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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).

For the most up to date news and training updates, subscribe to RMB's Electronic Newsletter! Click the following link and provide your contact information to be added to RMB's electronic database. E-News Register (Please include "E-News Register" in the subject line).   To get the latest info from RMB on your mobile device, follow us on Twitter!

  

RMB's Spring 2017 CEMS Training Course - Registration Open (11/02/16)

 RMB's Spring 2017 CEMS Training Course is now open for registration.  The course will again be held in Raleigh, North Carolina on March 28-30, 2017.  For more details on RMB's Spring 2017 CEMS Training Course as well as registration information, click the following link: RMB Training

Court Vacates Certain Major Source IB-MACT Standards (10/31/16)


On July 29, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion in U.S. Sugar v.  EPA that settled all outstanding legal challenges regarding the area source IB-MACT, major source IB-MACT, and CISWI Rules.  The opinion is largely viewed a win for EPA as the court upheld the Agency’s position on a variety of issues related to the major source rule including the following:

  • Elimination of affirmative defense for malfunction events
  • Pollutant-by-pollutant approach for setting emission standards
  • Energy assessment requirement
  • Lack of heath-based emission limitation for HCl
  • Use of upper prediction limit (UPL) in setting emission standards
  • Fuel/combustion-based subcategories

Perhaps the most significant outcome was the court’s decision to vacate certain IB-MACT standards based on a potential flaw in EPA’s methodology for establishing the pool of units used to set the emission floor in the major source IB-MACT rule.   In the final rule, to qualify for certain subcategories, a source was required to burn at least 10% of the fuel associated with a subcategory based on annual heat input.  However, in selecting the units for the emissions floor analysis, EPA only included units that fired at least 90% of that fuel for existing units and 100% for new units.  The court indicated that this disparity would result in a less stringent standard in some cases since the best performing units were not necessarily included in the pool of units if all units for that subcategory had been considered when setting the emissions floor.  EPA has identified the following (11) existing unit and (9) new unit emission standards as potentially affected under the ruling:

  • Existing Solid Fuel (HCl and Hg)
  • Existing Coal Stokers (CO)
  • Existing Wet Biomass Stokers (CO and PM)
  • Existing Biomass Fluidized Bed (CO and PM)
  • Existing Biomass Suspension Burners (PM)
  • Existing Liquid Fuel (HCl and Hg)
  • Existing Heavy Liquid (PM)
  • New Solid Fuel (Hg)
  • New Pulverized Coal Boilers (CO)
  • New Biomass Fluidized Bed (CO and PM)
  • New Biomass Suspension Burners (PM)
  • New Biomass Hybrid Suspension Burners (PM)
  • New Biomass Hybrid Suspension Grate (CO)
  • New Liquid Fuel (HCl)
  • New Heavy Fuel (PM)

EPA has petitioned the three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court to rehear the Court’s vacatur of the emission standards.  While the Court has not acted on EPA’s petition, RMB would be very surprised if the petition was granted or the vacatur were changed to a remand.  The environmental petitioners as well as a group of industry petitioners both have filed petitions for rehearing and rehearing en banc (full court) of certain parts of the D.C. Circuit decision.  The Court has not acted on these petitions either.    Please see our FTP library for a copy of the court’s ruling.

Federal Civil Penalties for CAA Violations Revised (8/8/16)

EPA has promulgated revisions to the statutory civil monetary penalty amounts for the statutes the agency administers.  This action was mandated by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, as amended through 2015.  These penalties, which originally were on the order of $25,000 then increased to $37,500, have now been increased to $93,750.

What does this really mean?  Statutory civil penalties for violations that occurred after November 2, 2015 and assessed on or after August 1, 2016 will cost 250% more than before.  Compliance with the MATS Rule has never been more critical or costly if compliance is not demonstrated! 

MATS Technical Corrections Published (4/6/16)

Today, EPA's MATS "Technical Corrections" have been published in the Federal RegisterTHESE REVISIONS BECOME EFFECTIVE TODAY!.  These revisions include the long awaited revisions to the 80-100 day quarterly testing window requirement.  Many of the revisions remain relatively unchanged from the proposed rule.  However, EPA did change its stance on the proposed alternative mercury RATA specification.  Instead of limiting sources to an untenable 10% of the mercury limit (about +/-0.1 mg/m3 for most sources), the final rule establishes a new alternative limit of 0.5 mg/m3 based on the absolute difference of the mean readings plus the confidence coefficient.   A copy of the promulgated final rule revisions can be found in our FTP library

MATS Technical Corrections Signed (3/21/16)

Last week, EPA released a signed version of the final MATS "Technical Corrections" Revisions including the long awaited revisions to the 80-100 day quarterly testing window requirement.  Many of the revisions remain relatively unchanged from the proposed rule.  However, EPA did change its stance on the proposed alternative mercury RATA specification.  Instead of limiting sources to an untenable 10% of the mercury limit (about +/-0.1 mg/m3 for most sources), the final rule establishes a new alternative limit of 0.5 mg/m3 based on the absolute difference of the mean readings plus the confidence coefficient.   A copy of the signed final rule revisions can be found in our FTP library.

MATS Compliance Workshop (2/17/16)

The utility industry is facing new monitoring and reporting requirements under EPA's Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) Rule.  Understanding the MATS requirements is further complicated by on-going rule changes and a variety of different monitoring choices such as PM CEMS, mercury CEMS and the quarterly performance testing options allowed under the rule.  With evolving rule language and reporting requirements, how can environmental professionals make sure they are able to achieve, demonstrate, and report compliance?  To help you better ensure MATS compliance, RMB is conducting a one-day workshop that will provide an overview of the monitoring and reporting requirements, will address often overlooked details, and will cover the many changes and technical corrections that have occurred since the rule was first published.  The training topics will include:/p>

·        Avoiding MATS Compliance Pitfalls

·        Startup Considerations

·        Emissions Averaging

·        Documentation and Recordkeeping

·        Stack Testing Details and Recommendations

·        Emission Calculations

·        MATS Reporting Requirements

·        Updates on MATS Rule Revisions

The MATS Compliance Workshop will be held at the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center on Tuesday, May 3, 2016 in conjunction with the EPRI CEMS Users Group Meeting, which starts the following day at that same location.  Click here for a registration form.  For more information, please contact Steve Norfleet at norfleet@rmb-consulting.com.

RMB Spring 2016 CEMS Training Course - SOLD OUT (2/16/16)

We have our capacity for RMB's Spring 2016 CEMS Training Course and are unable to accept any more registrations for March 2016.  However, we will be offering the course again in Raleigh, North Carolina on September 20-22, 2016.  More information on RMB's Fall 2016 CEMS Training Course will be provided soon. 

US Supreme Court/span> Rules - Blocks Clean Power Plan  (2/10/16)

On Tuesday, the US Supreme Court ordered a stay on the Clean Power Plan.  This ruling temporarily blocks EPA's effort to regulate CO2 emissions until other legal challenges are addressed.

MATS Semiannual Reporting Deadline Approaches  (1/8/16)

For sources without a one-year extension, the deadline for submitting the first MATS Semiannual Report is rapidly approaching.  The reports must be submitted through ECMPS in PDF format by January 31, 2016.  The semiannual compliance report contains information regarding the monitoring system performance (as applicable), fuel usage, boiler tune-up, excess emissions, and deviations.  The initial Semiannual Report file may represent more than six months if you began compliance monitoring prior to the start of the second quarter of 2015 (e.g., you started demonstrating compliance on 4/16/15).  

Immediate Legal Challenges to EPA's Clean Power Plan Abound  (10/23/15)

On the very same day which EPA’s suite of carbon rules for electric generating units (EGUs) were published in the Federal Register (see article below), a number of groups filed legal challenges in the D.C. Circuit of Appeals.  The first challenge was led by the State of West Virginia and joined by 23 others states.  According to the State’s Petition, the final rule is in excess of the agency’s statutory authority, goes beyond the bounds set by the United States Constitution, and otherwise is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and not in accordance with law.”  

At least 10 additional legal petitions were filed on the day the rule was published including:, the Utility Air Regulatory Group (UARG) and American Public Power Association (APPA); United Mine Workers of America; National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA); International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths and Forgers; Florida Electric Coordinating Group; and several individual electric utility companies.

And so the legal dance begins....

EPA Publishes Final GHG Rules (aka "Clean Power Plan")  (10/23/15)

In today's Federal Register dated October 23, 2015, EPA issued the final version of NSPS Subpart TTTT (GHG emissions for new units) and NSPS Subpart UUUU (GHG emissions for existing units, aka the "Clean Power Plan").  These rules regulate CO2 emissions from new, reconstructed, modified and existing EGUs under 40 CFR Part 60.  In addition, EPA issued a proposed Federal Plan/Model Trading Rule for GHG emissions from existing units that can be found in 40 CFR Part 62.  Copies of these rules can be found in our FTP library.

US Supreme Court Rules Against EPA (6/29/15)

In response to a case brought about by EPA neglecting cost in its "appropriate and necessary" finding, which is the basis for the Utility MATS Rule, the Supreme Court of the United States concluded in a 5-4 decision:

"We hold that EPA interpreted §7412(n)(1)(A) unreasonably when it deemed cost irrelevant to the decision to regulate power plants.  We reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and remand the cases for further proceedings consistent with this opinion."

While this is a big declaration in reeling in the Agency, this ruling DOES NOT REMAND THE MATS RULE!  STAY TUNED!

Final PS-18 and Procedure 6 Released (6/26/15)

EPA released a copy of the final version of PS-18 and Procedure 6 for HCl CEMS this week.  A copy the new final signed version of PS-18 and Procedure 6 can be found in our FTP library.

RMB EPRI CEMS Users Group Meeting Presentations Available (5/26/15)

RMB has added the MATS Rule Implementation and MATS Emission Calculations slides from the presentations that were recently given by Dru Sanders and Bethany White at the EPRI CEMS User Group Meeting under Papers and Presentations.

NSPS Electronic Reporting Rule Proposed (3/23/15)

On Friday, EPA published a proposed rulemaking that would require sources affected by many subparts under the Part 60 new source performance standards to begin reporting data electronically using CEDRI and the ERT. This rulemaking would affect many industries including waste combustors, cement plants, refineries, ore smelters, steel mills, fertilizer plants, paper mills, and many others including electric utilities. While EPA indicates that electronic reporting for Subparts D, Da, Db, and Dc would be addressed "under a separate and independent rulemaking," the proposed rule would require many of combustion turbines under Subparts GG and KKKK to start using CEDRI and the ERT. A copy of the proposed rule can be downloaded from the following link:

A copy the new final version of the transitional electronic reporting rule can be found in our FTP library.

MATS Transition Electronic Reporting Rule Signed (3/16/15)

The Administrator has signed the final version MATS rule revisions that will suspend the requirements to report data electronically using the ERT and/or CEDRI and instead allow sources to report the same type of information in PDF format using ECMPS.  This rule was originally proposed as a direct final rule in November.  While most comments favored of the rule, EPA did receive one adverse comment, which predicated the Agency's withdrawal of the original direct final rule and the promulgation of this new final version. 

Although EPA discusses its response to the comments in some detail in the preamble to this new rule, the Agency generally found the adverse comment to be without substance.  The new version of the rule mirrors the original proposed language with the exception of a minor addition stating that "each PDF version of a submitted report must include sufficient information to assess compliance and to demonstrate that the testing was done properly."  As the preamble describes, these transitional reporting requirements are part of a broader effort to revise the reporting requirements to ultimately allow sources to report MATS data in a similar manner (and formats) to the way emissions data are reported under Part 75.  Awaiting publication, the transitional reporting requirements will become effective immediately when it appears in the Federal Register.

A copy the new final version of the transitional electronic reporting rule can be found in our FTP library.

Proposed MATS Clarifications/Corrections (2/17/15)

The proposed MATS "corrections and clarifications" that the Administrator signed late last year were finally published in the Federal Register today. While these proposed revisions are presented primarily as technical corrections, a number of the changes will have significant impact. The proposed changes include allowing 30- or 90-day mercury compliance averaging for most coal-fired sources, tightening the mercury CEMS RATA specifications, and revising to the recent additional reporting requirements that EPA imposed as part of its reconsideration of startup/shutdown issues.  Comments on the proposed rule revisions will be due by April 3, 2015.  A copy of the proposed MATS technical revisions can be found in our FTP library.

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Last Revised:November 02, 2016