MATS Litigation Rolls On
Original article by Katherine L. Vaccaro of Manko Gold Katcher & Fox
In 2017, the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the latest round of challenges to EPA's Mercury and Air Toxics Standards ("MATS"), a regulation that has attracted considerable attention for being one of the most expensive air pollution control regulations in history. MATS, which regulates emissions of hazardous air pollutants ("HAPs") from electric generating units used at power plants ("EGUs"), was initially challenged in 2012 by a host of industry representatives and environmental groups. The DC Circuit determined that regulation of EGUs by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") under MATS was reasonable and upheld the rule. Opponents of MATS next appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which reached the opposite conclusion that EPA had acted unreasonably by failing to consider the costs of compliance in determining that it is appropriate and necessary to regulate HAPs from EGUs. The Supreme Court therefore directed EPA to fulfill its obligation to consider costs in justifying the regulation, but the Court did not vacate MATS during the interim. Michigan v. EPA, 135 S. Ct. 2699 (2015). In response to the Supreme Court's decision, EPA issued its "Supplemental Finding" in April 2016, in which EPA affirmed its earlier determination of the appropriateness of the rule. The Supplemental Finding is now the subject of new challenges before the DC Circuit. Final briefs in this case are due in late March 2017, and the Court is expected to hear oral argument shortly thereafter.
Because MATS remained in effect while EPA undertook to respond to the Supreme Court's directive, certain of the rule's key compliance deadlines have already passed. Therefore, a majority of the sources subject to MATS have had to take action to transition toward compliance, including by making material operational changes and installing significant control system upgrades to satisfy MATS's stringent emission standards. Accordingly, for most sources, it may not matter if MATS is ultimately invalidated. Yet, other facilities continue to seek relief from MATS. The DC Circuit's forthcoming ruling will bring us one step closer to determining MATS's ultimate fate.
Original article by Lauren M. Graham of Bergeson & Campbell PC:
On February 21, 2017, President Trump sent a letter to the attendees of the National Ethanol Conference to reiterate his commitment to ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The letter states that Trump and his Administration value the importance of renewable fuels to the nation’s energy strategy and economy. In the letter, Trump reaffirmed his commitment to working with the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and others to reform regulations that impede growth, increase consumer costs, and eliminate jobs without providing sufficient environmental or public health benefit.
USEPA’s Proposal for Addition of Natural Gas Processing Facilities to the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI)
Original article by Michael Nines of Manko Gold Katcher & Fox
On January 6, 2017 the EPA proposed a Rule to add Natural Gas Processing (NGP) facilities (also known as natural gas liquid extraction facilities) to the scope of the industrial sectors covered by the reporting requirements of Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), commonly known as the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). Those potentially impacted by the proposed Rule may submit comments to the EPA on or before March 7, 2017.
TRI tracks the management of certain toxic chemicals that may pose a threat to human health and the environment. Facilities in the US in different industry sectors must report annually (July 1st) on how much of each listed chemical is released to the environment and/or managed through recycling, energy recovery and treatment. A "release" of a chemical means that it is emitted to the air or water, or placed in some type of land disposal.
EPA estimates that NGP facilities in the US manufacture, process, or otherwise use more than twenty-one (21) different TRI-listed chemicals, including n-hexane, toluene, hydrogen sulfide, cyclohexane, benzene, xylene, methanol, ethylene glycol, ethylbenzene, etc. EPA expects that TRI reporting by NGP facilities would provide significant release and waste management data on these chemicals to the public.
Waste Management plans to increase natural gas extraction from Louisville landfill
Article by Cole Rosengren at Waste Dive
According to Waste Management, this site receives about 787,000 tons of waste and uses 233 wells to capture the resulting gas. Once the facility is complete this gas can be used to fuel up to ten times more trucks per day. Waste Management estimates that the site has nearly 50 years of capacity remaining so this investment will be useful far into the future.
Though not directly related to last year's landfill performance guides from the EPA, these plans come as more companies and municipalities are looking for ways to manage their methane. In addition to the financial benefits from selling this gas or using it to fuel local fleets, this shift will also help meet new methane reduction requirements in states such as California.
Waste Management announced plans to shift progress metrics to greenhouse gas reduction rather than recycling tonnage in its most recent sustainability report and reducing landfill emissions were a priority for the EPA during the Obama administration. Based on the latest federal data, landfills still account for more than 80% of the waste industry's greenhouse gas emissions.
Coal Ash Backfill: Congress Authorizes EPA to Approve State Coal Combustion Residue Programs
Original article by David L. Rieser of K & L Gates: http://bit.ly/2kOp8Mp
As mentioned in a recent Alert of “A WIIN for Water Infrastructure” on the recently signed Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (“WIIN”) Act, Congress included provisions intended to provide national consistency and certainty in the implementation and enforcement of Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA”) 2015 regulations on the Disposal of Coal Combustion Residue (“CCR”).
In the CCR Rules, EPA established specific requirements for the siting, operation and closure of CCR impoundments operated by electric utilities. Because of the statute under which it adopted the rules, however, EPA lacked the ability to issue permits to such facilities to ensure compliance, to approve state permit programs adopting the federal rules, or to otherwise directly enforce the requirements. While regulated industries would generally find those conditions positive, the absence of federal authority caused significant conflicts and uncertainty. The lack of a permit program and process make it difficult for electricity generators to demonstrate compliance and the lack of federal approval of state programs could leave generators open to enforcement actions by citizen suits for noncompliance with the federal rules, even if they were in compliance with the state programs. In a broad compromise, the WIIN Act authorized EPA to review and approve state permit programs and to bring its own enforcement actions. These changes are intended to nationalize the effectiveness of the CCR Rules and provide greater certainty in implementation.
Ghosts of permits past – What may be lurking in old permits and how it may hurt your facility
Original article by Julie Hall on the Cornerstone blog:
If you are like most environmental personnel, you have all of your air permits in your site files in case an inspector ever asks about one. You probably think that everything is covered and you are in compliance since you have all those permits.
One site had great records of their site’s permits, but still had some ghosts lurking in those records that needed to be exorcised. This is a broad topic depending on the type of facility and the age of the permit, but here are a few common problems that may be in your permits. Check out the full article for tips about how you can easily fix them.
- Outdated emission factors
- New applicable rules
- Process changes
- Permit exemptions