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.

Virginia air board denies compressor station on EJ grounds

The Virginia Air Pollution Control Board has denied a permit for a compressor station for the Mountain Valley Pipeline on environmental justice (EJ) grounds, handing a victory to environmentalists who have so far struggled to get state regulators to address such concerns in permit decisions. The Virginia board Dec. 3 voted 6-1 to deny the facility’s permit, finding that it failed to meet EJ requirements set in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit and in a Virginia...

EPA Agrees To Deadlines For Major Chemical Sector Air Toxics Rule Reviews

EPA has reached a proposed agreement with environmentalists to set deadlines to conduct overdue reviews of major chemical sector air toxics rules, in proceedings that may result in tougher standards to protect vulnerable communities but will impose stiff new mandates on hundreds of facilities as the sector is undergoing a significant expansion. In a notice scheduled for publication in the Federal Register Dec. 7, EPA agrees to issue proposed rules in 2022 and final rules in 2024 to update...

States Urge Court To Block Use Of Interim Carbon ‘Costs,’ Citing ‘Command’

More than a dozen Republican-led states are urging an appellate court to overturn a district court decision to dismiss their challenge to the Biden administration’s use of the social cost of carbon (SCC) metric, arguing the lower court overlooked the fact that a Biden executive order (EO) on the issue “purports to give a binding command to state agencies.” The states’ Dec. 3 opening brief in Missouri, et al. v. Joseph Biden, et al., pending in the U.S. Court...

EPA may propose additional biofuel ‘pathways’ for RFS

EPA is expected to propose expanding the number of methods biofuels providers may use to produce fuel that qualifies for credit under the renewable fuel standard (RFS) when it issues overdue plans for blending mandates for 2021 and 2022 in the coming days, according to news reports. Reuters reported over the weekend that when the agency issues the long-delayed volumes proposals, EPA will also move to expand the methods that qualify to generate renewable identification numbers, the compliance credits...

Split On ‘Recycling,’ Paper, Chemical Sectors Fight Over EPA Pyrolysis Rules

The paper industry is opposing the chemical sector’s push for EPA to exempt the thermal processes pyrolysis and gasification from strict Clean Air Act incineration rules, charging that labeling the processes as “recycling,” as chemical companies seek for plastics, would set an adverse precedent and create a competitive advantage for plastics. The petrochemical sector is stepping up its efforts to build pyrolysis and gasification units as a means to turn plastics into fuel and other useful items, saying such “advanced...

BP settles long-running enforcement suit at Indiana refinery

BP has agreed to pay a $512,000 fine as part of a settlement it entered into with EPA and environmentalists to resolve long-pending litigation over emissions at its Whiting, IN, refinery, near Chicago, though environmentalists recently sued EPA in an effort to toughen the facility’s permit. The Dec. 2 consent decree addresses alleged violations at the nation’s sixth largest and one of its oldest refineries, which was built in 1889 and can output more than 400,000 oil barrels per day...

Biofuels Groups Protest EPA Plan For Automatic RFS Compliance Delays

Biofuels groups are strongly opposing what they say are EPA’s plans to allow automatic extensions of compliance mandates with the renewable fuel standard (RFS), which they argue would give refiners a free pass to miss deadlines if EPA fails to set biofuel blending volumes on time as it has often failed to do in the past. At a Dec. 3 virtual public hearing, biofuels groups sparred with refiners over the agency’s latest proposal to again punt compliance deadlines, as EPA...

Sierra Club bemoans decision allowing Ameren to evade NSR remedy

The Sierra Club, which has backed EPA in a long-running new source review (NSR) enforcement case against an Ameren Missouri plant, is expressing disappointment that a federal appeals court rejected the government’s request to reconsider whether the company should be forced to install controls at a nearby facility to mitigate excess emissions. “We were disappointed to see that Ameren will not have to offset the pollution it discharged at Rush Island in violation of the Clean Air Act by adding...

CASAC Likely To Call For Significantly Tighter Annual And Daily PM Limits

EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) appears poised to back a significant strengthening of annual and daily federal limits for fine particulate matter (PM2.5), after a majority of members converged on a need for tougher standards to protect public health and go beyond EPA staff’s recommendation to tighten only the annual limit. During the second day of discussions by CASAC’s special panel overseeing EPA’s reconsideration of the Trump-era decision to retain all PM national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS)...

EPA Approves Four States’ Ozone Transport Plans Amid Scramble To Act

EPA has approved four southeastern states’ interstate ozone transport plans, finding they do not contribute “significantly” to ozone problems elsewhere and rejecting environmentalists’ criticisms of its methodology in assessing interstate emissions, as the agency scrambles to act on plans submitted by multiple states. In a notice published in the Federal Register Dec. 2, EPA gives final approval to state implementation plans (SIPs) submitted by Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. The plans assess whether states need to mitigate their...

EPA settlement with Louisville utility includes SEP

EPA and the Department of Justice (DOJ) are proposing a consent decree with Louisville Gas & Electric Company (LG&E) that includes a supplemental environmental project (SEP) the agencies are careful to note is authorized by Congress, as the Biden administration still grapples with whether it will revoke a ban on most SEPs imposed by the Trump DOJ. The Dec. 1 draft decree would resolve a July 2020 complaint and was lodged in U.S. District Court for the Western District of...

Appeals Court Denies Rehearing Requests In Key NSR Enforcement Case

A federal appellate court has rejected competing requests by the Justice Department (DOJ) and Ameren Missouri to reconsider a precedent-setting panel ruling that upheld prosecutors’ retroactive application of new source review (NSR) mandates as well as the power company’s challenge to a lower court’s remedy requiring controls at a nearby plant. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit in a Nov. 30 order in United States, et al. v. Ameren Missouri, et al., denied all rehearing requests...

Chamber Says EPA Waiver Denial Unlawfully Expands Offshore Permitting

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is backing a lawsuit brought by oil giant Chevron against EPA’s retraction of an offshore permit waiver for oil platform decommissioning, warning that the agency’s abrupt change of direction unlawfully expands its offshore air permitting powers and undermines regulatory certainty for industry. In a Nov. 29 amicus brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Chevron USA, Inc. v. EPA , the Chamber backs Chevron’s claims against...

EPA Seeks DOT Data On Hydrogen In Gas Pipelines To Shape Methane Rule

EPA is seeking data from the Transportation Department’s pipeline regulators about whether converting natural gas pipelines to transport lower-carbon hydrogen, as some in industry are weighing, could undermine the integrity of such facilities, noting that such data could help shape EPA’s proposed methane standards for oil and gas equipment. “That’s something that we really want to understand more, is how are pipelines and operations changing? Are we looking at a significant level of hydrogen, methane mixtures here? And what does...

States Raise Concern Over EPA Delay In Moving Heavy-Duty NOx Plan

Key states are raising concern that EPA has yet to advance a long-awaited proposal to cut nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from heavy-duty vehicles, sending letters to top officials underscoring the urgent need to issue a proposal in January 2022 to meet President Joe Biden’s goal for a final rule in December 2022. The Democratic attorney generals (AGs) from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut sent a Nov. 23 letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan and National Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy...

Environmentalists, Industry Clash Over EPA’s Oil & Gas Methane Plan

Environmental and public health groups are offering early pitches on how EPA could strengthen its proposed oil and gas methane rules -- including with stepped-up inspections for smaller operations and prohibiting routine gas flaring -- as they also endorse EPA’s concept of bolstering community monitoring of emissions leaks. However, representatives of the oil and gas sector are expressing a range of preliminary concerns about the Nov. 2 proposal, including the cost-effectiveness and feasibility of some requirements, while also pressing EPA...

EPA OIG, OAR Remain At Odds Over Air Toxics Risk Communication Plans

EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) continues to disagree with the agency’s air office over how to communicate air toxics risks to the public, despite a long-running dialogue between the OIG and the Office of Air and Radiation (OAR) that has partially resolved some points of contention. In a Nov. 29 letter , Inspector General Sean O’Donnell tells OAR acting chief Joe Goffman that recent additional steps the air office has proposed in a memo to improve risk communication do...

Coal Plants May Float Early Closure As Bargain For EPA To Ease GHG Rules

Owners of coal-fired power plants may offer to retire the units early rather than install expensive yet relatively inefficient measures to limit their greenhouse gas emissions after EPA issues expected “inside-the-fence” power sector GHG standards under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, some observers say. The sources widely expect EPA to proceed with a conservative proposal for limiting GHGs at existing fossil fuel-fired power plants, given that the Supreme Court is reviewing the agency’s underlying authority under that section...

EPA expands Denver, El Paso ozone ‘nonattainment’ zones

EPA has finalized its plans to enlarge areas near Denver and El Paso classified in “nonattainment” with federal ozone limits, pleasing environmentalists who fought for a larger zone in Colorado to limit emissions from oil and gas sources but setting up a possible clash with Texas regulators and industry that oppose such a designation around El Paso. In a notice scheduled for publication in the Federal Register Nov. 30, EPA expands the Denver nonattainment zone to include the whole...

Environmentalists’ Suit Over BP Refinery Could Test EPA’s Title V Policy

Environmentalists are suing EPA to force a response to their petition asking for the agency’s objection to an Indiana air permit granted to oil company BP’s Whiting, IN, refinery, in a dispute that could test the agency’s willingness to criticize state regulators’ choices under the Clean Air Act Title V operating permit program. In their complaint filed Nov. 23 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) and Sierra Club ask the court to...

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