|November 16, 2010|
USEPA Issues New Greenhouse Gas BACT Guidance
On November 10, 2010, the United States Environmental Protection Agency ("USEPA") released guidance, The PSD1 and Title V Permitting Guidance for Greenhouse Gases ("Guidance"), to help state and local air permitting authorities identify the Best Available Control Technology ("BACT") for reducing greenhouse gas ("GHG") emissions under the Clean Air Act when issuing PSD permits that address GHG emissions.
USEPA promulgated the PSD and Title V GHG Tailoring Rule on May 13, 2010, which imposed GHG permitting requirements for major sources. As discussed in our May 19, 2010 update, the Tailoring Rule will be implemented in multiple phases. The first phase subjects major sources to certain GHG permitting requirements beginning on January 2, 2011. According to USEPA, this includes the largest emitters of GHGs (i.e., power plants, refineries, and cement production facilities). The Tailoring Rule then expands to cover the largest sources of GHGs that may not have been previously covered by the Clean Air Act ("CAA") for other pollutants. In particular, the Tailoring Rule will require certain PSD and Title V permits to contain conditions addressing GHG emissions. When GHG emissions trigger PSD requirements, the permitting authorities will be required to assess BACT for GHGs.
USEPA's Guidance provides a protocol for permitting authorities to follow in selecting BACT. USEPA recommends using the same general process that agencies use for determining BACT for previously regulated air pollutants, which includes determining those technologies that are technically feasible and cost-effective. In addition, USEPA emphasizes the importance of energy efficiency in BACT determinations for all NSR pollutants (not just GHGs), and anticipates that, for GHGs in particular, energy efficiency often will be the most cost-effective way to reduce emissions.
Regarding carbon capture and sequestration ("CCS"), the Guidance states that the technology merits initial consideration as an available technology, but does not recommend that it necessarily be selected as BACT. USEPA states "[w]hile CCS is a promising technology, EPA does not believe that at this time CCS will be a technically feasible BACT option in certain cases." Due to the significant logistical hurdles associated with CCS such as infrastructure, land acquisition and need for funding, the guidance states "[b]ased on these considerations, a permitting authority may conclude that CCS is not applicable to a particular source, and consequently not technically feasible, even if the type of equipment needed to accomplish the compression, capture, and storage of GHGs are determined to be generally available from commercial vendors."2
The Guidance also directs permitting authorities to consider biomass as BACT for GHGs. The guidance document promotes biomass fuel as a renewable resource that addresses climate change and enhances forest management.3
USEPA seeks feedback over the next few weeks on any technical or calculation errors or where the Guidance may benefit from additional clarity.
RECENT ENVIRONMENTAL PUBLICATIONS"Kermit Was Right: It Isn't Easy Being Green — and Claiming That Status Will Require Greater Care," Environmental Update (October 7, 2010)
"USEPA Proposes Transport Rule to Replace CAIR," Environmental Update (July 7, 2010)
"USEPA Proposes Blanket Confidentiality Determinations for Information Submitted Pursuant to Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule," Environmental Update (July 1, 2010)
"USEPA Issues PCB Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking," Environmental Update (June 24, 2010)
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