Exercising one of its most important and far-reaching powers under the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has lowered the primary annual National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) from 12 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3) down to 9 ug/m3, changing the game on air quality permitting for much of the U.S. EPA’s February 7, 2024 final rule, which will become effective 60 days following its publication in the Federal Register, represents a reversal of the Trump administration’s decision to retain the PM2.5 standard of 12 ug/m3 set under the Obama administration in 2012. The lower standard will set off a chain reaction of additional requirements for state air agencies, and ultimately industrial sources, in places designated as nonattainment with the new standard, but one impact of the new standard will be felt almost immediately: increased difficulty in obtaining air permits.Continue Reading EPA Lowers Annual PM2.5 NAAQS, With Immediate Impacts for Air Permitting

For anyone involved in the first round of the Clean Air Act regional haze program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) action on the first business day of 2024 came as no surprise: EPA proposed to disapprove the regional haze plan for Kansas. If the past is any indication of the future, this proposal foreshadows what will likely be many more regional haze state plan disapprovals over the next 12 months, given that EPA has already been hauled into court once again to force it back on schedule.Continue Reading And so It Begins…EPA Issues First Disapproval of Regional Haze Round Two

EPA’s long-promised rules for reducing CO2 emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants have now been published. In the proposal, EPA lays out “performance standards” for new natural gas-fired power plants and “emission guidelines” for states to use in developing standards for existing gas- and coal-fired power plants.Continue Reading EPA’s New Carbon Standards for Power Plants Require Quick Decisions

Much ado is being made of recent amendments to the Clean Air Act (CAA) contained in the Biden administration’s budget reconciliation law passed in mid-August, commonly referred to as the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). And with good reason, as the law includes the most significant changes to the CAA since 1990, and the new sections formally define greenhouse gases (GHGs) as an “air pollutant,” consistent with the Supreme Court’s 2007 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA.

However, the IRA amendments to the CAA do not in fact make significant substantive changes in law. Legally speaking, they can’t, given that the IRA is merely a reconciliation bill through which Congress may only assign funding. More to the point, none of the IRA amendments to the CAA address in any way the limitations the Supreme Court recently placed on EPA’s authority to adopt climate change regulation in West Virginia v. EPA, notwithstanding some characterizations to the contrary.Continue Reading Clean Air Act Amendments Minimally Impact EPA’s Authority to Pass Climate Change Regulation

EPA’s standards for hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emissions from industrial boilers have been controversial for nearly two decades. Ever since EPA first proposed “maximum achievable control technology” (MACT) standards for boilers in 2003, which were then entirely vacated by the D.C. Circuit, each new iteration of the rule has raised new legal issues and often foundered in court.
Continue Reading EPA’s Final Industrial Boiler Rule Raises Controversial Topics

On the last day of what was already an historic term, the Supreme Court issued another significant decision impacting EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change. As EPA embarks on a third attempt at a rule targeting CO2 emissions from existing power plants that will pass legal muster, the question now is how the Court’s decision will affect that new rule.
Continue Reading West Virginia v. EPA: The Supreme Court Speaks Again on Climate

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC or Commission) published proposed rules on March 21 that, for the first time, would codify the Commission’s expectations regarding what kinds of climate-related disclosures public companies must make in their required filings to the SEC. Prior to now, companies have had to rely on 2010 guidance from the Commission to determine what information they should disclose to investors regarding their climate-related risks.
Continue Reading SEC Publishes Proposed Rule Requiring Climate Disclosures

In a proposed rule signed on February 28, but not yet published in the Federal Register, EPA proposed to significantly expand its current approach to regulating the interstate transport of ozone. Under the so-called “good neighbor” provision of the Clean Air Act, states are required to submit State Implementation Plans (SIPs) to EPA containing rules sufficient to prohibit emissions from their state that would either significantly contribute to another state’s nonattainment of national ambient air quality standards or interfere with another state’s maintenance of those standards. If a state submits a SIP that is insufficient to satisfy its good neighbor obligation, EPA must issue a Federal Implementation Plan (FIP) to fully address the problem.
Continue Reading EPA Proposes Significant Expansion to Interstate Ozone Transport Regulations