EPA's greenhouse gas rule to remain focused on largest emitters, ease permitting

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that it will not revise greenhouse gas (GHG) permitting thresholds under the Clean Air Act.

The final rule maintains a focus on the nation’s largest emitters that account for nearly 70 percent of GHG emissions from stationary sources while shielding smaller emitters from permitting requirements. EPA is also finalizing a provision that allows companies to set plant-wide emissions limits for GHGs, streamlining the permitting process, increasing flexibilities and reducing permitting burdens on state and local authorities and large industrial emitters.

The rule affirms that new facilities with GHG emissions of at least 100,000 tons per year (tpy) carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) will continue to be required to obtain Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permits. Existing facilities that emit 100,000 tpy CO2e and make changes increasing the GHG emissions by at least 75,000 tpy of CO2e, must also obtain PSD permits. Facilities that must obtain a PSD permit, to include other regulated pollutants, must also address GHG emission increases of 75,000 tpy or more of CO2e. New and existing sources with GHG emissions above 100,000 tpy CO2e must also obtain operating permits.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld EPA’s limits on June 26, saying EPA’s interpretation of the Clean Air Act was correct and that opponents fif not have the legal right to challenge the Timing and Tailoring rules.

The GHG Tailoring Rule will continue to address a group of six greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). An operating permit lists all of a facility’s Clean Air Act emissions control requirements and ensures adequate monitoring, recordkeeping and reporting.

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