GHG Permitting Thresholds Set for Large Stationary Sources

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a final rule on May 13 to address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the largest stationary sources, while shielding millions of small sources of GHGs from Clean Air Act (CAA) permitting requirements.

The phased-in, common-sense approach will address facilities like power plants and oil refineries that are responsible for 70 percent of the GHGs from stationary sources.

The phased-in approach will start in January 2011, when CAA permitting requirements for GHGs will kick in for large facilities that are already obtaining Clean Air Act permits for other pollutants. Those facilities will be required to include GHGs in their permit if they increase these emissions by at least 75,000 tons per year (tpy). In July 2011, permitting requirements will expand to cover all new facilities with GHG emissions of at least 100,000 tpy and modifications at existing facilities that would increase GHG emissions by at least 75,000 tpy. These permits must demonstrate the use of best available control technologies to minimize GHG emission increases when facilities are constructed or significantly modified.

Under the new emissions thresholds for GHGs that begin in July 2011, EPA estimates approximately 900 additional permitting actions covering new sources and modifications to existing sources would be subject to review each year. In addition, 550 sources will need to obtain operating permits for the first time because of their GHG emissions.

The final rule addresses a group of six GHGs: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride.

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