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.

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.

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.”

[Read more…]

Proposed Changes to EPA Method 202 for Condensable Particulate Matter (CPM)

On August 23, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed technical revisions and editorial changes to clarify and update the procedures specified in Method 202.

Method 202 describes the procedures that stack testers must follow to measure condensable particulate matter (CPM) emissions from stationary sources. It is known as the “dry impinger” method.  The proposal does not modify the method significantly. It is in line with steps EPA has taken since 2010 to improve the implementation of the method and promote consistency in the measurement of CPM.

EPA is proposing the following revisions to Method 202:

  • Revisions to the procedures for determining the systematic error of the method, which is used to correct the results of the measurements made using this method;
  • Removes some procedural options to the method to standardize the way method is performed while also eliminating the potential for additional blank contamination;
  • Revise overly prescriptive requirements for the method specific reagents and equipment with more flexible performance-based criteria; and
  • Revise the method to correct inconsistent terminology, improve the readability, and to simplify the text to aid in consistent implementation of the method.

BACKGROUND

In 2010, the EPA revised Method 202 for determining condensable particulate matter (PM) from stationary sources to improve the measurement of fine PM emissions. These revisions increased the precision of Method 202 and reduced potential bias. The revisions improved the consistency in the measurements obtained between source tests performed under different regulatory authorities.

In 2014, the EPA issued interim guidance on the treatment of CPM results in the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and Nonattainment NSR Permitting Programs. The guidance addressed concerns that the use of source-specific CPM test results obtained with Method 202 could include a positive bias — resulting in the overestimation of emissions due to the potential for blank contamination associated with the implementation of Method 202. As part of this guidance, the EPA announced plans to issue guidance on best practices for Method 202 implementation and to revise Method 202 as necessary.

In 2016, EPA issued the Best Practices Handbook to mitigate the bias concern, which was developed with significant input from stakeholders and trade groups. The proposed technical revisions incorporate the findings from the handbook.

FOR MORE INFORMATON

EPA Issues New Emissions Factors for Enclosed Ground Flares

Background

On February 5, 2018, EPA completed its review of the emissions factor for volatile organic compounds (VOC) for flares at natural gas production sites pursuant to section 130 of the Clean Air Act.

EPA evaluated test data available to the Agency for elevated and enclosed ground flares from natural gas production sites.  The agency’s review of available flare data did not result in a revision to this VOC factor, which remains available for estimating VOC emissions from elevated flares at natural gas production sites.

EPA has developed two new THC emissions factors for enclosed ground flares at natural gas production sites.  The EPA recommends the use of the new THC emissions factors to estimate VOC emissions for enclosed ground flares with the SCCs specified in Table 1, as this new emissions factor is based on field data from similar units.  Additionally, EPA has developed four new THC emissions factor for enclosed ground flares at certain chemical manufacturing processes.

Additional information about the review of the factor is below.

[Read more…]

EPA Adds Additional Public Sessions to Address Repeal of the Clean Power Plan

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold three additional public listening sessions on the proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan in San Francisco, Calif., Gillette, Wyo. and Kansas City, Mo.

“Due to the overwhelming response to our West Virginia hearing, we are announcing additional opportunities for the public to voice their views to the Agency,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

Public listening sessions will be on EPA’s proposed repeal of the Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units (commonly known as the Clean Power Plan). Dates and specific locations will be released in coming weeks; please see the website for details. All persons wanting to speak are encouraged to register in advance.

[Read more…]

EPA Advances Cooperative Federalism Through Designation Process for Sulfur Dioxide and Ozone Standards

WASHINGTON (December 22, 2017) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking the next steps in the Clean Air Act process to determine which areas of the country meet national air quality standards for ground-level ozone and sulfur dioxide. In November 2017, the Agency designated the vast majority of U.S. counties as meeting the air quality standards set by EPA’s 2015 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone. EPA is responding to state and tribal recommendations for ozone designations for the remaining areas and providing additional opportunities for state, tribal, and public input on those areas’ designations. The Agency is also finalizing designations for certain areas for the 2010 sulfur dioxide NAAQS.

“Cooperative federalism is key to maintaining clean air,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “Largely due to work by the states and new technological advances by the private sector, monitored levels of SO2 have dropped 85 percent and levels of ozone have decreased 22 percent nationwide since 1990. I am encouraged by the progress we’ve made and will continue working alongside states, tribes, and localities to determine the best methods to meet air quality standards.”

[Read more…]

Delaware Plans to Sue EPA for Upwind Air Pollution Relief

Delaware state authorities said Tuesday that they intend to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for failing to curb the upwind air pollution generated by power plants in neighboring Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

“The Clean Air Act entitles Delaware to relief from upwind pollution and the remedy we are seeking is reasonable and within EPA’s authority and responsibility to grant,” said Delaware Governor John Carney.  The governor’s statements come after four petitions to the EPA in 2016 were unsuccessful in bringing relief from the pollution.

Delaware authorities claim that about 90 percent of the smog in Delaware is caused from uncontrolled emissions in upwind states.  The carriage of air pollution from other states is cited by Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Controls as the reason Delaware struggles to meet federal air quality standards.

“It is now time for EPA to hold upwind sources accountable for ozone emissions that are impacting downwind states,” the department’s secretary, Shawn Garvin, said.

 

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EPA News: EPA Report Shows Air Emissions of Toxic Chemicals from Industrial Facilities Down More Than Half Since 2005

2017-01-13 Toxic Air Emissions Down 56 Percent

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today released its annual Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) National Analysis, which shows releases of toxic chemicals into the air fell 56% from 2005-2015 at industrial facilities submitting data to the TRI program.

“Today’s report shows action by EPA, state and tribal regulators and the regulated community has helped dramatically lower toxic air emissions over the past 10 years,” said Jim Jones, EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “The TRI report provides citizens access to information about what toxic chemicals are being released in their neighborhoods and what companies are doing to prevent pollution.”

The report shows an 8% decrease from 2014 to 2015 at facilities reporting to the program contributed to this ten-year decline. Hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, toluene and mercury were among chemicals with significantly lower air releases at TRI-covered facilities. Medical professionals have associated these toxic air pollutants with health effects that include damage to developing nervous systems and respiratory irritation.

[Read more…]

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