The Utility MACT: Back to the Drawing Board?

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Utility MACTSenator Inhofe (R-OK) is leading the charge against EPA’s Utility MACT: the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) from Coal and Oil-fired Electric Utility Steam Generating Units, also known as the Mercury and Air Toxics (MATS) rule. The final Utility MACT was published in the Federal Register on February 16, 2012 (see 77 FR 9304).

On June 4, 2012, Senator Inhofe gave a speech on the Senate floor regarding his joint resolution, Senate Joint Resolution 37 (SJR 37), to kill the Utility MACT. In his own words:

“Utility MACT is a rule by the EPA to end coal in America and cause electricity rates to skyrocket…It is as simple as that.”

With a price tag of nearly $10 billion annually (which of course would be passed to utility rate-payers), the Utility MACT certainly comes with a financial impact. But it really isn’t “as simple as that”. This article will explain a little more about SJR 37 and the background on the Utility MACT.
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Boiler MACT – History and Now

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Boiler MACTEPA Is indicating that they have sent the Boiler MACT over to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. The rule referred to as the “Boiler MACT” comprises the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for industrial, commercial, and institutional boilers and process heaters at major sources of hazardous air pollutants (HAP) (Major Source Boiler MACT) and the NESHAP for industrial, commercial, and institutional boilers at area sources of HAP (Area Source Boiler MACT). Expect a new version of the rule to be finalized within the next couple of weeks.

To help underscore the significance of the newest version of a rule that has been plagued by a long history of revisions, stays, revocations, and other delays, I am providing a summary of some of the regulatory actions and court rulings associated with the Boiler MACT. This should provide a good review of where the rule has been and maybe some insight on where it is headed. I’ve summarized this information into a table. If you are interested in receiving a copy of the table email me at BMogan@Geosyntec.com. Read the rest of this entry

Questioning (Delegated) Authority

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I have had several air permitting projects lately that have highlighted the importance of understanding the term “delegated authority”, so I thought I would share some of my experiences on the matter.

Have you ever been weeding through a draft Title V Operating permit and noticed that the permit conditions don’t match up with the cited underlying federal regulatory requirements? Or, have you ever noticed that a non-applicable federal requirement has suddenly found its way into a permit condition? Now I’m not one to split hairs over variations in word usage or phrasing, but in these situations there is little room for negotiation.

Redlined Version of a Draft Air Permit


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Out of the Once In, Always In Policy

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Getting out of the Once, In Always In PolicyThe Once In, Always In Policy is EPA’s little MACT-trap and it can be a terror for industry. If you submit your synthetic minor request letter a day late, you may be doomed to eternal compliance with the MACT standard. If the particular MACT standard in question requires you to have a Title V operating permit, then you are also subject to annual compliance certifications and Title V air permitting fees in perpetuity.

What is the Once In, Always In Policy?

The Once In, Always In (OIAI) Policy is outlined in an EPA Memorandum dated May 16, 1995 (the Seitz Memo) regarding the timeframe during which a facility can request a limit (synthetic minor limit) on their potential to emit for the purposes of avoiding a Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) standard, codified in 40 CFR Part 63.


The Once In, Always in Policy Memo

There are a few issues addressed by the Seitz Memo. We already touched on the first issue: the date by which a facility must limit their potential to emit to below major source thresholds. To be clear, we are talking about major source thresholds for hazardous air pollutants (HAP), which are 10 tons per year (TPY) for any single HAP and 25 TPY for total HAP. The memo clarifies that a facility wishing to avoid a particular MACT must do so by the “first compliance date” of a standard. Read the rest of this entry