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.

Court Approves 2024 Deadline For EPA Secondary NOx-SOx-PM Standards

A federal court has finalized a deal between EPA and environmentalists that will require the agency to complete its overdue review of “secondary” federal air standards for nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx) and particulate matter (PM) in 2024 -- weeks before either the start of a second term for President Joe Biden, or of a new administration. In a consent decree entered Oct. 12 by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, EPA agrees to settle...

EPA Urges Louisiana To Craft Cumulative Analysis To Resolve ‘Rights’ Claims

EPA is strongly suggesting that Louisiana officials are failing to meet their civil rights obligations as part of Title VI investigations the agency is pursuing and is asking the state to conduct cumulative impact analyses for several pending state permits as part of an “informal resolution agreement” it is negotiating. EPA’s request for the state to assess cumulative impacts from the permits -- spelled out in a 56-page, Oct. 12 “letter of concern” the agency sent to the Louisiana Department...


EPA Proposes ‘Fugitive’ Emissions Be Counted Under NSR Air Permitting

EPA in a long-awaited proposal is clarifying that industrial facilities must account for unplanned “fugitive” emissions when they determine if a project is a “major modification” that would trigger new source review (NSR) air permitting, a win for environmentalists who have long sought such a result, although EPA says the practical impact will be limited. The proposed rule , scheduled for publication in the Federal Register Oct. 14, comes after a years-long reconsideration and stay of a 2008 Bush-era...

EPA adds new demographic factors to EJSCREEN

EPA is updating its environmental justice (EJ) mapping tool, EJSCREEN, with new demographic factors to better capture communities that may be disproportionately impacted by environmental pollution including percent low-income, percent limited English-speaking, percent less-than high school education, percent unemployed, and low life expectancy. The update, EJSCREEN 2.1, also adds data for several U.S. territories that had been missing along with threshold maps and refreshed demographic and environmental data. Territories added include the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and the...

EDF Urges CARB To Expand Oil & Gas Methane Monitoring, Enforcement

Environmentalists are urging California air regulators to toughen their oil and gas methane standards by bolstering requirements for facilities to quickly repair leaking equipment that is identified by remote monitoring technologies such as satellites, echoing a similar debate as EPA develops first-time methane rules for existing oil and gas facilities. “We support a revision to CARB's methane rule requiring operators inspect facilities and repair leaks if notified by CARB pursuant to the detection of leaks by remote monitoring technologies operated...

Tighter PM2.5 Limit Would Cause Major Implementation Hurdles, Experts Say

An industry attorney and some state officials are expecting extensive difficulties for industry permit applicants and state air regulators if EPA were to significantly tighten federal air quality standards for fine particulate matter (PM2.5), including widespread nonattainment, as well as problems with air quality modeling, monitoring and treatment of wildfire smoke. Speaking Oct. 12 during a virtual event hosted by the Air and Waste Management Association (A&WMA), attorney Joseph Stanko, a partner with Hunton Andrews Kurth, said there would be...

Groups Sue EPA Over Texas Air Plan, Fearing Loss Of ‘Continuous’ Controls

The Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) and Sierra Club are suing EPA over the agency’s failure to act on a proposed modification to Texas’ plan for meeting federal particulate matter (PM) standards that the groups say would undercut rules that coal plants control emissions on a "continuous" basis during maintenance, startup and shutdown (MSS) activities. In their suit filed Oct. 10 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the groups say EPA has failed to discharge its “nondiscretionary”...

Global Aircraft GHG Deal Underscores Environmentalist Split On Biofuel

A new international deal setting an “aspirational” goal to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from global aviation by 2050 -- matching the Biden administration’s existing U.S. objective -- underscores the likely major role for biofuels to meet the target, but also highlights a deep divide between environmentalists over the merits of such fuels. Member states of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) on Oct. 7 agreed to set a “collective long-term global aspirational goal (LTAG) of net-zero carbon emissions by...

EPA Finds Risk From Leaded Aircraft Fuel, But Regulatory Plans Unclear

EPA has issued its long-awaited proposed finding that lead in aviation fuel likely “endangers public health and welfare,” a measure that will trigger regulation to limit lead, but the prospects for an eventual phaseout of the fuel remain unclear amid uncertainty over the “scope, applicability, timing, and nature of any subsequent rulemakings.” Administrator Michael Regan Oct. 7 signed the proposed “endangerment finding” , after years of pressure from environmentalists and pleas for action from some Democratic lawmakers to address the...

API Eyes Clean Fuels Standard But Faces Skeptical Environmentalists

The American Petroleum Institute (API) earlier this week convened a discussion with an eye toward development of a clean fuels standard policy, highlighting an array of pressures on the liquid fuels sector amid proliferation of climate change policies, vehicle electrification trends and questions about the future of EPA’s existing renewable fuels standard (RFS). But the effort comes with environmentalists already expressing skepticism, in part due to prior oil industry opposition to state clean fuels standard efforts. “We should be extremely...

Environmentalists sue EPA to force lead smelters review

Environmental groups are suing EPA to force the agency to conduct an overdue review of air toxics limits for the secondary lead smelting sector, which recycles used batteries, and tighten the standards after the agency missed a statutory deadline to conduct a review of the regulations. In their suit filed Oct. 5 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, California Communities Against Toxics, Missouri Coalition for the Environment Foundation, Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club say...


Fearing Permit Scrutiny, Industry Braces For EPA’s Heightened EJ Focus

Industry attorneys are preparing their clients to address issues expected to be raised by EPA’s creation of a new environmental justice (EJ) program office, including warning them that compliance with environmental requirements alone may no longer be sufficient to win a new permit or extend an existing one given the new office’s focus on enforcing civil rights requirements. “What I’ve been telling my clients is this is a significant development on how the agency will do business across the various...

EPA publishes boiler air rule, starting litigation clock

EPA has published its stricter air toxics rule for large industrial, commercial and institutional boilers in the Federal Register , starting a 60-day clock for potential litigants to sue over the revised regulation, including environmental groups disappointed by the rule that they say should have been much tougher. The rule published Oct. 6 slightly tightens air toxics limits for “major source” boilers, in response to three remands from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The...

D.C. Circuit Panel Doubtful Of States’ Challenge To EPA Aircraft GHG Rule

Judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit appear skeptical of states’ and environmentalists’ case that EPA’s first-time greenhouse gas standards for aircraft are unlawfully weak, after oral argument that saw judges press both sides hard on whether EPA’s failure to consider tougher limits was “reasonable.” At argument Oct. 6 in State of California, et al. v EPA , Judges Judith Rogers, Neomi Rao and J. Michelle Childs asked attorney Theodore McCombs, representing 12 states...

EJ Groups Sue CARB To Force Adoption Of Clean Air ‘Contingency Measures’

Several environmental justice (EJ) groups are suing the California air board in federal court to force the agency to adopt a set of “contingency measures” it previously committed to as part of the state’s strategy to attain federal air standards for the San Joaquin Valley. The Clean Air Act complaint -- Central California Environmental Justice Network, et al. v. Liane Randolph, et al . -- was filed Sept. 28 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. The...

Large Environmental Coalition Presses For Tougher Incinerator Air Rules

A coalition of more than 270 environmental groups is urging the White House to direct EPA to update and tighten air emissions standards for municipal solid waste combustors and other incinerators, echoing calls from a Biden administration panel on environmental justice issues that recently also called for a tightening of rules for the sector. In their Oct. 4 letter to Brenda Mallory, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), 274 groups urge CEQ to “direct the U.S...

D.C. Circuit Primed For Arguments On EPA’s ‘Do-Nothing’ Aircraft GHG Rule

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear oral argument Oct. 6 in states’ and environmentalists’ challenge to EPA’s rule setting first-time greenhouse gas standards for aircraft, with challengers arguing the “do-nothing” regulation unlawfully fails to cut emissions from a business-as-usual scenario. In State of California, et al. v EPA , 12 states and three environmental groups want to vacate the January 2021 rule, or failing that, seek a court remand requiring EPA to reconsider...

District Court Rejection Of CASAC Suit Lifts Shadow Over NAAQS Reviews

A federal district court’s rejection of a suit seeking to scrap EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) as unlawfully biased toward the agency removes a threat hanging over reviews of national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for particulate matter, ozone and other pollutants, upholding EPA’s discretion to select panelists. The Sept. 30 ruling by Judge Timothy Kelly for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia denies a motion for partial summary judgment filed by plaintiffs Anthony Cox...

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