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Businesses, Check Your Engines: 2013 EPA compliance deadlines for commonly used engines are here

Does your industry or business establishment include an emergency generator, fire pump, or any other process equipment, compressor or machinery driven by a stationary reciprocating internal combustion engine? The answer is likely “yes.” If so, beginning this year, absent an exemption, you are required to comply with broad, newly-applicable Environmental Protection Agency air emission standards and other requirements. You may also be required to get a permit or to register with your state air permitting agency as a source of air pollutant emissions.

Scope of regulation expands

There are an estimated 1.5 million stationary engines across the United States, nearly one million of which are used only for emergency standby power. Prior to this year, emissions from stationary engines installed before June 12, 2006 (referred to in this article as “existing”) and located at a minor source of hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emissions, as well as certain engines located at major sources of HAP emissions (including all engines installed prior to June 12, 2006 and 500 horsepower or less), were not regulated by the EPA.*

Revisions made in 2010 to the EPA’s Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engine National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (referred to as the RICE NESHAP) now subject these engines to EPA regulation. In what has been heralded as the “most complicated and confusing regulation in the entire suite” of EPA’s stationary source emission standards “bar none,” owners and operators of these engines, many of whom have no prior experience navigating federal air emission standards, are subject to 2013 compliance dates under the RICE NESHAP.

Depending upon numerous factors, including the engine’s use and size, the RICE NESHAP may impose emission and operating limitations, as well as performance testing, monitoring, reporting and recordkeeping requirements, although emergency engines are generally subject to less rigorous requirements. Amendments that took effect in April 2013 have expanded the circumstances under which an emergency engine can be operated and still retain its “emergency” status.

Are you ready?

An engine-specific analysis is required to determine applicability of the RICE NESHAP. However, the answers to a few general questions can help determine whether further investigation is necessary to determine RICE NESHAP applicability for an engine at your business or industrial site:

  • Is the engine a reciprocating internal combustion engine? This type of engine includes any engine that uses reciprocating motion to convert heat energy into mechanical work and is often referred to as a piston engine. If the engine is not a reciprocating internal combustion engine, it is not subject to the RICE NESHAP.

  • Is the engine stationary? Non-road engines, which are defined as those that are self-propelled (for example, tractors and bulldozers), propelled while performing their function (for example, lawn mowers), and portable or transportable engines (those that have wheels or are otherwise movable and do not stay in one location for more than 12 months or a full annual operating period if your source is seasonal) are not considered stationary and are not subject to RICE NESHAP requirements. Mobile source engines like those in cars and trucks are also excluded. If the engine is not stationary, it is not subject to the RICE NESHAP.

  • Is the engine exempt from the RICE NESHAP? The RICE NESHAP applies regardless of engine size, use or whether there are other sources of air pollutant emissions at your facility. Other than engines being tested at a stationary engine test cell/stand or certain engines used for national security purposes, only existing residential, commercial and institutional emergency engines located at a minor source of HAP emissions are exempt (and even then only when used for certain specific “emergency” purposes). “Commercial” engines are those “used in commercial establishments such as office buildings, hotels, stores, telecommunications facilities, restaurants, financial institutions such as banks, doctor’s offices and sports and performing arts facilities.” “Institutional” engines are those “used in institutional establishments such as medical centers, nursing homes, research centers, institutions of higher education, correctional facilities, elementary and secondary schools, libraries, religious establishments, police stations and fire stations.”  (Note:  Certain engines, while not exempt, are not subject to any substantive RICE NESHAP requirements. Legal counsel can help determine whether or not a specific engine is subject to requirements.)

If the answers to the above questions fail to exclude the engine, then a further investigation of RICE NESHAP applicability is advised. Owners and operators of existing minor HAP source compression ignition engines were required to be in compliance with RICE NESHAP requirements by May 3, 2013. The fast-approaching compliance date for existing spark ignition engines at such sources is Oct. 19, 2013. These compliance dates also apply to previously unregulated existing engines located at major sources of HAP emissions. Separate but related air registration or permitting requirements may also apply to these engines depending upon RICE NESHAP applicability and the engine’s use, size and other factors.

If you have questions about how these changes may affect you or your business, please contact a member of the Environmental and Natural Resources group at Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP.

*Generally speaking, a minor source of HAP emissions is any stationary source (for example, a building or certain contiguous groups of buildings) with actual or potential emissions less than 10 tons per year of any single HAP and less than 25 tons per year of any combination of HAPs.  Any source that is not minor is major.

DISCLOSURE REQUIRED BY CIRCULAR 230. This Disclosure may be required by Circular 230 issued by the Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service. If this article, including any attachments, contains any federal tax advice, such advice is not intended or written by the practitioner to be used, and it may not be used by any taxpayer, for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer. Furthermore, any federal tax advice herein (including any attachment hereto) may not be used or referred to in promoting, marketing or recommending a transaction or arrangement to another party. Further information concerning this disclosure, and the reasons for such disclosure, may be obtained upon request from the author of this article. Thank you.

  • Of Counsel

    As a member of the Environment, Energy & Natural Resources practice group, Kelly's practice at Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP involves consulting with and representing firm corporate clients with respect to a broad range of state and ...

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