EPA Proposes Rule to Allow Major Source HAP Reclassification

WASHINGTON (June 25, 2019) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a rule to implement the clear language of the Clean Air Act that allows a “major source” of hazardous air pollutants (HAP) to reclassify as an “area source” after acting to limit emissions to below the levels that define major sources. This proposal would relieve reclassified facilities from regulatory requirements intended for much larger emitters and encourage other sources to pursue innovations in pollution reduction technologies, engineering, and work practices.

“‘Once in, always in’ policies discourage facilities from deploying the latest pollution control technologies or modernizing in ways that increase efficiency and reduce emissions,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Today’s proposal would remove a major regulatory burden and incentivize investments in technologies that improve air quality and public health.”

“This action is based on a clear reading of the statute that is in line with EPA’s guidance for other provisions of the Clean Air Act,” said Bill Wehrum, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “It will reduce regulatory burden for industries and the states while continuing to ensure stringent and effective controls on hazardous air pollutants.”

Today’s action would implement EPA’s reading of the Clean Air Act described in a January 2018 guidance memo withdrawing the “once in, always in” policy. Established in 1995, the “once in, always in” policy determined that any facility subject to major source standards would always remain subject to those standards—even if production processes changed or controls were implemented that eliminated or permanently reduced that facility’s potential to emit hazardous air pollutants. States, state organizations, and industries frequently noted that the “once in, always in” policy discouraged voluntary pollution abatement and prevention efforts and technological innovations that would reduce hazardous air pollution emissions. EPA’s January 2018 memo found EPA had no authority under the Clean Air Act to limit when a facility may be determined to be an area source and that facilities may be reclassified as area sources once their potential to emit hazardous air pollutants falls below the levels that define major sources.

EPA estimates that this proposal would result in cost savings when compared to the agency’s previous “once in, always in” policy. Of the estimated 7,920 sources subject to national emissions standards as a major source, EPA estimates nearly half could become area sources, saving $168.9 million in the first year and $163 million to $183 million annually (in 2014 dollars) in the following years.

EPA requests comment on all aspects of this proposal, including:

  • EPA’s position that the proposed approach is the proper reading of Clean Air Act section 112(a) and is consistent with the act’s clear language and structure.
  • Requirements for establishing effective HAP emissions limits.
  • Allowing limitations issued by the state/local/tribal air pollution control agencies to be recognized as effective provided they are legally and practically enforceable.
  • Safeguards that may be appropriate to protect against emissions increases.

EPA will accept comment on the proposal for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

For more information:  https://www.epa.gov/stationary-sources-air-pollution/reclassification-major-sources-area-sources-under-section-112-clean

Clean Power Plan Repealed and Replaced

The Trump administration Wednesday finalized a rule to repeal and replace a capstone Obama-era carbon pollution regulation that they argue exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority.

The new replacement rule to the Clean Power Plan (CPP), deemed the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, aims to give states more time and authority to decide how to implement the best new technology to ease net emissions from coal-fired plants.

“Under the CPP, the EPA Obama administration went beyond implementing best technology,” said a senior EPA official on a call with reporters Wednesday. “Under the CPP the Obama administration actually imposed emissions reductions on each and every state. We don’t believe that’s an EPA role or authority under the [Clean Air Act.]”

The result of the relaxed rule, the official said, could mean individual coal plants might increase their overall emissions. But, the official said, across the board the agency expects emissions to drop.

Read more coverage here.

NJDEP Adopts New Rules for CO2 Budget Trading Program

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has adopted new rules at N.J.A.C. 7:27-22.28 and 7:27C and amendments to N.J.A.C. 7:27-22.1 and 22.16, and 7:27A-3.2, 3.5, and 3.10, which establish the New Jersey Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Budget Trading Program.  The CO2 Budget Trading Program is New Jersey’s commitment to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a regional, cooperative program to cap and reduce CO2 emissions from fossil fuel fired units producing 25 or more megawatts of power in the participating states to address the significant challenge of climate change.

The adoption was published in the New Jersey Register on June 17, 2019.  The operative date of the new rules and amendments is June 11, 2019.  A copy of the Department’s adoption is available on the Department’s website at: https://www.nj.gov/dep/rules/adoptions.html and https://www.state.nj.us/dep/aqes/rggi.html as well as LexisNexis free public access to the New Jersey Register,  https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.lexisnexis.com_njoal&d=DwIFAg&c=4BTEw-1msHjOY4ITcFLmDM6JB8x6ZgbU2J24IH0HZLU&r=G2jsVVV4jFHeLEjPL09sH5Z1gSxJt54Oz5U9BS0lEidsmUHsZycJoAKJm7vit93B&m=R2uM3LiVNV5tQdBwElNdK6utpm1rEP8k50B5knCMltw&s=qL-wKUpoWVcWce1hThWUs-GilTRiSEJ-SaSqzZsVj7w&e=

Please note that consistent with newly adopted N.J.A.C. 7:27C-3.3, CO2 budget sources must be added to an operating permit by completing an application for a new, renewed, or modified operating permit.  The Department has developed “NJ03-APPLICATION FOR ADDING A CO2 BUDGET SOURCE IN OPERATING PERMIT,” which should be submitted along with the completed application for a new, renewed, or modified operating permit.  The new form may be downloaded from the Department’s website at https://www.state.nj.us/dep/aqes/rggi-who-is-regulated.html

Further information and additional forms related to the CO2 budget trading program compliance certification and compliance plans are also available on the Department’s website at https://www.state.nj.us/dep/aqes/rggi-who-is-regulated.html

The Department has developed two new listservs related to RGGI’s implementation – one specific to the RGGI regulated entities and the other for those interested in the development of the RGGI strategic funding plan.  You can join one or both of those listservs by submitting your email where indicated on the RGGI website at https://www.state.nj.us/dep/aqes/rggi.html.

Preparing for Your Upcoming Stack Test

Source Emissions testing, or stack testing, is mandated by the Clean Air Act of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which sets forth guidelines and requirements that must be met to determine a facility’s compliance with emission limits.  Any and all plants, factories, and facilities that utilize a stack as part of manufacturing or production operations are required to undergo stack testing in order to demonstrate compliance with current EPA standards.  There is more to stack testing than simple compliance, however.  A properly-executed testing plan gives you the diagnostic tools to help optimize your operations and improve energy efficiency — quality incentives for voluntary stack testing that is not simply driven by EPA requirements.  With careful preparation for stack-testing compliance and the proper execution of the test plan, a company can save money, protect workers, and effectively streamline their operations.

As a company prepares their facility for an upcoming stack test, reviewing the state-approved test plan is the best way to ensure that you understand all of the testing requirements.  Doing so is your greatest insurance that the stack testing results will show proper compliance with all relevant EPA air emission standards.  However, in many cases technical or legal jargon may make a portion or the entirety of the test plan difficult to understand, and it may not contain all of the required information necessary to conduct a successful test.  To assist you with this, we have put together the following Stack Testing Preparation Checklist to help you make sure that your company is properly prepared for your upcoming testing.  All items on this checklist should be reviewed with your qualified stack-testing team.

  1. What Load you will test at – This information is typically in your air permit, and/or determined by applicable federal/state  regulations.
  2. What Fuel you will burn – Different fuel types can have vastly different emission limits
  3. OSHA compliant platforms – How will the stack test team reach the sampling plane?
  4. Power Requirements – Do you have enough circuits?
  5. Safety/Insurance Concerns- What are your facility requirements?  Does your stack test company meet these requirements?
  6. Are your Test Ports free from blockage and EPA Method 1 Compliant?
  7. What Process Data are you required to document, and how will that data be logged?

Here at Environmental Source Samplers Inc., we’re familiar with the pitfalls a company can experience when faced with an upcoming test.  Advance preparation, with these guidelines in mind, will provide your company the ability to address any issues or questions prior to the stack testing date. Saving your company the time, hassle, and money that late revisions and changes inevitably cause.  These guidelines are also helpful in maintaining high levels of safety and compliance regardless of having a scheduled stack test or not, benefitting the overall operations and their environmental impact.

Choosing a stack testing company that has the appropriate background and experience for your industry will help ensure that your stack test will be successful.  The stack testing company should have the capability to execute the testing types and methodologies that govern your specific operations, while using equipment that is well-maintained and up-to-date.  Just as importantly, they should be current and informed on the changes and revisions to existing testing methodologies, since the EPA air emission limits and standards are subject to change as the Agency sees fit.

Stack testing is required and performed for the health and safety of the plant, the workers, and the environment.   It is also a diagnostic tool that provides insight into the efficiency of your operations.  However, whether you are testing for compliance or diagnostic purposes, careful preparation is the key to ensuring that your stack testing project gives you the data that you can use effectively.

Please contact the experts at Environmental Source Samplers (ESS) to learn more about their stack testing services:

Phone: 910-799-1055
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.ESSKnowsAir.com

Important Update Regarding Hurricane Florence

NJ Issues Advisory for Air Permits Issued Prior to 1998

 

***ESS can support all your air compliance testing needs in NJ and worldwide.  Please call 910.799.1055 for more information***

 

Immediate Action Required for Air Permits Issued Prior to 1998

Who is affected by this advisory?

Air-regulated facilities with equipment or sources permitted under pre-construction permits with activity numbers beginning with PCP96 and/or PCP97 are affected by this advisory; for example, PCP960001 and/or PCP970001. These activity numbers are referred to as pre-NJEMS and are permits that were approved before the existence of the DEP’s New Jersey Environmental Management System client-server application, commonly known as NJEMS.

 

What is the background information regarding this advisory?

Before 1998, facilities used paper forms to complete their air permit applications (pre-NJEMS permits). In 1998, the DEP implemented NJEMS, and the Remote AIMS Data Input User System (RADIUS) was used to allow for electronic submittal of air permit applications into NJEMS. After 1998, the pre-NJEMS permits were created in NJEMS for facilities that listed only one piece of equipment and no compliance plan. An activity number was created for each paper permit (the preconstruction permits beginning with 96 and/or 97). The DEP currently maintains about 5,000 preNJEMS permits, of which about 800 are expired.

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Industry Pushes EPA to Continue Implementing MATS Rule

In a letter to EPA air chief Bill Wehrum released July 10, Edison Electric Institute, along with other industry trade groups, urged the government to keep the air toxics standards largely intact.  The about-face comes after years of legal battles to halt implementation of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) earlier this decade.

“It is important to note that all covered plants have implemented the regulations and that pollution controls—where needed—are installed and operating,” the letter read.

“We believe a complete and robust RTR [Residual Risk and Technology Review] will recognize the capital investments already made for compliance and will allow the industry to continue full implementation of the MATS rule, which was completed in April 2016.”

“Therefore, we urge EPA to move forward with an RTR for power plants under CAA [Clean Air Act] section 112 and to leave the underlying MATS rule in place and effective.”

The letter comes as Wehrum said in April that EPA was still considering how to proceed after the Supreme Court’s ruling generally upholding the standards with concern over the expensive price tag associated with compliance measures.

The power industry appears to be seeking regulatory certainty after the bid to block the rule outright failed.  There is evidently concern that continued legal hesitation on the MATS rule could create additional problems.

See the letter here.

OSHA Enforcing New Silica Dust Standard

OSHA has released a memoradum outlining the provisions of its respirable crystalline silica in general industry and maritime standard.

The standard’s provisions, which will be enforceable beginning June 23, establish a new 8-hour time-weighted average permissible exposure limit, action level and associated ancillary requirements.

The agency will offer compliance assistance during the first 40 days of enforcement and will continue to issue interim enforcement guidance until a compliance directive on the new standards is finalized.

OSHA’s Small Entity Compliance Guide for the Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard for General Industry and Maritime discusses methods of compliance, such as using engineering and work practice controls, assessing exposure levels, respirator use, medical surveillance and written exposure plans.

EPA Amends Two Provisions of 2016 NSPS for Oil and Gas Industry

WASHINGTON — EPA has finalized amendments for certain requirements contained within the 2016 oil and gas New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) and proposed to withdraw the control techniques guidelines (CTG) – an action that EPA estimates would save $14 to $16 million in regulatory compliance costs for the oil and gas industry from 2021-2035.

“The technical amendments to the 2016 oil and gas NSPS are meant to alleviate targeted regulatory compliance issues faced by affected sources,” said EPA Office of Air and Radiation Assistant Administrator Bill Wehrum.  “While this action addresses an immediate need, it does not deter the ongoing work at the Agency to assess the 2016 rule as a whole, including whether it is prudent or necessary to directly regulate methane.”

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Why Are Sampling Ports Required to be 90 Degrees Apart?

Why Are Sampling Ports Required To Be 90 Degrees Apart?

This question often arises regarding the requirement to place sampling ports 90 degrees apart in order to be Method 1 compliant.  This article will explain why this requirement is important to keep in mind during stack construction or alteration.

Quick Overview of EPA Method 1

Diagram 1

  1. The flow through the stack at the port location must be minimally cyclonic.
  2. For Method 1, the stack diameter must be 12 inches or greater or 113 square inches in a cross-sectional area–Method 1A includes ducts that are between 6 and 12 inches.
  3. The sampling plane must be located more than two stack diameters downstream from the nearest upstream disturbance and more than half a stack diameter upstream from the stack exit or next downstream disturbance. (See Diagram 1).
    1. A minimum of two (2) test ports 90° apart must be installed on the sampling plane
    2. Common sense dictates that four (4) ports are preferred to allow for multiple trains and train maneuverability.
    3. Platform width should be greater than 4 feet from the stack to the handrail.

 

(See the original blog post for more details on the above)  (See the full text of EPA Method 1)

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