Archives: Air Quality

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Colorado Proposition 112: If Colorado Bans New Oil and Gas Development, What Next?

The State of Colorado is a leader in regulating oil and gas development. But a ballot initiative proposes a more dramatic regulatory step: restricting oil and gas development all together. In the upcoming election, Colorado voters will decide whether to enact Proposition 112, a law requiring a 2,500-foot setback between any new oil and gas developments and any “occupied … Continue Reading

Proposed Affordable Clean Energy Rule: Navigating US EPA’s Clean Power Plan Replacement

On August 31, 2018, the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) published its proposed rule providing a replacement to the Clean Power Plan (CPP).  The proposed rule, named the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, outlines revised emissions guidelines and the process for states to submit plans for the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from affected … Continue Reading

Lawsuit Filed in Response to US EPA Rollback of Tailpipe Emission Standards

On May 1, 2018, 17 states, including California, as well as the District of Columbia filed a Petition for Review in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in response to US EPA’s announcement that it would be rolling back tailpipe emission standards. As we previously reported, California stated in April that it was … Continue Reading

California Threatens Lawsuit Against US EPA as Pruitt Threatens to Roll Back Emissions Standards

In 2012, California, the Obama Administration, and major US automakers agreed (2012 Agreement) to nearly double fuel efficiency fleet-wide by 2025, raising the average fuel economy of new cars and light trucks to more than 50 MPG, or roughly 36 MPG in real-world driving. As part of the 2012 Agreement, a midterm review was scheduled … Continue Reading

Amid Pushback, US EPA’s Reversal on “Once In Always In” Policy Opens Door to Reduced Clean Air Act Obligations

On January 25, 2018, Bill Wehrum, the new Assistant Administrator of US EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, issued a memorandum to all Regional Air Division Directors rescinding US EPA’s historic “Once In Always In” (OIAI) policy for major sources under US EPA’s National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) program. Under the “Once In Always In” (OIAI) … Continue Reading

The Future of the Clean Power Plan as US EPA’s Proposed Repeal Looms

On October 16, 2017, US EPA, under Administrator Scott Pruitt, proposed the repeal of the Clean Power Plan (CPP), and the Agency is accepting comments on the repeal until April 26, 2018. Following a review of the statute’s language, surrounding policy, and legislative history, US EPA proposed to “return to a reading of CAA section 111(a)(1) … as … Continue Reading

New US EPA Memorandum Suggests a Hand’s-Off Approach to NSR Applicability Determinations

On December 7, 2017, US EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt issued a memorandum to all Regional Administrators to offer guidance regarding the Agency’s interpretation of New Source Review (NSR) preconstruction permitting requirements in response to recent decisions from the Sixth Circuit in EPA v. DTE Energy Co.  Highlighting the lack of unanimity among the individual Sixth … Continue Reading

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
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