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EPA proposes new greenhouse gas emission standard under the Clean Air Act

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently proposed a new GHG emissions program designed to further regulate the amount of greenhouse gas produced in the US. The proposed Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Title V Greenhouse Gas Tailoring Rule would require large facilities to obtain operating permits for their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Large facilities are defined as those emitting more than 25,000 tons per year CO2e. According to the EPA these large facilities make up nearly 70% of US GHG emissions. Additionally newly constructed facilities and significantly modified facilities would be required to use the best available control technology to minimize GHG emissions under the proposed rule.

Under Title V, the EPA is proposing an applicability threshold of 25,000 tons per year (tpy) CO2e for existing facilities. Facilities with emissions of less than 25,000 tpy CO2e would not be required to obtain an operating permit.

Under Prevention of Significant Deterioration, a program designed to minimize emissions from new or modified sources, the major stationary source threshold is 25,000 tpy CO2e. This is the threshold used to determine if a new facility or a major modification to an existing facility would require a PSD permit. The significance threshold is set at 10,000 to 25,000 tpy CO2e. A PSD permit would be required if an existing facility makes modifications that increase emissions inside the range set.

The proposed rule includes the six main greenhouse gases; carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6). If the proposed rule is adopted, the rule would take effect in the spring of 2010.

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