EPA Releases GHG Permitting Guidance
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a guidance document and tools to help state and local officials identify pollution reduction options and start issuing permits for power plants, refineries and other large stationary sources of greenhouse gases when the agency’s new emissions rules take effect next year, reports The New York Times.
Starting on January 2, 2011, the largest emitters of greenhouse gases must show state regulators how they plan to cut their emissions at new or existing facilities, when they make major changes, using the best available control technology (BACT) for greenhouse gases, reports The Los Angeles Times.
Bill Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, told the New York Times that state and local authorities will be ready.
However, a recent report by the agency indicates that Texas is the only state that won’t revise or accept a federal GHG emissions permitting plan. State regulators are required to start issuing Clean Air Act permits next year for large stationary sources of GHG emissions.
EPA recommends that permitting authorities use the best available control technology (BACT) process to look at all available emission reduction options for GHGs. The agency expects in most cases that the process will show that the most cost effective way for industry to reduce GHG emissions is through energy efficiency.
The guidance does not define or require a specific control option for a particular type of source because BACT is determined on a case-by-case basis, says EPA. Instead, the guidance and resources provide the basic information needed to address GHGs.
The guidance also provides examples of how permitting requirements could apply.
Industry groups were concerned that the EPA would require facilities to use costly carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology, but the agency believes it is not technically feasible and thus not an option as a BACT, reports The New York Times.
Gina McCarthy, the EPA’s assistant administrator for air and radiation, told The Los Angeles Times that the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions would be similar to the process industrial facilities go through in getting permits to release other pollutants.
EPA said it welcomes public feedback on the guidance over the next few weeks on any aspect that contains technical or calculation errors or where the guidance would benefit from additional clarity.
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