American Bar Association
Air Quality
American Bar Association Energy and Resources Committees

Air Quality

Hot News

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.

To view the Air Quality Committee Hot News archive, click here.

Upcoming Programs

Vapor Intrusion, Remediation, and Site Closure Conference

September 10-11, 2014 : The Air and Waste Management Association is pleased to announce a specialty conference on important technical considerations involving the vapor intrusion (VI) pathway, site remediation and advancing the process of site closure. This specialty conference will bring together internationally-recognized scientists, engineers, regulators and attorneys with experience in getting sites to closure and the critical sustainability and technical issues that need to be considered in doing so.

For more information or to register, go to the website.


MATS and CSAPR: Implications of the U.S. Supreme Court’s and D.C. Circuit’s Decisions Upholding EPA’s Rules for the Electric Power Sector


  • Moderator: Gale Lea Rubrecht is Of Counsel with Jackson Kelly PLLC in Charleston, West Virginia.
  • Janet Henry is Deputy General Counsel for American Electric Power.
  • Robert "Bob" J. Martineau, Jr. is Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and also currently serves as Vice President for the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS), the national association of state environmental officials.
  • Sonja Rodman is an attorney in U.S. EPA's Office of General Counsel in Washington, D.C.
  • Paul Versace is an attorney in U.S. EPA’s Office of General Counsel in Washington D.C.

Program Materials:

CSAPR and MATS – Next Steps by Janet Henry

Overview of the D.C. Circuit's MATS Decision by Gale Lea Rubrecht

Overview of the U.S. SupremeCourt’s Decision on EPA’sCross State Air Pollution Rule by Gale Lea Rubrecht


Congratulations to the Air Quality Committee! The Section recognizes the Air Quality Committee for Best Committee (Environmental Law) and Best Committee Newsletter during the 2012-2013 ABA year. Click here for more information on this year's Section Committee Awards.


About the Committee

The Air Quality Committee provides a valuable forum and practical resources for lawyers interested in air-related issues to: (1) keep up to date on new developments, through extensive communications such as newsletters, satellite conferences and seminars; (2) exchange ideas and best practices with other practitioners around the country; and (3) stay involved with the environmental lawyer community by contributing to various Section publications and participating in Section events.

Message from the Chair

Welcome to the Air Quality Committee home page. Our Committee provides a valuable forum and resources for lawyers, law students, and others interested in air quality issues. We seek to encourage membership participation and information exchange among air quality practitioners and other Environment, Energy, and Resources Section committees. As significant federal Clean Air Act and related regulatory developments continue to occur at breakneck speed, we keep our members current on these developments, through timely and informative communications via our website, social media, Hot News email alerts, newsletters, conference programs, Committee Conference Calls, webinars, the Section’s Year-in-Review, and other publications. The Committee’s vice chairs for 2013-2014 are identified in the “Leadership” box located on the right-hand side of this webpage. I encourage you to contact me or any of our Committee vice chairs to ask questions, share information, suggest ideas for Committee activities or to become involved in our Committee activities and leadership.

Website and List Serve: Through our Hot News section on this webpage, the Committee distributes timely information on recent air quality developments and Section and Committee activities of interest. Our Committee website also includes links to briefs in air quality cases pending in the U.S. Supreme Court (e.g., EME Homer City Generation v EPA) and air quality blog articles from Committee members’ e-newsletters. If you are aware of a new air quality case, law, or regulatory or technical development, feel free share it with me or any of the Committee vice chairs with communication responsibilities (Michael Balster, Cheri Budzynski, Randy Dann, or Tom Echikson) so that we might communicate these developments with the full Committee membership.

Newsletter: Our Committee newsletter contributors report major happenings within each U.S. EPA region such as state and federal rulemakings and important judicial and administrative decisions addressing air quality regulation and policy. In addition to the regional reports, we are seeking guest articles from Committee members and non-members. Please contact Randy Dann or Tom Echikson, our Committee Newsletter vice chairs, with any article submissions or ideas for future newsletter topics.

Social Media: Our Committee vice chair for Social Media, Cheri Budzynski, regularly posts air quality developments and Section and Committee activities on LinkedIn and Twitter. We encourage you to join our Air Quality Subgroup on LinkedIn, and we invite you to engage in discussions and exchange information on air quality issues with Committee members using LinkedIn and Twitter.

Conference Programming: For the 22nd Fall Conference from October 8-11, 2014 at the Trump National Doral, the Section is beginning the conference programming planning process with “hot topics”. Program vice chairs, Committee chairs, and others were invited to join Peter Wright, Chair of the Section’s Education Service Group, for three conference planning calls to brainstorm and propose panel topics, speakers, and formats. John Jacus, Program Planning Chair for the Fall Conference, has facilitated these conference calls. The Program Planning Committee will select panel topics, speakers, and formats that have broad appeal. For more focused topic areas, the Committee hosts webinars and Conference Calls as an alternative to the Section’s conferences. We welcome your ideas for programs. If you have suggestions for topics, speakers, or formats, contact Committee vice chairs for Programming, Marty Booher, Shannon Broome, and Jocelyn Thompson, or me.

Webinars and Committee Conference Calls: In 2013, the Committee sponsored the following webinars or Committee Conference Calls: (1) “U.S. EPA`s Boiler MACT and CISWI Rules: What You and Your Clients Need to Know for Compliance Now that the Reconsideration Process is Complete,” February 13, 2013; (2) “The Expanding Intersection Between FERC and EPA,” June 18, 2013; (3) “EPA’s Carbon Pollution Standards for Power Plants,” October 30, 2013; and (4) “Coal-Fired Power Rules on Trial: Debrief of Cross State Rule and Mercury Air Toxics Oral Arguments,” December 11, 2013. If you have any recommendations for a webinar, or Committee Conference Call, please contact Committee vice chairs for Programming, Marty Booher, Shannon Broome, Jocelyn Thompson, or me.

Year-in-Review: The Section’s Year-in-Review is an outstanding resource of important air quality case law and regulatory developments over the year. If you are interested in being a contributing author, please contact Committee vice chair Jonathan Martel or me.

SEER Publications: Interested in writing an article on an air quality topic for Trends, Natural Resources & Environment, or a Section book or other publication? If so, contact Linda Tsang, our Committee vice chair for Publications.

Membership: In 2013, we organized Committee dinners for both the Spring and Fall Meetings. We will organize a Committee dinner during the Section’s Fall Meeting in Miami, Florida. This is a great opportunity to meet the members of the Committee. If you are interested in attending the dinner or joining the Committee, contact our Committee vice chair for Membership, Phil Bower, or me.

Public Service: Posted on our website are suggestions for simple ways to help reduce ground-level ozone and links to state-specific, U.S. EPA, and public interest groups and other websites for additional information. We are looking for ways to expand the public service section of our website and for suggestions for other Committee public service projects. Our Committee vice chair for Public Service, Heidi Knight, and I would welcome your ideas for Committee public service projects.

Spring Meeting: The Spring Meeting is scheduled for March 20-22, 2014, in Salt Lake City, Utah. The schedule of events has changed slightly. There will be four all-conference plenaries and nine break-out sessions. New this year will be a free workshop titled “Communication and Mediation for the Environment and Natural Resources Lawyer,” on Thursday morning co-sponsored with the University of Utah, S.J. Quinney College of Law Natural Resources Law Forum, that will examine successful communication tools in social media, dispute resolution, and general practice and explore how environmental, energy and natural resources lawyers may connect scientific information for added value. The half-day workshop will take place at the University of Utah campus, which is located a short mass-transit ride away from the Grand America Hotel. Refreshments and a boxed lunch will be provided.

On Thursday afternoon, there will be two plenary sessions followed by the Technical Roundtables. Thursday’s first plenary session, titled “EPA Priorities Leading into the 2014 Mid-Term Elections and the home stretch for the Obama EPA,” will feature several of EPA’s leading officials discussing some of the agency’s top priorities for 2014 and action items to accomplish by 2016. Roger R. Martella, Jr., of Sidley Austin LLP, in Washington, D.C. will moderate. Thursday’s second plenary session, titled “Energy Development on State Lands,” will explore energy developments taking place in the states and how the laws, regulations, and policies of state land management are affecting such development. Speakers include: Ryan M. Lance of Crowell & Moring LLP, in Cheyenne, Wyoming; David Neslin of Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP, in Denver, Colorado; and Harry Weiss of Ballard Spahr LLP, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Following the Technical Roundtables, there will be a Welcome Reception and the Section Dinner, which is included in the registration fee. After the Section Dinner, law students and young lawyers will have a networking event.

Programming on Friday morning will start with breakout sessions and end with a plenary session. The Friday break-out sessions include one titled “Hot Topics in Air: The Coming Climate Regulations”. Representatives from government policymaking, industry, and the NGO community will explain the expected greenhouse gas standards for new and existing power plants and state implementation of these new standards. The air hot topics break-out session will address actions the administration is or is likely to take over the next three years to address climate change. Speakers include: Kenneth L. Kimmell, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and Secretary of RGGI, Inc., in Boston, Massachusetts, and Frank Prager, Vice President, Environmental and Public Policy, Xcel Energy Services, Inc., in Denver, Colorado. Thomas A. Lorenzen of Dorsey & Whitney LLP, Washington, D.C., will moderate. The conference will include additional break-out sessions that may be of interest to air quality practitioners. Speakers for Friday’s plenary session, titled “Supreme Court Review: Narrowing Decisions on Water, Air, and Jurisdiction,” include Peter D. Keisler who argued on behalf of industry and labor in the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule litigation in the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Young Lawyer and Law Student Speed Networking Event will take place on Friday followed by a reception. There will be hot topics sessions on enforcement and ethics on Saturday morning, and the Section’s tree planting project will take place at the end of the conference on Saturday afternoon.

Feel free to send comments or ideas for the Committee to me. You may access my contact information at my ABA profile. I hope to meet many of you during these upcoming events.

All the best,

Gale Lea Rubrecht
Air Quality Committee Chair, 2013-2014

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Sites of Interest

Modified by Romeo Talento on August 27, 2014

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