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Climate Change Blog

Texas Challenges EPA’s Failure to Make New Endangerment Findings for the Quad Oa Methane Rules for the Oil and Gas Sector

As discussed in this previous post, a number of states and industry groups have challenged EPA’s new VOC and methane emission regulations for the oil and gas sector (“Quad Oa”). Texas has now further defined the claims it plans to bring against EPA in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

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  • 15
  • September
  • 2016


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Ninth Circuit lends biomass a Helping Hand

On September 2, 2015, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit handed down its opinion in a consolidated case - Helping Hand Tools v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (available here). In it, the court held that EPA did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in granting a Prevention of Significant Deterioration (“PSD”) permit under the Clean Air Act to Sierra Pacific Industries, Inc. Both Helping Hand Tools and the Center for Biological Diversity had petitioned the court to review the permit and the court consolidated their petitions. The decision is clearly a win for EPA and Sierra Pacific. Since EPA’s exemption for biomass PSD permitting expired in 2014, biomass facilities have been subject to PSD permitting for greenhouse gases, but the manner in which they would be treated has remained an open question. The Ninth Circuit’s opinion applies established precedent regarding the PSD permitting program to a biomass facility, establishing that biomass facilities cannot be compelled to consider other forms of generation in the best available control technology analysis. The opinion is also noteworthy because the court granted deference to EPA’s Bioenergy BACT Guidance.

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  • 18
  • August
  • 2016


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Additional Legal Challenges to EPA’s New Methane Emissions Regulations

Legal challenges to EPA’s recently finalized methane and VOC emissions regulations for the oil and gas sector (“Quad Oa”) continue to gain traction as additional states and affected industry groups file suit. On August 2, 2016, a coalition of 14 states and a collection of oil and gas industry groups each filed petitions asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to review the new standards. The American Petroleum Institute (“API”) and the Western Energy Alliance have also filed individual challenges to the rules. North Dakota and Texas filed similar petitions for review in July.

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CEQ Issues Final Guidance on How Federal Agencies Should Assess Climate Change Under NEPA: What Has Changed?

On August 2, 2016, the Council on Environmental Quality (“CEQ”) released guidance on the assessment of climate change impacts under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) (“the Guidance”). The Guidance is the culmination of a long process: the Obama Administration first proposed draft NEPA climate change guidance in 2010, and published subsequent draft guidance in 2014, before taking action to issue the final Guidance. While this Guidance does not purport to create any new obligations for federal agencies under NEPA, it nonetheless has the potential to significantly expand the scope of climate impacts considered in prior NEPA documents for “major federal actions.” This is the first in a series of posts discussing the new Guidance.

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  • 03
  • August
  • 2016


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Up in the Air: EPA Issues Aircraft GHG Endangerment Finding

On July 25, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its endangerment and cause or contribute finding that six greenhouses gases (GHGs) (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride) in the atmosphere endanger the public health and welfare and that GHG emissions from aircraft contribute to this air pollution. EPA first proposed the endangerment finding back in July 2015.

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  • 27
  • July
  • 2016


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EPA Finalizes Rule on Methane for New and Existing Landfills That Could Have Broader Implications for Climate Regulations Under the Clean Air Act

As part of the Obama Administration’s Climate Action Plan and methane strategy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized a package of rules on July 14, 2016, to reduce methane emissions at new and existing landfills. In a public statement, EPA noted that municipal solid waste landfills are the second-largest industrial source of methane emissions in the United States. EPA is regulating methane because it is considered a potent greenhouse gas (“GHG”). The rules, therefore, aim to cut methane (and other gases) from landfills by lowering the emissions threshold at which landfills must install pollution controls by roughly a third.

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Margaret E. Peloso

Margaret E. Peloso Partner

Eric Groten

Eric Groten Partner

George C. Hopkins

George C. Hopkins Partner

Michael B. Wigmore

Michael B. Wigmore Partner

Mattew T. Dobbins

Matthew Dobbins Senior Associate

Tyler E. Robinson

Tyler E. Robinson Senior Associate

Theresa Romanosky

Theresa Romanosky Senior Associate

Brandon M. Tuck

Brandon M. Tuck Senior Associate