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
On October 7, 2023, California Governor Newsom signed two landmark bills into law, Senate Bill (SB) 253 and SB-261, imposing new requirements on large companies doing business in California to publicly report their annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and climate-related risks. These laws apply to both publicly traded and privately held companies, exceeding the scope of the climate disclosure rule proposed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in March 2022. Our professionals have prepared a more detailed summary here; some key highlights are included below.Continue Reading California Adopts Landmark GHG Emissions and Climate Risk Reporting Laws
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
2022 was a busy year for air quality and climate change policy, and 2023 promises to be no different. See below for a list of high-profile actions expected from EPA this year, along with a few you might not have on your radar screen.Continue Reading 2023 Air Quality and Climate Regulation Watch List
Need a refresher on key developments in 2022 to prepare you for what’s next in 2023? Here’s a rundown of some high-profile happenings, along with some you might have missed.Continue Reading 2022 Air Quality and Climate Highlights
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 June 28, a coalition of 11 environmental groups petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Administrative Procedure Act and the Clean Air Act to address the alleged failure of Texas Commission for Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to comply with and properly implement public participation and environmental justice requirements in its air permitting program. Specifically, the petition alleges that TCEQ violates the Clean Air Act and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act by: (1) restricting public participation in air permitting by limiting judicial review of permits; (2) allowing applicants to withhold public information during the permitting process; and (3) allowing facilities to operate under the state’s permits by rule (PBR) program, which provides no meaningful opportunity for public participation.
Continue Reading Environmental Groups Target Texas Air Permitting Program on Environmental Justice Grounds
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