The Obama administration released the final version of the Clean Power Plan last week at a White House ceremony attended by a crowd of administration officials, members of Congress and environmental advocates. This highly anticipated plan is the first comprehensive federal rule to target carbon emissions from existing, new and modified power plants. It is touted as the most ambitious regulation ever aimed at combating climate change.

                In Michigan v. EPA the Supreme Court held 5-4 that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acted unreasonably in failing to consider cost when deciding whether regulating mercury emissions from power plants is “appropriate and necessary.” Twenty-three states challenged the regulations.

                The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to regulate air pollution from stationary sources based on how much pollution the source emits. But EPA may only regulate emissions from fossil-fuel-fired power plants if it finds that regulation is “appropriate and necessary.” EPA found it “appropriate” to regulate mercury emissions because they pose a risk to human health and the environment and controls are available to reduce them. EPA found it “necessary” to regulate mercury emissions because other requirements in the Act did not eliminate these risks.

Challenges to the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will have to wait until a final rule is released. That’s according to a federal appeals court that rejected on procedural grounds an early challenge to the EPA’s proposed regulations to establish new greenhouse gas standards for existing power plants. The lawsuit, filed by 14 states and some of the nation’s largest coal companies, was the first in a wave of anticipated challenges to the EPA climate change rules. Legal experts say they expect some of those challenges to make it to the Supreme Court.

Hundreds of thousands of comments were submitted from states, nongovernmental organizations, trade groups, companies and citizens before the March 17 comment period deadline for a proposal by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to tighten national standards for ground-level ozone under the Clean Air Act. Based on the recommendations of EPA’s science advisers, the agency’s rulemaking would lower the existing National Ambient Air Quality Standard—also known as NAAQS—for ozone from 75 parts per billion to between 65 and 70 ppb.

Federal regulations will continue to be a primary driver for energy and environment policy in the states for 2015.   Multiple rule proposals from the EPA related to air and water quality will remain at the forefront of conversation as the rules stay on schedule to be finalized in 2015.  Increasingly, the theme of conversation for states in 2015 is true flexibility when it comes to federal, state interaction.  It is a theme that will be tested with not only EPA rules but other federal, state interactions like endangered species and tackling the issue of grid reliability.  The following is a review of the top five issues for states related to energy and environment in 2015.  

Rebekah Fitzgerald, Program Manager for Energy and Environmental Policy, outlines the top five issues in energy and environmental policy for 2015, including new proposed federal air and water regulations, grid reliability, the Endangered Species Act, and the use of science-based decision making. 

The comment period closed for the EPA's proposed Clean Power Plan rule on Dec. 1. The total number of comment submissions is on track to reach close to 2 million -maybe even exceed it.  Between now and mid-spring the EPA will be busy sifting through comments to aid in crafting the final rule scheduled to be released in June, 2015.  State environmental agencies, the agencies responsible for developing compliance plans, had much to say about the EPA proposal and most states submitted comments.

Clean Air Act regulations continue to roll out with the Environmental Protection Agency’s latest proposed rule coming the day before Thanksgiving. The proposed rule revises the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ground-level ozone from 75 parts per billion, where it has been since 2008, to a range of 65 to 70 parts per billion. The proposed new standard, however, could be tough for many states to meet, said Clint Woods, executive director for the Association of Air Pollution Control Agencies, a membership organization focused on assisting state and local air quality agencies with implementation and technical issues associated with the federal Clean Air Act.

Today the EPA released its proposed update to the air quality standards for ground-level ozone.  The proposal lowers the ground-level ozone standard from 75 parts per billion, where it’s been since 2008, to a range of 65 to 70 parts per billion.   EPA estimates most areas will be in compliance with the standard by 2025. 

A revised ozone standard of 70 to 60 parts per billion was recommended by the Clean Air Science Advisory Committee, a scientific panel that advises EPA in setting the national ambient air quality standards...

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to release a new National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone. Based on recommendations from EPA’s science advisers and staff, the EPA is expected to announce a more stringent standard, likely in the range of 70 to 60 parts per billion, down from the 2008 standard of 75 parts per billion. A more strict ozone requirement could be a challenge for some states and counties to attain, generating areas of noncompliance around the U.S. accompanied by a hefty...

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