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.


In Revised Decision, 3rd Circuit Upholds Key CERCLA Reporting Waiver

An appellate panel has revised but upheld its precedent-setting ruling backing an air emissions reporting exemption under the Superfund law for a steel mill where its emissions violate its Clean Air Act (CAA) permit, a decision that attorneys say could undercut EPA enforcement actions that have long relied on the now-vacated reading of the law. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit July 20 granted a rehearing petition by environmentalist appellants in Clean Air Council (CAC) v. U.S....


EPA, Philadelphia to seek to resolve civil rights complaint

EPA and Philadelphia officials will seek to resolve a complaint filed by residents who charge that the city’s permit for a natural gas-fueled combined heat and power plant in a minority area violates the Civil Rights Act (CRA), with the effort including the novel step of allowing the residents to meet with city officials who authorized the permit. The move, detailed in a report from WHYY , is an unusual one, says Amy Laura Cahn, who runs the environmental justice...

Democrats Offer To Ease TSCA Freeze On PFAS But Fall Short Of GOP Calls

Correction Appended House Democrats are proposing to narrow a TSCA moratorium on EPA approvals of new per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) under a bill headed to the floor July 20, allowing for critical PFAS uses in R&D on drugs, medical devices and personal protective equipment (PPE) though the plan falls short of GOP calls for broader liability exemptions. A proposed manager’s amendment to H.R. 2467, the PFAS Action Act, offered by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone...

Former Trump Advisor Urges NAS To Overhaul EPA’s NAAQS Framework

Tony Cox, the former Trump-era chairman of a key EPA advisory panel, is urging a special panel of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to overhaul the agency’s scientific process for reviewing federal air quality standards even as a top EPA science official is defending the method and suggesting it does not need to be revised. Speaking July 19 on a virtual briefing for members of the special NAS panel, industry consultant Cox, who led EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory...

EPA publishes NSR ‘correction’ rule, starting clock for lawsuits

EPA July 19 published its new source review (NSR) air permitting “error correction” rule in the Federal Register , starting a 60-day clock for filing lawsuits over the rule that purports to be purely technical, but drops proposed regulatory changes that prompted state and industry criticism for hindering, rather than easing, air permitting. After criticism from states and industry of some proposed changes to the location within EPA’s air regulations of key terms, and definitional changes to those terms, the...

Biofuels Group Suffers Blow In Ruling Over ‘Retroactive’ RFS Waivers

A coalition of biofuels producers seeking to challenge EPA’s issuance of “retroactive” small refinery waivers from renewable fuel standard (RFS) biofuel blending mandates has suffered a serious setback, after an appeals court in broader litigation over the RFS program rejected the group’s “broadside attack” on retroactive waivers. In a July 16 ruling , the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found that it lacked jurisdiction to review the producers’ challenge, leaving the industry with a pending...

Environmentalists Warn Against ‘Credit Schemes’ In Auto GHG Rules

Environmental groups are pressing for the Biden EPA’s upcoming light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas plan to achieve “at least” the cumulative emissions reductions from Obama-era requirements, and that its benefits not be undermined by “complex credit schemes” that grant compliance for GHG cuts that might not materialize. “The near-term standards through model year 2026 that will be proposed later this month must start no later than model year 2023 and achieve at least the cumulative emissions reductions expected from model years...

D.C. Circuit Largely Backs 2019 RFS, But Faults Lack Of ESA Consultation

A federal appellate court has largely upheld EPA’s renewable fuel standard (RFS) for 2019 but has remanded the rule over the agency’s failure to consult other agencies under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as well as officials’ determination that the program does not cause “severe environmental harm." In its July 16 opinion in Growth Energy, et al. v. EPA , the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit backs EPA discretion on a host of issues, such...


NAS panel slates meeting on NAAQS evidence standards

A National Academies of Sciences panel is slated to host a public meeting next week to consider the standards of evidence EPA uses to determine “causation” of adverse health effects by air pollutants during the agency’s reviews of national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS). The panel, which is hosting a July 19-20 public meeting, began its ongoing study , “Assessing Causality from a Multidisciplinary Evidence Base for National Ambient Air Quality,” earlier this year in response to a request from...

Democrats’ Climate Plans Give Critics Few Options To Limit EPA Power

Senate Democrats’ use of budget “reconciliation” procedures to advance major climate policy could provide little opportunity for EPA critics to extract compromises that restrict the agency’s greenhouse gas regulations, even as the effort is raising questions about the scope of the agency’s role in implementing the climate policies. Lawmakers and Capitol Hill sources say the $3.5 trillion budget framework incorporates provisions including tax credits for clean energy and electric vehicles; a clean electricity standard (CES); a fee on methane emissions...

Environmentalists Urge CSB To Make EPA, OSHA ‘Top Advocacy Priority’

Environmental, labor and other groups are pushing to overhaul the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) by rebuilding its investigative capacity to better protect workers and by making reform of EPA and OSHA chemical safety regulations its “top advocacy priority,” among other measures. Twenty-two groups, including Earthjustice, the Union for Concerned Scientists, United Steelworkers (USW) and the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, wrote a July 8 letter to CSB Chair Katherine Lemos, seeking a host of...

OIG to evaluate EPA’s aftermarket enforcement

EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) is launching an evaluation of EPA's National Compliance Initiative (NCI) on stopping use and installation of aftermarket defeat devices in vehicles and engines, which has been a top priority for fiscal years 2020-2023 due to their pollution impacts. The OIG announced its plan in a July 14 notice to Patrick Gilbride, who directs EPA’s Office of Enforcement & Compliance Assurance’s (OECA) Office of Special Review and Evaluation, and to acting OECA chief Lawrence Starfield...

Democrats Include Major Climate Policies In Tentative Budget Agreement

Senate Democrats’ agreement on a framework for a forthcoming $3.5 trillion budget “reconciliation” package reportedly includes several major climate policies that environmental groups have long sought, though the deal is far from enactment and still faces competing pressures from moderate and progressive lawmakers. In addition to widespread reports that the agreement includes a clean electricity standard (CES) to curb power sector carbon emissions, multiple outlets and lawmakers say the agreement includes a tax based on the carbon content of imported...

PFAS Bill Sponsors Aim To Bolster GOP Support Ahead Of House Vote

The House will vote next week on a bipartisan bill to set strict limits on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) under several environmental laws, with its sponsors urging environmentalists and other supporters to step up advocacy for its passage in hopes of winning broad GOP support needed to overcome a Senate filibuster. In speeches to the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) July 14 “Inaugural PFAS Conference,” several of the sponsors of H.R. 2467, the “PFAS Action Act,” said they expect a...

EPA Weighs Tougher GHG Limits For Certain Heavy Truck ‘Segments’

EPA appears to be focusing on developing tougher greenhouse gas standards for a subset of the heavy-duty truck sector that would seek to electrify certain vehicle classes, in contrast to its plan to strengthen truck nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions limits that would apply more broadly to the industry. “We are very much aware that at least some segments of the heavy-duty fleet have seen the rapid development and marketability of electrification technology,” said acting EPA air chief Joe Goffman during...

Hill biofuels advocates offer bills to allow year-round E15

House and Senate biofuels supporters have introduced legislation designed to nullify the impact of a recent appeals court ruling that blocked summertime sales of 15 percent ethanol fuel (E15), with bills aiming to eliminate the need for EPA to grant a summer fuel vapor pressure waiver not only for E15, but for higher ethanol blends as well. Reps. Angie Craig (D-MN) and Adrian Smith (R-NE) July 13 introduced the measure, H.R. 4410, with 21 co-sponsors of both parties. The legislation...

Groups forming Great Lakes PFAS coalition

Environmental and other advocates are forming a new coalition to unify communities impacted by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the Great Lakes region and are planning to outline best practices for responsible parties and the government to engage with communities and to call for urgent action to address the contaminants. According to a press release from the coalition members, leaders from communities impacted by PFAS contamination in the Great Lakes region plan to hold a virtual press conference July...

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