NSR and Possible Changes

The last administration got some good things done on NSR. Thus far, the changes are still in place. The Pruitt Memo on projected actual emissions was one of those. Project emissions accounting guidance became a rule. This allowed netting for shutting down a coal plant and changing to gas. A project aggregation reconsideration was issued. There were also some site-specific decisions that were helpful.

The PAL guidance encouraged states to take a flexible approach to PALs. Also, there were some language cleanups that were done. Biogenic CO2 was not addressed. Beginning actual construction guidance did not go through. States had some objections. A court case was won on routine maintenance, repair, and replacement. Guidance on de-bottlenecking was not forthcoming. Recently, with the new administration, a guidance rule was eliminated. The project emissions accounting rule petition was denied.

The John Deere memo on removing avoidance limits when a source reclassifies asked about such a removal. Some guidance has been issued on ozone and PM2.5 modeling. This is now required when PSD is triggered for NOx or SO2. EPA issued a BACT memo to TCEQ to define a BACT limit on what is achievable. EPA stated that a limit is achievable if it is in a permit. On fugitive emissions, the original rule required inclusion to determine if a modification was a major modification only if the industry was included in a particular listing. This went back and forth a few times. The last time, EPA went back to the original. Environmental groups objected. EPA has made a new proposal that has not issued yet. EPA is looking at “improvements” on the project emissions accounting and the improvements to major MACT. EPA is looking at notice requirements for minor NSR permits. The primary concern is synthetic minor permits. The Pruitt memo may be under review.

Further NSR reform is not a priority for this administration. Those memos that did not get finished will not likely be addressed. EJ is a key priority for the current administration. Different states are taking different approaches. Some recent permit applications have been denied on EJ grounds, even if all regulatory requirements have been met. There will likely be increased use of the Civil Rights Act to object to permit actions. That means interaction with neighbors prior to submittal of a permit application is becoming more important.

EPA is reconsidering the last administration’s decision to retain the ozone NAAQS as is. EPA is expected to propose a lower annual standard for PM2.5. The current standard is 12 ug/m3. Numbers from 8 – 11 have been suggested. Background is 8. Companies should improve the confidence in their emissions inventory. For expansion plans, the time to apply for a permit is now before the standards are lowered. Engage with the community now. Understand geographic impacts, as well as cumulative impacts. Engage with your industry associations (CIBO) to maintain your understanding or the rules and make comments on these proposed rules.

– Amy Marshall, All4