Air Pollution Rule Revisions Challenged

Five oil and gas groups filed separate suits against the Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on November 22 over September revisions to new source performance standards. The changes extended the time to install air pollution controls on storage tanks. The groups that filed the suits were the American Petroleum Institute, the Gas Processors Association, the Independent Petroleum Association of America, the Texas Oil and Gas Association, and the Western Energy Alliance.

Grifo Appointed Scientific Integrity Officer

Francesca Grifo was appointed November 25 to serve as Environmental Protection Agency Scientific Integrity Officer. She previously served as a senior scientist and fellow at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

GHG Reporting Rule Amendments Finalized

The Environmental Protection Agency published Revisions to the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule and Final Confidentiality Determinations for New or Substantially Revised Data Elements on November 27. The agency amended the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule to implement technical corrections to improve the quality and consistency of agency data collection. Among other changes, the agency amended the rule’s table of global warming potentials to revise values for certain greenhouse gases. The changes, published in the Federal Register two days later, are effective on January 1, 2014.

2014 RFS RVOs Public Comment Period Opened

The Environmental Protection Agency opened the 60 day public comment period on the Renewable Fuel Standard 2014 renewable volume obligations on November 29. Comments will be accepted through January 28, 2014, and the agency intends to hold a public hearing. The agency also opened up for comment petitions from obligated parties to waive the 2014 requirements completely.

McCarthy on Methane Emissions, GHG Rules

Addressing a December 2 Center for American Progress event, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said that a major challenge today is natural gas pipeline methane leaks. She said the infrastructure is old, and improvements will take time as the U.S. integrates more renewables and natural gas into the energy mix. When discussing the greenhouse gas emissions rules, Administrator McCarthy said states have been engaged; the agency will be very flexible in the implementation of this standard. She said states may align themselves like they did in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative program.

Beauvais, Johnson Promoted

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, in a December 4 e-mail to staff, announced the promotion of Joel Beauvais to serve as Associate Administrator for Policy and Alisha Johnson to serve as Deputy Associate Administrator for External Affairs and Environmental Education. Beauvais most recently worked in the Office of Air, and Johnson had been the agency’s Press Secretary.

RFS Public Hearing Held

A public hearing was held on December 5 in Crystal City, VA on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard levels. 144 speakers had signed up to testify, including Governor Terry Branstad (R-IA) and Representatives Bruce Braley (D-IA), Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), and Peter Welch (D-VT). Comments were split, with environmental and biofuels groups urging the agency to raise the standard and critics, such as the oil and gas industry, advocating for reform.

Governors Urge 9 Upwind States Join Ozone Transport Region

Eight governors petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency December 9, asking that the agency include nine upwind states in the Ozone Transport Region. The governors asked the states of IL, IN, KY, MI, NC, OH, TN, VA, and WV join the region that already contains DC, ME, NJ, PA, and parts of northern VA. The governors that signed the letter represent CT, DE, MA, MD, NH, NY, RI, and VT.