Posts in Air Pollution.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or “PFAS,” as they have come to be known, are a category of widely-used and long-lasting chemicals found in many consumer, commercial, and industrial products. The human health and environmental risks of PFAS are not fully understood; however, some scientific studies suggest that exposure to high levels of certain PFAS may lead to adverse health effects. While many states, including Alabama, do not have numeric water quality criteria for PFAS, state environmental agencies are taking steps to address PFAS in the environment – ...

On December 27, EPA proposed to revise the cost finding associated with the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) along with the risk and technology review required by the Clean Air Act.  (EPA Announcement).  The action is taken as a result of a 2015 Supreme Court decision, Michigan v. EPA.  The case involved EPA's interpretation of a section of the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. §7412(n)(1)(A)), which requires the agency to regulate power plants when "appropriate and necessary,"  The Court held that the agency had interpreted the provision unreasonably when it deemed cost irrelevant to the ...

Irony abounds as the new Acting Administrator at EPA last Tuesday announced historic progress under the Clean Air Act even while the Administration works to roll back a number of Clean Air Act rules. On July 31, Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the release of a trends report entitled "Our Nation's Air," which summarizes air quality status and trends through the end of 2017. (Trends Report). The Report reflects on significant improvements in air quality since 1970. Overviews can be found here - (The Hill and here -- (USAToday).

Indeed, EPA's current webpage continues to ...

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management's Air Division recently issued a revised version of its long-standing guidance document "Emissions Test Protocol and Test Report Requirements." The revised 5-page document is available here. Much of the new document describes procedures for emissions test protocols and other requirements that have been in place for over thirty years. The recent change involves an added requirement that certain other test reports must now be submitted to the Department if those tests are preparatory to or linked to eventual emissions test ...

Through a combination of memoranda and a recently proposed rulemaking, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is moving to affect longstanding and fundamental components of EPA programs. The merits (or lack thereof) may be lost as the actions are viewed from a perspective that the Agency is becoming increasingly politicized.

Through the use of a series of guidance memoranda recently released, EPA is revamping its rules for regulating air pollution. (The Hill, April 18, 2018). We reported on two of the memos in the blog on February 6. Those relate to the change in New Source Review policy ...

Posted in: Air Pollution, EPA

The issue of climate change has become the focus of air emission regulations and prompted deep division in the process. The last Presidential election brought the issue to the fore in the sense that those who are now involved with developing environmental policy are skeptical of human impacts on climate, and most official discussion of the issue is being eliminated. (EPA Scientists Prevented from Discussing Climate Change: NYT & CNN). Nonetheless, investigations of the impacts of air pollution continue and results are being published on an ongoing basis. Notably, the British ...

Posted in: Air Pollution

Last Thursday, National Public Radio reported on a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine which offers evidence that air pollution continues to kill thousands in the United States every year. (NPR). An abstract can be viewed at the New England Journal of Medicine website here.

The study, conducted by a team from Harvard's T. H. Chan School of Public Health, concludes that approximately 12,000 lives could be saved every year by reducing the emission level of fine particulate matter by 1 microgram per cubic meter of air below current U.S. standards. While air quality has ...

Posted in: Air Pollution

Certain regulated entities that operate under Clean Air Act permits are being reminded that those permits do not necessarily cover air emissions associated with the management of hazardous wastes regulated by the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and various State counterpart statutes. RCRA regulations governing hazardous waste management include certain requirements intended to prevent fugitive emissions of hazardous air pollutants, and these can operate separate from or in addition to requirements imposed by a facility's air permit.

An EPA national ...

December 18, 2014, marked the release of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) annual environmental enforcement and compliance results. See News Release, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA Announces 2014 Annual Environmental Enforcement Results (Dec. 18, 2014). According to the EPA, its enforcement actions in 2014 required businesses across the country to invest more than $9.7 billion in regulatory compliance and equipment. Additionally, EPA collected a total of $163 million in combined federal administrative, civil judicial penalties, and criminal ...

On Monday, June 22, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a much anticipated decision in Utility Air Regulatory Group v. Environmental Protection Agency (slip opinion) where it affirmed EPA's authority to impose limits for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by major emissions sources that are otherwise required to have a Clean Air Act permit for conventional pollutants. At the same time, the Court rejected the Agency's assertion that it has the authority to impose GHG emission limits on facilities independent of any other obligation those facilities may have to obtain permits. Thus, EPA (and ...

Federal Court of Appeals strikes down a portion of the EPA's rule limiting a Court's authority for imposing civil fines for equipment failures. While upholding portions of EPA's new rules for air toxic emissions for cement kilns, in a ruling dated April 16th the District of Columbia Court of Appeals struck down the provision that limited the Federal Courts from imposing civil penalties involving citizen suits for violations of the Clean Air Act for unavoidable equipment malfunctions. The Federal Courts previous 2008 decision finding unlawful EPA's earlier attempt to "exempt ...
The Supreme Court handed the Obama administration a victory on Tuesday, April 29, 2014, when it injected new life into an Environmental Protection Agency rule targeting air pollution that drifts across state borders. EPA struggled for many years to carry out a Clean Air Act directive to protect downwind states from pollution generated in other states (the "Good Neighbor Provision"). In 2011, EPA enacted a set of rules regulating pollutants generated from coal-fired plants that drift across state lines (the "Transport Rule"). The Transport Rule established a program for ...
Posted in: Air Pollution, EPA
The Georgia Court of Appeals, on July 16, issued its opinion affirming the Effingham County Superior Court's decision to certify a class consisting of the owners of properties neighboring Georgia-Pacific's Savannah River Mill in Rincon. Plaintiffs, owners of four of the neighboring properties, argued that the mill releases hydrogen sulfide gas onto their properties and sought class certification to include properties located within a mile of the mill. Plaintiffs brought claims for nuisance, trespass, and negligence in connection with fumes created in connection with the ...

EPA has extended the public comment period on its proposed Tier 3 Motor Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standards from June 13, 2013 to July 1, 2013. The May 29, 2013 Federal Register notice announcing the extension can be found here: PROPOSED RULES Control of Air Pollution from Motor Vehicles: Tier 3 Motor Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standards, 32223 http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-05-29/html/2013-12749.htm http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-05-29/pdf/2013-12749.pdf. For more information on environmental law topics, please contact one of the Burr & Forman team ...

The American Lung Association recently issued a Report entitled, "State of the Air 2013," which looks at levels of ground-level ozone and particle pollution across the United States for the period 2009-2011. The Report uses data collected by States, tribes and federal agencies from local air monitoring devices. A variety of information about the Report can be found here. The Report notes that stronger standards for pollutants and sources of pollution have reduced ozone and particulant pollution over the past few decades. From 1970, just before the enactment of regulatory controls ...
Posted in: Air Pollution

The recent decision in Sierra Club v. EPA, 705 F.3d 458 (D.C. Cir. 2013) vacated all of EPA's rules on Significant Monitoring Concentrations ("SMCs"), as well as some (the Prevention of Significant Deterioration ("PSD") portion) of the Significant Impact Levels ("SILs") for Particulate Matter in air emissions measuring 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller ("PM2.5"). As a result permit applicants have fewer screening tools available when seeking exemption from analysis and monitoring requirements under the Clean Air Act ("Act").

A. Background for the Act, NAAQS ...

The costs of reducing air emissions, at least particulates, appears to be justified according to research cited during a recent lecture by environmental economist C. Arden Pope, III, a professor at Brigham Young University. An article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports Dr. Pope recounted epidemiological and scientific studies demonstrating the health and economic benefits of air pollution control regulation. Pope was speaking as part of the distinguished lecturer series at Pittsburgh Carnegie Mellon University, and he reminded the audience of early work done Lester B ...
Posted in: Air Pollution

Previously, we referenced an article in Bloomberg BNA reporting on an interview with an EPA representative who indicated that the Agency could not provide a definitive timeline for promulgating final regulations on the management of coal ash generated by power plants. EPA has now more formally confirmed this uncertainty. Recently, in announcing projected publication dates for a wide range of rules in various stages of development, EPA effectively acknowledged that there is no target date for the final rule. This is also reflected on EPA's web page which tracks the history of the ...

On January 15, 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized revisions to standards to reduce air pollution from stationary engines that generate electricity and power equipment at industrial, agricultural, oil and gas production, power generation and other facilities. The final amendments to the 2010 "National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engines (RICE)" reflect new technical information submitted by stakeholders after the 2010 standards were issued. According to EPA, the final amendments ...
It's almost never easy to fathom federal environmental regulations and this held true when a set of regulations was recently issued by the U.S. EPA. On December 20, 2012, the Agency issued a series of rules, primarily under the Clean Air Act, to address emissions from sources generally classified as boilers or incinerators. Part of the regulatory package also included revisions to standards and procedures enacted under authority of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act ("RCRA") that will determine whether non-hazardous secondary materials constitute waste when burned in ...

On August 21, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, in EME Homer City Generation, L.P v. EPA, F.3d (D. C. Cir. 2012), vacated the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR, also known as the "Transport Rule") and remanded the rulemaking proceeding to EPA. The D.C. Circuit directed EPA to continue to administer the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) "pending implementation of a valid replacement". Judge Brett Kavanagh wrote for the Court: Here, EPA's Transport Rule exceeds the agency's statutory authority in two independent respects. First, the statutory text grants EPA authority to ...

Posted in: Air Pollution
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