Neither industry nor environmentalists got all they had hoped for in a federal appeals court ruling in a case dealing with the Portland Cement Association's challenge to Environmental Protection Agency rules governing air emissions from cement kilns.
In a Dec. 9 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit sided partly with PCA by blocking one EPA standard, but also agreed partly with EPA by letting two other rules stand.
The ruling by a three-judge panel of the appellate court deals with two final EPA air-pollution rules issued in 2010: National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollution [NESHAP] and New Source Performance Standards.
NESHAP applies to emissions of particulate matter, mercury, hydrochloric acid and hydrocarbons. The new source rule covers nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions and revises the federal limit for particulates.
Complicating the issue, while EPA was working on the NESHAP rule, it also was developing a regulatory definition for solid waste incinerators. One result would be reclassifying some cement kilns so that they would be subject to the incinerator rule’s standards, which differ from the NESHAP rules.
The panel issued a stay of one part of the NESHAP—its standards for clinker storage piles--while EPA reconsiders them.
EPA had previously acknowledged that it did not provide “sufficient notice” of the standard for clinker storage and had agreed to PCA’s request to reconsider it, the court noted.
The appellate panel added that the clinker-storage standard “could likely change substantially.” It said, “Thus, industry should not have to build expensive new containment structures until the standard is finally determined.”
The court remanded the NESHAP to EPA so the agency could reconsider it, finding fault with EPA’s handling of the interaction between NESHAP and the new incinerator regulation.
But the judges denied other PCA challenges to the NESHAP standard and didn’t stay the regulation.