Revised Clean Air Act Guidelines Could Breathe New Life Into Industry

Clean Air Act (CAA) regulations have played a key role in reducing the amount of hazardous air pollutants emitted in the U.S. in the last half century. Health and environmental benefits resulting from those reductions are invaluable, but there is another side to the regulatory coin. Mountainous compliance measures that go hand-in-hand with the CAA regulations have been taken to task for placing an unnecessary burden on industries governed by the law. Some Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) policies have created a disincentive for industries to develop and implement new technology that could result in fewer emissions.

For example, under the CAA’s “once in, always in” policy, once an industrial facility emits more than 10 tons of an individual toxic chemical or 25 tons of a combination of toxic pollutants into the air in one year, they are classified as “major source” and required to implement the maximum achievable control technology (MACT) to reduce pollution as much as possible.

An admirable goal, yes, but one that comes with a host of deadlines, guidelines, recordkeeping and reporting requirements; and possibly, a required Title V Operating Permit, which has its own set of deadlines, guidelines, recordkeeping and reporting requirements. Once the facility achieves a reduction in emissions below the federal standards, it remains a “major source” rather than being reclassified as an “area source,” a classification that carries a marked reduction in compliance requirements, or the proverbial “red tape.”  By forcing industry to stay in the more stringent classification, there is no incentive for industry to look for innovative ways to reduce emissions to lessen their regulatory burden.

However, there has been a sharp shift at the federal level in the past year that may reverse this trend.

President Donald Trump’s March 2017 Executive Order (EO) that established a national policy in favor of energy independence, economic growth, and the rule of law has the EPA–and other federal regulatory agencies– reviewing policies and programs established under federal laws, such as the CAA. The EO’s primary goal is to reduce regulatory burdens that affect development of U.S. energy resources beyond what is necessary to protect the public interest or otherwise comply with the law.

A January 25, 2018 memo released by the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation stated that new guidelines end the “once in, always in” policy, which means that once a facility reduces its air emissions below the threshold for a major source, it would be held to the standard for an area source. The memo urged facilities that need to install controls or take other measures to qualify as area sources to plan ahead and obtain limits before compliance deadlines.

The team at EDGE has the expertise and experience needed to help you determine your potential and path forward for reclassification under Section 112 of the CAA. In addition, we offer a range of CAA services that complement our regulatory expertise, including Air Permitting, Pollution Prevention and Control Technology Evaluations, Emission Inventories, Toxic Release Inventory Reporting, Auditing, Ambient Air Modeling, and Routine Recordkeeping.

We are here to answer your questions and to make recommendations about implementing measures and controls that could reduce the burdens of your MACT program and possibly allow you to exit the Title V Permitting Program.

Call EDGE, and we will start the discussion. Bringing further insight.