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.

Following up on its recent promise to evaluate all existing regulations and reduce regulatory burden, EPA held a public teleconference on April 24th to take ideas on reforming its air-related regulations.  The call was scheduled for three hours, with each commenter limited to three minutes. The commenters essentially fell into two categories—environmental interest groups criticizing any attempts at what they view as a roll-back of important environmental protections, or businesses and industry groups citing specific regulations and guidance that should be reviewed and revised.  For example, David Doniger of the Natural Resource Defense Council expressed support for EPA’s climate regulations and encouraged EPA to “do its job,” while Andrea Field of the Utility Air Regulatory Group sought specific review and reform of the CO2 standards for new power plants, the mandatory greenhouse gas reporting rule, the Cross-State Air Pollution (CSAPR) Update Rule, visibility regulations, and pre-construction permitting requirements.  Other important rules mentioned by industry commenters included EPA’s methane standards for oil and gas production facilities, EPA’s national ambient air quality standards for ozone and particulate matter, the renewable fuels program, the maximum achievable control technology standards for industrial boilers, and EPA’s guidance on the use of dispersion modeling to assess air quality impacts.  Written comments in response to EPA’s request are due May 15, 2017, although several commenters have already requested more time.

If you have any questions regarding the EPA teleconference, please contact Mack McGuffey at (404) 885-3698.

 

In an April 18th letter to petitioners who requested reconsideration of EPA’s Oil and Natural Gas Sector: Emission Standards for New, Reconstructed and Modified Sources Rule, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced the agency’s intent to convene a proceeding for reconsideration of the rule’s fugitive emissions monitoring requirements.  In its current form, the rule imposes limits on methane, volatile organic compounds and toxic air emissions from new, modified and reconstructed sources in the oil and natural gas industry.  EPA also plans to issue a 90-day stay of the compliance date for the fugitive emissions monitoring requirements.

On April 18th, EPA filed motions in separate cases asking the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to delay pending litigation over two Clean Air Act (CAA) rules.  In one case, EPA asked the court to delay oral argument, scheduled for May 18th, in the litigation challenging its supplemental findings regarding the cost of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) Rule, which regulates hazardous air pollutant emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants.  EPA argues that a continuance is appropriate because it intends to review the supplemental finding for possible modification or repeal, citing President Trump’s recent “Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth.”

Continue Reading EPA Seeks Delays in Pending Air Rules Litigation

The EPA published a notice in the April 13th Federal Register requesting public comments on regulations that may be appropriate for repeal, replacement, or modification.  This request follows President Trump’s February 24th Executive Order that, among other things, requires federal agencies to establish a Regulatory Reform Task Force (“Task Force”) to make recommendations targeting specific federal regulations for elimination or modification.  Task Forces must seek input from entities affected by federal regulations, including businesses, consumers, non-governmental organizations and trade associations.  EPA’s Task Force is requesting comments on regulations that eliminate jobs or stifle their creation, impose costs that exceed benefits, implement Executive Orders or other Presidential directives that have been rescinded or modified, or are otherwise ineffective or outdated.  Comments will be accepted through May 15.

Continue Reading EPA Seeks Comments on Job-Killing, Costly Regulations

In an April 11, 2017 Order, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals granted EPA’s petition to indefinitely delay oral argument in the Ozone NAAQS litigation.  Originally scheduled for February 16, 2017, oral argument was rescheduled for April 19, 2017.  EPA petitioned the court to further delay oral argument because it intends to review the NAAQS rule.  In granting EPA’s request, the court ordered that the NAAQS litigation be held in abeyance.  EPA must file status reports on its review of the NAAQS rule at 90-day intervals, beginning 90 days from this Order.  Within 30 days of EPA informing the court of what action it has or will take with respect to the rule, the parties must file motions to govern future proceedings.  The court’s Order can be accessed here.

The federal appellate court hearing the appeal of EPA’s “Section 111(b)” regulations establishing a carbon capture and storage “new source performance standard” for new coal-fueled electric generating stations has today suspended the April 17, 2017 date for oral argument in the case.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said it was suspending the oral argument date pending its consideration of EPA’s motion to hold the case in abeyance in light of President Trump’s recent Executive Order ordering EPA to review the Section 111(b) rule and the Clean Power Plan.  EPA’s abeyance motion was filed Tuesday night, and today all of the State and industry petitioners challenging the rule filed a response in support of the motion.  States and environmental interest groups supporting the Section 111(b) rule have not yet filed formal oppositions to the abeyance motion but have indicated they intend to do so.  The court’s action does not mean that it will grant EPA’s request to hold the case in abeyance, only that it does not wish to proceed with oral argument at this time while it considers the future of the case.

The court’s action also does not affect the parallel EPA motion to hold the Clean Power Plan in abeyance.  No responses to that motion have yet been filed.

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