Stationary Engines: EPA Enforcement (12/7 CIBO Committee Presentation)

For reciprocating engines there are MACT standards. There are also NSPS standards with new and existing units. The EPA recently sent out an enforcement alert indicating that there are a number of engines not reporting to EPA, primarily because they did not realize that their particular engine was covered by a regulation. Types of engine (IC or diesel), 2 stroke or 4 stroke, emergency or non-emergency, etc. all have different regulations. Emergency engines are not supposed to be operated in non-emergency situations. If the grid goes down, the emergency engine kicks in. As soon as the power is restored, any operating time counts as “non-emergency” time. There are limits on the amount of time to operate in non-emergency operation. There are around 100 different regulations on these engines. Storm mode operation is used to provide water supply either during or in anticipation of a power outage due to a storm. EPA has determined that anticipation of an outage is not an outage.

Citizens Thermal has 95 engines for their systems. These are both emergency and non-emergency units. Catalysts were installed in 2013. For emergency units, non- emergency operation for readiness, maintenance, and testing is limited to 100 hours. All other non-emergency operation is limited to 50 hours. Various tools were developed to help operations staff understand and follow compliance. Log books, stickers, fact sheets, and FAQ sheets were utilized. Compliance is a “team sport”. The various tools were updated and modified as operations personnel became more familiar with the requirements and related them to operations. Data visualization helps to monitor performance and alert operations staff. Engine maintenance was shifted to an annual basis based on ZZZZ requirements. The maintenance was moved to the 3rd quarter to allow for full compliance checking by year end. An oil sampling program was developed. Oil has to be changed within 2 days of a non-compliance report. By correlating oil changes with use, oil change schedules for each engine were determined. Stack tests are required every 3 years for non-emergency engines. As a result, 5 non-emergency engines were re-classified to emergency engines.

Ann McIver and David Foster, Citizens Thermal

Fenceline Monitoring: Real Time Data Processing & VOC Speciation (12/7 CIBO Committee Presentation)

Regulatory agencies have pushed for more monitoring in general and fenceline monitoring in particular. A bill introduced in the House requires EPA to add fenceline monitoring at 100 industrial sites. EJ considerations also impact the drive for more monitoring. Reporting is mostly hard copy. However, public perception is looking at a dynamic website condition, with the idea that any delay in posting the data is indicative of industry attempting to hide something. Facilities do not operate in a vacuum. There are background levels of contaminant concentrations. Facilities also tend to congregate for supply line considerations. Wind and weather can impact results. There are high lab and capital costs. There may also be particle size or speciation requirements. Accurate wind field data should allow for proper evaluation of background or transport concentrations that come into the site. This could involve upwind monitoring to show concentrations that may net out the facility contributions. Sensor technology needs to be evaluated to control costs.

There are a number of passive and continuous monitoring approaches. For particulates there are beta attenuation techniques and light scattering monitors. The system also takes an air sample for other measurements. Continuous gas analysis systems are available. They can also be solar powered. Passive techniques do not provide continuous analysis. Refineries are required to do fenceline monitoring for benzene. Absorption tubes were used with a 14-day exposure period. Some exceedances were noted at one refinery. The refinery switched to a continuous system combined with wind data to provide much better temporal resolution. This system pinpointed whether the refinery or external sources were the primary contributor. A construction site used a continuous monitoring system combined with data analysis for particulates and heavy metals. Data analysis allowed the inclusion of telemetry data to again show the primary source and then alerts for actions needed to reduce concentrations. Data visualization also helps alert the facilities.

Looking ahead, drones will likely be utilized to collect and send data to data analysis systems. Both sensors and sampling systems can be included on the drones. The evidence of a plume can be isolated and centered. Trees and towers can be a problem for drones.

Rick Osa & Bryan Engelsen, Environmental Resources Management (ERM)

EPA Air Regulations, MOG Update (12/7 CIBO Committee Presentation)

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

Energy & Environmental Policies – U.S. Chamber, Global Energy Inst. Report (12/8 CIBO Committee Presentation)

The GOP now has majority control of the House of Representatives. The Senate remains under the Democrats. This will make it somewhat more difficult to pass legislation. Compromise will be needed. A continuing resolution for funding in the next 2 weeks is likely. The government still needs to be funded. The debt ceiling will have to be released. The Chamber will still be pushing to improve the permitting process. There appears to be bipartisan support for this need. Despite all the climate goals and other objectives, these will not be achieved without a much better permit process. With the House under Republican control, the administration will likely need to issue more regulations and executive orders to achieve their objectives. While the Chamber does not agree with many administration objectives, the Chamber does have a good working relationship with the administration. Nevertheless, the Chamber is not shy about using litigation to support its membership.

The Chamber participated in COP27. The level of engagement from the business community was extensive. Climate activists may have been somewhat distraught (trade show for business?), but these policies, goals, and objectives cannot be achieved without the business community. The reality is that we will continue to need fossil energy and the energy security that those fuels provide for decades to come. The goal should be to reduce emissions, not to reduce the use of fossil fuels.

The debate needs to be changed from government’s need to do more and force businesses to do something to one of developing the necessary technologies, providing the right signals, and applying the appropriate solutions. There are 3 significant needs. The first is improved permitting. The goals cannot be achieved if it takes 5 – 7 years to get a permit for a needed technology. The second is critical materials. Shorter and more secure supply chains will be needed. Labor availability is also key. The third area is natural gas. The Chamber is a strong supporter of natural gas. By greater use of natural gas, the US has significantly reduced its GHG emissions. This fuel must be made available throughout the world, as developing countries attempt to meet their energy needs going forward.

Marty Durbin, US Chamber of Commerce

EPA Proposes To Tighten Annual PM2.5 Limit But Retain Daily Standard

January 6, 2023

EPA is proposing to tighten its health-based annual limit for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) to a level lower than that set by the Obama administration in 2012 but is not planning to tighten its 24-hour limit, disappointing environmental and public health groups and disregarding agency science advisers who pushed for a tougher daily value.

In its long-awaited proposal to revise national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for fine particles, the agency proposes to lower the current “primary,” or health-based limit for PM2.5 from 12 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3) down to a tougher limit in the range of 9 ug/m3 to 10 ug/m3.

“Our work to deliver clean, breathable air for everyone is a top priority at EPA, and this proposal will help ensure that all communities, especially the most vulnerable among us, are protected from exposure to harmful pollution,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan told reporters Jan. 5, ahead of the proposal’s release Jan. 6.

“This proposal to deliver stronger health protections against particulate matter is grounded in the best available science, advancing the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to scientific integrity and a rigorous scientific process,” Regan added.

Significantly, however, EPA leaves the rest of its suite of NAAQS for PM2.5 and the larger PM10 unchanged, including “secondary” limits designed to protect the environment, rather than human health directly.

This means the agency does not propose to tighten the 24-hour limit of 35 ug/m3, despite pressure to do so from environmental groups pressing for a limit of 25 ug/m3 and a majority of the agency’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) seeking a new level set in the range of 25 ug/m3 to 30 ug/m3.

However, the agency is seeking comment on a potential tougher standard set at “as low as” 25 ug/m3.

“The Administrator proposes to conclude that the scientific evidence not clearly call into question the adequacy of the current standard,” EPA says in a fact sheet on the issue.

EPA’s proposal for the annual limit falls squarely within the range suggested by EPA staff of 8 ug/m3 up to 12 ug/m3, and the range of 8 ug/m3 to 10 ug/m3 backed by a large majority of CASAC members.

EPA will take comment, however, on potential standards set at 8 ug/m3 — the preferred level of many public health advocates — and 11 ug/m3 — the level preferred by one CASAC member.

Reducing emissions of PM2.5 is a key priority of the Biden administration, given the range and severity of adverse health effects blamed on fine particles, including lung and cardiovascular problems, and premature death. Reductions in PM2.5 pollution are also estimated by the agency to produce the largest monetized health benefits of any environmental rule.

Under the Clean Air Act, EPA must set the NAAQS at a level requisite to protect public health with an “adequate margin of safety,” and by law, EPA cannot consider implementation costs when setting the limits.

Nonattainment Findings

But tougher PM2.5 limits also mean that more parts of the country will likely be classified in NAAQS “nonattainment,” requiring states to impose tougher pollution controls on industry, with significant implementation costs.

The tougher the eventual final standards are, the more areas of the country will fall into nonattainment, raising compliance costs, sources say.

Industry attorneys also note that regardless of nonattainment status, industry permit applicants have to take into account the need to show they will not raise emissions that cause a NAAQS violation when designing their projects.

When pressed by reporters on the proposal’s possible costs, Regan did not directly answer, and referred only to agency estimates of the net benefits, which depend on the level EPA ultimately selects for the annual standard.

EPA says the proposed standard could result in net health benefits valued at up to $17 billion in 2032 for an annual standard of 10 ug/m3 and as much as $43 billion in 2032 for an annual standard set at 9 ug/m3.

Meanwhile, EPA is also proposing to revise its air quality monitoring regulations in order to facilitate implementation of a tougher PM2.5 limit.

“To enhance protection of air quality, especially in overburdened and vulnerable communities with environmental justice concerns subject to disproportionate air pollution risk, EPA is proposing to modify the PM2.5 monitoring network design criteria to include an environmental justice factor. This factor will account for proximity of populations at increased risk of PM2.5-related health effects to sources of air pollution,” EPA says in its fact sheet.

“EPA is also proposing other changes to improve the quality of monitoring data used in regulatory decision making and to better characterize air quality in communities that are at increased risk of PM2.5 exposure and health risk,” the agency says. — Stuart Parker (

Kathy Beckett
Steptoe & Johnson PLLC
P.O. Box 1588, Charleston, WV 25326-1588
Chase Tower, 17th Floor
707 Virginia Street, East, Charleston, WV 25301
O: 304-353-8172 F: 304-353-8183 C: 304-539-8119

Proposed Decision for the Reconsideration of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter (PM)

On January 6, 2023, after carefully reviewing the most recent available scientific evidence and technical information, and consulting with the Agency’s independent scientific advisors, EPA announced its proposed decision to revise the primary (health-based) annual PM2.5 standard from its current level of 12.0 µg/m3 to within the range of 9.0 to 10.0 µg/m3.  EPA also proposed not to change the current:

  • secondary (welfare-based) annual PM2.5 standard,
  • primary and secondary 24-hour PM2.5 standards, and
  • primary and secondary PM10 standards.

In addition, EPA proposed revisions to other key aspects related to the PM NAAQS, including revisions to the Air Quality Index (AQI) and monitoring requirements.


EPA – Ozone Transport Plan: CIBO and Coalition Register Strong Concerns

CIBO is joining with the Midwest Ozone Group (MOG) and other industrial sector trade coalitions to submit formal comments and to register detailed, constructive input on the proposed Regional Ozone Transport Rule. Put simply, we see major flaws and deep problems with this proposal. The larger goal with our response efforts is to be sure that the rulemaking record includes specifics on the flaws, both fundamental and technical – tied into the data, the assumptions, analyses and conclusions of the regulation, which pertain to industrial sources. Be assured that we will certainly share our final comments to you once submitted later this month. We appreciate the help and input on this effort from CIBO members!

Our formal comments address several critical policy concerns and technical issues where our members have deep expertise. The Rule, an ambitious proposal to expand and strengthen the CSAPR interstate emission program, would promulgate Federal Implementation Plan (FIP) requirements under the Clean Air Act for twenty-six identified states, including several Western states as well, tied to interstate transfer affecting the attainment of the 2015 Ozone NAAQS. As outlined by the EPA, the proposal is designed to ensure that states meet their “good neighbor” obligations under the CAA, which directs states to craft state implementation plans, or SIPs to mitigate their “significant contribution” to the problems of downwind states attaining and maintaining NAAQS. This proposed rule includes requirements for certain industrial source categories (non-EGUs) in twenty-three states , with unit – specific emissions limitations beginning in 2026, affecting existing and new units, to help attain interstate ozone reduction goals. EPA has asserted that it has taken this step directed at industrial unit sources based on its evaluation of air quality modeling information, annual emissions and potential controls. The Rule includes seven identified non-EGU source categories covered by the proposed FIP: boilers and other types of emission units in chemical manufacturing, pulp, paper and paperboard mills, iron and steel mills, gas pipelines, glass manufacturing, cement and concrete operations, and oil refining and coal products manufacturing. In addition, unlike the EGU’s, the affected industrial sector units within the 23-state region are not included in the EPA allowance trading program. Allowance trading for the EGUs is designed to enable more cost – effective NOx emission reductions, as well as compliance flexibility.

Until this point, EPA has regulated non-utility boilers under the CSAPR. The data contained in the docket for the proposed rule indicates that only limited emissions reductions can be achieved within the same cost-effectiveness ($/ton) applied to the EGUs. EPA also appears to have overestimated the reductions this proposed rule could achieve overall, while significantly underestimating the costs of compliance. Many industrial sectors, in fact, have experienced significant decreases in NOx emissions in recent years, as facilities have worked to lower energy costs, improve efficiencies, and reduce emissions. In addition, with the implementation of Boiler MACT standards and other NAAQS reductions, many industrial facilities have also indirectly achieved lower NOx reductions, including by way of fuel-switching. This proposed FIP comes as EPA has also acted recently to formally disapprove the Good Neighbor plans of many of the so-called upwind states. Industry sectors are urging EPA to re-orient and apply its regulatory aim to NOX sources geographically closer to downwind monitors. In their general public responses to the proposed rule, industrial sectors have also noted their support for some specific provisions recommended. For example, EPA has asked for submission of public comment on their recommendation to continue to exempt cogeneration units – those that already meet the Acid Rain Program exemption requirements. Past EPA analyses has given clear indications that little additional NOx reductions could be realized by including these units, among other reasons. CIBO will keep you updated on our efforts and further developments.