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.

Final EPA Methane Reporting Rule Narrows Definition Of ‘Large’ Releases

EPA’s just-released final update to oil and gas sector greenhouse gas reporting requirements scraps a proposed tonnage threshold for defining “large events” subject to new reporting, responding to concerns from industry and the agency’s science advisers that such a threshold could have captured even small leaks. This decision is one of several concessions to industry in the May 6 final updates to “subpart W” reporting requirements, with EPA in its final rule also touting flexibilities such as new options for...

Appellate Court Backs Use Of SILs In Air Permits As EPA Readies Guide

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit is backing Louisiana air regulators’ use of “significant impact levels” (SILs) to approve a gas export terminal’s air permit, reinforcing the legality of the screening tools ahead of EPA guidance that will address environmentalists’ concerns that SILs enable industry to emit excess pollution. Environmentalists have long contested the legality of SILs, which are EPA-set values that are used to determine whether emissions increases from an industrial source “contribute” to air quality...

In Precedent, 3rd Circuit Rejects Pennsylvania Challenge To EPA’s FIP Power

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit has rejected challenges by Pennsylvania and operators of coal-fired power plants to EPA’s federal ozone plan imposing emissions controls on plants in the state, in a precedential decision that upholds EPA’s right to impose a federal plan even where a state has modified its own plan to address shortcomings. In its unanimous ruling May 2 in Keystone-Conemaugh Projects LLC v. EPA , a three-judge panel upholds EPA’s federal implementation plan (FIP)...

ATSDR Publishes Draft Profiles For Two Chemicals Seen As EPA Targets

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is seeking comment on draft updates to its toxicological profiles for two chemicals EPA has marked as priorities in recent years: naphthalene, which the agency has named as a candidate for TSCA evaluation, and acrolein, which it has sought to limit in several air and water actions. ATSDR posted both draft documents, along with one for the chemical n-hexane, for public comment on May 3. While ATSDR’s profiles are non-binding, they...


In Key Test Case, Industry Backs EPA’s Use Of ‘Exceptional Events’ Policy

Major industry groups are joining local business and municipal organizations to defend a first-time legal challenge of EPA’s use of its exceptional events policy to exclude the air quality effects of Canadian wildfire smoke when it determined in 2022 that Detroit was attaining federal ozone standards. In amicus briefs filed earlier this week in Sierra Club v. EPA , the groups are urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit to reject environmentalists’ lawsuit seeking to reverse...

GOP Formally Begins CRA Attacks Over EPA’s Car, Truck Emissions Rules

Capitol Hill Republicans have formally introduced two Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolutions targeting EPA’s car and truck emissions regulations, a move that tees up a political battle over the rules even as the measures are unlikely to be enacted given near-certain Biden administration vetoes. Sen. Pete Ricketts (R-NE) and Rep. John James (R-MI) on May 1 introduced companion CRA resolutions targeting EPA’s multi-pollutant standards for model year 2027 and later passenger vehicles. Also, Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Rep. Russ...

EPA Plans ‘Comprehensive’ Guide for State ‘Minor Source’ NSR Permitting

EPA is crafting a new draft guide that will set out “comprehensive” details on how states should administer “minor source” new source review (NSR) air permits, and is also seeking to more clearly define pollution sources’ “potential to emit” (PTE) -- a concept common to various Clean Air Act provisions -- a top air office official told state regulators last week. In an April 25 presentation to the Association of Air Pollution Control Agencies (AAPCA) Spring Meeting held in Indianapolis,...

EPA Publishes Planned Tightening Of ‘Project Accounting’ Air Permit Rule

After a lengthy delay, EPA is formally publishing its proposed revision to the Trump-era Project Emissions Accounting Rule (PEAR), which redefines “projects” subject to new source review (NSR) air permitting requirements in order to prevent industry circumvention. EPA will publish the proposal in the Federal Register May 3, requiring public comment be submitted by July 3. The agency released the plan in February, outlining changes that aim to allay environmentalists’ fears that the 2020 PEAR otherwise might allow industry...

EPA deal in Nevada ‘good neighbor’ suit would lift stay

EPA has reached agreement with the Nevada Cement Company to settle suits brought against the agency’s Good Neighbor Plan (GNP) interstate air rule, in a deal that lifts a stay on the controversial rule in Nevada while also requiring the company to either install additional controls, or demonstrate why more controls are unnecessary. In a May 1 Federal Register notice , EPA outlines the proposed deal that would settle two lawsuits in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the...

Group’s Analysis Calls NEPA ‘Scapegoat’ For Project Permitting Delays

A new analysis from the Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) argues that the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is becoming a “scapegoat” for permitting delays, pushing back against claims that the statute or its implementing regulations need a fundamental overhaul to speed clean energy and various other types of projects. “There are calls from across the political spectrum for ‘reforming’ the 55-year-old foundational [NEPA] statute, under the assumption that the sometimes lengthy and complicated environmental review process the act can...

GOP States Urge Justices To Send SIP Denial Suits To Regional Courts

A coalition of 17 mainly GOP-led states is asking the Supreme Court to back Utah and Oklahoma’s argument that regional appeals courts must hear challenges to EPA denials of states’ plans for curbing interstate ozone, escalating a legal fight with broad implications for Clean Air Act litigation over state implementation plans (SIPs) in general. The states, led by Alabama, filed a May 1 amicus brief in Oklahoma, et al. v. EPA, et al , where petitioners are hoping to...

Regan Says FY25 Request Seeks To Boost ‘Capacity’ For Sector-Based Rules

EPA Administrator Michael Regan told House appropriators that the agency’s fiscal year 2025 budget request for significantly higher staffing levels would help build “capacity” to write future rulemaking packages for cement and other manufacturing sectors similar to its recent issuance of four major rules for the power-generating sector. His comments during an April 30 House Appropriations subcommittee hearing come as Republicans renewed concerns that the power plant rules would effectively force a shift away from coal-fired power plants. In response...

EPA poised to tighten copper smelter air rule

EPA is preparing to issue a final rule tightening air toxics limits for primary copper smelters, after the regulation cleared White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) interagency review April 26, paving the way for Administrator Michael Regan to sign the rule that will likely add limits for mercury and other harmful air pollutants. EPA is under a judicial deadline to issue the final rule by May 2, imposed in litigation brought by environmentalists to force tougher regulation in...

Ethanol Groups Challenge Fuel Economy Formula In EPA’s Auto Rule

Several ethanol groups are challenging EPA’s update to test-fuel requirements, adopted alongside the agency’s final passenger vehicle emissions rulemaking, claiming that a revised fuel economy calculation to account for the test fuel unlawfully boosts the stringency of fuel economy standards. The April 26 petition for review , Texas Corn Producers et al., v. Michael Regan , filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, is separate from broader litigation in the D.C. Circuit that Republican-led states are...

CEQ Issues Tougher NEPA Rule While Downplaying Fears On Permit Delays

The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) has finalized its controversial Phase 2 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) rule strengthening review and mitigation requirements while downplaying fears that the measure will slow permitting for a range of energy, transportation and other projects. “Thanks to President [Joe] Biden’s leadership, the time to complete the most extensive form of environmental review is already coming down: agencies are completing a higher proportion of environmental impact statements (EIS) in under two years than...


Rebutting Critics, EPA Touts ‘Traditional’ Focus In Power Plant GHG Rule

EPA is arguing its just-released power plant greenhouse gas standards comply with the Supreme Court’s direction in West Virginia v. EPA to focus on “traditional” pollution controls, though critics say the rule’s reliance on carbon capture and storage (CCS) effectively makes it a re-run of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan (CPP) that the high court struck down in 2022. The debate about the rule’s adherence to the court’s West Virginia decision -- which barred standards based on shifting...

Judges Offer No Clues On Biogas Producers’ Challenge To EPA’s RFS Rule

Federal appellate judges are weighing arguments by biogas producers that EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) rule setting biofuel volumes for 2023-2025 unlawfully regulates the sector for the first time but a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit offered no signs at oral argument which way it would rule. At argument April 25 in Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas v. EPA , Judges Patricia Millett and Bradley Garcia, both Democratic appointees, pressed biogas...

EPA Science Advisors Urge NAAQS Process Revision, Eye New Pollutants

EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) is moving to adopt a recommendation for the agency to return to a more comprehensive process to review federal air standards that would weigh wider policy options and provide more opportunities for revision of key documents, while also calling for EPA to consider limits for new pollutants. At an April 25 meeting, members of the seven-member panel considered a draft letter crafted by committee Chair Elizabeth Sheppard, a University of Washington environmental professor,...

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