On July 5, 2023, WESTAR submitted a comment letter to EPA on the proposed rule to reduce GHG and criteria pollutants from model year 2027 and later light-duty and medium-duty vehicles.
In mid-May 2023, a wave of smoke originating from wildfires in Alberta and British Columbia spread southward, reaching North Dakota. The influx of smoke led to an unprecedented decline in air quality within the state, surpassing any previous records. Check out ND’s air monitoring data from May 17, 2023.
NASA Health and Air Quality Applied Sciences Team (HAQAST) will hold its next meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah October 19-20. HAQAST’s mission is to bring the power of NASA’s satellites and data products to bear on real-world issues of public health and air quality. The meeting features panels with brief, ten-minute presentations from scientists and stakeholders, and plenty of time for networking and discussion. You can get a sense for the sorts of topics and discussion by looking at the draft agenda, and recordings from previous meetings.
Travel stipends (up to $1,500) are available for eligible stakeholders, and meeting registration is free. Virtual participation is also an option. You can find out more about HAQAST Utah, including the registration form and the application for funding (which shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes to complete) and more here: https://haqast.org/haqast-utah/ If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the HAQAST outreach program manager, Jenny Bratburd (email@example.com).
On March 1, 2023, EPA released grant program guidance for $250 million in planning grants under the IRA Climate Pollution Reduction Grant program to states, metropolitan areas, Tribes and territories. The grants are phase 1 of the program and are for developing plans that include strategies for reducing pollution. More information can be found here.
Important dates for Phase 1:
States must submit notice of intent to apply by March 31, 2023 and grant applications by April 28, 2023
The 67 most populous metropolitan areas in the U.S. must submit notice of intent to apply by April 28, 2023 and grant applications by May 31, 2023.
Tribes and territories must submit grant applications by June 15, 2023.
Awards will be made in the summer of 2023.
On February 13, 2023, WESTAR submitted comments to EPA on the supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking: “Standards of Performance for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources and Emissions Guidelines for Existing Sources: Oil and Natural Gas Sector Climate Review”, published in the Federal Register on December 6, 2022. This supplemental proposal is extensive and, if finalized, would update, strengthen, and expand the methane gas standards that affect oil and gas operations. WESTAR states shared their perspectives on how this proposed rule relates to and/or affects meaningful engagement, EPA’s ambitious regulatory agenda for 2022/2023, funding concerns, and resource constraints. The rule proposes several elements, including a “super-emitter response program” that western states, locals, and Tribes need further clarification on from EPA, knowing that this program, in particular, trends away from the usual delegation of authority to the state, local, or Tribal air agencies that the Clean Air Act is built on. For more information, see the rulemaking docket, found here.
WESTAR submitted two comment letters to EPA on IRA docket questions on January 19, 2023. The first responded to overall questions about the IRA funds. WESTAR encouraged EPA to utilize established pathways for regional coordination and communications between western state, Tribal, and local air agencies that exist at WESTAR. WESTAR also encouraged EPA to provide additional technical assistance and training, especially when most state agencies are understaffed. Finally, WESTAR encouraged EPA to consider the geographic obstacles to reaching communities in the west; there are additional costs for travel and time associated with reaching disadvantaged, rural communities in the west. These additional costs must be factored into funding. There are also communications challenges in areas of the west where broadband internet access is unavailable.
WESTAR’s second letter addressed IRA docket questions related to residential wood heating. WESTAR supports funding for independent testing of wood heating devices in certified laboratories using newer test methods. This independent testing would supplement EPA’s current certification program, which has relied on testing results that haven’t been reproducible in other labs. The need for transparency in test results is more important with EPA’s proposal for a more stringent PM2.5 NAAQS; additional counties in the west could be nonattainment for fine particulate matter if the proposal is finalized. This will lead states to analyze wood heating emissions possibly contributing to nonattainment in the rural west and needing data to determine the potential effectiveness of change-out programs.
We’re so excited to have a new and modern website with better search functions, better organization and a members only section for our membership.