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.

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...

Illinois senators urge full EPA disclosure of EtO emission health risks

Illinois Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth are pressing EPA to fully inform Chicago-area communities of the health risks they face from industrial use of the carcinogenic solvent ethylene oxide (EtO), following a report by the agency’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) that Trump appointees suppressed key information. “EPA has a responsibility to ensure that all people across the United States have access to accurate information to effectively manage health and environmental risks, and that communities can meaningfully participate...

EPA To Offer Direction On Integrating Climate Data Into Cleanup Decisions

EPA expects this month to release a memo directing staff on how to consider the potential impacts of climate change in risk assessments and cleanup decisions at Superfund sites, responding to a 2019 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report it originally disagreed with under the Trump administration. J. Alfredo Gomez, GAO’s director of natural resources and environment, noted EPA’s reversal during a recent House Energy & Commerce environment subcommittee hearing on the Superfund provisions in H.R. 1512, known as the CLEAN...

WESTAR seeks EPA funding to modernize air monitor network

The Western States Air Resources Council (WESTAR), a 15-state air regulators’ group, is asking EPA to provide funding to modernize and upgrade its national air quality monitoring network, in line with recommendations last year from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). In a May 13 letter to Peter Tsirigotis, director of EPA’s Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, WESTAR says the agency should work with states to implement the GAO’s recommendations, made in a study published Nov. 12 at the...

Pledging Safe Operations, McCarthy Rebuts EJ Advisers On Nuclear, CCS

White House domestic climate advisor Gina McCarthy is pushing back on environmental justice (EJ) advocates’ objections to federal support for carbon capture and storage (CCS) and nuclear power, while also pledging that deployment of such projects would be safe and address pollution concerns in EJ communities. “The president is interested in all-of-the-above strategy,” McCarthy said during a May 18 appearance at Columbia University’s Global Energy Summit, in response to questions about persistent political tensions in the environmental community regarding CCS...


University study confirms traffic air pollution link with dementia

A new animal-exposure study by researchers at the University of California-Davis confirms a link between traffic-related air pollution and the onset of dementia, with much of the damage potentially done by ultrafine particles (UFP) that EPA currently does not regulate but continues to weigh for possible future regulation. The study, “The Effects of Chronic Exposure to Ambient Traffic-Related Air Pollution on Alzheimer’s Disease Phenotypes in Wildtype and Genetically Predisposed Male and Female Rats,” appeared May 10 in the journal Environmental...

EPA Finalizes Long-Pending Federal Plan To Curb Landfills’ Methane

EPA is finalizing a long-pending proposal to implement federal requirements to curb methane emissions from hundreds of existing landfills, with the move coming just weeks after an appellate court vacated the Trump administration’s rule significantly extending deadlines for states to comply with the Obama-era standards. The agency on May 17 floated a prepublication Federal Register notice announcing a final federal plan that would impose the methane requirements -- which require installation of gas collection systems -- at nearly 1,600 facilities...

Research links California wildfires to PM2.5, COVID deaths

Air emissions and public health data gathered by researchers in California show marked increases in deaths and hospitalizations during intense bursts of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution from wildfires, and also a notable increase in COVID-19 cases and deaths during the same periods. In an ongoing series of webinars hosted by the Air and Waste Management Association (AWMA), air quality experts presented the results of recent studies focused on the health impacts of California wildfires, and on “prescribed fires” used...

High Court Backs Oil Industry On Scope Of Climate Suit Appeals

The Supreme Court is backing oil industry arguments on the scope of its appeals challenging a slew of federal district court rulings in climate nuisance suits filed by local and state governments, a decision that likely makes it easier for the industry to keep such suits in federal courts that they view as a favorable venue. In a 7-1 decision issued May 17 in BP PLC, et al. v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore , the justices held that...

D.C. Circuit denies bid to sever PM NAAQS species suit

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has denied environmentalists’ motion to sever their novel suit based on alleged Endangered Species Act (ESA) violations from other litigation challenging the Trump EPA’s rule opting against tightening its ambient air limits for particulate matter (PM) last revised in 2012. In a May 14 per curiam order , the court denies a motion by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) in CBD v. EPA, et al. to...

EPA shutters Virgin Islands refinery, citing safety concerns

EPA Administrator Michael Regan has ordered the controversial Limetree Bay refinery in the U.S. Virgin Islands to cease operations, until the company takes steps that the agency says are necessary to correct serious safety problems that have resulted in a string of excess pollution releases that threaten public health. “These repeated incidents at the refinery have been and remain totally unacceptable. Today, I have ordered the refinery to immediately pause all operations until we can be assured that this facility...

EPA wins praise for rescinding Trump air cost-benefit rule

Environmental groups and Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) are offering praise for EPA’s decision to rescind an 11th-hour Trump-era rule that limited how the agency could calculate regulatory benefits under the Clean Air Act. Carper, chair of the Senate environment committee, said, “This is another important step in bringing back science to the regulatory process and rebuilding public trust at EPA.” He added that the prior administration sought “to prevent EPA from assessing the real benefits of cleaning up climate and...

Democrats, Republicans Spar Over Superfund Measures In Climate Bill

House lawmakers sparred at a May 13 hearing over Democrats’ efforts to speed cleanups of Superfund sites vulnerable to climate change, with the majority pushing measures in a major climate bill that would limit industry liability defenses for climate-related releases, mandate financial assurances and prioritize cleanup of vulnerable sites. But Republicans pushed back during a House Energy & Commerce environment and climate change subcommittee hearing May 13, arguing the measures would likely slow cleanup progress and add costs. The hearing...

‘Non-Tailpipe’ Vehicle Air Pollution Risks May Be Future Regulatory Focus

As the national vehicle fleet transitions toward electric vehicles (EVs) and conventional vehicles become cleaner and more efficient, emissions of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) from non-combustion sources, such as brakes and tires, will become a relatively more importance source of health risks and focus for regulators, air quality experts say. Traditionally, air regulators have sought to reduce pollutants emitted by vehicle tailpipes, such as PM2.5, nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide and others. Some pollutants are directly emitted, while others form...

OIG Warns EPA Enforcement Declines May Harm Health; OECA Defends Record

EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) is warning that a steady decline in agency enforcement activities “may expose the public and the environment to undetected harmful pollutants,” in a sharply critical report that finds the downward trend was found on a statute-by-statute bases and at EPA headquarters and in each of the agency’s 10 regions. In a response, the Office of Enforcement & Compliance Assurance (OECA) acknowledges that numbers have dropped but strongly defends its work while rejecting the watchdog’s...

Interim EPA Rule Rescinds ‘Unnecessary’ Trump Air Cost-Benefit Policy

Update Appended EPA is issuing an interim final rule rescinding the controversial 11th-hour Trump-era regulation that limits the scope of benefits that can be considered in Clean Air Act (CAA) rulemakings, a policy environmentalists warned would make it harder to justify stricter agency air rules and which the Biden administration now says was “unnecessary.” In a May 13 statement, EPA says that it reviewed the cost-benefit rule, as directed by President Joe Biden’s Jan. 21 executive order (EO) requiring...

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