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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.

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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.

RFS Market Overhaul Draws Fierce Opposition From Biofuels, Oil Groups

Biofuels groups and some oil sector interests are strongly opposing EPA’s proposed overhaul of the renewable fuel standard (RFS) credit market, as biofuels groups warn it will largely offset the benefits of the agency’s plan to allow higher ethanol fuel blends year-round, while larger oil companies say it will jam the efficient functioning of markets. At a March 29 public hearing in Ypsilanti, MI, biofuels groups backed EPA’s proposal to allow summer sales of 15 percent ethanol fuel (E15), a...

FERC Faces Major Court Risk In Suit Over Broad GHG Reviews For Pipelines

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is considered vulnerable in litigation challenging its policy to avoid considering the upstream and downstream greenhouse gas impacts from most natural gas pipeline projects, with a significant number of groups on both sides joining the suit. The case, Otsego 2000 v. FERC, will be heard April 11 by Judges Merrick Garland, David Tatel and Robert Wilkins of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The case focuses on a...

EPA Defends Air Permit ‘Significant Impact Levels’ Against Sierra Club Suit

EPA, backed by the oil industry, is defending its use of “significant impact levels” (SILs) -- a screening tool to exempt industry air permit applicants from undergoing a full analysis of likely emissions impacts of their projects -- against environmentalist litigation arguing the tool allows unlawful increases in pollution. State and federal air regulators use SILs to determine whether the likely emissions effect of a new or modified air pollution source would necessitate a full-blown cumulative impacts analysis. These analyses...


EPA issues audit policy for new oil & gas upstream facilities

EPA has issued its long-awaited voluntary audit policy giving penalty relief to new owners of upstream oil and gas facilities who voluntarily disclose -- and address -- certain Clean Air Act violations, defending the plan against a range of criticism by noting that the program’s primary objective is to reduce emissions, rather than collect penalties. The March 29 policy includes a template that lays out eligibility and terms. It notes, for example, that after a company submits a report, EPA...

D.C. Circuit poised to hear suit over ending ‘once in’ air toxics policy

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is poised to hear oral argument April 1 in a suit filed by California and environmentalists over EPA air chief Bill Wehrum’s memo scrapping a “once in, always in” policy, which critics say makes it easier for facilities to escape strict air toxics controls by lowering emissions. The long-running policy held that industrial sectors subject to strict Clean Air Act maximum achievable control technology (MACT) emissions standards as “major”...

CBD sues to force EPA decision on Arizona PM limits

Environmental groups are suing to force EPA to determine if parts of Arizona are meeting federal air quality standards for fine particulate matter (PM2.5), arguing the agency has unlawfully neglected to make such a determination. In a lawsuit filed March 26 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Center for Environmental Health say EPA has missed a June 2018 Clean Air Act deadline to determine whether the West...

EPA Science Advisers Urge New PM NAAQS Panel, Possibly Derailing Review

EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), which advises the agency on how to set federal air standards, will urge the agency to reconstitute a specialized panel Trump officials disbanded to help review particulate matter (PM) limits, a move that would throw the administration’s timeline for completing its review into disarray. On a March 28 teleconference, the seven-member chartered CASAC agreed to ask EPA to either reconstitute the dismissed panel, or to form a similar panel of experts in diverse...

Two Democrats Float Cap & Dividend Bill As Route To Carbon Pricing

Key Democrats in both chambers are re-introducing “cap-and-dividend” legislation that would create a greenhouse gas permit program for “first sellers” of carbon-based fuels while rebating all revenues directly to the public, arguing their approach could be the most politically viable route to passing carbon pricing legislation. The legislation from Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) is the latest move by Democrats to refocus Hill attention on major legislation to attack global warming though some kind of...

EPA reportedly 'rushed' E15 waiver proposal

EPA reportedly “rushed” its proposal to allow year-round sales of 15 percent ethanol (E15), according to a news report, prompting some critics to charge that the agency is so keen to finish the rule before this year's summer driving season that it omitted key analysis. Bloomberg on March 27 reported that EPA justified its decision not to conduct an in-depth environmental analysis of its proposal by arguing the measure wouldn't give a major boost to the fuel. The plan...

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