USEPA proposes minor changes to greenhouse gas tailoring rule and permitting requirements


The USEPA proposed on Feb. 24, 2012 ( not to change the greenhouse gas (GHG) permitting thresholds for the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and Title V Operating Permit programs. The USEPA also proposed steps to streamline the permitting process for facilities already covered by the programs, and not to include additional sources in the permitting programs at this time.

EPA’s proposal keeps the phased-in approach to “tailor” the requirements of the Clean Air Act to ensure that facilities and state governments have the tools to minimize GHG emissions and that only large emitters are regulated and need permits. The USEPA believes that the current approach is working well, and that state permitting authorities are successfully managing PSD and Title V Permit requests. The USEPA will accept comments on this proposal for 45 days after it is published in the Federal Register.

The USEPA proposes to follow the same Clean Air Act processes that it has followed for decades. As of Dec. 1, 2011, the USEPA and state permitting authorities have issued 18 PSD permits addressing GHG emissions, covering both new and modified existing facilities. The process addresses six GHGs: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). Best Available Control Technology (BACT) has been ruled to be (so far) the implementation of energy efficiency measures to reduce CO2 emissions.

The current PSD approach would be maintained. A new facility with GHG emissions of at least 100,000 tons per year (tpy) expressed as CO2 equivalents (CO2e) or an existing facility emitting at least 100,000 tpy of CO2e and proposing to increase GHG emissions by at least 75,000 tpy CO2e triggers the requirement for a PSD permit. A facility that must obtain a PSD permit because of other regulated pollutants must also address GHG emissions if it proposes to increase emissions by at least 75,000 tpy of CO2e. One change that it is proposing is to develop a “synthetic minor” PSD permit, a relatively simple permit, giving a facility an emission limit above which PSD would be triggered.

The USEPA is keeping the existing Title V Permit thresholds for GHGs. Sources with potential GHG emissions above 100,000 tpy CO2e must obtain a Title V Permit. The agency is proposing one change, allowing a Plantwide Applicability Limit (PAL) for GHGs. This allows facilities to change GHG emissions between sources without having to modify the Title V Permit as long as PAL is met, giving greater operating flexibility.

CCES technical experts can help you determine your permitting and PSD needs and help calculate GHG emissions and provide cost-effective compliance options for you.

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