Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

Mandatory GHG EPA Reports Due April 1, 2022

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Feb 22, 2022

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to expand and refine environmental compliance requirements, including those related to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In particular, facilities and organizations subject to EPA's mandatory GHG emission reporting rules should be preparing to submit reports covering calendar year 2021. The remainder of this note summarizes these requirements.

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Tags: EPA, Greenhouse Gas, ghg, Environment

US tightens federal standards for greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles

Posted by Jon Elliott on Mon, Jan 24, 2022

During the last decade, federal state authorities have sparred with themselves and with states over regulatory standards limiting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from automobiles. Nationally, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) share authority over fleetwide and individual vehicle standards. EPA applies authority under the Clean Air act (CAA) and NHTSA applies authority under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA) including Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standards. In addition, the state of California has unique CAA authority over vehicle emission; in recent years, Democratic presidential administrations generally produce federal-state cooperation, whereas Republican presidential administrations produce conflicts. (I’ve written about these issues several times, most recently HERE). True to this pattern, on December 21, 2021 EPA issued tighter vehicle emission rules covering Model Years (MY) 2023 through 2026, and NHTSA rescinded its (Trump era) rule preempting California’s stricter GHG emission standards. The remainder of this note discusses these new rules, within the context of ongoing rulemakings.

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Tags: Environmental, Greenhouse Gas, ghg, CO2 Emissions

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative prepares to add a new member

Posted by Jon Elliott on Wed, Aug 05, 2020

One of the longest running sub-national greenhouse gas (GHG) control efforts in the U.S. has been the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) program. RGGI provides a cap-and-trade program covering GHG emissions from targeted fossil fuel power plants in participating northeastern states. The program is preparing to add a new participating state in 2021 -- Virginia.

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Tags: Environmental, Greenhouse Gas, ghg, RGGI, Fossil Fuel, CO2 Emissions

Northeastern States Propose Regional Cap-and-Trade Program to Reduce Greenhouse Gases From Transportation

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Feb 04, 2020

After nearly a decade of talking and planning, most of the northeast and middle Atlantic states (plus the District of Columbia) in the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) have proposed a cap-and-trade program intended to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from transportation. On October 1, TCI issued a “Framework for a Draft Regional Policy Proposal,” and on December 17 a formal “Draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)” that jurisdictions can sign to formalize their participation. If things go well, the formal program should begin in 2020.

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Tags: Business & Legal, Environmental risks, Environmental, Greenhouse Gas, ghg, cap-and-trade

Feds Issue Nationwide Motor Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Standards and Declare California’s Standards to be Preempted

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Oct 22, 2019

The federal government has taken another step in its car wars with California. Late in September the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued joint rules declaring NHTSA’s preemptive authority to set national standards covering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from petroleum-fueled vehicles and electric vehicles, and revoking a waiver from EPA that lets California set such standards.

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Tags: California Legislation, Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, ghg, Transportation, greenhouse

DC Circuit Upholds Most of EPA’s 2015 Standards For Ground Level Ozone

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Sep 17, 2019

On August 23, the federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (DC Circuit) upheld most aspects of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground level ozone adopted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2015. The Clean Air Act (CAA) requires EPA to create a list of air pollutants based on emissions that cause or contribute to air pollution that may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare (criteria pollutants), to establish NAAQS based on these criteria, and to review the NAAQS every 5 years.

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Tags: Business & Legal, Health & Safety, Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, Greenhouse Gas, ghg, CAA

EPA Proposes to Allow Hazardous Air Pollutant Sources to Reclassify From “Major” to “Area” Using Administrative Controls

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Sep 10, 2019

The Clean Air Act (CAA) directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to define “hazardous air pollutants (HAPs)” that may pose acute health hazards, and to impose regulations to reduce those hazards. EPA requires permits for “major sources” of HAPs based on “Maximum Achievable Control Technologies (MACT),” and lesser controls for non-major “area sources.” Since the Trump Administration took office, EPA has pursued several initiatives to make it easier for sources to reclassify from “major” to “area” in order to reduce their regulatory responsibilities. For example, in January 2018 EPA ended a decades-old policy declaring that every emission source that met major source criteria at the time a MACT became effective was “once in, always in” and could not requalify as a less-regulated area source by accepting legally binding controls that reduce its “potential to emit (PTE).” (I wrote about this change here).

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Tags: Health & Safety, Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, Greenhouse Gas, ghg, Hazcom, Oil & Gas

Motor Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Standards–California and Four Manufacturers Finesse the Turf War With the Federal Government

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Aug 20, 2019

Since the Trump Administration reversed the federal government’s agreement with California for joint motor vehicle greenhouse gas (GHG) standards, federal and state agencies have moved steadily to assert their respective authorities and to sue their counterparts. However, on July 25, 2019 California and 4 major vehicle manufacturers announced a voluntary agreement that eases the state requirements somewhat while making the looser federal standards irrelevant for those companies – and for any additional manufacturers that might join later.

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Tags: Business & Legal, California Legislation, Environmental risks, Environmental, Greenhouse Gas, ghg

EPA Replaces Obama-Era Rules For Coal Fired Power Plants

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Aug 06, 2019

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just issued rules that repeal and replace one of the Obama-era EPA’s signature efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Effective September 6, EPA’s new “Affordable Clean Energy Rule” (ACE) will replace the “Clean Power Plan” adopted in 2015 but stayed by litigation (I wrote about the proposed CPP here). As anyone who has compared the Obama and Trump Administrations' approaches to climate change would expect, the new rule reduces the old rule’s requirements. It softens the mandates in the earlier rule, and offers states more flexibility to design their own efforts to control GHG emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired electricity generating units (EGUs) by eliminating CPP requirements that states consider operational changes “outside the fenceline” of the regulated EGUs.

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Tags: Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, Greenhouse Gas, ghg

Reporting EHS Releases – Responsibilities Continue Except For Some Farm Emissions

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Jul 16, 2019

Among its many provisions, the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA, in this case Section 304) requires facilities to report releases of specified hazardous and extremely hazardous substances, if the release exceeds an applicable threshold reportable quantity (RQ). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administers these requirements, and has just approved an exemption for emissions from animal wastes at farms (this exemption tracks one amended into the Superfund law (CERCLA) in 2018). Other types of facilities and activities are still subject to these reporting requirements, so it’s a good time to review them.

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Tags: Health & Safety, Environmental risks, Environmental, EHS, EPA, Greenhouse Gas, ghg, Hazcom