Ruling on a pipeline project and a mine project, two different federal courts issued decisions Monday affirming limits on the scope of environmental review. The pipeline case was a challenge to Enbridge’s Flanagan South pipeline, designed to transport tar sands crude from Illinois to Oklahoma. The mine case involved Raven Crest Contracting’s Boone North No. 5 coal mine in West Virginia. Neither decision breaks new ground; their significance lies in reaffirming that NEPA analysis should be confined to the scope of the federal agencies’ control over the project in question. These cases encourage federal agencies to fend off demands for broader consideration of social and political issues surrounding major infrastructure projects. (more…)
WE KNOW ENERGY®
Lowell Rothschild and Kevin Ewing
Sandra Snyder, Richard Alonso, Jeff Holmstead and Charles Nixon
On Monday, June 23, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its long awaited decision in UARG v. EPA, the case that questioned EPA’s authority to require stationary sources to obtain Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and Title V air permits for greenhouse gases (GHGs). Specifically, the Court considered: (1) whether a stationary source can be required to obtain a PSD or Title V air permit based solely on its potential to emit GHGs and (2) whether sources that have to obtain PSD and Title V permits based on their potential to emit traditional criteria pollutants (so called “anyway sources”) must also obtain a permit limit based on the Best Available Control Technology (BACT) for controlling GHG emissions. Ultimately, the Court held that GHG emissions alone cannot trigger an obligation to obtain a PSD or Title V permit, but that EPA can require a source to have a BACT limit for GHGs in its PSD permit if the source is required to obtain a PSD permit for any other pollutant. (more…)
Sandra Snyder, Richard Alonso and Grant MacIntyre
EPA suffered a major loss on May 30 when the D.C. Circuit refused to uphold EPA’s attempt to narrow the ruling in the Summit aggregation case to only the states in the 6th Cir. Reversing more than 20 years of EPA practice, the Summit case directed EPA to refrain from using interdependency or the functional interrelatedness of various sources when making a determination regarding whether to aggregate the emissions from those sources for NSR and Title V permitting purposes.
In December 2012 after the Summit decision was final, EPA issued a memo that said the Agency would only apply the Sixth Circuit’s Summit decision in the states of Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, and Michigan. The memo was challenged by an industry trade association, the National Environmental Development Association (NEDA). (more…)
Tim Wilkins and Grant MacIntyre
We’ve blogged about the scope of EPA’s proposed Waters of the United States rule and whether it provides any additional clarity to the current regulatory scheme. With this post, we’ll start to outline some direct potential impacts on different segments of industry. Today, we briefly examine what an expanded regulatory scope of waters could mean for industries required to comply with the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Rule under the Oil Pollution Act and the Clean Water Act. (more…)
Spurred on by Congress, on Monday, the Federal Highway and Transit Administrations adopted a categorical exclusion which may spare some projects a detailed review under the National Environmental Policy Act. Specifically, projects that receive less than $5,000,000 in federal funding will be presumed not to have to undertake any NEPA review at all.
The fact that there would be some type of CatEx along this line was never in doubt – in July 2012, Congress included a provision in Section 1317 of the highway bill (called “MAP-21”) specifically ordering DOT to (1) designate a CatEx for any project that receives less than $5 million in federal funding and (2) promulgate a rule to carry out the CatEx. The question was how DOT would implement this mandate: Would any project whatsoever that received less than $5 million be excluded, even if DOT had other major decisions to make on the project – decisions that would normally require NEPA review? (more…)
On August 5, 2013, EPA released a prepublication copy of amendments to the oil and gas new source performance standards, 40 C.F.R. Part 60 (“the oil and gas NSPS”). The amendments primarily modify the requirements pertaining to volatile organic compound (“VOC”) emissions from storage tanks. EPA modified these requirements to respond to issues raised in petitions for reconsideration of the 2012 oil and gas NSPS, published in 77 Fed. Reg. 49,490 (Aug. 16, 2012). Interested parties may challenge these new requirements by filing a petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit within 60 days of publication of the rule in the Federal Register.
The amendments clarify that the oil and gas NSPS applies to vessels at affected facilities – meaning those vessels that hold crude oil, condensate, hydrocarbon intermediates or produced water and that have a potential to emit (“PTE”) emissions of 6 tons per year or more of VOCs. Only tanks of a certain age must comply with the oil and gas NSPS. (more…)