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.

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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.

In Win For Environmentalists, EPA Expands Ozone Nonattainment Zones

EPA is expanding areas designated out of attainment with federal ozone standards in several states, enlarging the areas originally defined by the Trump administration to include more outlying zones that the agency now believes contribute to air quality problems -- a major victory for environmentalists who sued EPA to expand the zones. In two actions this week, EPA responds to a U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruling that faulted and remanded several Trump-era designations challenged...


CBD files revised deadline suit over states’ oil and gas ozone plans

The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) has filed an amended lawsuit against EPA seeking to force issuance of air quality plans missing from New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia to control ozone-forming emissions from oil and gas production, asking a federal district court to impose deadlines on the agency to act. In its revised suit filed May 26 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, CBD and Center for Environmental Health say EPA has neglected to issue...

EPA air trends report flags wildfire emissions, cuts due to COVID-19

EPA’s annual air trends report, released May 26, shows continued progress toward cleaner air in the long-term, but also notes alarming spikes in particulate matter emissions from wildfires, and the temporary impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic that decreased pollution in some areas of the United States. “The latest data in this report make clear once again that environmental protection and economic prosperity go hand in hand,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan, in a statement on the report . “Dramatic reductions...

Environmentalists Tout Highway Bill’s Climate Title But Fight NEPA Reform

Environmental groups are ramping up resistance to provisions in a bipartisan Senate transportation bill that seek to speed environmental reviews, even as they praise the bill’s investments in electric vehicles (EVs) and other climate measures as an initial step toward the Biden administration’s more ambitious infrastructure plan. The environmentalists are also targeting aspects of the bill that would ease permitting for some pipelines related to fossil fuel extraction on federal lands, even though supporters argue such projects could play a...

Senators reintroduce bipartisan RFS waivers transparency bill

Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Deb Fischer (R-NE) have reintroduced draft legislation that would force EPA to disclose more information about small refiners’ petitions for compliance exemptions from the renewable fuel standard (RFS), a companion bill to a House measure introduced in February. The senators on May 24 introduced S. 1792, a bill that would require small refineries to petition for RFS economic hardship exemptions by June 1 of each compliance year. “This change would ensure that EPA properly accounts...

EPA Permit For Offshore Wind Project Includes ‘Innovative’ Air Controls

EPA says its recently approved “major source” air permit for the Vineyard Wind offshore wind energy project off the coast of Massachusetts sets a precedent for strict permitting of other wind farms planned for the East Coast, with “innovative” permit provisions including a mandate for vessels building the facility to minimize emissions. “The innovative Clean Air Act permit issued for the Vineyard Wind project will ensure that the vessels working to construct the wind farm operate with the best available...

Coalition urges Regan to reject biomass RFS request

A coalition of more than 75 climate and social justice groups is asking EPA Administrator Michael Regan to reject an industry request to allow electricity from wood, farm gas and landfill gas to qualify for the agency’s renewable fuel standard (RFS), saying biomass is a “dirty energy” fuel source that does not meet RFS requirements. In a May 25 letter to Regan , the groups detail criticisms from “communities on the frontlines of factory farming, power plants, landfills and wood...

State AGs Urge EPA To Scrap ‘Alternative’ Wood Heater Test Methods

A group of nine state attorneys general (AGs) is urging EPA to scrap some technical standards for testing wood heaters’ emissions that they say are allowing manufacturers to certify devices that frequently fail to meet the agency’s standards for fine particulate matter air pollution. In a May 21 letter to Chet Wayland, director of the Air Quality Assessment Division at EPA’s Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, the AGs of New York, Alaska, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode...


Novel study links prenatal UFP exposure, childhood asthma

A recent study by researchers at leading U.S. universities, medical schools and the federal government shows for the first time that prenatal exposure to elevated levels of ultrafine particles (UFP) is associated with an increase in childhood asthma incidence, expanding the body of evidence that might eventually spur EPA to regulate UFP. In their study , “Prenatal Ambient Ultrafine Particle Exposure and Childhood Asthma in the Northeastern United States,” published May 20 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical...

Sierra Club threatens EPA with suit over late SO2 plans

Sierra Club and two other environmental groups are threatening to sue EPA over its failure to ensure that adequate state plans are in place to ensure attainment of a key federal air quality standard for sulfur dioxide (SO2) for the Detroit and Baltimore metropolitan areas, citing years of delay in implementing the health-protective limit. In a notice of intent to sue sent to the agency May 18, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Center for Environmental Health and Sierra Club...

St. Croix residents sue Limetree Bay refinery over pollution releases

Residents of St. Croix, home of the controversial Limetree Bay oil refinery in the U.S. Virgin Islands, are suing the refiner in several class action lawsuits alleging nuisance, injury and damage to property, following a series of pollution releases that prompted EPA Administrator Michael Regan to temporarily shut down the facility. According to a May 21 article in The Virgin Islands Consortium newspaper, there are now at least three class action suits against the refinery brought by island residents,...

House lawmakers reintroduce EPA race car emissions waiver bill

Democrats and Republicans in the House have reintroduced legislation to exempt cars and equipment used exclusively for track racing from Clean Air Act provisions preventing modification or removal of emissions controls, as the auto racing industry and its suppliers fight EPA’s current view that no such exemption exists. Reps. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) May 17 introduced H.R. 3281, the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act of 2021 (RPM Act). The bipartisan bill has 54 co-sponsors and is the latest iteration of...

States Say EPA Plan To Withhold Air Toxics Data Threatens Equity Agenda

State air regulators say EPA appears to be deciding against releasing an updated National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA) this year and they are urging the agency to reconsider, saying that release of the emissions data will be key to advancing the Biden administration’s equity agenda and for helping states to implement stricter air toxics policies. In letters to EPA, the National Association of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA), representing air regulators from 41 states, and the Northeast States for Coordinated Air...


Near-Term EPA Auto GHG Plan Likely To Be Tougher Than California Deal

The Biden EPA’s forthcoming proposal for near-term vehicle greenhouse gas standards is likely to be more stringent than the Trump-era deal California reached with five automakers, sources say, countering some analysts’ prior expectations but reflecting the administration’s push to quickly secure steep emissions cuts. Assessing the true effect of the upcoming plan -- which sets requirements out to model year 2026 -- will depend on both its top-line requirements and any compliance flexibilities, the sources add, while also noting that...

10th Circuit Scraps Small Refiner’s Last-Minute Trump EPA RFS Waivers

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit has scrapped three renewable fuel standard (RFS) compliance waivers that EPA issued to small refiner Sinclair just days before the end of the Trump administration, another setback for refiners who oppose the Biden EPA’s tougher stance on granting the exemptions. In its brief May 19 order , the court grants EPA’s motion for voluntary remand and vacatur of the three small refinery waivers issued Jan. 14 by then-Trump EPA Administrator Andrew...


Research shows short-term brain impacts from PM2.5 emissions

Another recent study into the health effects of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) air pollution is flagging a relationship between the particles and reduced cognitive function, this time showing a short-term and possibly reversible impact, building on other work linking long-term PM2.5 exposure to increased incidence of dementia. The latest study led by researchers at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, published May 3 in the journal Nature Aging , shows that short-term exposures to PM2.5 over days to...

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