Overnight Energy: EPA weighs tougher pollution rule for trucks | Zinke to visit California wildfire areas | EPA official indicted in Alabama
TRUMP EPA CONSIDERING POLLUTION LIMITS ON TRUCKS: The Trump administration is embarking on what could be its first new regulation to reduce air pollution levels.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) kicked off its Cleaner Trucks Initiative Tuesday, under which officials will consider changes to the standard for nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from heavy-duty trucks.
The initiative is a sharp contrast to the EPA’s agenda under the Trump administration, which has been dominated by dozens of actions to roll back or eliminate pollution rules for power plants, cars, oil and gas drillers and more.
Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said Tuesday that the initiative might lead to a reduction in the allowable NOx emissions level from truck engines, but it could also lead to other deregulatory actions to ease compliance for truck makers and trucking companies.
“This rulemaking will establish updated standards to address nitrogen oxide emissions from heavy-duty trucks. We will do this in a manner that improves air quality and protects public health without jeopardizing the historic economic growth we’re achieving under President Trump,” Wheeler said at EPA headquarters, flanked by a big truck and representatives of various industries and states involved in the effort.
“Part of this initiative will be to also cut unnecessary red tape, while simplifying certification and compliance requirements for heavy-duty trucks,” he added.
“For the past three decades, additional regulatory requirements have been added to on-highway heavy-duty vehicles in a piecemeal fashion. This has resulted in some overly complex and costly requirements that do little to actually improve the environment.”
Some of the deregulatory items might include changing annual testing requirements, allowing alternative technologies for compliance and changing the testing for emissions controls.
Nitrogen oxide is one of the pollutants that can create both ozone and particulate matter, two substances that are harmful to humans’ respiratory systems. The substances can damage lung tissue, cause asthma attacks and shorten lives.
Environmental groups are responding with cautious optimism:
“If EPA’s moving forward with a measure to clean up NOx emissions from trucks, that is a good thing and stands in contrast with all the other things that this administration has done with respect to rolling back and weakening air pollution protections from a wide array of sources,” said Paul Billings, senior vice president for advocacy at the American Lung Association.
“Any plan to reduce dangerous nitrogen oxides pollution from big diesel trucks must be able to achieve protective real-world results – without the type of cheating we saw during the Volkswagen scandal,” said EDF General Counsel Vickie Patton. “Any plan also must address both nitrogen oxides and climate-destabilizing pollution, and create incentives for deploying innovative clean technologies that address the array of harmful pollutants that threaten American lives.
“Fortunately, there are made-in-America solutions at hand that can protect public health and advance climate safety while creating jobs,” Patton added. “We’ll be following EPA’s efforts closely to see if they adopt them.”
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ZINKE HEADS WEST: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is making an impromptu stop in California this week to tour two of the sites ravaged by recent wildfires, the department announced Tuesday.
Zinke on Wednesday will visit Paradise, Calif., the site of the still-burning Camp Fire that has killed at least 42 people in the northern part of the state. The secretary will then visit a community devastated by the Woolsey Fire that has burned more than 100,000 acres spanning across Malibu, Thousand Oaks and Calabasas in Southern California. He also plans to meet with California Gov. Jerry Brown (D).
The Interior secretary canceled a previously planned official visit to Asia at the behest of the White House to address the ongoing California wildfire, an Interior spokesperson told The Hill.
Zinke’s plans to visit the state comes days after President Trump tweeted Saturday that California’s wildfires were caused by poor forest management and threatened to withhold emergency funding. The comments created a cascade of negative reactions from state and federal lawmakers, who in turn argued the fires were a result of increased drought caused by climate change.
“Managing all the forests everywhere we can does not stop climate change, and those who deny that definitely are contributing to the tragedies that we are witnessing and will continue to witness,” Brown said in remarks directed toward the president Sunday.
The trip will be Zinke’s second to California since the summer to address the issue of wildfires. In August, the secretary traveled to Redwood, Calif., with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to preach increased forest management — a word often used to describe logging. Perdue oversees the U.S. Forest Service.
At the time Zinke said California’s fires were not an effect of climate change, but rather of a state afraid to cut down trees.
TRUMP EPA OFFICIAL INDICTED IN ALABAMA: An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official in the Trump administration was indicted Tuesday on charges stemming from a previous job.
Trey Glenn, the regional director for EPA’s southeast region, helped Birmingham, Ala., law firm Balch & Bingham between 2014 and 2017 fight potential EPA actions to clean up contaminated sites in north Birmingham and Tarrant on behalf of Drummond Co., which could be responsible for the cleanups.
The Alabama Ethics Commission, which took the lead on the case, said Tuesday in a statement that a grand jury had indicted Glenn and former Alabama Environmental Management Commissioner Scott Phillips last week for their roles in the controversial efforts.
They were charged with multiple alleged violations of state ethics laws, including soliciting a thing of value from a principal, lobbyist or subordinate and receiving money in addition to that received in one’s official capacity.
Acting EPA chief Andrew Wheeler declined to comment on the case Tuesday, saying he hadn’t spoken with Glenn about it.
“I just learned about it this afternoon. I haven’t had a chance to look into the matter or talk to him personally yet,” Wheeler said at an EPA event.
The EPA’s southeast regional office did not return requests for comment.
The two men worked for Southeast Engineering & Consulting on the Drummond case, and Phillips was serving on the environmental commission.
FROM THE HILL’S OPINION SECTION: Vance Ginn and Elliott Raia of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, argue that the carbon tax recommended to cut greenhouse gas emissions by a UN panel’s recent climate report, is too costly.
OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:
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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Check out stories from Tuesday…
-Trump EPA weighs new limits on truck pollution
-Zinke to visit California to address wildfires
-Trump EPA official indicted in Alabama
-Ocasio-Cortez joins climate change sit-in at Pelosi’s office
-Perry: We shouldn’t let Russia use energy as a weapon
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