Friday, April 30, 2010

Clean Air Watch commends EPA for proposed new air pollution protections

Clean Air Watch commends EPA for proposing aggressive action to clean up dirty, dangerous boilers.

This is a huge step towards protecting children from toxic mercury and other hazards from smokestack pollution.

Mercury can poison the brains of babies. The boilers in question are a significant part of the mercury problem, and it is high time they were cleaned up.

This is one of the most significant steps taken by the Obama EPA to protect public health. Literally thousands of dirty-air deaths would be prevented each year.

We strongly encourage EPA to stand up to pressure from big polluters to water down this important public health protection plan.

The EPA materials are available at

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Senator Voinovich seeks to gut ability of EPA, California, or citizens, to deal with climate change

From Greenwire:

CLIMATE: Voinovich floats proposal for curbing GHG regulations (04/21/2010)

Robin Bravender, E&E reporter

Ohio Republican George Voinovich is circulating a proposal among his Senate colleagues that would impose broad limits on federal and state authority to limit greenhouse gas emissions, a Senate Republican aide said today.

The amendment would broadly pre-empt states and federal agencies from regulating greenhouse gases outside the authority of a climate bill. It would block U.S. EPA and states from regulating greenhouse gases except in certain circumstances where they directly affect public health or to protect the stratospheric ozone layer.

Attorneys who specialize in air regulation say the measure would also limit federal programs like the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act and would prevent public nuisance litigation related to climate change. Additionally, the measure would give the Transportation secretary exclusive jurisdiction to regulate automobiles' greenhouse gas emissions.Voinovich is circulating the proposal ahead of the expected release next week of a climate bill from Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.). The Ohio Republican is considering adding the language to that bill or other Senate climate measures, the Republican aide said.

Pre-emption language is a "threshold issue" for Voinovich, the aide said: "To even start the conversation, this has got to be on the table." The aide added that the Clean Air Act, NEPA and the Clean Water Act "were not written with an eye toward addressing climate change."..

Clean Air Watch President Frank O'Donnell called the amendment a "thoroughly terrible idea" because "it would eliminate something we know works."

"It looks like it's a ploy by Voinovich to say, 'You want my vote, you're going to have to gut EPA and state authority,'" O'Donnell added.

Meanwhile, state regulators today warned the architects of the Senate climate bill against handcuffing states' authority.

"When it comes to energy policy and the environment, one size truly does not fit all," California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols said today during a conference call concerning state pre-emption. She said that while California fully supports the need for federal climate legislation, a collaborative effort involving all levels of government will be needed to achieve the needed emissions reductions.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Polluters recruit some "progressive" Democratic senators to water down EPA toxic air pollution standards

The EPA next week is under a court order to come out with new proposed standards to limit toxic emissions from industrial boilers. See brief item, below from Greenwire, for a bit of background.

Potentially affected industries are lobbying furiously against tougher requirements.

Fox example, ExxonMobil and other industry lobbyists opposed to EPA met with the White House April 9.

The lobbyists presented a letter on their behalf, signed by Democratic senators including Sherrod Brown, Mark Warner and Jim Webb, as well as by some more conservative Republicans including Kit Bond, George Voinovich and John Cornyn.

They are basically lobbying to water down the EPA rules, which are designed to reduce emissions linked to cancer and other bad health effects.

AIR POLLUTION: EPA gets 2-week extension for draft boiler rule (04/16/2010)
Robin Bravender, E&E reporter
U.S. EPA has received a two-week extension on its court deadline for proposing hazardous air pollution standards for boilers and process heaters, an agency spokeswoman said yesterday.

EPA was facing a legal deadline to issue the draft rule by April 15 aimed at cutting mercury and other toxic air pollution from industrial, commercial and institutional boilers and process heaters. But the deadline has been pushed to April 29, the EPA spokeswoman said.

Such boilers, which burn coal and other fuels to generate heat or electricity, are used by petroleum refiners, chemical and manufacturing plants, paper mills and other facilities.

The George W. Bush administration issued a boiler standard in 2004, but that rule was tossed out by a federal appeals court. EPA estimated then that the rule would cover 58,000 existing boilers and 800 new boilers built annually in the following five years.

Representatives of some industry sectors fear that EPA's rules will be overly restrictive.

Lobbyists for oil and gas companies, automobile manufacturers and forest-product producers went to the White House Office of Management and Budget last month to warn officials that EPA's upcoming draft rules may be too strict and could cause a host of facilities to shutter their doors (Greenwire, April 8).

Environmental groups, meanwhile, accuse industry of asking the administration to illegally water down the air toxics standards.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Big polluters sue against EPA air standards for nitogen dioxide

Perhaps it’s just that the forces of evil never sleep. Or maybe they are just mad that, unlike its processor, the Obama EPA did follow the advice of its independent scientific advisers.

We are told that polluters have filed suit in federal court, seeking to overturn the recent new EPA air quality standard for the pollutant nitrogen dioxide.

The petitions for review were filed yesterday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit by the American Petroleum Institute, the Utility Air Regulatory Group (electric power companies) as well as by the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America.

You may recall that Clean Air Watch and the American Lung Association were less than ecstatic about the standard, noting that it was the weakest possible level within the range suggested by the scientific advisers.

Even so, it is disheartening to see the oil, gas and electric power industries spending more on lawyers rather than on cleanup.

This is probably the opening salvo in a barrage of polluter lawsuits as EPA moves to tighten other clean-air standards for smog and soot.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Missouri lead industry argues clean air standards are too tough -- because they protect kids!!

from today's E&E Daily:

AIR POLLUTION: EPA's lead rule is overly strict, industry groups argue (04/06/2010)

Robin Bravender, E&E reporter

The national standard for airborne lead pollution is stricter than it needs to be to adequately protect public health, industry groups told a panel of federal judges today.

Attorneys representing the Coalition of Battery Recyclers Association and the Doe Run Resources Corp. asked a three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to vacate U.S. EPA's lead standard. When EPA tightened the national air quality standard for lead in 2008, the attorneys argued, the agency went beyond its obligation to set a level not lower or higher than necessary to safeguard public health.

The George W. Bush administration in 2008 revised the federal limits for the toxic metal for the first time in 30 years, reducing allowable airborne lead concentrations to 0.15 micrograms per cubic meter from 1.5 micrograms per cubic meter (Greenwire, Oct. 16, 2008).

Dennis Lane, an attorney representing Doe Run, argued that the standard was too strict because EPA had focused too heavily on children who will be exposed to high lead levels, whereas the agency had identified all children as the entire sensitive population. As a result, greater protection is being provided than required under federal clean air laws, he said.

Stop the presses! Clean Air Watch and National Association of Manufacturers on the same page!!

Yes, it is a relatively quiet week in our nation’s capital. A chance to catch up on an issue that likely would have been lost amid all of last week’s announcements.

I am referring to the dire need to clean up the nation’s millions of dirty diesel engines that continue to spew life-threatening fumes.

A remarkably large coalition is calling on Congress to boost cleanup funding.

The coalition also is urging more funding for our friends with state and local clean-air agencies.

It’s a rare day when health and environmental groups join forces with trucking and diesel engine companies!

In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Clean Air Watch and the National Association of Manufacturers on the same page!!As we note in the letter, cleaning up diesel engines not only creates jobs and cleans up the air, but it provides important global warming benefits.