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The EPA Presents New Urban Air Toxics Strategy

December 1998
By Maribel Nicholson-Choice, Greenberg Traurig, Tallahassee Office
Industry Representative on the EPA's Urban Air Toxics Working Group

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The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has turned its attention to urban air quality. Pursuant to Sections 112(c)(3) and 112(k)(3)(B) of the Clean Air Act, the EPA must develop a program to achieve a reduction in the emissions of hazardous air pollutants from urban area sources and the public risks associated with these sources to achieve a reduction of at least 75% in the incidence of cancer. The goal of the EPA’s new urban air toxics strategy is to reduce health risks posed by source emissions in and around cities.

As a first step, the EPA has issued the Draft Integrated Urban Air Toxics Strategy targeting 33 of 188 toxic air pollutants known to pose the greatest threat to public health in urban areas.

Priority Air Toxics for the Integrated Urban Air Toxics Strategy

arsenic compounds
cadmium compounds
carbon tetrachloride
chromium compounds
coke oven emissions
2,37,8 tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (& congeners & TCDF congeners)
ethylene dibromide (dibromoethane)
ethylene dichloride (1,2-dichloroethane
ethylene oxide
lead compounds
manganese compounds
mercury compounds
methyl chloride
methylene diphenyl diisocynate (MDI)
methylene chloride (dichloromethane)
nickel compounds
polycyclic organic matter (POM)
propylene dichloride (1,2-dichloropropane)
tetrachloroethylene (perchloroethylene)
vinyl chloride

The EPA's proposed Urban Air Toxics Strategy is meant to be an integrated approach to targeting these 33 toxic air pollutants in cities by using a variety of national, regional, and local controls. The Urban Air Toxics Strategy further identifies 34 source categories that emit significant amounts of the listed air toxics, and thus are likely to be subject to future regulation.

List of 34 Source Categories Likely to be Subject to Future Regulation

  • Abrasive Grain (Media) Manufacturing
  • Acrylic and Modacrylic Fiber Production
  • Agricultural Chemicals and Pesticides Manufacturing
  • Cadmium Refining and Cadmium Oxide Production
  • Chemical Manufacturing: Chromium Compounds
  • Electronic and other Electric Equipment Manufacturing
  • Food Products Manufacturing
  • Gasoline Distribution Stage I
  • Hospital Sterilizers
  • Industrial Inorganic Chemical Manufacturing
  • Industrial Machinery and Electrical Equipment
  • Industrial Organic Chemicals Manufacturing
  • Instruments and Related Productions
  • Iron and Steel Foundries: Steel Foundries
  • Landfills (excluding Gas Flares)
  • Manufacture of Nutritional Yeast
  • Mineral Wool Manufacturing (includes Wool Fiberglass)
  • Miscellaneous Manufacturing
  • Mobile Homes Manufacturing
  • Nonclay Refractories
  • Oil and Gas Production: Glycol Dehydrators
  • Paint Application (no spray booths)
  • Pharmaceuticals Preparations and Manufacturing
  • Plastics Materials and Resins Manufacturing
  • Plastics Products Manufacturing
  • Primary Copper Smelting
  • Primary Metal Products Manufacturing
  • Publicity Owned Treatment Works
  • Reconstituted Wood Products
  • Sawmills and Planning Mills, general
  • Secondary Copper Smelting
  • Secondary Smelting and Refining of Nonferrous Metals
  • Storage Batteries Manufacturing
  • Textiles

National Environmental Justice Advisory Council Meeting

The biannual meeting of the EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) was held during the week of Dec. 7, 1998, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Environmental justice is the concept that poor and minority communities should not bear a disproportionate burden of pollution. NEJAC created a new Air and Water Subcommittee with the stated purpose: to foster empowering exchanges of information between stakeholders; develop solutions to air and water issues based in part on past environmental justice lessons; create incentives for pollution prevention and exposure reduction; and include cumulative impacts as part of the EPA’s permitting policies.

By a resolution passed last week, NEJAC created the Urban Air Toxics Working Group under the Air and Water Subcommittee. The purpose of the new working group is to examine and develop recommendations for addressing environmental justice concerns in the EPA’s Draft Integrated Urban Air Toxics Strategy. The EPA expects environmental justice issues to force changes in air pollution regulations, including air pollution trading programs.

Maribel Nicholson-Choice, an environmental lawyer with the Tallahassee office of Greenberg Traurig, P.A., has been appointed as the industry representative on the Urban Air Toxics Working Group. The working group will draft comments to the EPA’s Draft Integrated Urban Air Toxics Strategy, which is expected to be the basis for the agency adopting approximately 200 new rules. The EPA is required to have a final urban air toxics strategy by June 18, 1999.

This GT ALERT is issued for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed or used as general legal advice. Greenberg Traurig attorneys provide practical, result-oriented strategies and solutions tailored to meet our clients’ individual legal needs.