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.

Leaked RFS Blending Volumes Point Toward Major Blow For Biofuel Sector

Biofuels groups are bracing for bad news after a leaked document purporting to show EPA’s proposed renewable fuel standard (RFS) blending volumes for 2020, 2021 and 2022 indicated significant cuts to volumes, below even those earlier anticipated, marking a possible victory for refiners, and a serious setback for biofuels producers. Under the RFS, established under the Clean Air Act, refiners and importers of fuel must blend increasing volumes of biofuel into the fuel supply each year. However, responding to the...

As EPA Seeks EtO Input, Industry Says Suits Destroy Regulatory Certainty

As EPA conducts an extensive outreach effort to solicit community input on the dangers of the carcinogenic solvent ethylene oxide (EtO), pending tougher regulations for several industry sectors, industry groups are warning pending state tort suits seeking to cut EtO emissions using public nuisance law will lead to a fractured regulatory landscape. EPA, however, is maintaining that state tort claims are distinct from any potential federal regulation and suggesting that pending litigation across the country would have little bearing on...

CASAC panel to hold series of PM NAAQS meetings

EPA’s newly formed panel of experts will hold a series of meetings this fall to assist the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) in considering the agency’s reconsideration of national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for particulate matter (PM), setting a fast pace for the process that EPA hopes to conclude in 2023. In a notice published in the Federal Register Sept. 22, EPA announces that the PM NAAQS review panel will meet virtually for the first time Oct...

Higher GHG ‘Cost’ Estimates Loom Amid Separate Look At Federal Uses

Experts are predicting an update to the federal social cost of carbon (SCC) tool due early next year that will significantly boost the estimated per-ton climate damages, even as a revived interagency working group (IWG) is expected to weigh in possibly within days about how widely the federal government should use the metric. The work comes as a top EPA official is also citing the agency’s expertise as a potential asset for the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) as the...

EPA Haze Memo Portends Tougher Federal Policy, Drawing State Concern

EPA is adopting a tougher reading of its regional haze policy that may drive states to impose stricter emissions controls on sources of haze-forming pollution, outlining the shift in a recent memo, but while environmentalists embrace the development, some states say EPA’s memo is late, undermines their plans and may spark litigation. States are now turning in their plans to implement the second phase of EPA’s regional haze program, which seeks to restore visibility to natural conditions by 2064 in...

EPA Inspector General will probe RFS credit market

EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) is launching an investigation into the agency’s handling of the renewable fuel standard (RFS) credit market, long-criticized as opaque and prone to high price volatility by opponents of the RFS biofuels blending program, as some East Coast lawmakers press for price controls on the credits to aid refiners. In a Sept. 17 memo , Mike Davis, director of environmental investment and infrastructure at the OIG’s Office of Audit, tells EPA acting air chief Joe...

Colorado air pollution agency has ‘culture of fear’

Former workers at the beleaguered Colorado Air Pollution Control Division (APCD) say there is a “culture of fear” at the agency responsible for limiting pollution in the state. Colorado Newsline reports that the APCD -- with a staff of about 200 charged with overseeing air quality policy and increasingly leads efforts to transition to clean energy and battle climate change -- is facing a slew of controversies. In July, APCD withdrew a pending transportation emissions rule in a procedural...

EPA inks another ‘defeat device’ settlement with $1 million penalty

EPA and the Department of Justice (DOJ) are announcing another settlement with an automotive parts manufacturer and retailer over “defeat devices” installed in diesel pickup trucks -- the third to be announced in recent weeks. The Sept. 15 settlement with Xtreme Diesel Performance (XDP) is notable because the company has agreed to pay a $1.125 million penalty, which EPA notes was “reduced” due to the company’s “limited financial ability to pay a higher penalty” but is nonetheless far more significant...

HFC Producers, Users Make Final Pitches To OMB On EPA Phasedown Rule

Manufacturers and users of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants are making their final lobbying push regarding EPA’s draft final rule to significantly phase down production of the climate-warming chemicals, ahead of a Sept. 23 statutory deadline for EPA to complete the rule implementing a congressional directive to curb HFCs. In a series of completed and forthcoming meetings with the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), groups are presenting OMB and EPA officials with a diverse range of concerns reflecting distinct...

Biofuels groups weigh high court E15 appeal

Biofuels groups are considering whether to file an appeal to the Supreme Court to overturn the ban on summertime sales of 15 percent ethanol fuel (E15) reinstated by a ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, after the lower court issued its mandate scrapping the Trump EPA’s approval of summer E15 sales. The D.C. Circuit issued its mandate Sept. 17 in American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, et al. v. EPA, et al. , after...

NBB presses EPA to boost biodiesel mandates

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) is again seeking a meeting with EPA Administrator Michael Regan to press its case for increased biodiesel use as an immediate means to cut mobile source emissions, as the agency nears proposal of biofuel blending rules that might cut or hold steady biodiesel production mandates. In a Sept. 16 letter , NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs Kurt Kovarik reiterates his May request for a meeting, citing EPA’s recent report on “Climate Change and Social...

As EPA Plan Looms, Lobbying Intensifies Over RFS Biofuel Volume Cuts

Lobbying efforts by biofuels groups, refiners and others are accelerating ahead of EPA’s release of a proposal expected to reduce biofuel blending requirements under the renewable fuel standard (RFS) for 2021 and potentially 2020, even as required volumes could rebound to statutory targets in 2022. In a series of recent and upcoming meetings with White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) officials, stakeholders are pitching to either reduce volumes or safeguard them at existing levels, as EPA weighs whether...

EPA touts NY port dredging as air quality win

EPA is touting its recently completed collaboration with state and local officials to deepen the Port of New York and New Jersey as an example of how not only to mitigate air emissions in the short-term, but how to reduce ports’ air pollution levels for the future. The agency Sept. 15 announced the release of its case study on the New York/New Jersey Harbor Deepening project, “which highlights how coordination between federal, state, and local agencies led to lasting reductions...

Future RFS Remains A Mystery As EPA Deals With Immediate Concerns

EPA’s plans for the long-term future of the renewable fuel standard (RFS) remain shrouded in uncertainty, sources say, as the agency strives to meet short-term objectives for the program that will have a significant bearing on its prospects after 2022, when current statutory biofuel blending mandates expire. The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is now reviewing EPA’s proposals for biofuel blending volumes under the RFS for 2021 and 2022, and possibly a retroactive reduction in volumes for...

EPA GHG Petition Gives High Court Key Chance To Address Rule Changes

If the Supreme Court decides to review a closely watched case concerning EPA’s power plant greenhouse gas rules, its ruling could include key administrative law decisions and provide valuable insight for how the court will approach the changing of rules across administrations, legal experts say. The petition for a writ of certiorari in West Virginia, et al. v. EPA, et al., is fully briefed and the justices are scheduled to consider whether to grant it at their Sept...

Lawyers Expect EPA, California EJ MOU To Boost Enforcement In States

Industry attorneys expect EPA’s first-of-its-kind model environmental justice (EJ) memorandum of understanding (MOU) with California to bolster enforcement of regulations in disadvantaged communities not only in California, but in other states that pursue similar MOUs. Industry “should expect more states to sign on to similar MOUs,” say several attorneys with the firm King & Spalding in a Sept. 13 blog post . “Facilities operating in EJ areas can expect more inspections, including joint federal/state inspections, and enhanced enforcement activities.” Such...

EPA Readies Long-Stalled Cumulative Risk Guide For Release By Year’s End

After years of work, EPA has resumed work on its guidelines for analyzing cumulative risks from overlapping environmental hazards, a key policy for driving the agency’s environmental justice agenda, with officials quietly peer-reviewing a draft version over the summer with the aim of finalizing the document by the end of the year. A draft of the “EPA Guidelines for Cumulative Risk Assessment Planning and Problem Formulation document was peer reviewed in July 2021,” an agency spokesperson tells Inside EPA ...

DOJ settles with Michigan landfill gas plant over air emissions

The Justice Department (DOJ) has reached a deal with a Michigan gas-to-energy landfill plant to cut the facility’s sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions, signaling EPA’s enforcement focus on the issue as biogas producers seek to expand opportunities to sell their electricity for transportation or other purposes. In a proposed consent decree filed jointly Sept. 9 with EPA and the State of Michigan, Arbor Hills Energy LLC (AHE) agreed to “significantly reduce, if not virtually eliminate” its SO2 emissions at its landfill...

Fearing State Penalties, DOJ Seeks Rehearing Of Air Law ‘Immunity’ Ruling

The Justice Department (DOJ) is seeking rehearing of a precedent-setting appellate ruling that found the Marine Corps liable for “punitive” damages claims over excess air emissions, saying the ruling takes an unlawfully broad view of a Clean Air Act sovereign immunity waiver and will invite states to seek “lucrative recoveries whenever possible." In a Sept. 13 petition for rehearing by the whole court en banc , DOJ seeks to reverse the July 29 ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals...


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