|June 5, 2009|
EPA Issues Supplemental Proposal Regarding Standards of Performance for Coal Preparation and Processing Plants
On May 27, 2009, the United States Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") published a proposed supplement to its April 28, 2008 proposed rule regarding new source performance standards for coal preparation and processing plants. The supplemental proposal is a response to various comments received by the EPA regarding the April 28, 2008 proposed rule. If promulgated, the proposed performance standards would affect all coal processing facilities at coal mines, power plants, cement plants, coke manufacturing facilities and other industrial sites that process more than 181 megagrams or 200 tons of coal per day.
The April 28, 2008 proposed rule sought to amend 40 CFR part 60, subpart Y in order to tighten and add additional particulate matter emissions limits for sources constructed after April 28, 2008. In addition, the proposed rule sought to clarify the procedures used to measure emissions from coal preparation plants and add new monitoring requirements for sources constructed after April 28, 2008.
The May 27, 2009 supplemental proposal makes several significant revisions to the previously proposed rule. First, the supplemental proposal sets forth new emissions and opacity standards for thermal dryers. The April 2008 proposal limited particulate matter emissions to 0.020 grains per dry standard cubic foot (gr/dscf) and set an opacity limit of 20 percent for all thermal dryers constructed, modified or reconstructed after April 28, 2008. The supplemental proposal sets separate emissions and opacity limits for thermal dryers based on whether they are new, reconstructed or modified after April 28, 2009. New units would be required to meet an emissions standard of 0.010 gr/dscf and an opacity limit of less than 10 percent. Reconstructed units would be required to meet an emissions standard of 0.020 gr/dscf and a 20 percent opacity limit. Modified units would be required to meet an emissions standard of 0.031 gr/dscf and an opacity limit of 20 percent. Furthermore, the supplemental proposal expands the applicability of thermal dryer standards from the previous proposal, to apply to both direct contact and indirect contact thermal dryers drying all coal ranks and pneumatic coal cleaning equipment cleaning all coal ranks.
Second, the proposed supplement seeks to establish a sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions limit and a combined nitrogen oxide (NOx) and carbon monoxide (CO) emissions limit for thermal dryers constructed, modified or reconstructed after May 27, 2009. Existing new source performance standards do not limit emissions of SO2, NOx and CO from coal preparation facilities. Under the supplemental proposal, the EPA is proposing an SO2 limit of 85 nanograms per Joule (ng/J), or a 50 percent reduction of potential SO2 emissions and no more than 520 ng/J, for new, reconstructed and modified units. It is further proposing a combined NOx and CO limit of 280 ng/J for new units and 430 ng/J for reconstructed and modified units.
Third, the supplemental proposal seeks to revise the particulate matter emissions standard for pneumatic coal cleaning equipment and mechanically vented coal handling equipment processing all coal ranks constructed, modified or reconstructed after April 28, 2008, to 0.010 gr/dscf with a five percent opacity limit. In comparison, the April 2008 proposed rule set forth a particulate matter emissions limit of 0.0050 gr/dscf and an opacity limit of five percent.
Fourth, the supplemental proposal seeks to amend emissions monitoring requirements for units constructed, modified or reconstructed after April 28, 2008. The April 2008 proposed rule sought to require initial and annual performance tests for all new thermal dryers, pneumatic coal cleaning equipment, and subbituminous and lignite coal handling equipment vented to a control device. After receiving several comments that annual performance testing is unduly burdensome, the EPA set forth this new proposal. For facilities with design potential emissions rates, considering controls, of 1.0 Mg per year or less, the new proposal would still require an initial performance test, but would not require annual performance testing if the design emissions rate is less than or equal to the applicable emissions limit, the manufacturer's recommended maintenance procedures are followed, and the unit operates without significant visible emissions. For owners and operators with separate facilities using identical control equipment with design potential emissions rates, considering controls, of 10 Mg per year or less, the supplemental proposal would allow the permitting authority to authorize a single test as adequate demonstration for up to four other similar separate facilities. Also, under the supplemental proposal, if the most recent performance test shows a facility emits at 50 percent or less of the applicable standard, performance testing would only be required every 24 months, as opposed to every 12 months.
Finally, the supplemental proposal seeks to amend the definition of coal within subpart Y to include petroleum coke and coal refuse. The amended definition would be used to make applicability determinations for facilities constructed, reconstructed or modified after May 27, 2009. The proposal also seeks to establish work practice standards to control coal dust emissions from open storage piles and roadways constructed after May 27, 2009.
According to the EPA an estimated 22 new coal preparation plants will be built over the next five years, each of which would be required to comply with these proposed standards. The EPA estimates that complying with the revised standards would cost an estimated $1 million per year nationwide. The comment period for the supplemental proposal will end on July 13, 2009. Under the terms of a consent decree, the new performance standards for coal processing plants must be finalized by September 26, 2009.
For questions regarding this Environmental Update, please contact any of the attorneys in Schiff Hardin's Environmental Group.
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