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’s Vehicle GHG Rule To Backload Mandates As Release Date Slips

EPA’s light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas proposal is expected to reserve the most stringent requirements for model-year 2026 (MY26) vehicles, in setting the stage for steeper emission cuts in later years, according to sources and press reports indicating formal release of the plan has slipped into August. An EPA source confirms release of the proposed rules beginning for MY23 vehicles will “not be this week,” signaling the landmark rules likely will be issued the week of Aug. 2 despite a Biden...

Feinstein, Padilla press Biden on EPA heavy-duty NOx rule

California Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D) and Alex Padilla (D) are urging President Joe Biden to press EPA to tighten nitrogen oxide (NOx) limits for heavy-duty trucks and align them with California rules enacted last year. The two sent a July 27 letter to Biden noting that NOx standards for on-highway trucks have not been revised in 20 years. “Given your administration’s priority of reducing carbon pollution from the transportation sector to fight the climate crisis, protect clean air and provide...

SBA Advocacy Signals Need For EPA Caution In Revising Trump Rules

An annual report from the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Advocacy is signaling to EPA and other agencies that they must take steps to protect small businesses when issuing ambitious rulemakings to reverse Trump administration rollbacks. The July report evaluates federal agencies’ compliance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) during fiscal year 2020, where the SBA’s advocacy office said its input resulted in reductions of regulatory burdens for small businesses leading to $2.259 billion in quantifiable cost savings. Also,...

Environmentalists Mount Last-Minute Push For Tough Vehicle GHG Rule

Environmentalists and energy efficiency advocates are ramping up last-minute pressure on EPA to issue stringent federal vehicle greenhouse gas standards expected to be proposed possibly this week, including releasing a new analysis suggesting the Biden administration should float rules equivalent to at least a 55-miles-per-gallon (mpg) standard for model-year 2026 vehicles to counter Trump administration rollbacks. “To recover the full emissions reductions that the Obama standards would have delivered, the new standards would need to reach a compliance level of...

Senate Democrats Float $100 Million For ‘Hyperlocal’ Air Monitoring Pilots

Eight Senate Democrats are proposing a bill to authorize $100 million for pilot projects of “hyperlocal” air monitoring programs for pollution “hotspots” as small as a single city block, in order to inform new EPA or legislative efforts to track and cut emissions in environmental justice (EJ) communities. The bill , titled the “Environmental Justice Air Quality Monitoring Act,” sets out a process where state, local and tribal air regulators would partner with local groups or “air quality data providers”...

As EPA Weighs Options, Air Advisors Urge Review Of GHG Authorities

As EPA weighs its options for regulating greenhouse gases from a range of sectors to address climate change, its advisors are urging officials to re-examine its legal authorities for limiting GHGs. In a draft report EPA’s Clean Air Act Advisory Committee (CAAAC) is preparing to issue this fall to mark the air act’s 50th anniversary, the panel notes that “it has been 13 years since EPA comprehensively reviewed its authority to address GHGs under the CAA and solicited public comment...

Critics urge NAS to drop Graham from radiation panel

Environmentalists are urging the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) to withdraw the provisional appointment of Bush-era regulatory review chief John Graham to a panel that is slated to advise the Energy Department (DOE) on a low-dose radiation research strategy, months after EPA removed him and other Trump appointees from its advisory board. In a July 22 letter , more than a dozen groups said they “object strongly” to Graham’s provisional appointment to NAS’ Committee on Developing a Long-Term Strategy for...

Chevron Attacks EPA ‘Reinterpretation’ Of Offshore Permitting As Unlawful

Oil company Chevron USA in a new legal filing is vowing to fight what it views as the Biden EPA’s unlawful new interpretation of Clean Air Act offshore air permitting requirements, which enabled the agency to reverse course and scrap a Trump-era approval of a permit for oil platform decommissioning off the California coast. Chevron filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit last month, in what could be a test case for the...

On Air Act’s 50th, Advisors Eye Fundamental Rethink Of EPA Policies

As the Clean Air Act celebrates its 50th anniversary, EPA’s advisors appear poised to recommend a thorough rethink of how the agency approaches control of criteria pollutants, air toxics and greenhouse gases, including re-examining legal authorities and regulatory methods. At a July 22 meeting of the Clean Air Act Advisory Committee (CAAAC), panel members outlined their draft recommendations that will inform a final report, requested by the Trump administration for submission to EPA possibly this fall, as part of a...

Autos Press OMB For ‘Harmonization’ Of EPA, DOT Vehicle Standards

Correction Appended The main automaker trade group is urging the Biden administration to ensure “maximized harmonization” between upcoming EPA and Department of Transportation (DOT) plans to tighten vehicle greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards, as agencies seek to issue proposed rulemaking language as soon as the week of July 26. Their call, detailed in a letter the Alliance for Automotive Innovation provided officials during a July 22 meeting, underscores statutory differences in the Clean Air Act and fuel economy...

NRDC seeks to strengthen state oil and gas rules for TENORM

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is calling for Congress to close gaps in federal law to allow EPA to address radioactive-containing waste from oil and gas drilling while also urging states to step up their regulation of the wastes, noting many states have not adopted such rules even as exploration and production have boomed. In a new report titled “A Hot Fracking Mess: How Weak Regulation of Oil and Gas Production Leads to Radioactive Waste in Our Water, Air,...

EPA Plans To Fill ‘Gap’ Left By Switch To Annual Air Toxics Reports

EPA staff say the agency intends to introduce “interim” measures to fill a gap left in air toxics data by the forthcoming switch from its national air toxics assessments (NATA), which are conducted every three or four years, to an annual reporting system, an effort aimed at addressing state concerns that the move would not provide adequate data. On a virtual meeting of the agency’s Clean Air Act Advisory Committee (CAAAC) July 21, Hillary Ward, a staffer at EPA’s Office...

Governors Reinforce Push For Higher Octane Ethanol Blends In Vehicle Rule

Midwestern governors are throwing their weight behind a push by biofuels advocates for EPA to allow higher ethanol blends as part of its forthcoming proposed rule that will likely tighten light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas standards, part of a broader effort by the biofuels sector to maintain its markets during a shift to vehicle electrification. In a July 23 letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan and White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Acting Director Shalanda Young, Minnesota Gov. Tim...

House Adds Test Method Reporting Mandate To Sweeping PFAS Bill

The comprehensive House-passed bill to strengthen regulation of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) includes an amendment requiring companies to submit analytical reference standards used to test for the chemicals in a variety of media, backing environmentalists’ calls to add a similar mandate to EPA’s proposed TSCA reporting rule for the chemicals. Lawmakers approved H.R. 2467, also known as the PFAS Action Act, on July 21 by a 241-183 margin though its fate in the Senate is uncertain. The final bill...

EPA May Seek To Toughen Power Plant Air Toxics Limits Under MATS Rule

EPA acting air chief Joe Goffman is signaling a possible EPA move to tighten technology limits for power plants’ air toxics, one of a number of priority Clean Air Act regulatory measures officials continue to examine, including air quality standards for ozone, new nitrogen controls for trucks and greenhouse gas limits for power plants. Speaking to members of EPA’s Clean Air Act Advisory Committee (CAAAC) July 21, Goffman reiterated the agency’s unified agenda plans to release in August its proposal...

RFS proposals delayed as White House weighs political issues

EPA’s proposed biofuel blending volumes rules for 2021 and possibly 2022 under the renewable fuel standard (RFS) are delayed pending a decision from the White House on how to proceed, as the Biden administration deals with competing political priorities, according to news reports. Reuters reported July 20 that the White House has paused EPA’s issuance of the proposals, pending a review of the issues that pit Midwestern biofuels supporters against backers of the oil industry and also some Democrats...

Comprehensive PFAS Bill Clears House But Faces Senate Hurdles

The House, with backing from Democrats and nearly two dozen Republicans, approved comprehensive legislation that would require regulation of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) under various environmental laws and set deadlines for EPA action, sending the bill to the evenly divided Senate, where it will likely face greater hurdles. During floor debate, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) appeared to acknowledge potential Senate scrutiny for the measure as he welcomed a careful look by the Senate at the issues raised...

Top Biden Advisor Seeks CEQ, OMB Oversight Of Justice40 Spending

A top White House advisor is urging lawmakers to provide increased resources to the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and Office of Management & Budget (OMB) to ensure they can scrutinize how EPA and other agencies implement the Biden administration’s just-announced environmental justice spending initiative. “We feel strongly that CEQ would be adequately resourced and charged with the lead responsibility and oversight of Justice40. Also, OMB should receive resources to monitor and track investments that must be filled to meet...

EPA Plan To Expand Texas Ozone Designations Tests Biden’s Approach

Oil producers, Texas air regulators and El Paso business interests are fighting EPA’s proposed expansion of a neighboring New Mexico area in “nonattainment” with federal ozone limits, in a test of the Biden administration’s more-expansive approach to such designations. But in a sign of the looming battle, environmentalists are backing a similar proposal in Colorado where the agency is seeking to expand Denver’s non-attainment zone to include a nearby county that incudes oil-and-gas drilling operations. In comments to EPA supplied...

White House Pilots Host Of EPA Programs Under Justice40 Benefit Mandate

The White House is targeting a host of EPA infrastructure funding and other programs for a government-wide pilot project under its Justice40 initiative, which aims to ensure 40 percent of the benefits from certain types of federal spending flow to environmental justice (EJ) communities, according to just-issued interim guidance. The EPA programs include the drinking water state revolving fund, the clean water state revolving fund, the brownfields program, the Superfund remedial program, the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act program and the...

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