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U.S. EPA Announces Greenhouse Gas Permitting Thresholds

10.01.2009

By Andy Bowman, Attorney, Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP

On September 30, 2009, U.S. EPA announced a proposed rule which requires large sources emitting over 25,000 tons of greenhouse gases (GHG) per year to obtain permits. According to U.S. EPA, approximately 14,000 facilities will be required to have operating permits for GHG emissions. The proposed rule is in anticipation of rules regulating GHG to go into effect by March 2010. Key provisions of the proposed rule include:

  • Existing industrial sources will be considered a major source subject to Title V operating permit requirements if GHG emissions are greater than 25,000 tons per year
  • New facilities and modifications to existing sources with GHG emissions greater than 25,000 tons per year would trigger PSD permitting requirements
  • Existing major sources making modifications that result in an increase of GHG emissions between a significance level yet to be selected in the range of 10,000 to 25,000 tons per year would be required to obtain a PSD permit.
  • New or modified facilities with GHG emissions that trigger PSD requirements would need to seek permit revisions requiring BACT and energy efficiency measures to minimize GHG emissions.
    Existing facilities with GHG emissions greater than 25,000 tons per year that already have a Title V operating permit would not need to revise their permits until renewal.
  • Carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) will be used to determine GHG emission rates for the six GHGs (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride).
  • U.S. EPA will review the applicability thresholds after five years to determine whether the thresholds should be lowered to include additional facilities.

U.S. EPA will take comments on the proposed rule for 60 days from the publication of the proposal. Comments may be submitted at www.regulations.gov under Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2009-0517. The proposed rule and additional information can be found at www.epa.gov/nsr.

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