The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized its rulings to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the largest stationary sources at facilities such as power plants and oil refineries that are responsible for 70 percent of GHG emissions.
The EPA has agreed to a phased-in approach for permitting requirements that will address large facilities first, which are already obtaining Clean Air Act permits for other pollutants, starting in January 2011. These facilities will be required to include GHGs in their permit if they increase these emissions by at least 75,000 tons per year.
In July 2011, permitting requirements will expand to cover all new facilities with GHG emissions of at least 100,000 tons per year and modifications at existing facilities that would increase GHG emissions by at least 75,000 tons per year. EPA says these permits must demonstrate the use of best available control technologies to minimize GHG emission increases when facilities are constructed or significantly modified.
Under the new emissions thresholds for GHGs that begin in July 2011, EPA estimates approximately 900 additional permits covering new sources and modifications as well as 550 additional facilities that will need to obtain operating permits for the first time.
EPA air official Gina McCarthy told Reuters that sources that pollute less than 50,000 metric tonnes per year would not be regulated until 2016, if ever, reports Reuters.
Currently, the EPA faces several existing lawsuits that question the EPA’s authority on climate.
So far, feedback from a few industry organizations indicates their concerns over the EPA’s regulation of industry emissions.
As an example, the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA) says that the final rule “under the Clean Air Act is unlawful and should be scrapped.”
The American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) raised concerns that the regulation of stationary sources will “discourage new investments and impose new costs on manufacturing industries.”