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.

Biofuels Producers Seek Role In Providing Near-Term, Low-GHG Fuels

Biofuels advocates are seeking to carve out a role for their industry as a provider of near-term cuts in greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector, pressing the Biden EPA to allow higher ethanol blends in motor fuel as the administration balances its support of biofuels with a push to greatly expand the use of electric vehicles (EVs). In a Feb. 2 interview with Inside EPA , Emily Skor, CEO of biofuels group Growth Energy, outlined her organization’s vision of...

DOJ seeks to pause suit over EPA oil & gas methane rollback

The Biden administration is urging an appellate court to pause litigation challenging the Trump EPA’s rollback of direct methane standards for new oil and gas facilities, a major policy that top administration officials have already said they will review and likely try to reverse. The request comes in a Feb. 1 motion from the Biden Justice Department (DOJ) urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to pause its consideration of State of California, et al....

Vilsack pledges support for RFS, biofuels if confirmed as USDA chief

Tom Vilsack, President Joe Biden’s nominee for secretary of agriculture, is offering support for EPA’s renewable fuel standard (RFS) and other federal efforts to promote biofuels, as the sector battles with oil sector opponents and skepticism from some environmentalists and Democrats over the environmental merits of biofuels. Vilsack, the former Obama-era agriculture secretary and a previous Democratic Iowa governor, is an advocate of biofuels, and while the Department of Agriculture (USDA) is not directly responsible for the RFS, it does...

EPA Aims To Issue Long-Delayed Federal Landfill Methane Plan By May

EPA is notifying a federal appeals court that it intends to issue in May a long-delayed federal plan implementing landfill methane limits in the vast majority of states, and the agency is also asking that oral arguments scheduled for Feb. 22 over a Trump EPA rule delaying the deadlines for the federal plan be postponed due to the pending action. Joe Goffman, the Biden EPA’s acting air chief, detailed the timeline for the plan in a Feb. 1 letter to...


States Oppose DOJ Bid To Halt Suit Over State Vehicle GHG Programs

A coalition of a dozen Republican attorneys general (AGs) is objecting to the Biden administration’s bid to halt litigation over the Trump EPA’s efforts to block state vehicle greenhouse gas programs in order to review a potential change in policy, creating a possible legal roadblock for an expected effort to reverse the Trump policy. The AGs in a Feb. 3 filing to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit say the potential reversal is a reason...


Fight Between Pennsylvania, Maryland Creates Ozone Policy Test For EPA

Correction Appended A fight between Pennsylvania and Maryland over the Keystone State’s contributions to high ozone levels on the East Coast that EPA will have to resolve poses an early test for the Biden administration’s policy on interstate air pollution, with a judicial deadline looming for the agency to finalize a plan on curbing ozone transport. EPA held a Feb. 2 virtual hearing on Maryland’s request for the agency to force Pennsylvania to impose tougher nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions limits...

Former CASAC Chairman Frey to join EPA as senior science advisor

Chris Frey, a former chairman of EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) and vocal critic of Trump-era air quality rules, is poised to join the agency as a senior science advisor, according to North Carolina State University where Frey is currently a professor of environmental engineering. Frey previously led the full chartered CASAC, and chaired a specialized panel used under the Obama administration to evaluate the risks of particulate matter (PM) air pollution. He has been tapped to serve...

DOJ Seeks To Halt State Vehicle GHG Suit As Automakers Vow Talks

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has requested that a federal appeals court suspend litigation filed by California and others over the Trump EPA’s efforts to prohibit state vehicle greenhouse gas programs that are more stringent than federal rules, in order to allow the Biden administration to reconsider the policy. And the remaining automakers who had sided with the Trump administration to oppose stricter state vehicle GHG rules are now moving Feb. 2 to withdraw from the suit . In addition,...


Refiners, Biofuels Groups Battle Over EPA’s 2020 RFS Production Goals

Refiners and biofuels groups are sparring in legal briefs over whether the Trump EPA’s renewable fuel standard (RFS) production goals for 2020 were too low or too high, in a case that poses significant implications for the Biden administration’s approach to setting RFS volumes for future compliance years. In the consolidated case RFS Power Coalition, et al. v. EPA, et al. , pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, oil sector groups argue that...

Appellate Judge Doubts CERCLA Waiver Case But Suit’s Outcome Unclear

One of three appellate judges hearing argument in litigation over the scope of exemptions from air emissions reporting under the Superfund law for facilities with Clean Air Act (CAA) permits appeared to doubt environmentalists’ claim that the emissions must be reported to the public, but the eventual outcome of the suit remains unclear. At argument the position of the other two judges was uncertain, with one questioning opposing council -- representing a steel mill -- on whether a CAA permit...

D.C. Circuit Ruling Complicates States’ Efforts To Meet Ozone Standards

A federals appeals court is scrapping key provisions of EPA’s rule for how states should implement ozone national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) including emissions trading and “contingency” air pollution control measures, creating major new complications for states that were already struggling with plans to meet the NAAQS. In a Jan. 29 unanimous opinion for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Sierra Club, et al. v. EPA , written by Judge David Tatel on...


GM Auto GHG Goal Spurs Mixed Reaction, Calls To Support EPA Rules

General Motors’ (GM) newly announced goal of eliminating tailpipe emissions from its vehicle fleet is spurring a mixed reaction, with experts saying that achieving the target would be groundbreaking but cautioning that GM will have to answer questions about which EPA greenhouse gas rules it might support to reach the goal. “GM has put forth an aspiration that is line with where the nation needs to go” on GHG emissions, one environmentalist says, reacting to GM’s Jan. 28 announcement. But...

EPA, Forest Service develop wildfire smoke map tool

EPA and the U.S. Forest Service are jointly developing an improved “map” tool to inform the public of wildfire smoke risks, staff from both agencies say, using data collected from low-cost air quality sensors to complement information from official monitoring stations and expand the spatial scope of air quality information. On a Jan. 28 webinar, Ron Evans, a staffer with EPA’s air office, outlined the pilot project run jointly under the Interagency Wildland Fire Air Quality Response Program. The fire...

Environmental coalition urges quick action on climate ‘superpollutants’

A coalition of 12 environmental groups is calling on EPA and the Biden administration to take quick action on tackling climate “superpollutants” -- including methane, hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) and black carbon -- in a bid to move fast on domestic greenhouse gas cuts and mobilize similar international action. “With your leadership, the U.S. can seize the significant national and international opportunities to reduce emissions of the short-lived super pollutants to complement aggressive action to cut carbon dioxide,” the groups write in...

Industry Win In High Court GHG ‘Removal’ Fight May Not Mean Tort Victory

If the Supreme Court sides with the oil sector on a key procedural question of whether to “remove” climate nuisance cases filed against it by a slew of state and local governments to federal court, sources say it would be only “round one” in the landmark litigation and no guarantee of the industry’s success in keeping the cases in federal court or fighting the merits of the claims. Instead, a win for oil companies in the pending case Mayor and...

D.C. Circuit Judges Query Industry, EPA Over Obama Wood Heaters Rule

Appellate judges at Jan. 28 oral argument pressed a wood heaters manufacturing group on whether it has standing and a “ripe” claim for its suit claiming a 2015 EPA air rule for the devices is too strict, but also queried the agency on the strength of the record demonstrating it properly accounted for testing variability in the rule’s audit mandates. In Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association (HPBA), v. EPA , pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District...

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