Category Archives: air pollution

EPA’s new Cross State Air Pollution Rule

Section 110(a)(2)(D)(i) of the Clean Air Act requires that the State Implementation Plan of each state must contain “four distinct requirements related to the impacts of interstate transport. The SIP must contain adequate provisions prohibiting sources in the state from emitting air pollutants in amounts which will: (1) contribute significantly to nonattainment of the NAAQS in any other state; (2) interfere with maintenance of the NAAQS in any other state; (3) interfere with provisions to prevent significant deterioration of air quality in any other state; or, (4) interfere with efforts to protect visibility in any other state.”

This is commonly referred to as the “Good Neighbor” provision. What that mean is that the upwind state must not pollute downwind states.

The Bush Administration came up with its Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) that was subsequently vacated by a federal judge in 2008. The Obama EPA has just finalized its own version called Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR). This new rule will impact power plants in 28 eastern and midwest states. It will require them to reduce the inter-state pollution caused by their emissions.

Click here for a PowerPoint presentation of CSAPR.

Click here for an interactive map to show which state’s air pollution impacts what states based on wind and weather patterns.  For example, power plants from Florida impact Texas. Texas power plants in turn impact Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

Republicans failed to stop EPA

The Republicans in the U.S. Senate failed to “defund” EPA in order to keep it from proceeding with its greenhouse gas regulations.

This was considered a victory for the Administration which received the go ahead from the Supreme Court awhile back to start regulating CO2 as a greenhouse gas.

More on Greenhouse Gas Emission

EPA will be proposing greenhouse gas emission standards for power plants in July 2011 and for refineries in December 2011 and will issue final standards in May 2012 and November 2012, respectively.

In the absence of any possible legislative action by Congress in the upcoming term, EPA is now exercising its authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases as air pollutants.

In California, the Air Resources Board is going ahead with its Cap and Trade program for GHG. It is a program that does not have immediate impact on industry in the sense that affected industry is provided with GHG allowances in the first year to meet their caps. The trading of GHG allowances does not start until 2012 and will accelerate in 2015. State law mandates that GHG be reduced to 1990 level by 2020.

California’s new Cap and Trade Program for Greenhouse Gas

The California Air Resources Board has just issued a press release on its new cap and trade rule for greenhouse gas. Here are some excerpts from it:

“The regulation will cover 360 businesses representing 600
facilities and is divided into two broad phases: an initial phase
beginning in 2012 that will include all major industrial sources
along with utilities; and, a second phase that starts in 2015 and
brings in distributors of transportation fuels, natural gas and
other fuels.

Companies are not given a specific limit on their greenhouse gas
emissions but must supply a sufficient number of allowances (each
covering the equivalent of one ton of carbon dioxide) to cover
their annual emissions.  Each year, the total number of
allowances issued in the state drops, requiring companies to find
the most cost-effective and efficient approaches to reducing
their emissions.

By the end of the program in 2020 there will be
a 15 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to
today, reaching the same level of emissions as the state
experienced in 1990, as required under AB 32.

To ensure a gradual transition, ARB will provide significant free
allowances to all industrial sources during the initial period
(2012-2014).  Companies that need additional allowances to cover
their emissions can purchase them at regular quarterly auctions
ARB will conduct, or buy them on the market.”

Cap and Trade is not new to California. There has been a similar program for NOx and SOx for some time.

Cap and Trade law in California

As most of you know, there is ZERO chance that there will be any cap and trade law coming out of the Capitol Hill in the next two years since the Republican are in control of the House of Representatives.

However, the California Air Resource Board is poised to finalize the state’s Cap and Trade regulations before the end of this year. This was mandated by the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. The finalized regulations wil go into effect January 2012.

There is a Scoping Document from the Board that outlines all the steps required by the Global Warming Act.

We will post the final cap and trade rules here as soon as they are adopted by the Board.

Here is what happens when you store chemical improperly

There was a chemical accident at a hazardous waste storage facility a number of years ago that released a massive amount of chlorine gas and caused the town to be evacuated.

The chemical Safety Board conducted an investigation and the following is some of its findings.

When you stack chlorine chemical on top of some strong oxidizer, you get yourself an explosive mixture.

A new beginning for BP?

BP has a new CEO today.

A few days ago, BP signed a Consent Decree with the Department of Justice and agreed to pay $13 million for various Risk Management Plan violations under the Clean Air Act at its Texas City refinery. If you recall, there was a major incident at that refinery back in March of 2005 where 15 people were killed.

Thus far, BP has paid $137 million in fines which includes $50.61 million to OSHA for Failure to Abate violations under OSHA’s Process Safety Management standards. It has also spent $1.4 billion in corrective action. The OSHA fine is the largest fine in OSHA’s history.

BP conducted many internal environmental and safety audits before the March 2005 incident. Many safety and environmental issues were raised but little or no action was taken – according to the Chemical Safety Board investigators.

An expensive lesson learned?

EPA’s Tailoring Rule on Greenhouse Gas

EPA issued its final rule on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on June 3, 2010. Under this rule, GHG will be regulated in two phases under the Clean Air Act.

Phase 1 will go from January 2, 2011 to June 30, 2011. If you are currently under a PSD permit (Prevention of Significant deterioration) and you emit more than 75,000 tpy of GHG, you will need to use Best Available Control Technology (BACT) to control you GHG emission.

Phase 2 goes into effect July 1, 2011 and ends on June 30, 2013. PSD permits will apply to new construction projects that emit more than 100,000 tpy of GHG. Modifications at existing facilities  that exceed 75,000 tpy of GHG will be subject to PSD requirements. Also if you emit more than 100,000 tpy of GHG, you will need to get a Title V permit!

Of course – this is America. So expect lawsuits to be filed against EPA on this final rule.

GHG is defined to include CO2, CH4, HFCs, PFCs, and SF6. For a complete set of the Tailoring Rule, click here. There is also a pretty interesting article in Pollution Engineering Magazine on this topic written by my fellow contributing editor Lynn Bergeson.

We have 2-day environmental regulations seminars scheduled in Florida (Fort Myers and Orlando), California (Santa Ana and San Francisco), Nevada (Las Vegas), Georgia (Atlanta), Texas (Houston), New Jersey (Newark) and Virginia (Virginia Beach). For our latest 2010/2011 environmental seminar schedule, click here.

EPA’s new directions on greenhouse gas emissions

In a recent letter to several senators, EPA Administrator made the following comments about the agency’s directions on greenhouse gas:

No facility will be required to address greenhouse gas emissions in Clean Air Act permitting of new construction or modifications before 2011.

For the first half of 2011, only facilities that already must apply for Clean Air Act permits as a result of their non-greenhouse gas emissions will need to address their greenhouse gas emissions in their permit applications.

EPA is also considering a modification to the rule announced in September requiring large facilities emitting more than 25,000 tons of greenhouse gases a year to obtain permits demonstrating they are using the best practices and technologies to minimize GHG emissions. EPA is considering raising that threshold substantially to reflect input provided during the public comment process.

EPA does not intend to subject smaller facilities to Clean Air Act permitting for greenhouse gas emissions any sooner than 2016.

California setting the pace once again!

The California Air Resources Board today adopted the nation’s first comprehensive regulation to reduce potent greenhouse gases from commercial and industrial refrigeration systems.

The following is an excerpt from the Board’s press release:

“The rule will reduce greenhouse gas emissions of 8.1 million metric tons of CO2e in 2020. That is equivalent to removing about 1.4 million cars from the road for a year.

Gases used as refrigerants trap heat in the atmosphere at rates thousands of times that of carbon dioxide. A leak of only 1.5 pounds of the most commonly-used refrigerant (referred to as R-22) is the equivalent of releasing a metric ton of carbon dioxide (CO2e). The rule addresses the single largest source in the state of high-potency greenhouse gases by requiring refrigerant leak inspection and repair of large commercial and industrial refrigeration systems.

The regulations apply only to large commercial and industrial systems that use more than 50 pounds of refrigerant for a single unit, roughly the equivalent of the refrigerant found in 100 household refrigerators. This means the rule applies primarily to supermarkets, food and beverage processors, cold storage warehouses, and industrial cooling processes. It does not apply to most bars, restaurants, liquor stores, and office buildings. The rule also does not apply to systems that use ammonia or carbon dioxide as the refrigerant.”

So despite its economic woes, California is once again setting the pace for the rest of the country and the world to follow. It was California that started the cap-and-trade system (RECLAIM) and the Risk Management Plan.