- MSU President Reflects on the 5th Birthday of Greening of the Great Lakes
"We really do see it as a fundamental partnership with our shared mission of providing the best information and quality dialogue on important issues through the catchment area of the Great Lakes.
- State climatologist: Data suggests warmer than normal summer on the way
The data predicts that this summer will be warmer than normal, Andresen says, but the amount of precipitation cannot be predicted. Many are concerned that another summer drought will occur, which he says is possible, but very unlikely.
- Chuck Leavell: Growing A Better America: Smart, Strong and Sustainable
"We're experiencing phenomenal growth in America, but as we go forward is that growth going to be rapid, rampant, and reckless or can it be smart, strong, and sustainable?"
- Michigan man translates environmental research for public via YouTube
Dozens of leading scientists advise Sinclair, he says, and have began inviting him to join their international research and data-gathering explorations. "They know that they're challenged by communication," he says, "and they know that's a skillset that just a lot of them don't have."
- Pure Michigan Focuses on Conservation, not Preservation
Celebrating its 75th anniversary, she says, the MUCC unites citizens to conserve, protect and enhance our natural resources through communication, education and advocacy. "We really want to protect peoples' rights to hunt and trap, we want to engage people," McDonough says, "and we want to help people foster a stewardship ethic."
EPA's Winning Streak at DC Appeals Court Ends - Back to the Drawing Board
"Winning is not a sometime thing; it's an all time thing. You don't win once in a while, you don't do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time. Winning is habit. Unfortunately, so is losing." - Vince Lombardi
Just when things were looking up for the Environmental Protections Agency (EPA) after winning three straight, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals (Court) stopped EPA's run of Clean Air Act rules victories in EME Homer City Generation v EPA. In EME Homer, the Court sent EPA back to the showers when it rejected EPA's Transport Rule, which governs interstate transmission of air pollutants, and told it to lace 'em up again and take another crack at drafting the rule. While certain regulated industries, especially those with coal-fired plants, lauded the result, the ruling's actual effects on coal-fired plants may be negligible, as they are already facing significant regulation in other, judicially upheld, rules and the low cost of natural gas.
Briefly, the Clean Air Act requires states upwind of other states to control emissions so that states that are downwind have ambient air contaminant levels that exceed National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) due to air contaminants from the upwind states. This is important because if a geographic area fails to meet the standards, it is identified as a "nonattainment area" and local and state governments would then have to put into place controls, often at great cost, that would allow the geographic area to reach "attainment." EPA attempted to draft rules that would govern how upwind states would regulate their air sources, but the DC Circuit Court rejected the Bush-era rule, known as the "Clean Air Interstate Rule" or CAIR. EPA took another crack at the rule, creating the Transport Rule.
The Court found that EPA's Transport Rule did not comply with the requirements of the Clean Air Act because it did not provide the states an opportunity to promulgate its own rules to meet the NAAQS. Under the Clean Air Act, after EPA sets NAAQS, states then have the initial opportunity to regulate sources within their borders, known as "State Implementation Plans" or "SIPs." If the State fails to implement a SIP or the SIP is inadequate to meet the NAAQS, EPA then can create its own rules, known as "Federal Implementation Plans" or "FIPs." In this case, the Court determined that after EPA quantified what the states would need to do to meet the NAAQS for their contributions to downwind states ambient pollution levels, it should have allowed the states to develop their own rules to meet those marks. The dissent noted, however, that the Clean Air Act creates an independent obligation for states to not contribute to downwind states' NAAQS exceedences and that they had plenty of time to do that before EPA promulgated its rule.
The Court also determined that EPA's Transport Rule had the potential of requiring upwind states to reduce their emission levels below that which would represent the particular state's actual contribution to exceedences of the NAAQS of downwind states. Under the Clean Air Act, upwind states had to reduce their "significant contributions" to downwind states' nonattainment. The Court determined that it need not do more than necessary to reduce their significant contributions and EPA could not force the upwind states to "exceed the mark." Each state, whether upwind or downwind "must bear its fair share." The Dissent noted that the petitioners never raised this issue on appeal and the Court could not, under its own precedents, consider it on its own and that in reversing the Bush-era rule, the same Court had granted to EPA significant leeway by not requiring it to directly correlate a state's individual contribution relative to other upwind states.
While some commentators have indicated that this decision is a great victory for the regulated community, especially those who operate coal-fired facilities, its actual impact is probably not significant in the long term. First, the Mercury Rule is still in effect and clearly impacts coal-fired capacity the greatest. Next, natural gas prices have basically made cost of coal-fired generation cost prohibitive. EPA also won in court on its rules on greenhouse gas, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions regulations, which will, again, impact coal-fired plants the greatest. Finally, eventually the states will still have to address cross-boundary emissions, which will affect coal-powered plants simply by the nature of the pollutants they emit, whether it's done by SIPs or FIPs. The Court's decision's actual effect on the future of coal-powered capacity is questionable.
The author, Saulius Mikalonis, is an environmental attorney with over 25 years of experience in the Bloomfield Hills offices of Plunkett Cooney. He is also the author of The Green Blawg, in which he writes about environmental law issues for the non-lawyer. In addition to practicing law, Mr. Mikalonis is an adjunct professor at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, Auburn Hills Campus, at which he teaches a course entitled "Sustainable Development Law & Policy" and a former Board Member of the Detroit Regional Chapter of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).