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.

Midwest House members seek to block retroactive RFS cuts

Midwestern House lawmakers from both parties have introduced legislation to stop EPA from making any retroactive cuts to biofuels blending obligations under the renewable fuel standard (RFS), as the agency nears issuance of proposed volumes for 2021 and 2022 and a possible reduction in 2020 volumes. The bill introduced Nov. 23, H.R. 6071, is sponsored by Rep. Ashley Hinson, (R-IA) and 14 bipartisan co-sponsors from biofuels-producing states. It would prevent EPA from reducing renewable volume obligations (RVOs) and blending percentage...

EPA Plans To Revise Or Scrap Farm Emissions Air Reporting Exemption

EPA intends to revise or scrap entirely the Trump administration’s rule exempting thousands of intensive animal-rearing farms from air emissions reporting under community right-to-know law, asking a court to remand the regulation without vacatur during a coming reconsideration, as environmentalists raise pressure to curb emissions from the sector. In a Nov. 23 filing with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in Rural Empowerment Association for Community Help, et al. v. EPA , the agency announces its intent...

Chevron Details Case To Scrap EPA’s ‘National’ Offshore Air Permit Policy

Oil giant Chevron is detailing its arguments as it seeks to scrap what the company says is EPA’s national policy that wrongly expands the definition of an offshore pollution source, a potential precedent for other offshore facilities, after the Biden EPA reversed a Trump-era waiver from air permitting rules for decommissioning California oil platforms. In its Nov. 22 opening brief in Chevron USA, Inc. v. EPA , filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit,...

Environmentalists Eye Appeal After Judge Raises EJ Fears Over Airport Plan

Environmentalists are considering appealing a divided appellate panel’s ruling that upheld the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review and approval of a new Amazon distribution facility at a California airport after the dissenting judge raised significant environmental justice concerns. “The dissenting opinion says it better than we could have: ‘This case reeks of environmental racism,’” said Adrian Martinez, a senior attorney at Earthjustice who represents the plaintiff environmental groups in the case, Center for Community Action...

EPA poised to propose copper smelting air rule

EPA is nearing release of its proposed review of air toxics standards for copper smelters, which once released would provide another test of how aggressively the agency will strengthen the standards for a range of industry sectors. The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) completed pre-publication review of the rule Nov. 22, according to OMB’s website. The risk-and-technology review (RTR) rule for the primary copper smelting sector will determine whether there are “residual” risks to public health from...

Science Advisors Warn EPA Over Precedent Of Narrow PM Reconsideration

Top EPA science advisors are expressing concern that by focusing its reconsideration of Trump-era particulate matter (PM) standards narrowly on new science showing particulate emissions “cause” death through cardiovascular damage, EPA might set a harmful precedent limiting the scope of future reviews. During a Nov. 18 and 19 discussion of EPA’s supplemental science assessment supporting the reconsideration, several members of the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) special panel on PM standards worried that by limiting its reconsideration to only...

EPA nears listing 1-BP as hazardous air pollutant

EPA has sent for White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) review a final rule listing the industrial solvent 1-bromopropane (1-BP) as a hazardous air pollutant (HAP) under the Clean Air Act, as the agency strives to meet a self-imposed Dec. 31 deadline to complete the first-time listing that will trigger tougher controls on industry. According to OMB’s website, EPA sent the rule for pre-publication review Nov. 20. OMB review typically takes up to 90 days, but can be...

Regan’s ‘Justice’ tour: In his own words

EPA Administrator Michael Regan undertook a days-long “Journey for Justice” tour last week to show the agency is serious about bringing environmental justice (EJ) to underserved and overburdened communities by visiting select areas in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi to highlight several communities’ struggles. The trip drew concern from local and national chemical industry groups , some of which, like the Louisiana Chemical Association, sought unsuccessfully to meet with Regan to discuss the trip while also seeking to highlight their efforts...

EPA Defends Trump-Era Approach To Lifting Ozone ‘Backsliding’ Controls

In a decision with national policy implications, EPA has opted to defend its Trump-era decisions to allow two Texas cities to drop “anti-backsliding” measures that were required to maintain air quality under ozone standards since revoked by the agency, restarting litigation brought by environmentalists who say the move will result in emissions increases. In a test of the Biden administration’s position on implementation of ozone national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS), the agency is sticking to its position that the...

EPA Lawyer Says FERC Gas Reviews Should Align With Climate Goals

A top EPA lawyer is urging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to take a broad approach to assessing and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas projects it approves, arguing the commission’s actions should be viewed in the context of the Biden administration’s climate targets. “Current rates of fossil fuel production and consumption must be reduced significantly within the next decade, that means we have to decarbonize the power sector,” argued Melissa Hoffer, EPA’s principal deputy general counsel, during...

Groups’ Suit On Polymer Sector Air Toxics Rule Tests EPA On Key EJ Issues

Environmentalists and groups from Louisiana’s chemical-heavy Gulf Coast have filed a new suit aimed at forcing EPA to tighten air toxics limits from facilities producing polymers used in rubber tire manufacturing, marking a test for the agency on a series of issues that advocates say are key to limiting impacts to environmental justice (EJ) communities. Among other things, the suit filed Nov. 18 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia could provide the latest test for the...

OMB completes review of railroad ties petition response

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has completed its interagency review of EPA’s response to a timber industry petition that seeks to further ease limits on the use of railroad ties as “fuel” rather than as more tightly regulated “waste.” According to OMB’s website, the review concluded Nov. 18, meeting the agency’s plan to publish the response by December. The proposal would respond to a December 2018 petition by the American Forest and Paper Association, American Wood...

Bowing To Refiners, EPA Plans To Again Push Back RFS Compliance

As pressure mounts from refiners for relief from renewable fuel standard (RFS) biofuel blending mandates, EPA is proposing to once again delay its compliance deadlines for the program, buying refiners and the agency some time as it struggles to issue long-overdue blending volumes for 2020 and 2021. But as expected, the plan is drawing stiff criticism from biofuels groups. “Sadly, even as our country faces rising gas prices, the EPA and the Biden Administration continue to give in to the...


Despite Calls, EPA Avoids Fundamental Strengthening Of Air Toxics Limits

EPA has issued a series of revised air toxics rules, the first such regulations under the Biden administration, that largely retain Trump-era plans for modest tightening of control technology and broadening of emissions covered, despite calls from states and environmentalists to strengthen the program in part to address environmental justice concerns. In final risk-and-technology review (RTR) rules covering several industry sectors, published Nov. 18 or scheduled for publication Nov. 19 in the Federal Register , EPA makes minor changes to...

Oregon OKs California Truck ZEV, NOx Rules As Other States Eye Options

Oregon has adopted California’s landmark rules requiring medium- and heavy-duty truck makers to begin selling zero-emission models and meeting low-nitrogen oxide (NOx) emission standards, while as many as five other states are looking to follow as EPA is under increasing pressure to adopt strict national regulations. “Today’s decision is a monumental step forward for cleaner air in Oregon,” said Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Director Richard Whitman in a Nov. 17 press release. “Signaling that Oregon is open for...

EPA Must Weigh High Court Effect On Power Plant GHG Proposal’s Timing

EPA must decide whether to propose a rule to limit greenhouse gases from existing power plants during the Supreme Court’s review of its overarching authority under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act -- with the justices expected to significantly constrain such authority -- or wait to issue a proposal in line with any new limits. Top agency officials are already signaling that EPA may adopt a narrower approach than the Obama EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), while suggesting a...

Advocates Urge CASAC To Back Stricter PM2.5 Limits Than EPA Staff Advice

Environmental and public health advocates are pressing EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) to support tougher fine particulate matter (PM2.5) annual and daily limits, going beyond EPA staff recommendations to tighten the annual limits, although industry groups are again criticizing the science as inadequate to support this. In the first of a series of meetings convened to oversee EPA’s reconsideration of the Trump-era decision to retain PM standards that date from 2012, CASAC’s special PM review panel Nov. 17...

OIG finds marginal drop in air monitoring during pandemic

EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) in a new report finds only limited impacts on overall levels of air quality monitoring from the COVID-19 pandemic, which generally disrupted state and federal regulators’ activities, but the OIG also found wide variation in the outcomes at different sites. In its Nov. 17 report , the OIG says, the “pandemic marginally impacted the total number of nationwide compliance monitoring activities at facilities that emit air pollution. However, activities varied widely among states and...

Biofuels Groups Urge White House To Preserve RFS In Face Of Gas Hikes

Biofuels groups are urging White House officials not to encourage EPA to cut biofuel blending volumes under the renewable fuel standard (RFS) under the guise of curbing politically problematic fuel price hikes, saying that oil industry arguments that blending mandates increase prices are false. With EPA’s delayed biofuel blending volumes still under review by the White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB), the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is seeking to rebut oil industry arguments -- and any administration consideration...

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