On October 1, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a prepublication version of a final rule under the Clean Air Act that will allow major sources of hazardous air pollutants (HAP) to reclassify as area sources if the source reduces its potential to emit HAPs below the major source threshold (10 tons per year of any single HAP or 25 tons per year of any combination of HAPs). EPA had previously applied a “once in, always in” interpretation through a May 1995 policy memorandum issued by John Seitz, then-Director of EPA’s Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards. Under that policy, a facility designated as a major source on the first substantive compliance date of an applicable major source National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants rule had to retain its major source status regardless of whether the source subsequently reduced its potential to emit below major source thresholds. But on January 25, 2018, EPA withdrew the May 1995 policy, laying the groundwork for EPA’s action here.
On October 2, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule amending the national marine diesel engine program set forth in 40 C.F.R. Part 1042. Through the amendment, EPA is providing boat manufacturers additional lead time to install Tier 4 marine diesel engines in certain high-speed commercial vessels. Tier 4 standards — applicable to marine diesel engines at or above 600 kilowatts — were expected to be phased in between 2014 and 2017 and were based on achieving emissions reductions through aftertreatment technology, such as selective catalytic reduction. While these engines are mostly used in various types of large workboats and passenger vessels, certain engines are used in high-speed vessels that need compact and powerful engine designs. After the Tier 4 standards were fully in effect, some high-speed boat manufacturers informed EPA that they were unable to find certified Tier 4 engines with suitable performance characteristics for the vessels they needed to build.
On September 23, 2020 California Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-79-20, expressing the goals that:
- by 2035, 100% of all in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks will be zero-emission vehicles (“ZEV”);
- by 2045, 100% of all medium-and heavy-duty vehicles in the state be zero-emission for all operations where feasible (and the same goal for drayage trucks by 2035); and
- by 2035, the State will transition to 100% zero-emission off-road vehicles and equipment (where feasible).
On August 14, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its proposal to retain the existing ozone national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS). The proposal sets an October 1 deadline for public comment and schedules two virtual hearings, for August 31 and September 1, 2020. The current ozone NAAQS were established in 2015 and set 70 parts per billion for both primary and secondary standards.
On August 13, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) completed its reconsideration of the agency’s 2016 oil and gas regulations when Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a pair of rulemakings that revise the new source performance standards for new oil and gas sources. EPA describes the revisions as reducing undue regulatory burdens and providing substantial cost savings without increasing emissions. Several environmental groups argue the revisions unlawfully reduce regulation of methane emissions and immediately pledged to file suit to challenge the new rules.
The Promise and Regulatory Challenges of Vehicle-to-Grid Technology
The classic yellow school bus is turning green. Electric buses may continue to grow in popularity, and the so-called “vehicle-to-grid” technology enables the new buses to both store and draw power. Listen to our latest episode of The Sidley Podcast for more on the subject, including:
- How the innovative vehicle-to-grid technology is implemented
- Who benefits from a business or an operational perspective
- The regulatory obstacles to setting it in motion around the country
Join host and Sidley partner, Sam Gandhi, as he speaks with one of Sidley’s thought leaders on the subject, Ken Irvin, co-leader of Sidley’s global Energy practice, who represents clients on matters involving the wholesale electricity and gas markets. Ken has extensive experience representing businesses in investigations and regulatory proceedings before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
On July 28, Judge John Koeltl of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue Federal Implementation Plans for the 2008 ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) that fully address the “good neighbor” obligations under the Clean Air Act by March 2021. The plans will force upwind Northeastern states (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia) to curb air emissions that otherwise impede the ability of neighboring downwind states (New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Massachusetts) from meeting the statutory July 20, 2021 attainment deadline set forth in the 2008 ozone NAAQS.
On July 22, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or the Agency) Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) to promulgate regulations governing carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide (collectively, GHGs) emissions from American aircraft under the Agency’s Clean Air Act (CAA) section 231 authority. This is the first such rule from the Agency covering aircraft GHG emissions. The ANPR proposes GHG standards for U.S. aircraft that are consistent with those adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in 2017, which EPA and the Federal Aviation Administration helped to develop. EPA does not anticipate that the proposed standards will reduce fuel burn or GHG emissions beyond the current baseline because existing or expected aircraft fuel efficiency technologies that formed the basis of the 2017 ICAO standards already demonstrate technological feasibility.
On July 2, 2020, in Sierra Club v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit rejected the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) interpretation of the scope of its obligations to review permits under Title V of the Clean Air Act (CAA). The court found that the plain language of EPA’s regulations requires EPA to review whether a state-issued Title V permit complies with all applicable CAA requirements, not only the requirements the state included in the permit. The issue may end up in the U.S. Supreme Court, as it diverges from a recent ruling by the Fifth Circuit.