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”
President Trump and his staff have taken several steps to implement his environmental agenda.
As reported previously (see Freeze on Regulations), Mr. Trump’s Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, on January 20, 2017, issued a Memorandum requiring, among other things, that all federal agencies postpone the effective date of all regulations published in the Federal Register but not yet effective as of January 20, 2017. EPA, on January 23, 2017, complied, postponing the effective date of thirty rules until March 21, 2017. See 82 Fed. Reg. 8499 (Jan. 26, 2017). The thirty regulations include the:
- Risk Management Program revisions (previously effective on March 14, 2017),
- Renewable Fuel Standards for 2017 (previously effective on February 10, 2017), and
- Addition of a subsurface intrusion component to the hazard ranking system (previously effective on February 8, 2017).
Continue reading “ALERT: The Trump Administration’s First Week”
In the last several years, EPA has issued numerous rules impacting the oil and gas industry. While petroleum refineries in the downstream segment face new compliance challenges with the first ever fenceline monitoring requirement for benzene, regulations imposed on the upstream and midstream segments seek to curb emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and volatile organic compounds (VOC). As if these new challenges were not enough, the EPA has strongly signaled through information collection efforts that more regulations on the upstream and midstream segments are forthcoming. Continue reading “Muddying the Upstream and Midstream Waters”
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”
EPA continues to focus on the oil and gas sector in its relentless quest for reduction of methane and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. It now seeks to expand on the standards announced in 2012 for hydraulically fractured natural gas wells by having additional standards on a variety of sources in place by 2016.
Methane accounts for about 9 percent of domestic greenhouse gas emissions. Although methane emissions have decreased since 1990, EPA predicts they will increase through 2030 if action is not taken. As a result, EPA believes new reductions are necessary in order to meet the administration’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 17-percent below 2005 levels by 2030. As the oil and gas sector accounts for roughly 28 percent (in 2012) of greenhouse gas emissions, EPA sees it as a fertile ground for action. Continue reading “New Climate Rules Will Impact Oil and Gas Industry”
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”
The EPA has issued its long-awaiting proposed rule to curb carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired electric generating units (EGUs). Although there has been a much-heralded ‘pause’ in global warming over the last 16 years, EPA is moving ahead to fulfill President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, in which he calls for a reduction in CO2 emissions from power plants, and to otherwise achieve his stated goal of bankrupting coal plants.
CO2 is the primary greenhouse gas (GHG), accounting for 82% of US GHG emissions and 75% of global GHG emissions. Electricity generation accounts for 32% of GHG emissions and fossil fuel-fired EGUs are by far the largest emitters of GHG. Continue reading “The Goal? No Coal!”
It is no secret that EPA and many environmental groups are worried about the level of emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) and the cumulative effects of rising amounts of GHG on our environment. Many recent regulations have been issued by EPA and lawsuits filed by environmental groups to try and reduce those emissions from various industry categories. Oil and gas exploration and production activities have been specifically targeted for special scrutiny because that industry has been deemed to be a significant source of such emissions.
Methane is a potent GHG. In fact, EPA currently rates methane as having twenty-five times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Since natural gas is primarily methane, EPA has focused some of its recent efforts in rule-making to curtailing the release of natural gas/methane from natural gas well completion activities associated with hydraulically fracturing, or fracking. However, while additional regulation is usually burdensome to the point where the costs outweigh potential benefits, these regulations may actually create discernible savings and profits for industry. Continue reading “Green Completions Help the Environment and Industry”