EPA Issues New GHG Permitting Guidelines

EPA today announced it is making available guidance and tools to help state and local air permitting authorities identify pollution reduction options for greenhouse gases (GHGs) under the Clean Air Act. These tools are part of EPA’s common sense approach to GHG permitting of the largest emissions sources outlined this spring in the tailoring rule. GHG pollution threatens the health and welfare of all Americans, and contributes to climate change, according to EPA.

“EPA is working closely with its partners at the state and local levels to ensure permitting for greenhouse gases runs smoothly,” said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office Air and Radiation. “To identify GHG reduction options, EPA and the states are now ready to apply the same time-tested process they have used for other pollutants.”

EPA recommends that permitting authorities use the best available control technology (BACT) process to look at all available emission reduction options for GHGs. After taking into account technical feasibility, cost and other economic, environmental and energy considerations, permitting authorities should narrow the options and select the best one. EPA anticipates that, in most cases, this process will show that the most cost effective way for industry to reduce GHG emissions will be 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. Instead, the guidance and resources provide the basic information that permit writers and applicants need to address GHGs. The guidance also provides examples of how permitting requirements could apply.

Starting Jan. 2, 2011, industries that are large emitters of GHGs, and are planning to build new facilities or make major modifications to existing ones, will work with permitting authorities to identify and implement BACT to minimize their GHGs. This includes the nation’s largest GHG emitters, such as power plants, refineries and cement production facilities. Emissions from small sources, such as farms and restaurants are not covered by these GHG permitting requirements.

EPA is accepting public feedback on the guidance for the next few weeks on any aspect that contains technical or calculation errors or where the guidance would benefit from additional clarity.

Information on EPA’s guidance: http://www.epa.gov/nsr/ghgpermitting.html.

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