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EPA Initiates Reviews of Three Clean Air Act Regulations, Following President Trump’s “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth” Executive Order

A week after President Trump signed an Executive Order directing agency review of various energy-related regulations (see March 28, 2017, B&D alert here), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is initiating review of three such regulations under Clean Air Act.  The announcements were published on the Federal Register on April 4, 2017.

The three regulations to be reviewed by EPA are the Clean Power Plan limiting carbon dioxide emissions from existing utilities; the Clean Air Act section 111(b) new source performance standard (NSPS) limiting carbon dioxide emissions from new electric generating units (the companion “New Source Rule” to the Clean Power Plan); and the 111(b) NSPS limiting methane and VOC emissions from new oil and gas operations.  President Trump in his Executive Order specifically directed EPA to review these three regulations and, if appropriate, “suspend, revise, or rescind” them.

In all three announcements, EPA stated that it has “well-grounded” legal authority to revisit past regulations in the context of administrative change and policy reevaluation. EPA also indicated that any potential suspension, revision, or rescission of the subject regulations would be implemented through a rulemaking process that is transparent, follows the appropriate procedures, employs sound science, and is consistent with the law and the Executive Order.

EPA’s announcements show that the Agency’s leadership intends to follow the President’s directive. That regulatory path forward is complicated by ongoing litigation on the existing rules, particularly on the Clean Power Plan, and subsequent judicial developments may constrain EPA’s options.  Stakeholders should closely monitor EPA’s progress in reviewing these rules and participate in any future rulemakings to build a robust administrative record.

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About this Author

James M. Auslander Natural Resources & Project Development Attorney Beveridge & Diamond Washington, DC

James (Jamie) M. Auslander's legal practice focuses on project development, natural resources, and administrative law and litigation.

Mr. Auslander co-chairs Beveridge & Diamond’s Natural Resources and Project Development Practice Group, including its Energy Practice. He focuses on complex legal issues surrounding the development of oil and gas, hard rock minerals, renewable energy, and other natural resources on public lands onshore and on the Outer Continental Shelf. He frequently litigates appeals before federal courts and administrative bodies regarding rulemakings, permits...

David Friedland, Environmental Lawyer, Beveridge & Diamond Law Firm

David Friedland is a Principal in the Washington, DC office of Beveridge & Diamond, P.C.  He is past chair of the Firm’s Environmental Practice Group, and past chair of the Firm's Air Practice Group. He currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the Air Quality Committee of the ABA’s Section on Environment, Energy and Resources, having formerly served for two years as Chair.

Shengzi Wang, Beveridge Diamond Law Firm, Environmental Law Attorney

Shengzhi Wang maintains a general environmental litigation and regulatory practice, working with clients nationwide across industrial sectors. Shengzhi joined the Firm following his graduation from Vermont Law School. 

While at Vermont Law School, Shengzhi served as Technology Editor of Vermont Law Review and as student clinician in the law school’s Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic.  In his final semester at law school, Shengzhi worked as a full-time judicial intern to Judge Paul L. Friedman at the United States...