First steps toward permitting of greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources

Among arguments set forth in support of passage of a “cap and trade” bill to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from power plants, manufacturers and other stationary facilities is “if Congress doesn’t do it, the Administration will,” under rulemaking authority already granted via the Clean Air Act and its amendments.

Well, yes…

On September 30, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced two proposals that will advance control of greenhouse gas emissions through existing regulatory frameworks. The first of these will determine when regulatory action triggers applicability of the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) program to air pollutants, such as carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The second proposal establishes “tailored” thresholds for applying New Source Review and Title V Operating Permit requirements to emissions of greenhouse gases from large facilities. 

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Compliance Tip of the Week: Defining your “facility” for SPCC Plan requirements

The November 2008 amendments to Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan requirements provided facility operators with flexibility in defining the extent of the facility to be addressed in an SPCC Plan. This flexibility can be particularly helpful for large properties or installations, such as farms, multi-structured industrial plants and university campuses, where several buildings or locations may be used for storage and management of oil and other petroleum products.

The rule amendments redefined the term “facility” to allow the owner or operator to designate operations in or on contiguous or non-contiguous lands, properties, buildings and so forth as separate facilities for the purpose of compliance with the regulations. The owner or operator can aggregate or separate containers to determine the facility boundaries, and may determine that certain installations or parts thereof are effectively exempted from the rule if, for example, less than 1,320 gallons of oil are stored in aboveground containers within the boundaries of a designated “facility.”

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Next up: Regulating greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles

On September 28, EPA and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHSTA) issued a joint proposal to establish new standards for light-duty vehicles that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve fuel economy.  This joint proposed rulemaking follows the National Fuel Efficiency Policy announced by President Obama on May 19, 2009, responding to the country’s “critical need” to address global climate change and to reduce oil consumption.

EPA is proposing greenhouse gas emissions standards under the Clean Air Act, and NHTSA is proposing Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, as amended.  These standards will apply to passenger cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles, covering model years 2012 through 2016.  This National Program is intended to enable automobile manufacturers to build a single light-duty national fleet that satisfies all requirements under both programs while ensuring that consumers still have a full range of vehicle choices.

EPA and NHTSA will entertain comments on this proposal through November 27, 2009.  NHTSA and EPA will jointly hold three public hearings on the following dates: October 21, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan; October 23, 2009 in New York, New York; and October 27, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Further information can be found at http://www.epa.gov/otaq/climate/regulations.htm for EPA and http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/portal/site/nhtsa/ for NHTSA.

EPA issues rule requiring reporting of greenhouse gas emissions

And so it begins…

The Environmental Protection Agency on September 22 issued its Final Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gases Rule.  Beginning with reporting year 2010, the rule will phase in requirements for annual reporting of greenhouse gas emissions from suppliers of fossil fuels or industrial greenhouse gases, manufacturers of vehicles and engines, and other facilities that may emit greenhouse gases in annual quantities of 25,000 metric tons or more.  Covered greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and other fluorinated gases.

For more on the rule, including the published text, visit http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/ghgrulemaking.html.
For more information on greenhouse gases and climate change, visit www.tcozzie.com/guidance/air/ghgs/ or contact T. Cozzie Consulting Inc.

Court vacates startup, shutdown and malfunction exemptions; EPA explains

The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a letter explaining the effects of the December DC Circuit Court decision that vacated two provisions of 40 CFR Part 63.6, the general provisions section of the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants.  Parts 63.6(f)(1) and 63.6(h)(1) exempted sources from requirements to meet applicable emission standards during periods of startup, shutdown or malfunction.

The exemptions remain in effect until the Court issues a mandate finalizing the vacature.  At that time, the EPA letter notes, the effects of the rule change will vary among regulated emission sources.  For instance, sources required to demonstrate compliance using only work practice standards should have no difficulty complying, while other sources may operate pollution control equipment that is not impacted by SSM events.  For sources that fail to comply with emission standards during SSM events, EPA indicated that it will determine its enforcement response based on factors such as “good faith efforts” and whether a malfunction event may have been “caused in part by poor maintenance or careless operation.”

The text of the EPA letter and other information concerning the Court’s decision and its effects can be found at http://www.epa.gov/compliance/civil/caa/ssm.html.