EPA changing testing program in wake of VW scandal — McCabe

Source: Sean Reilly, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, November 23, 2015

U.S. EPA is upping its game with a more unpredictable testing regimen in the wake of the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal, acting air chief Janet McCabe said this morning at the fall meeting of the agency’s Clean Air Act Advisory Committee.

“We are very committed to getting this under control, dealing with the vehicles that are out there,” McCabe said in response to a question from one of some 30 panel members gathered for the all-day session at a Northern Virginia hotel. Besides the usual cycle of vehicle emissions testing, the agency is doing both off-cycle and on-road testing, she said, adding that one light-duty diesel engine has already been certified.

McCabe’s comments echoed previous statements by other EPA officials in the wake of the scandal, which was uncovered by West Virginia University researchers working for the International Council on Clean Transportation, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit.

In a presentation to the committee that lasted more than an hour, McCabe also provided a rundown of EPA’s regulatory initiatives related to air quality, including the Clean Power Plan and its proposed revisions to the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule unveiled yesterday (Greenwire, Nov. 17).

The latter is “critical” to reducing downwind power plant nitrogen oxide emissions, McCabe said. In regard to the Clean Power Plan, which is geared to cutting power plants’ greenhouse gas releases, EPA officials are well into the implementation phase and are “very encouraged” by the dialogue so far, she said.

“We are all in on this in terms of being available to help the states to the extent that they would like our help as we go forward,” she said.

Despite a wave of lawsuits from states and industry groups, McCabe added, “we remain very confident about the legal underpinnings of the rules and also the critical importance of moving forward with action to reduce carbon emissions.”

The advisory committee, which meets twice a year, also voted to accept a slate of draft recommendations from an air toxics work group. Much of the afternoon portion of the meeting will be devoted to the Clean Power Plan and a tribal indoor air update, according to a draft agenda.