McCarthy in China

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy visited China from December 9 to 12. She attended events and meetings on environmental cooperation, fuel desulfurization, and social and business responsibility.

SCOTUS Hears CSAPR Case

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments December 10 for a consolidated case on the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down the rule in 2012, and the high court consolidated two cases, both involving EME Homer City Generation. Justice Samuel Alito recused himself.

Appeals Court Hears MATS Case

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard a case on the mercury and air toxics standard on December 10. In response to a case filed by the White Stallion Energy Center LLC, the Environmental Protection Agency argued that the standard was balanced between the too strict industry approach and the not strict enough environmental assertions. The court was asked to consider the costs of the rule, fuel switching as a compliance method, monitoring requirements, and technology requirements.

PA Joins East Coast Petition

Following the December 9 petition by eight east coast governors, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett (R) asked the Environmental Protection Agency December 10 to include nine upwind states to join the Ozone Transport Region. Governor Corbett said he hoped the states of IL, IN, KY, MI, NC, OH, TN, VA, and WV could abide by the same standards as his state. The governors who already petitioned the agency represent CT, DE, MA, MD, NH, NY, RI, and VT.

Brief Filed in Sierra Club v. EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency filed a brief December 11 arguing that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit lacks jurisdiction to review a memorandum advising regional offices on how to respond to a court decision striking down the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. The agency asserted that the memo does not constitute a final agency action.

Regional Haze Plans Case

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed Arizona’s challenge December 11 to a consent decree establishing deadlines for the Environmental Protection Agency to act on regional haze plans. The court ruled that the state’s claims were not ripe for review.

Toxic Releases Down 16 Percent in 2012

The Environmental Protection Agency released 2012 Toxics Release Inventory data December 11, finding that electric utilities’ toxic releases decreased for the seventh consecutive year, this year by 100 million pounds, 16 percent, or 52 percent from 2002 levels. The annual national analysis that highlights industry, location, and chemical trends will be released in January.

Existing Power Plant Regulations

Joe Goffman, senior counsel to Environmental Protection Agency Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Janet McCabe, said December 12 that the president’s climate action plan puts states front and center in crafting existing power plant regulations, given that they will primarily be responsible for implementing and enforcing them.

Light-Duty Vehicles Set GHG Reduction Records

The Environmental Protection Agency released an annual report December 12 finding that light-duty vehicles set records for greenhouse gas emission reductions and fuel economy in model year 2012. The report, “Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 Through 2013,” concluded that fuel economy has improved 4.3 mpg since model year 2004, and CO2 emissions have decreased 85 grams per mile during that same period.

McConnell Defends Coal Industry

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was joined by members of the Kentucky delegation and House Science Committee Chair Lamar Smith (R-TX) in filing an amicus brief with the Supreme Court December 16 fighting against a narrow portion of the Environmental Protection Agency’s greenhouse gas regulations in a sequel case (Utility Air Regulatory Group v. Environmental Protection Agency) to the court’s 2007 ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA. The agency has since used the Tailpipe Rule to trigger regulations on coal-fired power plants and other stationary sources. Oral arguments are set for February 24.