Clean Air Act

America’s Leading Environmental Court

Hint: It’s in the southernmost state.  Which is not Florida.

The state court on the cutting edge of environmental law is a long way from the major population and media centers, which may be one reason it doesn’t get much attention.   It deserves more. The Hawaiian Supreme Court has been forging new paths in environmental law that may lead the way for other courts in …

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Interstate Pollution and the Supreme Court’s “Shadow Docket”

The Court considers whether to stay an EPA plan in light of changed circumstances.

Later this month, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument about whether to stay a plan issued by EPA to limit upwind states from creating ozone pollution that impacts other states.  As I wrote before the Court decided to hear the arguments, the issues here seem less than earthshaking, and for that matter, less than …

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The U.S. Supreme Court & Environmental Law in 2024

Numerous Key Environmental Issues and Doctrines Will Confront the Justices This Year

As we begin 2024, it’s useful to identify and assess the many environmental issues that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide this year.  It seems likely that the conservative majority of the justices will erode or, perhaps, dramatically jettison longstanding principles of environmental law and policy in the coming months. Summarized below are …

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The Mystery of the Missing Stay Order

Why is the Supreme Court waiting for weeks to dispose of a demand for extraordinary intervention in a routine situation?

The steel industry applied for Supreme Court intervention on what they claimed was an urgent issue of vast national importance. Chief Justice Roberts requested an immediate government response. That was six weeks ago.  Since then . . . crickets. No doubt you’re on the edge of your seat, wondering about the impending crisis facing the …

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Evolving Air Quality Standards

The standards have gotten tougher. Compliance still lags.

The goal of the Clean Air Act is to achieve national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS), with the primary requirement being protection of public health. As our understanding of the health effects of air pollution has improved, there has been a general trend toward tightening the standards. However, it’s very hard to keep track of …

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Reading the Tea Leaves: Biden’s and California’s Vehicle Regs at the D.C. Circuit

A leading environmental lawyer gives his perspective.

Transportation is now the source of 28% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, more than the electric power sector. The transportation sector is also a substantial source of nitrogen oxides and particulates, both of which are dangerous to human health.  The Biden Administration has taken important regulatory actions bearing on these problems, with others in the …

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Cars, Smog, and EPA

Over the past fifty years, EPA has overseen incredible reductions in auto pollution.

This is part of an occasional series of posts about the evolution of pollution standards. Today’s subject is pollution control for new vehicles, which have been known to cause smog since the 1960s. The history of these pollution standards is quite distinctive. At the high temperatures in internal combustion engines, some of the nitrogen in …

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State Air Regulations Can Go Above and Beyond National Standards 

State and local regulators can and should work to reduce particulate matter, ozone, and NOx emissions even when national standards are met. 

States and local air quality regulators have the legal authority to set particulate matter (PM), ozone, and nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions standards and adopt regulations for these pollutants when they are already in attainment of the national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the federal Clean Air …

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The Utility Response to EPA’s Climate Rules

The power industry apparently shares some progressive doubts about CCS and hydrogen

There are three big takeaways from the utility industry’s comments on EPA’s proposed new climate rules. First, the industry seems to share progressive concerns about whether we can count on hydrogen and CCS (carbon capture and sequestration). Second, the industry doesn’t invoke the major question doctrine, making it clear that it does not view such …

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Biden’s Proposed Power Plant Rule is a Solid First Step

The electric power sector remains 30 percent of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions, and this rule can incentivize the push towards renewables.

On May 23, the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) proposed emission limits and guidelines for carbon dioxide from fossil fuel-powered plants. To avoid the same fate as the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan, which was struck down by the conservative Supreme Court in West Virginia v. EPA last year, the new draft rule does not determine …

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