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WASHINGTON (Dec. 3, 2019) — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing several actions to clarify and improve New Source Review (NSR) permitting requirements. These Clean Air Act actions are part of a suite of measures EPA is taking to modernize and streamline the NSR process, without impeding the Agency’s ongoing efforts to maintain and enhance the nation’s air quality. These actions will improve regulatory certainty and remove unnecessary obstacles to projects aiming to improve the reliability, efficiency, and safety of facilities while maintaining air quality standards.
“NSR reforms are a key component of President Trump’s agenda to revitalize American manufacturing and grow our economy while continuing to protect and improve the environment,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “NSR regularly discouraged companies from investing in and deploying the cleanest and most efficient technologies. Through the Trump Administration’s efforts, EPA is providing clarity to permitting requirements, improving the overall process, and incentivizing investments in the latest energy technologies.”
“For too long, New Source Review permitting requirements stifled job creation, hampered innovation and slowed the ability to modernize critical energy infrastructure. Worse, in previous administrations, the permits were weaponized, so liberal activists could delay key projects,” said U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (OK). “New Source Review hasn’t been updated in over four decades—making it hard to integrate new technologies into our energy infrastructure. I’ve worked for years to modernize the review process, and applaud today’s action by President Trump and Administrator Wheeler to streamline the NSR permitting process.”
“One of my consistent frustrations with New Source Review is what seems to be a perverse incentive away from innovation. Thank you to Administrator Wheeler and the Trump Administration for recognizing this and finalizing these positive reforms,” said U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer (ND). “The EPA’s actions provide certainty while restoring the proper scope of the Clean Air Act.”
“I applaud the EPA for taking further steps to reform the New Source Review permitting program. NSR’s burdensome process can impede upgrades that would actually increase efficiency and improve air quality. The EPA is moving toward a better NSR program that streamlines the process without sacrificing environmental protections,” said U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith (VA-09).
“I applaud Administrator Wheeler for implementing a strong regulatory reform agenda at the EPA. Today’s actions are a solid first step in the right direction to reform the NSR permitting program. I look forward to continue working with the Trump Administration to further reform NSR and allow America’s industry to make their units more reliable and efficient, while maintaining strong environmental standards,” said U.S. Representative Andy Biggs (AZ-05).
“President Donald Trump continues to deliver on his promise to cut burdensome regulations that strangle American manufacturing and energy development. These improvements to the New Source Review (NSR) permitting requirements will protect our air quality, while incentivizing businesses to grow and expand. I look forward to continuing to work with President Trump and Administrator Wheeler to cut needless regulations and create American jobs,” said U.S. Representative Alex X. Mooney (WV-02).
“This Administration is clearing the path for manufacturers to invest in more energy efficient technologies that conserve energy, reduce emissions, and keep U.S. manufacturers competitive,” said Portland Cement Association President and CEO Mike Ireland. “For energy-intensive industries like cement, strategic investment in energy efficiency and emissions reduction are key components of any long-term climate and sustainability strategy, and EPA’s New Source Review reforms announced today help unlock new opportunities for sustainable operation.”
Final Guidance: Revised Policy on Exclusions from “Ambient Air”
After considering public comments, EPA is issuing final guidance, identifying the sort of measures which EPA may take account of in determining whether a source owner or operator has precluded the general public from having access to its property. Where access is precluded, the portion of the atmosphere above that property is not considered “ambient air” for the purpose of conducting air quality analyses under the Clean Air Act. The guidance updates EPA’s policy to recognize that a variety of measures may be considered effective in keeping the public off a source owner/operator’s property. These measures, which account for advances in surveillance and monitoring, depend on site-specific circumstances and continue to include, but are now not solely limited to, fences or other physical barriers. State, local and tribal permitting authorities have the discretion to apply this guidance on a case-by-case basis. The regulatory definition of “ambient air,” as stated in 40 CFR § 50.1(e) to mean “that portion of the atmosphere, external to buildings, to which the general public has access,” remains unchanged.
Final Guidance: Interpreting “Adjacent” for New Source Review and Title V Source Determinations in All Industries other than Oil and Gas
EPA has also recently issued a final guidance that revises the agency’s interpretation of when multiple air pollution-emitting activities are located on sufficiently “adjacent” properties to one another that they should be considered a single source for the purposes of permitting. To determine what activities comprise a single source under the NSR and Title V air permitting programs, three factors must be satisfied: the activities must be under common control; they must be located on contiguous or adjacent properties; and they must fall under the same major group standard industrial classification (SIC) code. In this guidance, for all industries other than oil and natural gas production and processing for which there is a separate set of rules and to which this guidance does not apply, EPA adopts an interpretation of “adjacent” that is based on physical proximity only. The concept of “functional interrelatedness” would not be considered by EPA when determining whether activities are located on adjacent properties. This interpretation should help clarify and streamline the permitting process.
Additional NSR Proposals
EPA also recently issued a proposal to address minor errors that have accumulated over time in four NSR regulations. While these minor errors, such as outdated cross references and typographical errors, have not materially impeded the effective operation of the NSR program, EPA believes that it is important to remove such errors from the regulations in order to provide regulatory certainty and clarity. The proposed corrections are all considered to be non-substantive and are intended to provide clarity and precision to the NSR regulations without altering any NSR policy or changing the NSR program as a whole.
EPA is also proposing to remove from the NSR regulations various provisions, such as certain “grandfathering” provisions, that, with the passage of time, no longer serve any practical function or purpose. EPA will be taking comment on this proposal, which will be published in the Federal Register.
More information on these actions and other NSR improvements are available at: https://www.epa.gov/nsr
Coming Soon: Revisions to Petition Provisions of Title V Permitting Program
EPA is currently working to take final action on a 2016 proposal for revisions to the title V regulations. This proposal would streamline and clarify processes related to the submittal and review of title V petitions.
The proposed rule would bring more certainty for all stakeholders, including the sources required to obtain and maintain title V permits; more focused petitions; better title V permit records which are expected to result in fewer petitions; and reduced administrative burden in the EPA’s review of petitions in a tight timeframe.
Congress established New Source Review as a preconstruction permitting program in the 1977 Clean Air Act Amendments. The program intended to ensure the maintenance of air quality standards around the country and that state of the art technology is installed at new plants or existing plants undergoing major modifications.
Under the NSR program, before constructing a new stationary emission source or major modification of an existing source, the source operator must determine whether the new source will emit or the project will increase air emissions above certain thresholds. If so, the operator may need to get a permit from a state government or EPA that may require installation of pollution control technology or other measures.
The updates to air regulations intend to remove redundant requirements and reduce compliance burdens where environmentally appropriate.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed updates to the oil and natural gas industry national standards. The proposal intends to remove regulatory duplication while maintaining health and environmental regulations on oil and gas sources that the agency considers appropriate. The proposal is the result of EPA’s review of the 2016 New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for the oil and natural gas (O&G) industry conducted in response to Executive Order 13783 – Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth. The goal was to review existing regulations that could potentially “burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources,” including oil and natural gas.
The resulting regulatory impact analysis from EPA estimates that the proposed amendments could save the O&G industry $17-$19 million a year, for a total of $97-$123 million from 2019 through 2025.
“EPA’s proposal delivers on President Trump’s executive order and removes unnecessary and duplicative regulatory burdens from the oil and gas industry,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “The Trump Administration recognizes that methane is valuable, and the industry has an incentive to minimize leaks and maximize its use. Since 1990, natural gas production in the United States has almost doubled while methane emissions across the natural gas industry have fallen by nearly 15%. Our regulations should not stifle this innovation and progress.”
In its primary proposal, the agency is proposing to remove sources in the transmission and storage segment of the O&G industry from regulation. These sources include transmission compressor stations, pneumatic controllers, and underground storage vessels. The agency is proposing that the addition of these sources to the 2016 rule was not appropriate, noting that the agency did not make a separate finding to determine that the emissions from the transmission and storage segment of the industry cause or significantly contribute to air pollution that may endanger public health or welfare.
The primary proposal also would rescind emissions limits for methane, from the production and processing segments of the industry; keeping emissions limits for ozone-forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These sources include well completions, pneumatic pumps, pneumatic controllers, gathering and boosting compressors, natural gas processing plants and storage tanks. The controls to reduce VOCs emissions also reduce methane at the same time, so separate methane limitations for that segment of the industry are redundant.
In an alternative proposal, EPA would rescind the methane emissions limitations without removing from regulation any sources from the transmission and storage segment of the industry.
The agency also is seeking comment on alternative interpretations of EPA’s legal authority to regulate pollutants under section 111(b)(1)(A) of the Clean Air Act.
This proposal is in addition to a September 2018 technical action that proposed targeted improvements to help streamline implementation, reduce duplication of EPA and state requirements, and significantly decrease unnecessary burdens on domestic energy producers. EPA is currently reviewing comments received on that technical package and expects to issue a final rule in the upcoming months.
EPA will take comment on the proposal for 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register, and will hold a public hearing. EPA will announce details of the hearing shortly.
More information, including a pre-publication version of the Federal Register notice and a fact sheet, is available at https://www.epa.gov/controlling-air-pollution-oil-and-natural-gas-industry
This paper, presented at A&WMA’s 111th Annual Conference details the Tier 4 process and the potential issues that have arisen from conducting a Tier 4. This paper also assesses potential Tier 4 sites, exceedance reporting, wind monitoring, additional SEM equipment requirements, penetration monitoring, notification and reporting requirements, and impacts on solid waste landfills that will use the Tier 4 SEM procedure for delaying GCCS requirements. This paper reviews the changes between the draft NSPS and the final version of the new NSPS that was promulgated.
Click to read or share the paper, and learn about the authors.
The SWANA Landfill Gas and Biogas Division is very busy right now with several important efforts. On the Rules and Regulations front, the U.S. EPA has promulgated two draft landfill gas (LFG) rules that were published in the Federal Register on August 27, 2015. These include a draft Emission Guideline (EG) rule and a supplemental draft New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) rule.
The proposed EG rule affects “existing” landfill sites (i.e., landfills that have not been expanded and were not newly constructed after July 17, 2014). The NSPS rule is a supplemental proposal that affects “new” landfill sites (landfills that are new or were expanded in capacity after July 17, 2014). Comments on both are due by October 26, 2015. Final issuance of both rules is expected in the first quarter of 2016. The Division Rules and Regulation and Advocacy committees are working together to develop SWANA’s industry comments on the rules.
The major focus of both rules is the current 50 Mg/year of non-methane organic compounds (NMOCs) emission threshold, which triggers the installation of a LFG collection and control system (GCCS). In the proposed rules, that threshold will be lowered to 34 Mg/year for all landfills except existing, closed sites. This appears to be the centerpiece of the U.S. EPA’s plan to create additional NMOC and methane reductions from landfills. With a lowered NMOC threshold, some landfills, particularly those that have been too small to trigger the installation of a GCCS, will be required to install them.
Other key components of the draft EG rule, which are likely to be similar in the NSPS rule, include the following:
The draft EG rule also provides clarifications on several existing rule topics, as well as topics where U.S. EPA decided not to include such items in the rule:
During the comment period, the EPA also is looking for public comment on:
The EPA will have the ability to add more provisions to the final version of the rule based on the information submitted as a part of these information requests. This means the industry must make a strong case to the EPA to get them to consider our opinions on these issues.
Comments on this article should be addressed to Patrick S. Sullivan, Senior Vice President, SCS Engineers, at 916-361-1297 or email@example.com
Today, the National Waste & Recycling Association hosted a webinar concerning the revised NSPS (New Source Performance Standards for Landfills) Rule. EPA is revising the NSPS rules which will be tentatively published in the Fall, 2015. These rule changes may impact the way air emissions from landfills are being managed and is a significant change from 1996 published standards. During this informative session, attendees learned:
If you missed this presentation, NWRA has granted SCS permission to post the slide show on our website. We welcome everyone to view the slide show and thank the NWRA for sponsoring the webinar. Webinar presenters include:
For more information and answers to your questions please contact Pat Sullivan, SCS Engineers or the webinar presenters.
Click for information about NSPS/NESHAP Compliance Services.