ALERT: The Trump Administration’s First Week

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”

Muddying the Upstream and Midstream Waters

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 CPP Meets SCOTUS

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”

New Climate Rules Will Impact Oil and Gas Industry

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”

The Clean Air Act And The Basis for Regulation of Greenhouse Gases–Part 2

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.” [60] 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.” [61] 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”

The Clean Air Act And The Basis for Regulation of Greenhouse Gases–Part 1

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”

Supreme Court Rules on Major Greenhouse Gas Regulation

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”