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.
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.
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.
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
Original Aritcle by Robert Walgon on UtilityDive.com
Environmental Protection Agency Adopts National Limits on Formaldehyde Exposure for Composite Wood Products
From the Latham and Watkins LLP Clean Energy Law Report Blog:
On December 12, 2016, EPA published the final Formaldehyde Standards For Composite Wood Products Rule (the Rule) in the Federal Register. The compliance date for most aspects of the Rule is December 12, 2017, with a sell-through provision for wood composite products manufactured or imported prior to that date. The Rule limits formaldehyde emitted into the air from certain composite wood products, which are products made by binding strands, particles, fibers, veneers, or boards of wood together with adhesives. Domestic and foreign companies operating in the U.S. use composite wood products to manufacture a wide variety of consumer products such as furniture, flooring, cabinets, children’s toys, and more.
EPA promulgated the Rule to implement the 2010 Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act (the Act), which Congress enacted as Title VI of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The Act established emission standards that mirror the California Air Resource Board’s (CARB) Phase II standards for composite wood products—including hardwood plywood (HWPW), medium-density fiberwood (MDF), and particleboard (PB). Similar to the California requirements, the new federal Rule regulates composite wood products from initial manufacture to final sale by (1) imposing emissions restrictions; (2) regulating product labeling, chain of custody, non-compliant product sell-through, recordkeeping and enforcement; and (3) requiring certification by EPA-approved third-party certifiers (TPC) that conduct quality assurance activities, emissions testing, inspections and auditing services.
Summary of Provisions
Please click here to view table.
EPA Report Shows Air Emissions of Toxic Chemicals from Industrial Facilities Down More Than Half Since 2005
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released its annual Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) National Analysis, which shows releases of toxic chemicals into the air fell 56% from 2005-2015 at industrial facilities submitting data to the TRI program.
"Today’s report shows action by EPA, state and tribal regulators and the regulated community has helped dramatically lower toxic air emissions over the past 10 years,” said Jim Jones, EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “The TRI report provides citizens access to information about what toxic chemicals are being released in their neighborhoods and what companies are doing to prevent pollution.”
The report shows an 8% decrease from 2014 to 2015 at facilities reporting to the program contributed to this ten-year decline. Hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, toluene and mercury were among chemicals with significantly lower air releases at TRI-covered facilities. Medical professionals have associated these toxic air pollutants with health effects that include damage to developing nervous systems and respiratory irritation.
Combined hydrochloric acid and sulfuric acid air releases fell more than 566 million pounds, mercury more than 76,000 pounds, and toluene more than 32 million pounds at TRI-covered facilities. Coal- and oil-fired electric utilities accounted for more than 90% of nationwide reductions in air releases of hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid and mercury from 2005 to 2015 in facilities reporting to the program. This trend is helping protect millions of families and children from these harmful pollutants. Reasons for these reductions include a shift from coal to other fuel sources, the installation of control technologies, and implementation of environmental regulations.
In 2015, of the nearly 26 billion pounds of total chemical waste managed at TRI-covered industrial facilities (excluding metal mines), approximately 92% was not released into the environment due to the use of preferred waste management practices such as recycling, energy recovery, and treatment. This calculation does not include the metal mining sector, which presents only limited opportunities for pollution prevention. The TRI Pollution Prevention (P2) Search Tool has more information about how individual facilities and parent companies are managing waste and reducing pollution at the source.
EPA, states, and tribes receive TRI data annually from facilities in industry sectors such as manufacturing, metal mining, electric utilities, and commercial hazardous waste management. Under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), facilities must report their toxic chemical releases for the prior calendar year to EPA by July 1 of each year. The Pollution Prevention Act also requires facilities to submit information on pollution prevention and other waste management activities of TRI chemicals. Nearly 22,000 facilities submitted TRI data for calendar year 2015.
This year’s report also includes a section highlighting the new Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. This section focuses on the overlap between TRI chemicals and chemicals designated as Work Plan chemicals by EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
The TRI National Analysis website includes new interactive features such as an automated “flipbook” [https://www.epa.gov/trinationalanalysis/30-year-anniversary-tri-program-slideshow] depicting how the TRI Program has evolved over the past 30 years, and a new embedded dashboard that allows users to build customized visualizations of TRI data by a chemical or a sector. These features are intended to promote more user engagement and exploration of TRI data.
To access the 2015 TRI National Analysis, including local data and analyses, visit www.epa.gov/trinationalanalysis
Information on facility efforts to reduce toxic chemical releases is available at www.epa.gov/tri/p2.
Original article: 2005:42: Vander Wood
The traditional method for determining the particle size distribution in stack emissions is gravimetric analyses of material collected on cascade impactors. But new sources have particulate loadings so low that sampling times of many hours (or days) are required to collect enough particulate for gravimetric techniques.
Collection of Method 5 samples on appropriate filters followed by microscopical analysis of the collected material offers an alternative method of particle size distribution measurement, with sampling times of only minutes to hours required. Particle sizes down to 0.1 um diameter can be measured, and the particle size distribution reported in customizable cutoffs. In addition to mass fraction, number fraction of particles and estimates of particle surface area fraction can be determined for each size category.