EPA Issues Final Rule on Facilities Requiring New Greenhouse Gas Emission Permits

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week announced a final rule to address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from large stationary sources such as power plants and oil refineries. EPA’s phased-in approach will shield relatively smaller sources of GHGs from Clean Air Act (CAA) permitting requirements.

“After extensive study, debate and hundreds of thousands of public comments, EPA has set common-sense thresholds for greenhouse gases that will spark clean technology innovation and protect small businesses and farms,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said.

Under EPA’s new emissions thresholds, which will go into effect in July 2011, CAA permitting requirements will expand to include new facilities with GHG emissions of at least 100,000 tons per year (tpy) and modifications of existing facilities that would increase GHG emissions by at least 75,000 tpy. Permit applicants must also demonstrate use of best available control technologies to minimize GHG emission increases when new facilities are constructed or existing facilities are significantly modified.

EPA estimates that, under the new rule, approximately 900 additional permitting actions covering new sources and modifications to existing sources will be subject to review annually. As many as 550 existing sources will need to obtain operating permits for the first time.

The final rule addresses a group of six greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride .