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.

EPA Retains Trump-Era Aircraft GHG Limits, Vexing Environmentalists

EPA has decided to retain Trump-era greenhouse gas standards for aircraft and push for stronger limits in international negotiations -- a move that is angering environmentalist and state litigants who will now press a lawsuit on the issue. The agency announced its decision in a Nov. 15 motion to govern proceedings in appellate litigation brought by environmentalists and states seeking tougher GHG standards, provoking accusations of “climate hypocrisy” by petitioners in the suit. The Jan. 11 Trump rule EPA has...

Exxon seeks to shrink penalty in landmark civil suit

Oil major ExxonMobil is seeking to limit its liability in a landmark civil suit that initially resulted in a $20 million penalty against the firm, since reduced to $14 million, for numerous Clean Air Act violations at its Baytown, TX, refinery, again asserting that environmental plaintiffs lack standing for most of their claims. In a Nov. 11 supplemental brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in Environment Texas Citizen Lobby, Inc.; Sierra Club v. ExxonMobil Corporation,...

Michigan Grants Contested Permit But Asks EPA For Advice On EJ Concerns

Despite rare environmental justice (EJ) objections from EPA, Michigan environmental regulators have issued a controversial air permit for a hot-mix asphalt plant near Flint, though they are asking the agency for advice on how to better address EJ concerns. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy (EGLE) announced Nov. 15 that it has approved a minor source permit for Ajax Materials Corp. in Genesee Township, including setting site-specific conditions and restrictions that “provide safeguards to ensure compliance with...

VW Vows To Fight State Suits After Justices Decline Review Of Air Act Claims

Volkswagen plans to vigorously fight state suits seeking damages from the company for installing software to allegedly “defeat” emission controls after the Supreme Court declined to review the company’s arguments that those suits are preempted by its prior massive Clean Air Act settlement with EPA and California over the same issue. “This is not a determination of the merits of Volkswagen’s arguments,” a VW spokesman says in a statement, “and is based on one-sided records taken from the plaintiffs’ complaints.”...

EPA recruiting ozone NAAQS review panelists

EPA is seeking candidates to assist the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) in its oversight of the agency’s recently-launched reconsideration of federal ozone standards, as the Biden administration returns to a traditional method of scientific consultation on the limits after Trump-era departures from prior procedure. In a notice scheduled for publication in the Federal Register Nov. 15, EPA invites nominations for candidates for a special panel to help the seven-member chartered CASAC review EPA’s reconsideration of the ozone...

EPA Faces Tough Call On Novel Request For International Emissions Waiver

EPA is facing a tough call on whether to approve a request from Utah regulators to exclude overseas air pollution from counting toward its compliance with federal ozone standards, in a decision that would set an important precedent for a state not bordering another country, but would “eviscerate” the Clean Air Act, one environmentalist says. In May, Utah submitted a request under Clean Air Act section 179B to EPA to find that the state would have met national ambient air...


Refiner warns of shutdown risk without RFS waiver

A small refiner seeking exemptions from EPA’s renewable fuel standard (RFS) biofuel blending program is ramping up pressure on the agency to approve its waiver applications, warning in an amended legal complaint of “crippling” costs as dozens of waivers remain undecided and EPA has yet to propose long-overdue blending volumes. In its Nov. 10 filing in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, Calumet Shreveport Refining asks the court to “enjoin enforcement of the Renewable Fuel Standard...

Court Says Trailers Not ‘Motor Vehicles,’ Vacates GHG, Fuel Economy Rules

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is backing trailer industry arguments that their products are not “motor vehicles” subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act and is vacating rules by both EPA and the Transportation Department (DOT) to limit their greenhouse gas emissions and improve fuel economy. The court’s Nov. 12 ruling in Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association (TTMA) v. EPA, et al. says because trailers “have no motor, [t]hey are therefore not ‘motor...

Environmentalists sue EPA to force San Joaquin PM2.5 cuts

Environmentalists are suing EPA for force the agency to issue a federal plan to curb fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in California’s San Joaquin Valley, after the state failed to supply its own plan required by the Clean Air Act to improve air quality in the area. In their suit filed Nov. 10 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), Sierra Club and six local groups say EPA has failed to issue...

Fearing Costs, Industry Urges EPA To ‘Get Involved’ In CARB’s Off-Road Plan

Trucking and other industry groups are urging top EPA officials to engage with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) over its multi-year rulemaking to develop first-time “Tier 5” emission standards for new off-road diesel engines, fearing the state rules will carry exorbitant costs and impose standards that diverge from EPA’s and other countries’. Truck & Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA) President Jed Mandel over the past few weeks reached out to EPA Administrator Michael Regan “to say that, absolutely we would...

OMB Begins Review Of Auto GHG Rule, Amid Signs EPA Will Bolster Plan

The White House has begun inter-agency review of EPA’s draft final update to near-term vehicle greenhouse gas standards, amid indications from top agency officials and others that it could be “much” stronger in at least some respects than the initial proposal, including a possible tighter model year 2026 standard. The development suggests that the agency is on track to meet its goal of finalizing the plan by the end of the year, even as officials are promising a subsequent, more-ambitious...

Some Fear Ruling Barring NSR Relief At ‘Innocent’ Plant Sets Bad Precedent

EPA’s petition asking a federal appellate panel to reconsider its ruling barring a lower court from ordering injunctive relief at an “innocent” coal-fired power plant owned by the offending company highlights what some Clean Air Act experts say is a bad precedent that could have adverse impacts for future regulatory efforts. However, the sources note there is no guarantee that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit will accept the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Oct. 18 petition for...

EPA Touts Supplemental Methane Plan As Chance For Tighter Controls

A top EPA official is touting the agency’s planned 2022 supplemental proposal on oil and gas methane as opening the door to a novel plan for community monitoring that could trigger remedial actions at facilities as well as tighter controls on flaring and other emissions sources after a recent proposal declined to address the issue. Joe Goffman, who serves as EPA’s acting air chief, highlighted the issues during a Nov. 11 side event at the Glasgow climate conference, where he...

House bill aims to force ‘eRIN’ issuance under RFS

Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) has introduced a bill seeking to force EPA to issue renewable fuel standard (RFS) compliance credits for electricity generated from biogas, biomass and waste-to-energy projects when used to charge electric vehicles or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, after years of agency delay in acting on outstanding applications. The bill, H.R. 5899, would force EPA to approve “pathways” and projects, which would then allow for issuance of RFS compliance credits, known as renewable identification numbers (RINs), for electric...

Environmentalists Reject Industry Cost Claims For EPA Truck NOx Rule

A technology-focused environmental group is pushing back against claims by truck and engine makers that they would face onerous compliance costs if EPA aligns its upcoming nitrogen oxides (NOx) standards for heavy trucks with stringent rules that have already been adopted by California. In addition, recent advocacy from the group, the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), embraces the upcoming rulemaking as a landmark opportunity to pursue climate-friendly vehicle electrification for a subset of heavy-duty vehicles as EPA is planning...

EPA Revises Children’s Health Policy, Broadening Its Use In Agency Analyses

EPA has for the first time revised its 1995 Policy on Children’s Health, intended to ensure consideration of children’s unique exposures and vulnerability to contaminants in the environment is included in agency analyses and decision-making, resulting in an expanded approach that defines childhood and requires child-specific analyses. “The EPA' s policy is informed by the scientific understanding that children may be at greater risk to environmental contaminants than adults due to differences in behavior and biology and that the effects...


EPA objects to another Texas air permit

EPA Administrator Michael Regan has rejected another Texas air permit for its failure to comply with the Clean Air Act Title V air operating permit program, the latest in a series of findings that officials failed to clearly state sufficient implementation terms but leaving unaddressed more fundamental questions over the scope of Title V review. In an Oct. 15 decision , scheduled for publication in the Federal Register Nov. 9, Regan objects to the Title V permit of the...

EPA Rejects States’ Bid To Advance Ozone NAAQS Suit As Review Proceeds

EPA is pushing back against six states’ bid to proceed with litigation over the Trump administration’s December decision to retain federal ozone standards, arguing that the intervening states, which support the Trump decision, will not be harmed by an abeyance the agency seeks while it reconsiders and possibly tightens the limits. In a filing last week with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in New York, et al. v. EPA, et al., states intervening...

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