The Clean Power Plan, the Obama Administration’s attempt to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants, had its day in court on September 27. What a day it was!

Ten judges of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments addressing the validity of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan in this rare “once in a lifetime” case. (Judge Merrick Garland, a nominee to the Supreme Court, did not hear the case.) A dozen lawyers battled for nearly eight hours — far longer than the three hours the court had allotted — on issues ranging from the Plan’s constitutionality, obscure principles of statutory interpretation, congressional intent, states’ rights, and administrative procedure. Continue Reading Clean Power Plan has its Day in Court

On September 7, 2016, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule updating the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) ozone season trading program.  The rule promulgates more stringent ozone season NOx budgets in several states.  CSAPR was promulgated to implement the “good neighbor” provision of the Clean Air Act, which requires states to address the transport of pollution across state lines. Continue Reading EPA Updates Cross-State Air Pollution Rule for the 2008 Ozone NAAQS

On August 5, 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) denied two petitions by environmental and industry groups to reconsider startup and shutdown issues under the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule and the Utility New Source Performance Standards (NSPS). These regulations, finalized in February 2012, impose operational requirements to minimize emissions during periods of start-up and shutdown in lieu of numeric limits. Continue Reading EPA Denies Petitions to Review Startup and Shutdown Issues under MATS and Utility NSPS

In 2013, President Obama issued the Climate Action Plan. Its goal: to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from a broad range of economic sectors. Moreover, the Climate Action Plan is the key set of initiatives necessary to achieve the United  States’ GHG reduction commitment set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement, an international accord.

We covered the initiation of a wide range of rulemakings in a blog post dated September 28, 2015, and, as the Obama Administration comes to a close, climate change rulemakings continue to move forward. The most contentious rule—the Clean Power Plan—has moved from rulemaking to litigation. Many other rules (e.g. new rules limiting methane emissions from the oil and gas industry and the renewable fuel standards) have moved from proposal to final rules. We summarize the status of 10 different rules, standards, or programs meant to implement the Climate Action Plan below. Continue Reading Recap: Climate Action Plan Nears Completion

On May 12, 2016, the United States Environmental Protection Agency issued a pre-publication version of a final rule that sets the first-ever federal limits on methane emissions for new, reconstructed, and modified oil and gas sources. The Methane Rule aims to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the oil and gas industry in two ways: by updating New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for the emission of methane and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and by imposing new monitoring and maintenance requirements. It is the latest in a series of EPA rulemakings to implement the Obama administration’s Climate Action Plan. The Methane Rule will become effective 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register, which has not yet occurred. Continue Reading Coming Down the Pipeline: New Methane Emissions Limits

The Clean Power Plan continues its surprising path to becoming the law of the land. On May 16, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on its motion issued an order to delay oral argument in the Clean Power Plan rulemaking and hear the case en banc. The oral arguments were scheduled for June 2 and 3, and are now set to begin on September 27. Presumably the argument will be allotted two days, but the court notes that it will issue further orders regarding the allotment of time for oral argument. Continue Reading Another Unexpected Fork in the Road to the Clean Power Plan

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is set to issue its final rule establishing for the first time by regulation the standard by which emissions from separate sources in the oil and gas sector are aggregated under the Clean Air Act (the Aggregation Rule). On April 7, 2016, EPA sent the final rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. The regulation will likely become effective in June 2016 after OMB completes its review. Continue Reading EPA’s Final Regulation on Oil & Gas Industry Nears Publication

International agreements like the Paris Climate Agreement and federal regulations like the Clean Power Plan dominate news reports about climate change.  But cities are increasingly taking the lead in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  In fact, many U.S. cities have set emissions reduction targets that are far more aggressive than federal goals.  For example, the Chicago Climate Action Plan sets a target of 25% below 1990 GHG emissions by 2020.  While cities initially focused on voluntary measures, regulatory powers are increasingly used to reduce emissions.  These regulations—which so far include emissions reporting requirements and building efficiency standards—may affect a wide variety of businesses in cities across the country. Continue Reading Climate Change Regulation – Locally Grown

Southern California Gas Company’s Aliso Canyon storage facility has been leaking natural gas since October 23, 2015. Company officials have recently announced that a relief well is nearly finished and the leak will soon be plugged. However, for the natural gas industry as a whole, the legal and regulatory challenges have just begun. Continue Reading As Gas Leaks, Pressure for Regulation Builds