Breaking: New EPA rule will require use of best technologies to reduce greenhouse gases from large facilities when “constructed or significantly modified” — small businesses and farms exempt

LOS ANGELES – U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson will announce today in a keynote address at the California Governor’s Global Climate Summit that the Agency has taken a significant step to address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the Clean Air Act. The Administrator will announce a proposal requiring large industrial facilities that emit at least 25,000 tons of GHGs a year to obtain construction and operating permits covering these emissions. These permits must demonstrate the use of best available control technologies and energy efficiency measures to minimize GHG emissions when facilities are constructed or significantly modified.

The full text of the Administrators remarks will be posted at later this afternoon.

This is from an EPA press release.  I will phone in to the press call shortly and add any interesting updates.  It’s great to see that the EPA and the Obama administration have not been intimidated by the efforts of Lisa “fiddle while Alaska burns” Murkowski to block EPA regulation.

I’m told that the Murkowski amendment came as a big shock to the White House — and that, ironically, it may put the Kerry-Boxer bill on a faster timetable, so the Senate doesn’t give her another chance to repeat her hypocritical effort (see Murkowski amendment to undermine the Clean Air Act is dead “” for now. Feinstein says “we can’t afford to bury our heads in the sand on climate change”).

The two biggest myths about the EPA’s efforts to regulate CO2 are, from the right, that EPA will be regulating everybody, including small businesses and farmers, and, from the left, that the EPA’s endangerment finding can somehow stop dangerous warming if the climate bill dies.  What they will mostly be doing is new sources, although if Congress fails to act on CO2 regulations, they will no doubt pursue stricter regulations than they otherwise would.

Here’s the rest of the EPA release:

“By using the power and authority of the Clean Air Act, we can begin reducing emissions from the nation’s largest greenhouse gas emitting facilities without placing an undue burden on the businesses that make up the vast majority of our economy,” said EPA Administrator Jackson. “This is a common sense rule that is carefully tailored to apply to only the largest sources – those from sectors responsible for nearly 70 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions sources. This rule allows us to do what the Clean Air Act does best – reduce emissions for better health, drive technology innovation for a better economy, and protect the environment for a better future – all without placing an undue burden on the businesses that make up the better part of our economy.”

These large facilities would include power plants, refineries, and factories. Small businesses such
as farms, restaurants and many other types of small facilities would not be included in these requirements.

If the proposed fuel-economy rule to regulate GHGs from cars and trucks is finalized and takes effect in the spring of 2010, Clean Air Act permits would automatically be required for stationary sources emitting GHGs. This proposed rule focuses these permitting programs on the largest facilities, responsible for nearly 70 percent of U.S. stationary source greenhouse gas emissions.

With the proposed emissions thresholds, EPA estimates that 400 new sources and modifications to existing sources would be subject to review each year for GHG emissions. In total, approximately 14,000 large sources would need to obtain operating permits that include GHG emissions. Most of these sources are already subject to clean air permitting requirements because they emit other pollutants.

The proposed tailoring rule addresses a group of six greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6).

In addition, EPA is requesting public comment on its previous interpretation of when certain pollutants, including CO2 and other GHGs, would be covered under the permitting provisions of the Clean Air Act. A different interpretation could mean that large facilities would need to obtain permits prior to the finalization of a rule regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

EPA will accept comment on these proposals for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.
The proposed rules and more information:

For more, see Wonk Room.

8 Responses to Breaking: New EPA rule will require use of best technologies to reduce greenhouse gases from large facilities when “constructed or significantly modified” — small businesses and farms exempt

  1. David B. Benson says:

    Replace coal burners by wood burners or combined cycle natgas turbines (CCGTs). Both of the replacements have less of the other polutants as well as none (wood) or but 40% (CCGTs) of burning coal.

  2. Ian Born says:

    Government Motors Saturn was killed today. One less brand to regulate. Looks like the UAW can catch up on unemployment. I suspect some car maker will sue the ePA and call for some science behind regulating clean and green CO2.

    [JR: You’re joking, right. It is under conservative policies that the U.S. auto industry died. No national health care, so U.S. automakers have to swallow that price disadvantage in every car. And no strong fuel economy regulations, so car companies were allowed to shipwreck on the shores of fuel inefficiency.]

  3. ecostew says:

    The Administration is raising the heat level on Congress – stay tuned.

  4. Jeff Huggins says:

    We need to shine some light in places and on certain contortions.

    For example, as I understand it (based on a bit of homework reading just now), the NPRA (National Petrochemical and Refiners Association), the large trade organization, is complaining about, and challenging, the EPA’s right to EXEMPT smaller facilities by establishing a high threshold.

    In other words, the NPRA, knowing that the EPA can’t possibly regulate every single little source, and knowing that the public wouldn’t want ALL such little sources to be regulated via EPA permitting requirements, is arguing that the EPA must either regulate ALL sources (little, medium, and large) OR ELSE it can’t regulate ANY sources — even the largest (like refineries and etc.).

    And, the NPRA argues that greenhouse gases are such a global problem that comprehensive solutions/regulation are required and that (according to them) no single industry sector is much larger than any other sector.

    So, if you take their word for it, they seem to be saying that GHG emissions should be addressed on a comprehensive basis. Yet, I wonder (ha ha) whether they actually support a robust cap-and-trade bill or substantial carbon tax?

    And — Please Note — ExxonMobil has a representative on the main committee, and ExxonMobil must certainly be the largest corporation that’s a member. But, doesn’t ExxonMobil try to imply to the public that it too is concerned about GHG emissions and that it is doing all sorts of things to try to address the issue. (ha ha again). So, how is it that ExxonMobil is trying to do its best, and is probably the largest corporate member of the NPRA, and is on the leadership committee of the NPRA, and the NPRA says (ha ha) that a comprehensive solution is necessary, yet the NPRA doesn’t want refineries to be covered by the EPA (regarding GHG emissions) . . . and what is their stance, really, on a robust cap-and-trade bill or carbon tax?

    These folks get away with talking out of both sides of their mouths, and the media let them do it. I’m starting to get even more frustrated with the media than with the deceptions of these associations and companies themselves.

    Compare the NPRA’s stance, and argument, and membership, with what Rex Tillerson has said two years ago about what he (says he) believes, and with what ExxonMobil is doing today, and what they told Congress not long ago, and with what Tillerson told The Times in his “keep doing what we do best” interview.

    C’mon, media. Get with it.



  5. gpologist says:

    Those 70% (if the # is correct) probably power all the other sources (small, medium or large). What are the small, medium, and large sources to do when energy (electric or otherwise) is no longer affordable?

    Paying more for commodities over time has been the norm for the last 20 years or so. If you can’t pay, you go bust or move.

    How do these newly proposed rules help keep mainstream US industries in business? What happens if they go bust?

  6. mike roddy says:

    I’d be interested to know if the exemption for farming applies to tree farming, which is very bad for our CO2 budget. Anyone out there know? If so, our goose may be cooked. It’ll be hard to overcome the emissions of unlimited forestry and industrial livestock operations.

  7. Erik says:

    I think that this effort has more potential impact than Joe thinks when he says “What they will mostly be doing is new sources.” The EPA press release says that large sources will require BACT (Best Available Control Technology) for in both “construction permits” under the PSD program (new sources) and “operating permits” (new and existing sources). Operating Permits are required (under Title V of the Clean Air Act) for large sources and they are required to be re-issued every five years. So approximately 20% of the largest sources will be brought in each year. EPA’s Fact Sheet on the proposed rule – notes that –

    “Under the proposed emissions thresholds, EPA estimates that 400 new sources and modifications would be subject to PSD review each year for GHG emissions. Less than 100 of these would be newly subject to PSD. In total, approximately 14,000 large sources would need to obtain operating permits for GHG emissions under the operating permits program.”


    [JR: Your comment is not accurate. What I wrote is.]

  8. DD says:

    How exactly will the EPA reduce CO2. The EPA already requires that industrial burner’s fuel air ratio curves be set and tested at 15% excess air (3%O2)to meet NOx compliance. I the combustion process, the only way to reduce CO2 is to increase the excess air which would increase the NOx emissions and make the burners less efficient and waist fuel. 15% excess air is a industry standard to ensure complete combustion and to minimize CO and NOx emissions. CO2 and O2 react in exact opposite in the combustion process.