Thursday, October 29, 2009

EPA Regulates Greenhouse Gases GHGs

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday announced that it is creating a new rule to regulate the emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases (GHG) under the Clean Air Act. The 60-day comment period is now open, and comments must be received no later than December 28, 2009. Several avenues are available for comments, and are shown in the announcement and replicated below.

From the summary provided by EPA:

"EPA is proposing to tailor the major source applicability thresholds for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and title V programs of the Clean Air Act (CAA or Act) and to set a PSD significance level for GHG emissions. This proposal is necessary because EPA expects soon to promulgate regulations under the CAA to control GHG emissions and, as a result, trigger PSD and title V applicability requirements for GHG emissions. If PSD and title V requirements apply at the applicability levels provided under the CAA, State permitting authorities would be paralyzed by permit applications in numbers that are orders of magnitude greater than their current administrative resources could accommodate. On the basis of the legal doctrines of ``absurd results'' and ``administrative necessity,'' this proposed rule would phase in the applicability thresholds for both the PSD and title V programs for sources of GHG emissions. The first phase, which would last 6 years, would establish a temporary level for the PSD and title V applicability thresholds at 25,000 tons per year (tpy), on a ``carbon dioxide equivalent'' (CO2e) basis, and a temporary PSD significance level for GHG emissions of between 10,000 and 25,000 tpy CO2e. EPA would also take other streamlining actions during this time. Within 5 years of the final version of this rule, EPA would conduct a study to assess the administrability issues. Then, EPA would conduct another rulemaking, to be completed by the end of the sixth year, that would promulgate, as the second phase, revised applicability and significance level thresholds and other streamlining techniques, as appropriate."

EPA acknowledges that making such a sweeping change would result in an overwhelming number of permit applications to state authorities, thus EPA is proposing to limit the size of affected facilities, and will revisit the issue after six years. The size limit is 25,000 metric tonnes per year of CO2-equivalent emissions, which is the same threshold established by California's AB 32 for GHG reporting. In practice, this works out to approximately 50 million Btu per hour if the fuel source is natural gas. For a coal-fired source, the threshold is approximately 27 million Btu per hour. Thus, this rule will affect all major facilities such as refineries, power plants, chemical plants, and petrochemical plants.

COMMENTS TO EPA can be made via online, email, fax, US mail and courier, and hand delivery.

Online: . Follow the online instructions for

submitting comments. Attention Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2009-0517.

e-mail: Attention Docket ID No.


Fax: (202) 566-9744. Attention Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2009-0517

Mail: EPA Docket Center, EPA West (Air Docket), Attention

Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2009-0517, U.S. Environmental Protection

Agency, Mailcode: 2822T, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC

20460. Please include a total of 2 copies. In addition, please mail a

copy of your comments on the information collection provisions to the

Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and

Budget (OMB), Attn: Desk Officer for EPA, 725 17th Street, NW.,

Washington, DC 20503.


EPA provides the following suggestions or tips for making comments:

· Identify the rulemaking by docket number and other identifying

information (subject heading, Federal Register date and page number).

Follow directions--The agency may ask you to respond to specific

questions or organize comments by referencing a Code of Federal

Regulations (CFR) part or section number.

Explain why you agree or disagree; suggest alternatives and

substitute language for your requested changes.

Describe any assumptions and provide any technical information

and/or data that you used.

If you estimate potential costs or burdens, explain how you

arrived at your estimate in sufficient detail to allow for it

to be reproduced.

Provide specific examples to illustrate your concerns, and suggest


Explain your views as clearly as possible, avoiding the use of

profanity or personal threats.

Make sure to submit your comments by the comment period deadline


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