Colorado Submits NSR Rules To EPA; Approval Sought In Light Of D.C. Circuit Decision

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment recently submitted the state's New Source Review air pollution permitting regulations to EPA for review and approval.

Douglas H. Benevento, the Department of Public Health and Environment's executive director, said, "It is important that these rules be placed before EPA, as required by federal law, so that they may be approved for use in our state The new rules will help to define more clearly when industry must obtain new permits or update existing ones, something that is very hard to figure out under the old rule."

The state health director explained that in the submittal, Colorado is seeking approval only of the provisions of the rules upheld in a recent ruling issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (State of New York vs. EPA, D.C. Cir., No. 021387A, June 24, 2005). Democratic lawmakers and Gov. Bill Owens (R) administration had clashed over the proposed regulations in the closing days of the legislative session, with both sides agreeing to wait for the D.C. Circuit's decision in the case.

Benevento said, "It is the department's intent to honor the court's decisions, and we are requesting EPA's approval for only those parts of the rule upheld by the court."

Benevento explained that the department's Air Pollution Control Division will propose to the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission the deletion from the Colorado New Source Review rules of the provisions that were vacated or remanded to EPA by the court. According to Benevento, the department will submit its request to the commission at the commission's Aug. 18 meeting and will ask that a public comment period be opened at that time. The revisions to the Colorado rules then will be proposed for consideration at the commission's Nov. 17 rulemaking hearing.

In the interim, the department will hold meetings with representatives of various communities in Colorado and with members of the public, including environmental groups, industry and other interested parties, to discuss the court's decision and what it may mean for the state's air pollution control program. The discussions also will be held to prepare for the November rulemaking hearing.

The New Source Review rules, which apply to existing, large industrial facilities and determine when it is necessary to update or add pollution control equipment, were adopted by the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission in April 2004 and then submitted to the Colorado Legislature for consideration, as required by state law. Legislative approval was granted during the session that ended in May.

A June article about the D.C. Circuit decision.

Additional information about the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment can be found at http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/cdphehom.asp.

This article originally appeared in the 07/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.

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