Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Step 3 of Tailoring Rule Released

On July 3, EPA announced Step 3 for the GHG Tailoring Rule, and stating that the agency will not revise greenhouse gas (GHG) permitting thresholds under the Clean Air Act. The Agency issued a final rule to retain the GHG permitting thresholds that were set in Steps 1 and 2 of the Tailoring Rule, which was established in 2010, and were recently upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. EPA believes current conditions do not suggest that it should lower the permitting thresholds; therefore, the Agency will not include additional, smaller sources in the permitting program at this time.

The final rule continues to focus on the largest emission sources, or those that account for nearly 70% of the total GHG emissions from stationary sources. In addition, EPA is finalizing a provision to allow companies to set plant-wide emissions limits for GHGs. According to the Agency, this will streamline the permitting process, increasing flexibility, and reducing permitting burdens on state and local authorities and large industrial sources.

The new final rule confirms that new facilities with GHG emissions of at least 100,000 tons per year (tpy) carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) will continue to be required to obtain Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permits. Existing facilities that emit 100,000 tpy of CO2e and make changes increasing GHG emissions by at least 75,000 tpy of CO2e must also obtain PSD permits. Facilities that need to obtain PSD permits that include other regulated pollutants must also address GHG emission increases of 75,000 tpy or more of CO2e. Finally, new and existing sources with GHG emissions above 100,000 tpy CO2e must obtain title V operating permits.

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