In this edition of the Weekly Compliance Digest, we cover a proposed rule by the EPA that makes revisions to the conditions under which PSD and Title V permits are required, and proposes a significant emissions rate (SER) for GHGs under the PSD program.
Revisions to the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and Title V Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Permitting Regulations and Establishment of a GHG Significant Emission Rate (SER): Proposed Rule
What is it?
The U.S. EPA is proposing to revise provisions applicable to greenhouse gases (GHG) in its Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and Title V permitting regulations in response to the June 23, 2014 U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Utility Air Regulatory Group (UARG) v. EPA and the April 10, 2015 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Coalition for Responsible Regulation v. EPA.
The proposed PSD and Title V revisions involve changes to several regulatory definitions, revisions to the PSD provisions on GHG Plantwide Applicability Limitations (PALs), and revisions to other provisions necessary to ensure that neither the PSD nor Title V rules require a source to obtain a permit solely because the source emits or has the potential to emit (PTE) GHGs above the applicable thresholds. In addition, the EPA is also proposing a significant emissions rate (SER) for GHGs under the PSD program that would establish an appropriate threshold level below which Best Available Control Technology (BACT) is not required for a source’s GHG emissions.
Who is affected?
The EPA’s proposal potentially affects owners and operators of sources in all industry groups. The majority of potentially affected categories and entities include:
- Utilities (electric, natural gas, other systems)
- Manufacturing (food, beverages, tobacco, textiles, leather)
- Wood product, paper manufacturing
- Petroleum and coal products manufacturing
- Chemical manufacturing
- Rubber product manufacturing
- Nonmetallic mineral product manufacturing
- Primary and fabricated metal manufacturing
- Machinery manufacturing
- Computer and electronic products manufacturing
- Electrical equipment, appliance, and component manufacturing
- Transportation equipment manufacturing
- Waste management and remediation
What are the highlights?
Highlights of the proposal include:
- Revisions to certain PSD definitions and GHG Plantwide Applicability Limitations (PAL) provisions to ensure that sources that emit or have the potential to emit only GHGs above the major source applicability thresholds are no longer required to obtain a PSD permit.
- Revisions to a few state-specific PSD provisions to ensure that sources that emit or have the potential to emit only GHGs above the major source applicability thresholds are no longer required to obtain a PSD permit.
- Revisions to the Title V regulations to ensure that a stationary source will not be required to obtain a Title V permit solely because the source emits or has the potential to emit GHGs above the major source thresholds.
- Revisions to remove certain “narrowing” provisions from some EPA-approved Title V programs for specific states. EPA believes those would no longer be needed in light of the other proposed revisions to the Title V regulations, among other things.
In addition, the EPA is proposing a 75,000 tons per year (tpy) CO2e Significant Emission Rate (SER) for GHGs. The SER establishes a de minimis level below which best available control technology (BACT) is not required for GHG emissions.
What is next?
The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on October 3, 2016. Comments can be sent until December 2, 2016. It’s worth noting that, although the EPA’s analysis supports a SER at 75,000 tpy CO2e, the agency is soliciting comments on establishing a GHG SER level below 75,000 tpy CO2e and at or above 30,000 tpy CO2e. Based on its current understanding, the EPA does not believe there is any basis for a SER level to be established below 30,000 tpy CO2e, and the EPA is not considering SER values below that level.
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To learn more about EHS, Sustainability and Risk trends, we encourage you to read the NAEM 2016 Trends Report: Planning for a Sustainable Future, which presents the ideas and issues that will shape EHS and Sustainability Management in 2016 and beyond.