EPA Proposes Options For New Source Review Tests:
|(Source: U.S. EPA)|
The battle over the Clean Air Acts New Source Review requirements has shifted back to the regulatory front. The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a new test to determine when powerplant emissions levels would trigger NSR mandates, such as installing advanced pollution-control systems. Industry welcomed EPAs action but environmental groups criticized it. If the plan becomes final, some states will try to block it in court, says Peter H. Lehner, environmental protection bureau chief in the New York Attorney Generals office.
EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson says the NSR proposal, announced Oct. 13, will provide facilities clearer and simpler rules for operating safely, efficiently and affordably. The rule would apply to existing units, not new ones. EPA is offering three options for figuring emissions after a generating unit is modified (table). One option is the test now in use for the new source performance standards program, under a different Clean Air Act section from NSR. That option and one other would use an hourly rate as the yardstick, instead of the test now used in most states, which is based on annual emissions.
EPA says its aiming for tests that will be applied nationwide. Following a June 15 federal appeals court ruling, an annual emissions test is in effect in five states.
Edison Electric Institute spokesman Dan Riedinger says his group hasnt taken a position on which of EPAs three alternatives it prefers. But he says, We think that the overall proposal to adopt formally an hourly emissions rate test for determining whether or not NSR is triggered makes a lot of sense.
NSRs tangled path in courts, on Capitol Hill and in regulations has led to confusion at utilities. There is a chilling effect to the extent to which plant managers feel they are able to make efficiency improvements without risk of exposing their company to NSR enforcement actions, Riedinger says.
Kim Mastalio, president of Black & Veatchs strategic sales and marketing division, says EPAs proposal would give powerplant managers some clarity about NSR ramifications when they modify boilers or make other improvements. With the EPA plan, I think [plant mana-gers] can do their analysis better, he says.
But if New Yorks Lehner makes good on his threat, the courts will weigh in before this aspect of NSR is resolved.
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