On the 500th day of the Trump Administration, EPA touted its “notable policy achievements,” highlighting nine such achievements in a “promises made, promises kept” format. However, some of the noted achievements are works in progress and perhaps need more concrete results before a ‘mission accomplished’ banner is hung at EPA headquarters.
The nine ‘achievements’ listed by EPA include: withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement, ensuring clean air and water, reducing burdensome government regulations, repealing the so-called “Clean Power Plan,” repealing the Waters of the United States Rule, promoting energy dominance, promoting science transparency, ending ‘sue and settle,’ and promoting certainty to the auto industry. Continue reading “EPA’s 500th Day Victory Lap”
Regulatory certainty is a benefit for industry, allowing orderly design, planning, and budgeting for capital expenditures. Many environmental regulations have been in place for many years and provide a certain level of continuity. However, the national ambient air quality standard for ozone has not proven itself to be a model of stability over the years.
The Clean Air Act requires that national ambient air quality standards be set at a level that protects human health and the environment with an adequate margin of safety. For years, the standard for ozone was set at 80 parts per billion (ppb). In 2008, EPA lowered the standard to 75 ppb. However, when the Obama Administration entered office in January, 2009, EPA reviewed actions taken by the previous Bush Administration. As to ozone, EPA initiated a rule-making in 2010 to reconsider the 2008 Standard, relying on, among other things, the fact that 75 ppb was above the range recommended by EPA’s scientific advisory board and so may not be protective of human health. The reconsideration rule proposed that the standard be set between 60 and 70 ppb. Continue reading “The Ozone Two-Step”
The Trump administration has made it no secret that it seeks to unleash the potential of American-produced energy. To further that goal, Executive Order (EO) No. 13783 was issued March 28, which required all agencies to review existing regulations that potentially burden the development of domestically produced energy resources. Although agencies such as EPA have taken steps to begin the mandated reviews and provided some relief in the form of stays, at least one court so far has not been as accommodating. Continue reading “Will Oil and Gas Get Any Relief from Obama-era Rules?”
President Trump has signaled a desire to reduce the burden caused by environmental regulations. An executive order issued Jan. 30 requires that two rules be identified for repeal for every new rule proposed. He issued another executive order Feb. 24 announcing that it is the official policy of the U.S. to alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens. At the same time, though, the president has stated he wants to reinvigorate the manufacturing and oil and gas development sectors, while also shortening the environmental review process for major infrastructure projects. Continue reading “Will EPA achieve its core mission?”
EPA directly regulates many aspects of oil and gas activity. Mainly, its regulatory authority relates to air emissions from a multitude of sources and equipment from drilling operations to refinery operations. In addition to the major new rules it has issued over the last several years, EPA is now pursuing two courses of action that create a level of complexity and uncertainty for oil and gas operators. Continue reading “EPA Expands Its Oversight of Oil and Gas Operations”
EPA recently finalized a rule that provides a measure of clarity and certainty for permitting sources in the onshore oil and gas industry. The new rule, published at 81 Fed. Reg. 35622 (June 3, 2016), defines and clarifies the meaning of the term “adjacent” for determining when separate surface sites and the equipment at those sites will be aggregated for permitting purposes. Normally, this applies to oil and gas production or storage facilities. Continue reading “New Aggregation Rule Provides Clarity for Oil and Gas Industry”
The Supreme Court recently issued a stay of the Clean Power Plan, the Obama Administration’s signature regulation addressing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing power plants.
The Clean Power Plan (CPP) imposed the first-ever national standards to limit carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing power plants. The CPP relies on Clean Air Act (CAA) Section 111(d) and established interim and final CO2 emission performance rates for fossil fuel-fired (mainly coal or oil) electric generating units. States are required to develop and implement plans to ensure that power plants achieve the interim CO2 emissions performance rates over the period of 2022 to 2029 and the final CO2 emission performance rates by 2030. The initial state plan was due on September 6, 2016 with final, complete state plans submitted no later than September 6, 2018. Continue reading “The CPP Meets SCOTUS”
Rulemakings Following Massachusetts
After Massachusetts, EPA embarked on the process of grounding its reasons for action in the statute, as directed by the Supreme Court. In July, 2008, EPA published an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) in which it solicited comments on “a wide variety of issues regarding the potential regulation of greenhouse gases under the CAA.”  Interestingly, the “ANPR also contained a summary of much of the work EPA had done in 2007 regarding draft greenhouse gas emission standards for light duty vehicles and trucks under section 202(a) of the Act.”  The fact that work was done in 2007 on such standards seems to imply that, at least informally, a ‘judgment’ under Section 202 had already been made. Continue reading “The Clean Air Act And The Basis for Regulation of Greenhouse Gases–Part 2”
This article will endeavor to explain the regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, focusing on and explaining the provisions of the Clean Air Act relied on by the Environmental Protection Agency to justify or support that regulation. The article will examine the CAA’s applicable definitions and provisions, the Supreme Court’s interpretation of those provisions in the seminal case of Massachusetts v. EPA, the various findings and rules published in the wake of Massachusetts v. EPA, the recent case law interpreting the validity of these findings and rules, the major rules regulating greenhouse gases which have been issued or proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency, and the likely future of greenhouse gases regulation. Continue reading “The Clean Air Act And The Basis for Regulation of Greenhouse Gases–Part 1”
The Supreme Court rejected EPA’s approach to regulating greenhouse gases (GHGs) for smaller sources. At the same time, though, it gave EPA what it really wanted – the authority to regulate the GHGs emitted by sources already deemed “major.” Continue reading “Supreme Court Rules on Major Greenhouse Gas Regulation”