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.

EPA Offers Comprehensive Legal Roadmap On EJ But Hurdles Remain

EPA has released a comprehensive update to its Environmental Justice (EJ) Legal Tools document, the first since 2014, and while experts say it provides a detailed roadmap for advancing EJ under current authorities the agency still faces hurdles to implementing the plan, given budget and staffing issues. Even top EPA officials sought to downplay the document’s relative significance when discussing it at a National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) meeting last month in favor of other pending documents addressing EPA’s...




SAB Eyes Need For Multipollutant, EJ Analysis In EPA Air Rules

EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) has decided to review a pair of high-profile air rules governing heavy-duty vehicles and oil and gas operations, citing concerns about the agency’s current inability to analyze the benefits of multipollutant controls and impacts on environmental justice communities that could apply broadly to future rules. SAB’s decision, during a May 31 virtual meeting, could bolster efforts by EPA and environmentalists to adopt a “multipollutant” approach to addressing various pollution sources, an effort that supporters say...

HHS launches EJ office

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) is creating an Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ), Secretary Xavier Becerra announced May 31, making it the latest federal agency to create such an office as part of the Biden administration’s government-wide effort. The “groundbreaking” office will advance President Joe Biden’s commitment to protect the health of communities on the frontlines of pollution, HHS said in an announcement. The HHS OEJ will sit within the Office of Climate Change & Health...

Manufacturers, Airlines Defend EPA’s Status-Quo Aircraft GHG Regulation

Aircraft manufacturers and airlines are defending the legality of EPA’s first-time greenhouse gas limits for aircraft from states and environmentalists’ accusations that the standards “do nothing” to reduce emissions below status-quo trends, arguing that tougher limits could compromise safety and could be easily evaded. In briefs filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in State of California, et al. v. EPA, et al. , industry groups refute the notion that the GHG rules serve...

EPA poised to propose surface coating, gasoline air rules

EPA is poised to soon propose rules to tighten limits on air emissions from plastic surface coating of business machine parts and from bulk gasoline distribution, after the plans cleared pre-publication regulatory review by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) just in time to make a June 1 judicial deadline. According to OMB’s website, the proposals cleared review May 27 and May 26 respectively. EPA is under a consent decree deadline, agreed with environmentalists, to issue both...

SBA Urges CEQ To Make Major Changes To Justice40 Screening Tool

The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Advocacy is joining widespread calls for the White House to add more socioeconomic indicators and to change some indicators included in the beta version of its Climate & Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST), intended to identify the most disadvantaged communities eligible for Justice40 funding. SBA in its May 25 comments recommends that the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) ensure that “no important indicators . . . have been overlooked,” and says...


Environmentalists Attack EPA Approach To Ozone Control Technology

The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) is attacking the legality of EPA’s approach to approving reasonably available control technology (RACT), a stringent form of emissions control required in the Northeast and areas in nonattainment with federal air rules, in a new brief targeting Pennsylvania’s air quality controls as too weak. In Center for Biological Diversity v. EPA, et al. , now in briefing before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, CBD is seeking remand of EPA’s approval...

EMA Suit Seeks To Strike California Heavy-Duty Truck Rule Requirements

The Truck & Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA) is suing the California air board over its low-nitrogen oxide (NOx) standards for heavy-duty diesel trucks, arguing requirements affecting model year 2024-25 vehicles should be stricken because they violate the Clean Air Act’s (CAA) four-year lead-time provision. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) “must provide manufacturers the minimum four years of lead time mandated by Congress,” EMA President Jed R. Mandel says in a May 27 press release announcing the organization’s lawsuit filed...

Utilities, Capito criticize ‘meager’ CSAPR comment extension

Midwestern utilities and industrial companies, backed by a key GOP senator, are rejecting as “meager” and “insufficient” EPA’s two-week extension of the deadline for public comment on its proposed larger Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), saying the agency fails to appreciate the challenge presented by the plan’s sweeping scope. In a May 23 letter to EPA, the Midwest Ozone Group (MOG) of utilities and other industrial companies says the comment extension, from June 6 to June 21, falls far short...

Sierra Club Sees DTE Settlement As EPA Template In Reviving SEPs

DTE Energy’s announcement this week that it has accepted the recommendations of a community committee and will spend $2.7 million on 10 environmentally beneficial projects in three mostly poor and minority Detroit area neighborhoods could serve as a template for EPA and the Justice Department (DOJ) as they move to revive similar projects in federal settlements, Sierra Club says. Shannon Fisk, an Earthjustice attorney representing Sierra Club, says the electric utility agreed to go beyond the $2 million it obligated...

Industry Says EPA Has No ‘Legal Case’ To Strip ‘Defense’ From Air Permits

Industry groups, backed by some states, are urging EPA to drop its proposal to strip air permits of “affirmative defense” provisions that shield industry from civil liability for “emergency” malfunctions, saying that there is no legal or policy reason to do so, even as environmental groups press for a total end to such “loopholes." In comments submitted ahead of a May 16 deadline for public input, major industry groups urge EPA to withdraw its plan , a re-proposal of a...

Fiat reaches plea deal in criminal emissions cheating probe

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) will enter a guilty criminal plea and pay about $300 million to resolve an emissions fraud probe that EPA and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have been pursuing. FCA US LLC, the U.S. business arm of the multinational automaker Stellantis, will plead guilty to criminal conspiracy for seeking to evade emission requirements for more than 100,000 older Ram pickup trucks and Jeep sport-utility vehicles, according to Reuters which first reported the deal, citing people familiar...

EPA Boosts EJ In Air Permits, But Declines To Revoke State Deference Policy

EPA is aiming to boost consideration of environmental justice (EJ) concerns in state and federal air permits, as shown in recent decisions by Administrator Michael Regan faulting state permits for facilities located in EJ communities, but Regan has stopped short of “disavowing” a Trump-era policy of deference to states on permit terms. Regan’s string of recent full or partial permit objections to Title V air operating permits is a departure from the Trump EPA, which rarely objected to permits, but...

Supreme Court Denies GOP States’ Effort To Reinstate Block On SCC

In a victory for the Biden administration, the Supreme Court is letting stand an appellate ruling that allows EPA and other federal agencies to continue using the social cost of carbon (SCC) metric to analyze policies that affect greenhouse gases, rejecting Republican-led states’ push to enforce a district court injunction against the tool. The high court in a brief May 26 order in Louisiana, et al. v. Biden said it has denied the states’ application to vacate the lower...

‘Remedy Gap’ Drives DOJ Effort To Address EJ Through Multiple Statutes

The Justice Department (DOJ) has begun crafting environmental enforcement cases that combine traditional environmental claims with provisions from civil rights and other statutes as part of an effort to close a “remedy gap” in environmental laws’ ability to address environmental injustice. DOJ unveiled its Comprehensive Environmental Justice Enforcement Strategy earlier this month, as part of the Biden administration’s expanded emphasis on environmental justice (EJ), that explicitly calls for using all available tools to address EJ concerns. Among other things, the...

Environmentalists Warn Of Public Outcry Over High Court EPA GHG Ruling

Environmental lawyers say they expect strong public opposition to the Supreme Court should it issue a ruling in the coming weeks dramatically curbing EPA’s authority to control greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector, while warning that no matter what the high court does, the urgent need to cut GHGs will not abate. The “activist” Supreme Court should know that “actions provoke reactions, and they awaken people to what’s at stake,” argued David Doniger of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s...

EPA draws suit over failure to revise chemical sector air toxics rules

Environmental and environmental justice (EJ) groups are suing EPA over its failure to toughen “area source” rules at smaller chemical facilities, including for not regulating emissions of ethylene oxide (EtO), a cancer-causing substance, despite repeated calls from the Office of Inspector General (OIG) to do so. The May 24 suit , California Communities Against Toxics, et al. v. Michael Regan, was lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and seeks to force EPA to update...

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