Sierra Club Intends to Sue Over Ozone Standard

The Sierra Club announced February 3 its intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency over 57 areas that allegedly do not meet the ozone air quality standard. The Sierra Club petitioned the agency last November to redesignate the areas as not meeting the 2008 national ambient air quality standard for ozone, but the agency has not yet responded to the petition.

Schedule for GHG Regs for Existing Power Plants

Environmental Protection Agency Acting Administrator for Air and Radiation Janet McCabe told the Energy Utility and Environment Conference 2014 February 3 that the agency has set an ambitious, but achievable, set of deadlines for regulations on greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. The agency plans to issue its proposal this June, with a final proposal expected the following June, and state implementation plans due June 2016.

Further CCS Review Necessary

The Center for Regulatory Effectiveness sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency February 3 charging that the agency did not adequately peer review studies showing that carbon capture systems are viable for new coal fired power plants in its proposed new source performance standards. The group is asking the agency to outline its review process before the next comment period closes March 10, or extend the comment period. The American Coal Council, National Mining Association, American Petroleum Institute, and American Public Power Association made similar comments at a public hearing on the proposed standard February 6.

Science Supports Stricter Ozone Standard

The Environmental Protection Agency released a draft document February 3 finding that scientific evidence justifies setting a more stringent ozone air quality standard. The agency is in the process of deciding whether to revise the current 75 ppb standard to between 60 ppb and 70 ppb. The Clean Air Act requires the agency to review and consider revising the standards every five years, with the most recent revision coming in 2008 and litigation underway that would require the agency to propose a new rule this December with finalization by October 2015.

2013 RFS Level Defended

The Environmental Protection Agency filed a brief February 4 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit saying that it has broad statutory discretion under the Clean Air Act to determine when to reduce annual renewable fuel volume requirements, and that reducing the 2013 requirement would go against Congress’s intention of promoting renewable fuel consumption. Reply briefs are due February 20.

Fracking with Diesel Guidance Reviewed

The White House Office of Management and Budget completed February 5 its interagency review for an Environmental Protection Agency final guidance on regulation of fracking with diesel fuels. The guidance requires fracking with diesel fuels to be permitted through the Underground Injection Control program. The office received the guidance September 21, and the agency is expected to issue it as soon as this week.

Economywide GHG Regs Methods Consideration

The Environmental Protection Agency posted draft questions February 5 soliciting public input on how to assess the economywide costs and benefits of greenhouse gas regulations. A yet-to-be-formed panel of advisers will advise the agency on the responses, which are due April 7.

Fracking’s Impact on Water Considered

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Inspector General released a notice February 5 that it is beginning preliminary research on the agency’s and states’ ability to manage potential threats to water resources from fracking. The Inspector General will meet with the Office of Water to discuss the project soon.

CCS Requirements Not Invalidated by 2005 Provision

The Environmental Protection Agency filed a notice of data availability February 6 containing rationale for why a provision of the 2005 Energy Policy Act does not invalidate its proposal to require coal fired power plants to capture and store a portion of their greenhouse gas emissions. The agency will accept public comments until March 10 on its interpretation of the law.

Climate Change Impacts on Human Health to be Considered

The Environmental Protection Agency announced February 6 that it is seeking public engagement on a multi-agency report that will consider the impacts of climate change on human health in the United States. The agency is collecting public comment through March 31 on the draft prospectus for the technical report, as well as scientific information that could be included in the assessment and nominations for contributing authors.

Tier 3 Finalization Requested

The National Association of Clean Air Agencies sent a letter February 6 to White House regulatory chief Howard Shelanski and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy urging them to finalize the delayed Tier 3 rule that would require refiners to reduce gasoline’s sulphur content. The association asked that the rule be finalized by the end of the month so that the program could take effect with the 2017 model year.

Recycled Coal Ash Safety

The Environmental Protection Agency released a study February 7 finding that the two largest uses for recycled coal ash are safe. The agency evaluated the use of encapsulated coal ash that is bound in products like wallboard, concrete, roofing materials, and bricks; half of recycled coal ash goes into concrete and gypsum panel products. The agency faces a court-agreed December 19 deadline to finalize its coal ash rulemaking.

Efficiency Mechanism Considered for GHG Regs

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy told the National Association of State Energy Officials February 7 that the agency is considering requests to include an energy efficiency crediting mechanism in its upcoming greenhouse gas rule for existing power plants. Such a mechanism is available to states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

GHG Permit Authority Granted to TX

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality confirmed February 7 that the Environmental Protection Agency has delegated to Texas regulators authority to process greenhouse gas permits. The agency signed February 4 the Federal Register notice to propose approval of the state clean air implementation plan and lift the federal implementation plan; the notice includes a 30-day public comment period on the program.