and elsewhere may have to rely on new federal rules to help attain any new PM2.5 standard. “California definitely has the steepest hill on this but they’re not the only ones -- Ohio, Pennsylvania, Idaho and Alaska have some issues, and if...

EPA Agrees To House Push To Boost EtO Air Monitors, ‘Consider’ Risks

EPA is moving to enhance air monitoring near facilities emitting the industrial solvent ethylene oxide (EtO), and will “consider” health risks in a forthcoming technology review for commercial sterilizers, but it remains unclear whether the agency will ultimately conduct a formal risk review sought by lawmakers, environmentalists and the agency’s Inspector General. Sources say that at a meeting with the bipartisan congressional EtO task force on Dec. 8, EPA Administrator Michael Regan and acting air chief Joe Goffman gave some...

EPA Faces Suit For Failing To Update Landfill Emission Estimate Methods

Environmentalists are threatening to sue EPA to force the agency to update its methods for estimating greenhouse gases and health-harming emissions from thousands of landfills, saying the agency has failed to revise the methods even after concluding in 2008 that the current process underestimates emissions by at least 25 percent. The Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), Chesapeake Climate Action Network and Sierra Club sent EPA a Dec. 9 notice of intent (NOI) to file suit if the agency fails to act...

EPA Plan For RFS’ ‘Biointermediates’ Use Balances Benefits, Fraud Risk

EPA’s proposed rule setting renewable fuel standard (RFS) blending volumes allows facilities that finish partially processed biofuels to gain valuable credit under the program, fulfilling a long-held wish of advanced biofuel producers while also treading carefully because of persistent fraud risks. Biofuel producers have lobbied EPA for years for the ability to use partially processed fuels, or “biointermediates,” in the production of finished fuels at another location in order to make RFS-qualified fuel. Taking this step would allow, for example,...

D.C. Circuit Remands Trump RFS Waivers, Allowing EPA To Scrap Them

A federal appeals court has granted EPA’s request for remand without vacatur of dozens of Trump-era approvals of renewable fuel standard (RFS) compliance waivers for small refiners, opening a path for EPA to scrap them, only a day after the agency proposed to deny all remaining requests for such waivers. The ruling will allow the agency to scrap the waivers should it choose to do so, in line with a tough new policy that denies all future issuance of the...

EPA Sends Heavy-Duty NOx Rule To OMB, Suggesting Deadline On Target

EPA has sent a draft proposed rule to limit nitrogen oxides (NOx) from heavy-duty vehicles to the White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) for interagency review, suggesting that officials are on target to propose the rule in January and finalize it next year, despite concerns from supporters that the rule was behind schedule. The agency sent the draft on Dec. 7, according to a notice on OMB’s Office of Information & Regulatory Affairs website , likely assuaging concerns...

Court schedules hearing over CASAC lawsuit

A federal district court has scheduled a hearing Dec. 22 in litigation brought by a former Trump-era EPA science adviser seeking to block the current Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) from advising the agency on its high-profile reconsiderations of Trump rules retaining particulate matter (PM) and ozone limits. In a brief Dec. 3 order, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted a motion by former EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) member Stanley Young, now joined by...

EPA Proposes Steep RFS Volume Cuts, But Plans To Deny Refiner Waivers

EPA is proposing significant reductions in biofuel blending volumes under the renewable fuel standard (RFS) for 2021 as compared to prior levels, along with a steep retroactive cut in 2020 levels, but is planning an increase in 2022 and also proposing to deny all petitions by small refiners to win economic hardship waivers from compliance. The widely expected decision, announced Dec. 7, attempts to balance the interests of biofuel producers and refiners, though neither side is especially happy with the...


EPA poised to propose aircraft particulate limits

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has completed pre-publication review of EPA’s proposal to limit particulate matter (PM) emissions from aircraft engines in line with internationally-agreed standards, clearing the way for issuance of the proposal. According to OMB’s website, the proposed rule cleared review Dec. 6., the final step before publication in the Federal Register . The rule will implement PM emissions standards for commercial aircraft engines agreed in February 2019 by the United Nations International Civil...

D.C. Circuit Restarts Group’s Suit Over EPA Vehicle Anti-Tampering Rules

An appellate court is restarting a long-pending lawsuit from racing enthusiasts and suppliers challenging provisions of a 2016 EPA heavy-duty sector greenhouse gas rule that were focused on tampering with emissions controls, with the court agreeing with plaintiffs’ request for a rapid briefing schedule. The suit, Racing Enthusiasts & Suppliers Coalition v. EPA , in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, challenges aspects of the Obama EPA’s Phase 2 GHG rule for trucks that the...

Pages

Not a subscriber? Sign up for 30 days free access to exclusive environmental policy reporting.