On August 22, 2017, EPA released its proposed area designations in the latest round of designations under the 2010 SO2 National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS).  The proposed designations largely track the states’ recommendations; however, EPA has identified a number of areas, recommended by states as “attainment,” that EPA believes “may be violating” the standard, including areas in Florida, Guam, Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota, Ohio, Puerto Rico, and Wisconsin.  In addition, EPA has proposed to designate some areas as unclassifiable as opposed to unclassifiable/attainment.  EPA has published a table that compares its intended designations with the state recommended designations.  https://www.epa.gov/sulfur-dioxide-designations/intended-sulfur-dioxide-area-designations-august-2017

Continue Reading EPA Releases Proposal in the Third Round of Designations for the 2010 SO2 NAAQS

The DC Circuit issued a decision on July 3, 2017, vacating the 90-day stay of the Oil & Gas Industry NSPS rules – the first rules to regulate methane from that sector.  In a June 5 Federal Register notice, the new Trump EPA stayed the rules pending reconsideration under Section 307(d) of the Clean Air Act.  Environmental Groups filed an emergency challenge to the stay, asking for either a stay of that decision or summary vacatur of it.  Issuing its decision less than a month later, the court vacated EPA’s stay of the rules.

Continue Reading DC Circuit Vacates EPA Stay of Oil & Gas Rule

Yesterday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (“Fourth Circuit” or “the court”) vacated a federal district court’s order requiring EPA to account for the economic impacts of Clean Air Act (“CAA”) regulations.  This decision stems from a suit filed by coal companies claiming that EPA had failed to perform a non-discretionary duty by completing continuous evaluations of job losses and plant closures resulting from CAA implementation or enforcement as required under Section 321 of the CAA.  In a strongly worded opinion, the district court ordered EPA to come into compliance with the requirements of Section 321 by July 2017, an order that EPA subsequently appealed to the Fourth Circuit.

Continue Reading Fourth Circuit Nixes EPA Coal Jobs Review Requirement

As part of his regulatory reform agenda, President Donald Trump instructed federal agencies to review their regulations to identify requirements that burden businesses and industry.  See EO 13771 and EO 13777.  In order to comply with these directives, on June 8, 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) requested public comments to identify statutes, rules, regulations, and interpretations in policy statements or guidance “that unjustifiably delay or prevent completion of surface, maritime, and aviation transportation infrastructure projects.”

Continue Reading DOT Requests Input Regarding Burdensome Regulatory Requirements

Yesterday, June 6, 2017, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced a one-year delay of EPA’s final designation of areas under the 2015 ozone standard.  The 2015 standard was issued on October 26, 2015 and tightened the existing 2008 standard from 75 ppb to 70 ppb.  In general, EPA is required to issue designations within two years of publication of a new standard. Designations for the 2015 standard were originally due by this October, and EPA would have been required to preview for the states its intended designations at least 120 days in advance of the October deadline – by this August.    Continue Reading EPA Extends Deadline for Final Area Designations under the 2015 Ozone NAAQS

In the Rose Garden of the White House, President Trump fulfilled a key campaign promise today by confirming that the United States will begin withdrawing from the Paris Climate Change Agreement (“Agreement”).  President Trump cited the Agreement’s potential financial and economic burdens as a key reason for the withdrawal. Continue Reading U.S. to Withdraw from Paris Climate Deal

Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued orders holding litigation challenging two major climate regulations in abeyance—the “Clean Power Plan” and the “Carbon Pollution Standards” for new and modified electric generating units.  Both rules were critical components of the Obama Administration’s climate change agenda by requiring steep cuts in CO2 emissions from existing and new power plants, respectively.  In the orders, the court granted EPA’s motion to hold the case in abeyance, but only for 60 days.  The court also ordered EPA to file status reports every 30 days.  The court further directed the parties to submit supplemental briefs by May 15th to address whether the cases should be remanded to EPA instead of held in abeyance.

The orders can be found at the following links:  Clean Power Plan & Carbon Pollution Standards.  For more information or questions on these cases, please contact Peter Glaser, Margaret Campbell, or Mack McGuffey.

On April 24th, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an order indefinitely delaying oral argument and holding in abeyance litigation over EPA’s 2015 Startup, Shutdown and Malfunction (SSM) Rule.  The order comes in response to EPA’s request for a continuance to allow it to review the SSM Rule for possible modification or repeal.  EPA must file status reports on its review of the SSM Rule at 90-day intervals beginning 90 days from the date of the order.  Within 30 days of EPA informing the court of what action it has or will take with respect to the rule, parties to the litigation must file motions to govern future proceedings.

Flanked by two dozen coal miners, Vice President Mike Pence, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, and joined by various coal state congressmen and industry executives, President Trump visited EPA headquarters yesterday to sign a long-anticipated Executive Order to end the previous administration’s so-called “war on coal.”

Continue Reading Trump Begins Rolling Back Regulatory Burdens on Fossil Fuel Energy Production