D.C. Circuit Denies Challenge to SO2 Nonattainment Designation
On November 3, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appels for the D.C. Circuit denied review of petitions challenging U.S. EPA's final rule designating two areas as nonattainment for sulfur dioxide (SO2). A copy of the decision can be accessed here: https://www.cadc.uscourts.gov/internet/opinions.nsf/
EPA Lowers Ozone NAAQS
On October 1, 2015, EPA lowered the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone to 70 parts per billion (ppb). The new NAAQS will replace the 2008 standard of 75 ppb, which EPA found inadequate to protect public health with an adequate margin of safety. The Final Rule and supporting information is available here: http://www3.epa.gov/ozonepollution/actions.html#sep2015
U.S. EPA Proposes To Regulate Methane Emissions From Oil and Natural Gas Sector
On August 18, 2015, the U.S. EPA proposed its first ever regulation of methane emissions from new and modified sources for the oil and natural gas sector. The proposed regulation would amend the agency’s existing new source performance standards (NSPS) for the oil and natural gas source category by setting standards for both methane and volatile organic compounds (VOC) for specific equipment, processes and activities, including hydraulically fractured natural gas and oil wells. The proposed rule can be accessed here: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/09/18/2015-21023/oil-and-natural-gas-sector-emission-standards-for-new-and-modified-sources
EPA’s fact sheet can be accessed here: http://www3.epa.gov/airquality/oilandgas/pdfs/og_fs_081815.pdf
D.C. Circuit Upholds EPA Gas Emissions Rule
On July 14, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, denied a petition from biofuel producers challenging U.S. EPA’s regulation regarding test fuels, finding that it is reasonable for the agency to require that test fuels be “commercially available” before they can be approved. A copy of the opinion can be accessed here.
D.C. Circuit Preserves Transport Rule
On July 28, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit largely upheld EPA’s plan to control cross-state air pollution under its Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (the Transport Rule), but ordered the agency to reconsider its 2014 emissions budgets for “upwind” states. While the D.C. Circuit remanded the Transport Rule to EPA to reconsider such emissions budgets, it rejected all of petitioners’ other challenges to the Transport Rule, including all facial challenges to the rule. A copy of the opinion can be accessed here.
D.C. Circuit Denies Petitions Challenging EPA’s Proposed Clean Power Plan
On June 9, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit denied both petitions for review and the petition for a writ of prohibition challenging EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan, because the “complained-of agency action is not final.” Judge Henderson filed a separate opinion concurring in the judgment, but she would find that there is jurisdiction under the All Writs Act, but still would deny relief to the petitioners.
The decisions can be accessed here and here.
EPA Publishes Rule For Implementation of the 2008 Ozone NAAQS SIP Requirements
On March 6, 2015, EPA published its final State Implementation Plan (SIP) requirements rule implementing the 2008 ozone NAAQS and addressing a range of nonattainment area SIP requirements for the 2008 ozone NAAQS, including requirements pertaining to attainment demonstrations, reasonable further progress (RFP), reasonably available control technology (RACT), reasonably available control measures (RACM), major new source review (NSR), emission inventories, and the timing of SIP submissions and of compliance with emission control measures in the SIP. The rule also addresses the revocation of the 1997 ozone NAAQS and anti-backsliding requirements that apply when the 1997 ozone NAAQS are revoked.
A link to the rule can be accessed here: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-03-06/pdf/2015-04012.pdf. A link to the EPA fact sheet can be accessed here: http://www.epa.gov/airquality/ozonepollution/pdfs/20150213fs.pdf.
EPA Announces Proposal To Update Ozone NAAQS
On November 25, 2014, the U.S. EPA announced its proposal to update National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone. The EPA is proposing to revise both the primary and the secondary standards to a level within the range of 65 ppb to 70 ppb. (The current primary and secondary ozone standards are 75 ppb.) EPA will also accept public comment on retaining the current 75 ppb ozone standard or lowering the standard to 60 ppb. EPA will take comment on the proposal for 90 days after it is published in the Federal Register and will hold three public hearings. It plans to adopt a final rule by October 1, 2015. EPA's proposal, fact sheets, information on estimated benefits and costs, maps and tables, and other pertinent information may be found here.
Fifth Circuit Holds Clean Air Act NOVs Are Not Final Agency Action
On July 3, 2014, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that Notices of Violation (NOV) issued by U.S. EPA under Section 7413(a) of the federal Clean Air Act do not constitute a final agency action and are not subject to judicial review. The Fifth Circuit’s opinion can be accessed here.
Ninth Circuit Vacates EPA’s PSD Permit for Avenal Power Plant
On August 12, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit vacated U.S. EPA’s PSD permit issued for the Avenal Power natural gas-fired power plant in California that "grandfathered" the facility from having to meet greenhouse gas (GHG) and stricter conventional pollutant limits finalized during the permitting process. A three-judge panel found that the federal Clean Air Act requires EPA to ensure that proposed industrial projects comply with regulations in effect at the time of issuing a permit, not those when the permit application was first filed. The 9th Circuit’s Opinion can be accessed here.
SCOTUS Invalidates EPA’s Tailoring Rule; Upholds GHG BACT For "Anyway" Sources
On June 23, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court rendered its decision in the Clean Air Act greenhouse gas (GHG) Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) cases. The Supreme Court held that: (1) The Act neither compels nor permits U.S. EPA to adopt an interpretation of the Act requiring a source to obtain a PSD or federal Title V permit on the sole basis of its potential GHG emissions; and (2) U.S. EPA reasonably interpreted the Act to require sources that would need permits based on their emission of conventional pollutants to comply with the Best Available Control Technology (BACT) for GHG emissions. The opinion can be accessed here.
EPA Releases Proposed GHG Emission Standards For Existing Power Plants
On June 2, 2014, U.S. EPA announced the release of its highly anticipated proposed greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards for existing power plants. The proposed rule will require existing power plants to reduce GHG emissions by an average of 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. Emission reduction targets will be set on a state-by-state basis taken into account reductions states have already made. The rule is expected to be completed by June 2015 and will give states up to one year to develop and submit implementation plans to EPA. In addition, states will have the ability to request extensions of up to two additional years to complete their plans. There will be a 120-day public comment period beginning on the date of publication in the Federal Register. There will be four public hearings across the country during the week of July 28, 2014. EPA’s proposed rule and associated Fact Sheets can be accessed here.
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