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 sends air toxics rule for copper smelters to OMB

EPA has sent its proposed air toxics risk-and-technology review (RTR) rule for the primary copper smelting sector to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for pre-publication review, one of several such rules the agency is issuing under judicial deadlines. According to OMB’s website, EPA sent the proposal for review Aug. 4. OMB review typically takes up to 90 days, but can be faster or slower, depending on the circumstances. Under the Clean Air Act, EPA is required...

Biden Sets Long-Term Auto Strategy As Scramble Starts On EPA Plan

EPA’s just-issued proposal to strengthen near-term vehicle greenhouse gas standards is prompting a scramble to influence its final stringency and compliance flexibilities, even as President Joe Biden is simultaneously setting a longer-term electrification goal for industry and ordering future multi-pollutant standards for cars and heavy trucks. “Folks, the rest of the world is moving ahead. We’ve got to step up,” Biden said during an Aug. 5 event at the White House to announce a new executive order (EO) on developing...

EPA Launches ‘Targeted,’ Two-Step Process To Cut Truck Emissions

Driven by President Joe Biden’s executive order on vehicle emissions, EPA is launching a “targeted” two-step process to cut emissions from heavy-duty trucks, with a first phase that will impose tougher nitrogen oxides (NOx) limits for all trucks while tightening greenhouse gas standards for select segments, to be followed by more “robust” GHG reductions later for all trucks. In an Aug. 5 statement on EPA’s plans, the agency says the first rulemaking, to be finalized in 2022, will apply to...

EPA says PFAS council has completed initial recommendations

EPA’s council of senior staff tasked with developing strategies for addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) has delivered its first slate of recommendations to Administrator Michael Regan but the agency is not releasing them publicly, a spokesperson tells Inside EPA . “The EPA Council on PFAS has met its commitment to share its initial recommendations with Administrator Regan within 100 days and is continuing to work internally on urgently needed near-term actions and the whole-of-EPA multi-year action plan,” the spokesperson...

OIG Reports EPA Has Yet To Resolve Dozens Of Its Recommendations

Updated Story EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) says the agency has yet to resolve 25 recommendations that were disputed by officials when they were first issued in numerous earlier investigations on a wide variety of topics -- and that EPA has not yet fully implemented over 100 other recommendations with which it had previously agreed. The OIG Aug. 4 released a “compendium” report that lists all of its recommendations that are still outstanding. The office counts...

Study highlights role of consumer products in ozone formation

A new air quality study shows the role played in ozone formation by volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in industrial products and consumer products such as deodorants and cleaning agents is “as important to ozone production as fossil fuel VOCs” in urban areas, a finding that may require changes in air emissions modeling and regulation. The finding, published in the Aug. 10 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by researchers at several U.S. universities and the National...

Biden To Set Goal Of 50 Percent ZEVs By 2030, Order Further Auto Rules

President Joe Biden is poised to issue an executive order (EO) establishing a federal goal of making half of all light-duty vehicles sold in 2030 battery electric, plug-in hybrid or fuel cell vehicles, while also directing EPA and Transportation Department (DOT) officials to develop long-term standards for passenger cars and heavy trucks. In tandem with a slated White House event Aug. 5, EPA and DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are also poised to announce planned proposals for strengthening...

Deepening Split, 4th Circuit Finds U.S. Agencies Can Face State Air Penalties

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in a precedential decision has found that federal entities are not immune from state efforts to collect “punitive” civil penalties for Clean Air Act violations, while also backing a Justice Department (DOJ) drive to remove North Carolina’s case to federal court, deepening a circuit split on both issues. In its 2-1 ruling issued July 29 in State of North Carolina, ex rel.; Elizabeth S. Biser; North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality...

Former Research Chief Sees Test Methods Aiding PFAS Disposal Studies

Former acting EPA research chief Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta says detection of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) is “central” to research into the chemicals’ toxicity and ways to safely destroy them, adding new urgency to the debate on whether the agency should use TSCA reporting mandates to collect PFAS-specific detection methods. During an exclusive interview with Inside TSCA shortly before she retired as acting chief for the Office of Research and Development (ORD), Orme-Zavaleta said detecting and measuring “what’s out there...

EPA Submits MATS Plan To OMB, Opening Door To Tougher Limits

EPA has sent its proposal to revise the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) for power plants for White House regulatory review, in a rulemaking that will likely scrap a Trump-era finding that it is not “appropriate and necessary” to regulate the plants and may also tighten emissions limits under a related technology review. According to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) website, OMB received the proposal Aug. 3, starting a review process that typically takes up...

Frustration Grows Among EJ Advocates Over Lack Of ‘Action’ By Biden Team

Environmental justice (EJ) advocates are growing frustrated by the Biden administration’s lack of concrete projects and other actions to address the issue, despite officials’ just-released interim guidance for agencies to prioritize funding and delayed plans for a new geospatial mapping tool to identify the neediest communities. Six months into the new administration, there are no actual projects to point to as examples of success, one activist laments. This source says even as the frameworks are developed around the interim guidance...

EPA unveils science advisory board membership

EPA has unveiled the members of its newly reconstituted Science Advisory Board (SAB), including assignments to new subcommittees on the science of environmental justice and climate change, reflecting Biden administration priorities, in addition to existing panels on chemical assessment, drinking water, economics, agriculture and radiation. The 47-member chartered SAB “will ensure that EPA is receiving sound science-based advice to inform our work to protect people and the environment from pollution,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan. “We worked expeditiously and deliberately...

Citing Climate, Newsom Suspends Rules, Seeks Incentives To Boost Grid

Citing “extreme climate impacts,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is suspending pollution regulations and calling for a monetary incentive program to relieve industrial demand on the power grid, while also easing permitting requirements to advance clean energy projects such as battery storage. “California leads the nation with its ambitious clean energy goals, and with the climate crisis threatening communities across the West, we must take decisive action to scale up and speed up our transition to a 100 percent clean...

Industry Groups Hint At Suit Over EPA’s Landmark Listing Of 1-BP As HAP

A broad industry coalition is warning EPA that it must tread carefully as it moves to list the solvent 1-bromopropane (1-BP) as a hazardous air pollutant (HAP), the first such listing since Congress amended the air act, and that the agency must give facilities that will be subject to new air toxics rules time to get controls in place or find substitutes. In July 26 comments , the Air Advocacy Coalition, a group whose members include American Chemistry Council, American...

Possible ZEV ‘Goal’ In EPA Vehicle Rule Sparks Environmental Protests

Environmental groups are criticizing as inadequate a potential nonbinding zero emission vehicle (ZEV) goal in EPA’s upcoming greenhouse gas (GHG) proposal for light-duty vehicles, expected to be released within days, arguing the reported goal of 40 percent ZEV sales by 2030 would be insufficient to counter climate change and reduce air quality problems. The environmentalists’ attacks come amid reports that EPA and the administration are eyeing the inclusion of longer-term GHG or ZEV goals -- or both -- as part...

9th Circuit Backs EPA’s ‘Exceptional’ Air Events Policy In Rejecting Challenge

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit is supporting EPA’s policy granting states retroactive regulatory waivers for “exceptional” air pollution events, rejecting a lawsuit by Arizona residents challenging the agency’s 2019 redesignation of the Phoenix-Mesa area as in attainment with the 2008 ozone standard. “Because of a major wildfire in southeast California in 2015 (the ‘Lake Fire’), six air quality monitors in the Phoenix region registered abnormally high concentrations of ozone, in excess of...

House approves FY22 EPA spending bill

The House has approved a fiscal year 2022 appropriations bill that includes funding for EPA roughly the same as the $11.4 billion the Appropriations Committee developed, making only a few minor changes to the agency’s budget with amendments during floor debate. By a 219-208 vote on July 29, the chamber backed the “minibus” bill combining FY22 provisions from seven appropriations proposals including the interior and environment package that funds EPA. The floor vote follows July 1 approval by the Appropriations...

GHG-Cutting Tax Credits For Factories Clear Senate Infrastructure Talks

A Senate bipartisan infrastructure deal negotiated with the White House contains $8 billion in tax credits for manufacturing facilities that reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, or produce or recycle energy-related products, as part of a broader proposal for $550 billion in new spending to upgrade the electric grid, rebuild roads and bridges, and expand rail and mass transit, among other projects. The manufacturing credits are notable because they are similar to provisions contained in a clean-energy tax package approved by...

EPA reaches ozone agreement with Northeast states

EPA and Northeast state officials have reached an agreement for how to address upstream ozone pollution in the region, with the agency agreeing to take final action on “good neighbor” plans from six states that explain how they will limit their downwind emissions. The agreement is laid out in a proposed consent decree announced in the July 29 Federal Register that, if approved by the court, would resolve State of New York, et al. v. Regan in the...

EPA, DOJ settle with another ‘defeat device’ seller

EPA and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have announced another settlement with a seller of unlawful emissions “defeat devices,” this time with Advanced Flow Engineering (aFE), an automotive parts maker and distributor in Corona, CA, which agreed to stop making and installing parts that bypass EPA-approved emissions controls. The aftermarket effort is one of EPA’s top compliance initiatives and the agency last year touted its success in every region of the country, though the Office of Inspector General July 14...

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