There are a number of issues that are having an impact on requirements for industry in the ozone transport region. The PM2.5 NAAQS current primary and secondary standards were retained by the Trump EPA. The Biden administration has chosen to review the standard. The administration has also revived the CASAC for advice on these issues. They reported a need to reduce the standard, although there were two different positions. The current standard is 12 micrograms/m3. There was one recommendation for 10 – 11 and a second recommendation for 8 – 10. Labor has stated that the standard should be no lower than 10. OMB is reviewing a proposal from EPA. Publication will likely be in the spring of 2023.
The ozone NAAQS final action is expected in March 2023. EPA has proposed disapprovals on 19 states, with requirements for 4 more SIPs. These will be finalized to a FIP the week of December 11, 2022. EPA needs to include more up to date data in their modeling efforts. EPA is pushing states to implement more monitors, especially nearer to roads. Lower NAQQS standards will impact much of the US. Smaller sources will probably need to be targeted. Non- point/dust/and biomass combustion are significant sources. Wild fires in the West are no significant sources. Agriculture is a major contributory in the mid-West. One problem with modeling is that 2016 data is out of date, 2020 data is skewed because of Covid, and 2023 will not be ready in time.
The EPA will be announcing a significant expansion of the Office of Environmental Justice. The EPA has not invited the business community to any meetings so as not to appear to be favoring industry. EPA studies show communities near highways, ports, wildfires, and multiple source industrial sites experience the greatest impact. EPA thinks there are too many synthetic minor sources. All planned EPA activities will likely cause problems and delays in the permitting process, the exact opposite of what is needed.
The OTC Modeling Committee has been revamped. There are two new co-chairs from the NYSDEC, not the most reasonable. Recent VOC modeling for the OTR showed little impact to a 30% reduction in VOC inventory, outside of New York City. The Great Lakes region is still in non-attainment. Modeling of that region continues to show more sensitivity to NOx rather than VOC. EPA’s revised CSPAR rule has been litigated. A decision could be near. On WV v EPA, the Supreme Court remanded the proposed rule from the Obama administration back to the lower courts. The court has asked the parties to come up with a proposal. At the moment, the request is to drop the mandate and await the new proposal from EPA this spring. The WV decision could impact some of the FIP issues, depending on the outcome of any litigation.
Skipp Kropp, Steptoe & Johnson