EPA Delays Greenhouse Gas Stationary Permits Until 2011

04.05.2010 | Philip M. DeVita, CCM |

On March 29, 2010, the EPA issued a final decision to delay the greenhouse gas permitting requirements for stationary sources until January 2011.  The delay allows facilities and state agencies to adequately prepare to cut GHG emissions.  This announcement is a first step to what the agency called a “phasing in” approach to addressing GHG emissions.  The phased approach will require large stationary sources that already must apply for Clean Air Act (CAA) permits to address their GHG emissions in their permit applications in the first half of 2011.  Other large sources will need to address their emissions in the latter half of 2011.  The permits will require sources to prove they are using the best available control technology (BACT) to reduce emissions.  Typical large sources include power plants, factories, and refineries.  The emission threshold requiring a GHG permit has not been finalized, however, the EPA expects that the threshold will be higher than the 25,000 ton limit originally proposed.

EPA is also expected to announce on April 1st final GHG standards for cars and trucks.  These standards will not take effect until January, 2011 for the 2012-2016 model years.

This announcement is part of EPA’s response to comply with the Supreme Court’s decision three years ago in the Massachusetts v. EPA case.  In the landmark decision, the court ruled that greenhouse gases are subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act.  In December of 2009, EPA determined that GHG pollution endangers the public health and welfare, as such, it believes it is obligated under the CAA to issue greenhouse gas emissions standards for motor vehicles.

Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska recently introduced a “disapproval resolution” that would block EPA from moving ahead on these issues.  The disapproval resolution is currently in committee and there is no timeline for a potential vote.  On the other front, the “cap and trade” bill which would impose steadily declining limits of GHG emissions from large industrial sources has passed the House of Representatives and is stalled in the Senate.  Many Midwest lawmakers, who’s districts are dependant on energy produced by coal, are wary of the implications the bill will have on electricity costs.  After the healthcare debate, many believe the time may not be right for another contentious debate on cap and trade.

Stay tuned.

About the Author
Philip DeVita, Phil DeVita, Director, Air Quality, HMMH

Philip M. DeVita, CCM

Director, Air Quality

Phil DeVita is the Director of Air Quality at HMMH. His decades of experience and vast technical knowledge encompass aviation, railway…

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