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.


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...

3rd Circuit Set To Hear Argument In CERCLA Reporting Waiver Case

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit is set to hear oral argument Jan. 29 in a case of first impression that seeks to upend a lower court’s decision providing a potentially precedent-setting exemption from Superfund reporting requirements where Clean Air Act (CAA) permits exist for a facility. Environmentalists allege the U. S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania erred in various ways when it exempted a steel mill from reporting requirements under the Comprehensive Environmental...

EPA asks D.C. Circuit to stay refiners’ RFS waiver suits

EPA is asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to put on hold consolidated litigation filed by small refiners challenging the agency’s denial in September of dozens of requests for renewable fuel standard (RFS) waivers, aiming to halt the cases pending a ruling by the Supreme Court on the agency’s waiver policy. In an unopposed Jan. 26 motion filed in the consolidated case Kern Oil and Refining Co., v. EPA , the agency says that...

Biden Climate Orders Ensure EPA Role, With Many Details Still Pending

President Joe Biden’s climate executive orders (EOs) signed Jan. 27 ensure a prominent role for EPA in the administration’s government-wide effort to tackle greenhouse gases, but questions linger on the precise scope of future agency actions and the process for engaging stakeholders on GHG controls for many sectors. The directives include a new “omnibus” climate change EO focused on coordination of domestic and international efforts, as well as a new memo and separate EO aimed at revamping agency scientific integrity...

D.C. Circuit Rejects Call To Force EPA Restoration Of 2016 RFS Biofuel Goal

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has rejected biofuels producers’ request to force EPA to swiftly restore a biofuels blending target that the agency cut from the 2016 renewable fuel standard (RFS), although the eventual fate of the fuels volume is unclear and the Biden administration will have to resolve it. In a short Jan. 27 per curiam order in Americans for Clean Energy, et al. v. EPA , D.C. Circuit Judges Judith Rogers,...

EPA Poised To Defend Obama-Era Wood Heaters Air Rule In D.C. Circuit

EPA is preparing to defend its 2015 new source performance standards (NSPS) emissions rule for wood heaters at Jan. 28 oral argument, with the Biden administration expected to fight claims from wood stove makers that the rule’s post-sales audit policy is unlawful because it fails to account for variability in laboratory testing of heaters. The agency is backed by 11 states that are seeking to defend the NSPS in the suit , Hearth Patio and Barbecue Association (HPBA), et al....

Volkswagen High Court Petition Tests EPA Auto Air Enforcement Authority

Volkswagen (VW) is urging the Supreme Court to hear a case testing the scope of EPA’s power to enforce Clean Air Act (CAA) emissions controls for automobiles, claiming that a regional appeals court erred in finding that states and municipalities can pursue enforcement actions against automakers for post-sales software updates in vehicle fleets. In its Jan. 21 petition for high court review, the major automaker in Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., et al., Petitioners v. The Environmental Protection Commission of...


EPA landfill methane rule critics cite ACE ruling to bolster suit

A coalition of nine states and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) say the recent federal appeals court ruling vacating the Trump EPA’s Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) power plant climate rule bolsters their pending case which challenges as unlawful a separate agency rule punting deadlines for municipal solid waste landfills to cut methane emissions. In a Jan. 26 letter to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, EDF along with California and eight other states pursuing the...


Biden Order Might Spur Carbon Cost Hike, Helping Justify EPA GHG Rules

President Joe Biden's recent climate change executive order (EO) is expected to spur a significant increase in the interim social cost of carbon (SCC), the metric used to quantify the benefits of greenhouse gas rules, with key advocates pressing it to be set as high as $125 per ton, up to four times the Obama-era value, which would help EPA and other agencies to justify sweeping new GHG polices. The EO, which Biden issued Jan. 21, is the first in...

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