Archives: Air Quality

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D.C. Circuit Holds US EPA Cannot Stay Implementation of Methane Rule Issued by Obama Administration

On July 3, 2017, the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit vacated US EPA’s decision to stay implementation of portions of a final rule concerning methane and other greenhouse gases.  In Clean Air Council v. Pruitt, a three-judge panel held that US EPA lacked authority under the Clean Air Act to stay the … Continue Reading

What Happened to US EPA’s New Source Performance Standards and Emission Guidelines for Municipal Solid Waste Landfills?

In 2016, US EPA finalized two rules designed to reduce methane and non-methane organic compound emissions from landfills.  These rules were adopted as part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan: Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions.  US EPA issued final New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) to reduce emissions caused by landfill gas from new, modified and reconstructed municipal solid waste (MSW) … Continue Reading

D.C. Court Gives US EPA 3 Years to Update National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants

On March 13, 2017, D.C. District Court Judge Tanya S. Chutkan granted summary judgment to an environmental advocacy group and ordered US EPA to update its National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutant (NESHAP) rulemakings for 20 listed major source categories in three years. The soon-to-be updated major source categories will affect several industries, including: … Continue Reading

Asbestos-Containing Materials: A Non-Scope Consideration Worth Investigating During Environmental Due Diligence

A common question that arises when performing environmental due diligence on commercial real estate is the degree to which the presence of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) should be investigated.  In the case of ACMs, “what you don’t know can hurt you” and, therefore, the old axiom of “less is more” does not apply.  This is especially true regarding asbestos not only … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Rules Smelter Emissions Are Not a CERCLA Disposal

The Ninth Circuit’s recent opinion in Pakootas v. Teck Cominco Metals, Ltd., addressed whether, “[w]hen a smelter emits lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury compounds through a smokestack and those compounds contaminate land or water downwind, . . . the owner-operator of the smelter [can] be held liable for cleanup costs and natural resource damages under … Continue Reading

New US Standards to Reduce Emissions and Improve Fuel Efficiency of Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles

As the result of a joint rulemaking effort, the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (US EPA) Office of Transportation and Air Quality and the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finalized new standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles and their engines on August 16, 2016. Included among the types of vehicles affected by … Continue Reading

Implications Of The Brexit Vote On UK Environmental Law And Policy

Following a referendum which has polarised the nation, the people of the UK have voted to leave the European Union. Stepping away from the political rhetoric and posturing, it is worth reflecting on some of the more practical issues which will arise from this decision, such as how it could affect our environmental law landscape. … Continue Reading

US EPA Finalizes Oil and Gas New Source Performance Standards With Potentially Broader New Source Review Impact

With US EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel–fired electric generation still hotly contested in the D.C. Circuit, US EPA is proceeding with the next step in its implementation of the White House’s Climate Action Plan by moving forward with additional greenhouse gas regulations, this time of the nation’s oil and gas infrastructure.  … Continue Reading

Introduction of Australia’s Emissions Reduction Fund Safeguard Mechanism

Australia’s goal to decrease its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 26-28% by 2030 is a direct result of the Paris Climate Conference in 2015. This commitment will be partially executed through the existing Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF). The ERF is a voluntary scheme introduced by the Australian Government (Government) that incentivises individuals and businesses to … Continue Reading

A Short History of Clean Power Plan Litigation as of March 2016

The Clean Power Plan and its surrounding litigation has quickly become one of the hottest topics both inside and outside the legal world. News that the U.S. Supreme Court had granted a stay of the Clean Power Plan on February 9, 2016 spread like wildfire, but many recent followers are unaware of just how long and polemic … Continue Reading

Brexit – What are the implications for UK environmental law and policy?

The topic of the moment in the UK is whether Brexit will be a good or a bad thing for the UK, and it seems to be polarising the nation. Stepping away from the political rhetoric and posturing, it is worth reflecting on some of the more practical issues arising from a UK exit from … Continue Reading

How Challengers Obtained the Stay that Put US EPA’s Clean Carbon Plan on Hold

On February 9, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay of the Clean Power Plan requested by 29 states and state agencies, coal companies, utilities, and several trade associations. News of the order granting the stay spread like wildfire across the nation, having become a top news story overnight. The road to the historic … Continue Reading

D.C. Circuit Leaves US EPA’s Mercury Rule in Place During Remand

On December 15, 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected challenges by energy industry groups and several states that are seeking to scrap US EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (“MATS”) final rule.  White Stallion Energy Center, LLC v. EPA, Case No. 12-1100.  The Court remanded the rule to US EPA for … Continue Reading

US EPA Issues Final Rule to Clamp Down on Refinery Emissions

On September 29, 2015, US EPA issued a final rule for the regulation of emissions from the nation’s 142 petroleum refinery operations (the “Refinery Rule”).  The regulatory structure underlying the rule is complex, but essentially includes both a “residual risk review” to assess the risk to public health, and a “technology review” where, as the … Continue Reading

US EPA’s Clean Carbon Plan Finally Published, Challengers Immediately File Suit and Motions for a Stay

At long last, US EPA officially published the Clean Power Plan (CPP) this morning in the Federal Register, 82 days after releasing a copy of the signed final rule on August 3, 2015. Publication of the rule has been covered extensively by our team in previous posts here and here. Official publication of the rule has been met … Continue Reading

US EPA Finalizes Revisions to Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard

On October 1, US EPA issued much-anticipated final rule revisions intended to tighten the ground-level ozone (O3) national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS). US EPA will set the primary ozone NAAQS at 70 parts per billion (ppb). This new standard significantly lowers the existing 75 ppb standard set in 2008. This will push portions of the … Continue Reading

US EPA Proposes New Standards for Methane and VOC Emissions for Unregulated Equipment in Oil and Natural Gas Source Category

As part of the Obama administration’s recent aggressive pursuit of greenhouse gas emissions reductions under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, EPA is proposing to amend new source performance standards (NSPS) to include standards for reducing methane emissions for the oil and natural gas source category under the Clean Air Act.  The proposal signed on August … Continue Reading

US EPA Issues Second Direct Final Rule on Greenhouse Gas Permitting in Light of DC Circuit Ruling

As we previously reported, in May 2015 US EPA issued a direct final rule allowing for the rescission of certain preconstruction (“PSD”) permits issued by US EPA and delegating permit review authority to states under Step 2 of the Greenhouse Gas (“GHG”) Tailoring Rule.  Step 2 of the Tailoring Rule set in motion PSD permitting for “GHG-only” sources, meaning sources permitted solely … Continue Reading

Endangered Emissions: The Obama Administration’s Bold Plan to Reduce Carbon Dioxide Emissions Finalized

Earlier this month, the Obama Administration released the final version of the Clean Power Plan (CPP), an effort to curb carbon emissions nationwide. The final rule uses a combination of renewable energy and significant limitations on carbon emitting plants to achieve this goal. It is worth noting that the overall reductions required by the final rule were increased … Continue Reading

Reforming the offence of Public Nuisance

Introduction Five years after originally consulting the public, the Law Commission has recently published its report on reforming the common law criminal offences of public nuisance and outraging public decency.  This note focuses on the proposed reforms to the offence of public nuisance. Public nuisance is unusual in so far as it is both a … Continue Reading

Environmental Groups Sue US EPA to Force Residual Risk and Technology Reviews

On April 8, 2015, a coalition of nine environmental organizations from California, Louisiana, Oregon and Ohio filed a Clean Air Act (CAA) citizen suit against US EPA in the District of Columbia alleging US EPA failed to “review, and revise as necessary” air toxics standards for 21 source categories under CAA § 112(d)(6).  The environmental organizations also allege US … Continue Reading

US EPA Greenhouse Gas Permitting Update

As we reported last summer, the US Supreme Court ruled that US EPA lacked authority to impose Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and Title V permitting requirements under the Clean Air Act (CAA) on facilities based solely on their emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs).  Since that decision there have been many questions about how sources of GHG … Continue Reading
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