EPA Proposes Rules to Ensure State Permits Cover Greenhouse Gases
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing two rules to ensure that businesses planning to build new, large facilities or make major expansions to existing ones will be able to obtain Clean Air Act permits that address their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
In the spring of 2010, EPA finalized the GHG Tailoring Rule, which specifies that beginning in 2011, projects that will increase GHG emissions substantially will require an air permit. Today’s rules will help ensure that these sources will be able to get those permits regardless of where they are located.
The Tailoring Rule covers large industrial facilities like power plants and oil refineries that are responsible for 70 percent of the GHGs from stationary sources. The proposals are a critical component for implementing the Tailoring Rule and would ensure that GHG emissions from these large facilities are minimized in all 50 states and that local economies can continue to grow.
The Clean Air Act requires states to develop EPA-approved implementation plans that include requirements for issuing air permits. When federal permitting requirements change, as they did after EPA finalized the GHG Tailoring Rule, states may need to modify these plans.
In the first rule, EPA is proposing to require permitting programs in 13 states to make changes to their implementation plans to ensure that GHG emissions will be covered. All other states that implement an EPA-approved air permitting program must review their existing permitting authority and inform EPA if their programs do not address GHG emissions.
Because some states may not be able to develop and submit revisions to their plans before the Tailoring Rule becomes effective in 2011, in the second rule, EPA is proposing a federal implementation plan, which would allow EPA to issue permits for large GHG emitters located in these states. This would be a temporary measure that is in place until the state can revise its own plan and resume responsibility for GHG permitting.
States are best-suited to issue permits to sources of GHG emissions and have long-standing experience working together with industrial facilities. EPA will work closely and promptly with states to help them develop, submit, and approve necessary revisions to enable the affected states to issue air permits to GHG-emitting sources. Additionally, EPA will continue to provide guidance and act as a resource for the states as they make the various required permitting decisions for GHG emissions.
EPA will accept comment on the first proposal for updated state implementation plans for 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. EPA has scheduled a hearing on the second proposal for the federal implementation plan on Aug. 25 and will accept comment for 30 days after that hearing. The agency is working to finalize these rules prior to Jan. 2, 2011, the earliest GHG permitting requirements will be effective.