RMB Consulting & Research, Inc. (RMB) specializes in providing consulting services to industrial clients and associated organizations. RMB's greatest asset is its technical consultants, which represent a wealth of experience in air pollution control and air pollution consulting that can be applied to meet your corporate environmental needs and regulatory challenges. Present clients include many individual electric utility companies, several major chemical and petroleum industry clients, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the Utility Air Regulatory Group (UARG).
After years of draft versions, EPA has finally released a "final" version of the “Part 75 Emissions Monitoring Policy Manual” that incorporates changes prompted by the January 24, 2008, March 28, 2011, and August 12, 2011 amendments to 40 CFR Part 75 and the conversion of the CAMD data systems to ECMPS. The new 2013 final revisions replace EPA's earlier October 28, 2003 version of the policy manual. A copy of the new version of the policy manual can be found in our FTP library.
Two new MATS Training Opportunities: The MATS Rule will have significant impact on the electric utility sources and many sources are in the process of evaluating their compliance and monitoring options under the new rule. To help you get prepared, RMB is offering two one-day workshops that will focus on the monitoring and reporting requirements under the new rule to demonstrate compliance with the new rule. The training topics will include:
The MATS Monitoring and Compliance Workshops will be held at the the Lake Tahoe Hyatt Regency on September 19, 2013 and at the Downtown Memphis DoubleTree Hotel on October 3, 2013. Click here for a registration form and more information.
Our next CEMS Training workshop in Raleigh, North Carolina is scheduled for April 1-3, 2014. Please see our training page for more information.
RMB has added the LEE Qualification for Mercury, MATS Reporting Requirements, QA/QC Requirements for Opacity Monitors, and Certification & Ongoing NIST Requirements for Hg Calibration Gas Generators, CEMS Certification and Compliance Testing Lessons Learned on Turbines slides from the presentations that were recently given at the EPRI CEMS User Group Meeting under Papers and Presentations.
On November 30, 2012, EPA published a Reconsideration Notice in the Federal Register, proposing to revise certain new source emission limits that are contained in the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule. EPA proposed to revise the filterable PM limit from 7.0E-3 to 9.0E-2 lb/MWh; the mercury limit from 2.0E-4 to 3.0E-3 lb/GWh; and the HCl limit from 4.0E-4 to 2.0E-2 lb/MWh. On March 28, 2013, EPA Acting Administrator, Bob Perciasepe, signed a rule finalizing the new-unit emission limits identical to the values contained in the Agency’s proposal. According to EPA’s Fact Sheet, new units “will use the same types of state of the art control technologies to meet these standards as they would have used under the previously finalized standards.” RMB generally concurs with the following EPA statement: “We project that these updates will result in no significant change in costs, emission reductions or health benefits from MATS.”
In the final reconsideration rule, EPA did not take final action on a number of start-up/shutdown technical issues. EPA acknowledged receiving considerable input regarding the start-up and shutdown provisions in the MATS rule and decided to take additional time to consider and evaluate the comments and data received.
On January 31, the final major source IB-MACT rule was published in the Federal Register, immediately followed by the publication of the final area source rule on February 1, 2013. These actions reset the compliance date for existing major sources and clarified the deadline for those sources subject to initial boiler tune-ups under the area source rule. The compliance dates for the major source rule are January 31, 2016, for existing sources and, January 31, 2013, or upon startup, whichever is later, for new sources. New major sources are defined as sources that began operation on or after June 4, 2010.
The final area source rule revises the compliance date for existing boilers subject to a tune-up from March 21, 2012, to March 21, 2014. Note that the compliance dates for existing sources remain the same. The compliance date for existing sources is March 21, 2014. The compliance date for new area sources that began operations on or before May 20, 2011 is May 20, 2011. For new sources that start up after May 20, 2011, the compliance date is the date of startup. New area sources are defined as sources that began operation after June 4, 2010.
The deadlines for Initial Notification, which provides EPA or the delegated state agency notice that a source is subject to a particular standard, have also been revised. The deadline for major sources is May 31, 2013 and for area sources is January 20, 2014. Any source that that is affected by these rules and seeks to qualify one or more units under the area source rule should complete an area source determination as soon as possible in order to meet the initial notification deadline for major sources, if necessary. Under EPA’s “once in, always in” policy, once a source is designated as a major source it must remain subject to major source requirements. Copies of the rulemaking can be found in our FTP library.
On December 20, 2012, EPA finalized revisions to both the major source and area source IB-MACT Rules, the CISWI Rule, and the Non-Hazardous Secondary Materials (NHSM) Rule. EPA had proposed reconsideration of a number of issues in December 2011 based on extensive petitions received after the final rules were issued earlier that year. The final rules incorporate many of these proposed revisions including some additional revisions not included in the proposals.
For sources under the major source IB-MACT Rule, most existing coal- and biomass-fired units will now be subject to less stringent emissions standards. The final rule replaces the dioxin/furan emission limit with a work practice standard based on a boiler tune-up. The rule also includes two carbon monoxide (CO) emission standards for each boiler and fuel type combination including one based on periodic reference method testing and another based on continuous emissions monitoring. The continuous monitoring standard is now based on a 10-day or 30-day rolling average depending on the subcategory. In most cases these revised limits are more consistent and represent an achievable level of emissions for many units. EPA also modified the emissions standards for PM to include separate standards for different biomass fuels, a single PM standard for all solid fossil fuels and an alternative limit for total selected metals (TSM). The hydrogen chloride (HCl) standard remains unchanged in the final rule and, although it represents an achievable level of emissions for many biomass-fired units, most coal units and some biomass units will require sorbent injection in order to comply. Other changes include revised output-based standards for fuel-based pollutants, the elimination of continuous PM monitoring for biomass units, a revised definition of limited use boilers based on capacity factor, and reduced tune-up frequencies for many subcategories.
Perhaps the most significant revision is the change in the compliance dates for new and existing units. EPA also revised the definition of a new unit to include any new or reconstructed source that commenced construction or reconstruction prior to June 10, 2010. For existing units, the compliance date has been reset to three years from the date of publication of the final rule in the Federal Register. The compliance date for new units is the publication date or the date of unit startup, whichever is later. The final rule will become effective 60 days following publication in the Federal Register. Copies of the rulemaking can be found in our FTP library.
Following publication of the rule EPA refers to as the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) on February 16, 2012, the Agency received a number of petitions for reconsideration pursuant to § 307(d)(7)(B) of the Clean Air Act. One of the petitions was filed by a group of utility developers, all of whom are proposing to construct new electric generating units (EGUs) that are subject to the new-unit emission limits set forth in the MATS rule. The petitioners argued that EPA’s new-unit emission limits were flawed because of measurement issues with the mercury data and because the Agency failed to use all of the available data in setting the filterable particulate matter (PM) and HCl emission limits.
On July 20, 2012, EPA signed a letter, stating the Agency intended to grant the petitions for reconsideration on certain issues related to the emission standards set for new EGUs. EPA formally stayed the new unit emission limits in a Federal Register notice published on August 2, 2012. On November 16, 2012, EPA signed a Reconsideration Notice, proposing to revise certain new source emission limits that are contained in the MATS rule. EPA proposes to revise the filterable PM limit from 7.0E-3 to 9.0E-2 lb/MWh; the mercury limit from 2.0E-4 to 3.0E-3 lb/GWh; and the HCl limit from 4.0E-4 to 2.0E-2 lb/MWh. While the numerical increases may appear rather large, the proposed new-unit emission limits remain quite stringent, and all will require the installation of a full suite of state-of-the-art control technology in order to comply with these new-unit emission limits. RMB concurs with the following EPA statement in its notice, “we expect that source owners and operators will install and operate the same or similar control technologies to meet the proposed revised standards in this notice as they would have chosen to comply with the standards in the February 2012 final rule.”
The deadline for submitting Initial Notification for existing sources (initial startup date prior to April 16, 2012) subject to MATS is August 14, 2012. Initial Notification is a requirement in the Part 63 General Provisions (§63.9(b)) and specifies that all existing sources subject to a new MACT standard must notify the Administrator and delegated authority that they are subject to the new standard within 120 calendar days after the source becomes subject to the standard. Affected sources must provide the following information in the Initial Notification:
EPA has provided an example Initial Notification Report, which is available in our FTP library. The form also contains additional information on where to submit the report.
On July 20, 2012, EPA issued a letter stating that the Agency intends to reconsider portions of the Mercury and Air Toxics Rule (MATS), also known as the “EGU MACT Rule” for new units. EPA’s action is in response to several administrative petitions received pertaining to the emission standards for new units. The letter identifies mercury measurement issues and computational issues associated with the dataset used to establish the hydrochloric acid (HCl) and filterable particulate matter (FPM) emission standards. EPA plans to expedite the reconsideration with a final rule expected in March, 2013. EPA also indicated that it will stay the standards for new units for three months. An official notice is expected to be published shortly in the Federal Register. This latest action does not affect the standards or compliance dates for existing units. Note, however, the EPA letter is silent with respect to a host of other reconsiderations topics relevant to existing units. A copy of the letter can be found in our FTP library.
On July 18, 2012, EPA issued a “No Action Assurance” letter delaying another of the compliance deadlines in the Area Source IB MACT Rule. The rule requires that sources submit a Notification of Compliance Status regarding the initial tune-up no later than 120 days after the compliance date of March 21, 2012, which suggests a deadline of July 19, 2012. In the latest action, EPA is extending this deadline until December 31, 2012 or until the rule is finalized. Since a finalized rule has not yet been issued, this action circumvents potential compliance issues for affected area source units. Earlier this year, EPA issued a No Action Assurance letter that delayed the deadline for conducting the initial tune-up until October 1, 2012 although EPA did not also extend the deadline for the Notification of Compliance Status at that time.
EPA’s latest action highlights the recent speculation on the release date of the final reconsidered IB-MACT rules. The final rules were submitted to OMB on May 17, 2012. The end of the 90-day OMB review period (August 15, 2012) is quickly approaching. If OMB seeks to extend the review period in the next few weeks then we can speculate this may be an early indicator that the final rules could be delayed until after the election.
On June 29, 2012, on the heels of the recent DC Circuit Court decision that reaffirmed the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Tailoring Rule, EPA finalized additional regulations to continue phasing in GHG permitting requirements under the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and Title V programs. The latest rule, “Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Title V Greenhouse Gas Tailoring Rule Step 3 and GHG Plant-wide Applicability Limits” (a.k.a. the “Step 3” Rule), leaves the current PSD and Title V applicability thresholds established under the Tailoring Rule intact, thus maintaining the status quo for GHG permitting applicability. The rule also provides guidelines for developing plant-wide applicability limits (PALs) for GHG emissions.
Under the Tailoring Rule (2010), EPA requires major sources of GHG emissions to obtain a PSD or Title V permit using a “phased” approach. PSD applicability in the first phase (“Step 1”) applies to unit modifications that result in a net GHG emissions increase of 75,000 tpy CO2e if the project also significantly increases emissions of at least one non-GHG pollutant. Under Step 1, which took effect January 2, 2011, Title V applicability applies only to those existing sources with a Title V permit. Under the second phase (“Step 2”), which took effect on July 1, 2011, new sources as well as existing sources not already subject to the Title V program that emit, or have the potential to emit at least 100,000 tpy CO2e (“major source”) will become subject to the PSD and Title V requirements. In addition, major sources that conduct a modification with a net GHG emissions increase of at least 75,000 tpy CO2e will also be subject to PSD requirements. In the third phase (“Step 3”) or the original rule, EPA committed to an evaluation of whether expansion of PSD and Title V applicability is warranted for smaller sources. The current action is a direct result of this commitment. In the “Step 3” rule, EPA concludes that further lowering of the PSD/Title V applicability thresholds is not warranted at this time because permitting agencies have not had sufficient time to implement the existing GHG requirements and increasing the number of affected facilities will only reduce the efficiency of permit implementation.
In this final rule, EPA is also updating the requirements for establishing PALs for GHG emissions. A ‘PAL’ is a facility-wide emission limit for a pollutant that enables the facility to avoid the New Source Review (NSR) permitting process as long as emissions are maintained below the PAL. The final rule allows PALs to be established on an individual mass basis (tons per year) or in terms of CO2e (tons per year) for a CO2e emissions limitation. The rule is allowing sources with GHG emissions above 100,000 tpy CO2e that are also a minor source of other regulated pollutants to apply for a GHG PAL and retain minor source status. A copy of the final rule is available in our FTP library.
On June 26th, the DC Circuit Court settled a series of lawsuits against EPA, essentially supporting some of EPA’s recent greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations. The plaintiffs, including various state agencies and environmental and industrial groups, filed petitions for review of the recent EPA actions, including the GHG Endangerment Finding, the Tailpipe Rule and the Timing and Tailoring Rules. Although not involved in this case, the court decision also reaffirms EPA’s recent GHG regulations under the New Source Performance Standards.
Central to this decision was EPA’s Endangerment Finding (2009), which found that CO 2 and other GHGs were considered an endangerment to public health. Although the Endangerment Finding was a consequence of the 2008 Supreme Court decision regarding legality of GHG regulation for motor vehicles, it essentially clarified the definition of an “air pollutant” under the CAA and established the basis for GHG regulations for stationary sources under the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and the Title V permitting programs. The first of these regulations, known as the “Timing Rule” clarified that major sources of GHGs would be subject to PSD and Title V requirements beginning on January 2, 2011. The second of these regulations, known as the “Tailoring Rule” limited the initial scope of the regulations to the larger emitters with the intent of reducing the permitting burden.
In their petitions, state and industry petitioners rejected the Endangerment Finding, citing several issues such as inadequate supporting data, failure to quantify public health risks, and a fundamental misinterpretation of the CAA §202(a)(1), which provides the statutory link between GHG regulation and the Endangerment Finding. In the ruling, the DC Circuit Court rejected all of these arguments and found that the Endangerment Finding was wholly consistent with the requirements of the 2008 Supreme Court directive and CAA. On the key issue of the supporting scientific data, the Court rejected industry arguments that there is too much uncertainty in the correlations between GHG emissions and indicators of global climate change to support GHG regulation. Instead, the Court found that such uncertainty is overruled by the need to protect public health, particularly if the supporting evidence is “difficult to come by, uncertain, or conflicting because it is on the frontiers of scientific knowledge.”
The Court also agreed with EPA’s interpretation of the PSD and Title V permitting trigger. Following the Endangerment Finding, EPA issued the “Tailpipe Rule”, which set first-ever emissions standards for cars and trucks. Because this action caused GHGs to be considered a “regulated pollutant” under the CAA, EPA interpreted this to trigger GHG permitting actions for stationary sources under the PSD and Title V permitting programs since these programs also rely on the same statutory definition of an “air pollutant”.
Finally, the Court dismissed all challenges to the Tailoring Rule, which clarifies the statutory threshold for GHG permitting actions, on the basis of the legal standing of the petitions without further consideration of the merits of the case. The Court stated that petitioners did not adequately demonstrate that they would have been harmed by the rule and, therefore, could not challenge the constitutionality of the rule.
The Court’s ruling is a significant blow to those attempts to undercut the foundation of existing and future GHG regulations. Petitioners will likely take the case to the Supreme seek or request to have the case heard en banc from the full panel of DC Circuit Court judges. However, a rehearing is unlikely given the unanimous ruling. Without further action, this decision suggests that the future of GHG regulations will ultimately be determined through litigation on rule-by-rule basis. A copy of the ruling can be found in our FTP library .
RMB has added the Correlating PM CEMS Using Ash Reinjection and PM CEMS Overview presentations as well as the Part 75 CEMS Equipment Trends - 2012 Update and The Technician's Assistant papers that were recently given at the EPRI CEMS User Group Meeting under Papers and Presentations.
Undoubtedly a prodigious occurrence – EPA’s controversial proposed new source performance standards (NSPS) for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for electric generating units was published in the Federal Register on Friday, April 13th. The proposed rule would establish a CO2 emission limit of 1,000 lb/MWh based on a rolling 12-month average. Typically, NSPS applies to sources that commence construction after the date the rule is proposed. However, in ensuring that the proposed rule contained something to offend everyone, EPA conjured up a new twist to the “applicability date” of the proposed NSPS. In a move that surely has the environmental groups beside themselves, EPA has exempted from NSPS requirements a newly defined group of sources – “transitional sources.” According to the proposed rule, a “transitional source” is (1) an electric utility generating unit that (2) has received a complete permit that meets the requirements of the Prevention of Significant Deterioration Program and (3) commences construction prior to April 13, 2013. On the other hand, the electric utility industry is absolutely apoplectic over EPA’s combining of fossil-fuel-fired steam generating (Subpart Da) units with stationary combustion turbines (Subpart KKKK unit). Of course, this is the only pretense the Agency can offer with respect to the proposed CO2 limit being “adequately demonstrated.” It’s a shame that all parties will have to wait a year or so until EPA finalizes the rule before litigation can begin!
A copy of the proposed rulemaking as published in the Federal Register can be found in our FTP library.
Last week, the EPA Administrator signed a final rule addressing various technical corrections to the EGU MACT rule (which EPA has dubbed the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards "MATS" rule) that was originally published in the Federal Register on February 16, 2012. The changes generally only correct typographical errors and acknowledge some errors in the preamble. A copy of the signed technical corrections can be found in our FTP library.
On February 14, 2012, EPA published Procedure 3 in the Federal Register both as a direct final rule and parallel proposed rule. Procedure 3 is intended to define ongoing QA/QC for continuous opacity monitoring systems (COMS) that are used for compliance. Comments on the proposed procedure are due by March 15, 2012. This rulemaking effort has caught many off guard. Even though the Agency first proposed QA/QC for COMS twenty years ago in 1992, the revised proposal that it subsequently published in 2003 languished. EPA never finalized that proposal after receiving comments. Now nine years later, EPA is suggesting the potential of a direct final rule that would become would effective on April 16, 2012 if no adverse comments are received.
In addition to the daily calibration requirements, the Procedure 3 proposal includes quarterly optical alignment checks, filter audit checks and zero compensation assessments as well as annual zero alignment checks. These proposed core QA/QC specifications may, in general, be reasonable but there are a number of details the proposal, such as the 95% data capture requirement that that pose problems and are inappropriate for such a procedure. There are still references to Performance Specification 1 that could be problematic for COMS installed prior to 2001 as well concerns that the applicability language may not be specific enough keep sources with blanket references to Appendix F in their permits or state regulations from being required to comply with Procedure 3.
A copy of the Procedure 3 proposal can be found in our FTP library.
On February 16, 2012, EPA’s final rule -- National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) from Coal- and Oil-fired Electric Utility Steam Generating Units (“EGU MACT”) was published in the Federal Register. Within the same volume, EPA also issued its final rule on revisions to the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for Fossil-Fuel-Fired Electric Utility Steam Generating Units (NSPS Subpart Da), Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional Steam Generating Units (NSPS Subpart Db), and Small Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional Steam Generating Units (NSPS Subpart Dc).
While RMB has discovered no discernible differences between the document Administrator Jackson signed on or about December 16, 2011 and the February 16th version appearing in the Federal Register, the significance of the publication date is that the “regulatory clock” has now begun to tick. For example, the effective date of the EGU MACT rule is 60 days from publication or April 16, 2012. If an affected unit is unable to obtain any compliance extensions, then the 3-year compliance deadline is April 16, 2015. Also, Section 307(b)(1) of the Clean Air Act states that any petitions seeking either administrative or judicial review of a final EPA rule must be filed with 60 days after the rule is published in Federal Register.
A copy of the final rulemaking as published in the Federal Register can be found in our FTP library.
Steve Norfleet's Establishing Reasonable BACT/BART Limits presentation and Russell Berry's Field Test Programs to Evaluate EGU MACT Compliance Strategies presentation that were recently given at the EUEC conference are now available under Papers and Presentations.
On December 30, 2011, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals granted a motion to stay EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR). The court’s “last minute” order stops the Agency from implementing the rule just days before it was set to take effect on January 1, 2012. The brief two-page order does not pose an opinion on the merits of the rule but instead holds that the “petitioners have satisfied the standards required for a stay pending court review.”While the state of Texas has been the most vocal opponent, CSAPR has been legally challenged by several states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin) as well as private companies in over forty different federal cases, which the court has consolidated under this action. The court’s order stays any action on CSAPR until the resolution of the case and suggests a potential April 2012 hearing. In the interim, the ruling requires EPA to continue to administer the Clean Air Interstate Rule.
On Wednesday, EPA released the final National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) from Coal- and Oil-fired Electric Utility Steam Generating Units (a.k.a. “EGU MACT”) and final revisions to the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) in Subpart Da (as well as some similar changes in Subparts D, Db and DC). The Administrator signed the final Utility MACT Rule and NSPS changes late last week. EPA was subject to a Consent Decree that originally required the standards to be finalized by November 16, 2011. Shortly before the deadline, EPA was granted a one-month extension (December 16, 2011) based on a motion filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of EPA.
The Utility MACT rule affects all coal-fired, coke and oil-fired boilers that generated greater than 25 MW and will impose significant emission reduction requirements and compliance costs for many units. Unlike the Industrial Boiler MACT Rule that affects similar non-Utility sources but which is still being evaluated under “reconsideration,” EPA is treating the Utility MACT Rule as a final rule. Compliance will be required within 60 days of publication in the Federal Register for new units and within three years (and 60 days) after publication for existing units.
Copies of the proposed and rulemaking can be found in our FTP library. For additional information, please contact Ralph Roberson at (919) 510-0376.
On December 2, 2011, EPA proposed changes to both the major source and area source IB-MACT Rules, the CISWI Rule, and the Non-Hazardous Secondary Materials (NHSM) Rule. EPA was expected to issue further revisions of these interrelated rules by October 31, 2011, according to an EPA announcement earlier this year. The rules contain a number of significant revisions based on additional comments and data received following publication and the simultaneous notice of reconsideration on March 3, 2011. EPA intends to finalize this reconsideration by spring 2012 although this self-imposed deadline could change based on further legal action in the pending case before the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
EPA will take public comment on this rulemaking for 60 days following publication in the Federal Register. EPA intends to hold a public hearing on these proposed rules although further details will be provided by EPA in the near future. Copies of the proposed rulemaking can be found in our FTP library.
RMB Consulting &