EPA Announces Thresholds for Greenhouse Gas Permitting Requirements
U.S. EPA Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy held a press conference today to discuss the EPA's final rule to address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the largest stationary sources, while shielding millions of small sources of GHGs from Clean Air Act permitting requirements. The phased-in, common-sense approach will address facilities like power plants and oil refineries that are responsible for 70 percent of the greenhouse gases from stationary sources.
"After extensive study, debate and hundreds of thousands of public comments, EPA has set common-sense thresholds for greenhouse gases that will spark clean technology innovation and protect small businesses and farms," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.
"There is no denying our responsibility to protect the planet for our children and grandchildren. It's long past time we unleashed our American ingenuity and started building the efficient, prosperous clean energy economy of the future."
EPA's phased-in approach will start in January 2011, when Clean Air Act permitting requirements for GHGs will kick in for large facilities that are already obtaining Clean Air Act permits for other pollutants. Those facilities will be required to include GHGs in their permit if they increase these emissions by at least 75,000 tons per year (tpy).
In July 2011, Clean Air Act permitting requirements will expand to cover all new facilities with GHG emissions of at least 100,000 tpy and modifications at existing facilities that would increase GHG emissions by at least 75,000 tpy. These permits must demonstrate the use of best available control technologies to minimize GHG emission increases when facilities are constructed or significantly modified.
Under the new emissions thresholds for GHGs that begin in July 2011, EPA estimates approximately 900 additional permitting actions covering new sources and modifications to existing sources would be subject to review each year. In addition, 550 sources will need to obtain operating permits for the first time because of their GHG emissions.
McCarthy noted that the rule does not impose new emission reduction requirements, but is a mechanism to get source's greenhouse gases onto their permits. New major sources and significant emissions increases WOULD trigger new emissions reduction requirements. In addition, the agency will develop a new rule to be issued by July 2012 reducing the thresholds to no lower than 50,000 tpy. This would be effective by July 2012.
In April 2010, EPA set the first national GHG tailpipe standards for passenger cars and light trucks. When GHG emissions limits for these vehicles go into effect in January 2011, EPA is also required to address GHG emissions from stationary sources under the Clean Air Act’s permitting programs, which it is doing in the plan outlined today.
The final rule addresses a group of six greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6).
EPA issued a proposed rule in October 2009 and held a 60-day public comment period. The agency received about 450,000 comments, which were reviewed and considered during the development of this final rule.
For more information: http://www.epa.gov/nsr/actions.html