Air Quality

Lessons from Aliso Canyon, Part I

Equipment and machinery is seen on a ridge above a natural gas well known as SS25 in Southern California Gas Company's vast Aliso Canyon facility. Pressure on the company has been mounting as residents of nearby Porter Ranch deal with the odor resulting from a leak at the well which was discovered on October 23. 12/14/2015

Regulation of the Oil and Gas Sector

Since October 23, 2015, a leak in a natural gas well has been releasing methane gas near the Porter Ranch neighborhood of Los Angeles. Although methane is invisible and odorless, gas companies add odorants to alert people to leaks, and it is these additives, usually mercaptans, that experts believe are causing the physical effects suffered by […]

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Want an Economy-Wide Cap on U.S. Climate Emissions? Consider This Corner of the Clean Air Act

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New report on Section 115 of the Act suggests an interesting post-Paris approach

A largely-untapped provision of the Clean Air Act authorizes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to develop and implement an economy-wide, market-based program to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions and achieve the Obama Administration’s Paris Agreement pledge, according to a report released today by several coordinating law school centers, including the Emmett Institute at UCLA.  See […]

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Top 10 Environmental News Stories of 2015

Paris fireworks

More goods than bad, but some of each.

Here are the top ten stories, at least as I see them: A Warming World. 2015 will almost certainly be the warmest year on record. This is one more confirmation of recent studies indicating that either there was no climate hiatus or it has ended. Saving Wetlands and Water Bodies. EPA and the Army Corp […]

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Guest Blogger Kate Konschnik: The Debate about EPA’s Authority to Regulate Carbon Pollution is a Lot of Things – But Not These Things

Kate Konschnik is the Director of Harvard Law School’s Environmental Policy Initiative. The views expressed in this blog post are her own.

Clean Power Plan challengers have asked the D.C. Circuit to stay the rule pending litigation.  Today, industry and environmental groups supporting EPA will file their oppositions to this request.  The stay motions included the charge that EPA may not use Section 111(d) at all to curb pollution from existing power plants.  Dan Farber and I […]

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“Necessary and Appropriate”

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EPA has now formally proposed its response to the Supreme Court's opinion in Michigan v. EPA

Although the Paris talks are justifiably getting the lion’s share of the attention, there have been other significant environmental actions recently. One of those involves the EPA’s effort to reduce toxic emissions from power plants (particularly coal-fired plants). The Clean Air Act gives special treatment to toxic emissions from power plants. Other sources are regulated […]

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Clean Power Plan Litigation Kick-Off

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Flood of lawsuits follows publication of EPA rules to regulate power-plant GHGs

*Updated: Nov. 17, 2015* On Friday, October 23, 2015, the Federal Register formally published EPA’s rules to control greenhouse-gas emissions from fossil-fuel-fired power plants under the Clean Air Act. I described the basics of the rules after EPA released the unofficial text in August. The final text of the rule to regulate new and modified […]

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Air quality and wildfire

We may need to burn more to get less smoke

One of the impacts of California’s difficult fire season has been air pollution. Fires produce smoke. Large wildfires produce a lot of smoke. And large wildfires in the southern Sierra Nevada produce smoke in the southern Central Valley – the part of the United States that already has some of the worst air quality in […]

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Gaping Hole in EPA’s Methane Rules

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Why don't EPA's proposed rules to reduce methane emissions apply to existing oil and gas facilities?

In August, EPA released proposed rules to reduce fugitive methane and VOC emissions from oil and gas operations.  While this is a significant action in the fight against climate change, and much needed in light of the shale-driven national drilling renaissance, there is a gaping hole in the methane rules that has environmentalists worried — […]

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Lost in the Ozone Again

The Ozone Standard, Regulatory Pragmatism, and the Rule of Law

  EPA issued a new regulation last week that mandates a reduction in ozone levels to 70 ppm from the current 75 ppm (originally set by the Bush Administration). The new regulation was immediately attacked by industry and environmentalists. According to industry, the regulation will be a job-killing burden on the economy. According to environmentalists, […]

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Exploring Potential Challenges to EPA’s New Source Performance Standard: PART III

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CCS for coal power plants, but not natural-gas power plants?

This post is the third in a mini-series (see first and second posts) exploring likely legal challenges to the New Source Performance Standard (NSPS) for power-plant greenhouse gas emissions under Clean Air Act § 111(b), and how those challenges might affect the Clean Power Plan. In my first post on EPA’s New Source Performance Standard […]

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