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EPA Sets Thresholds for Stationary Source Greenhouse Gas Permitting Requirements

14 May 2010

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a final rule to address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the largest stationary sources. The phased-in approach will address facilities such as power plants and oil refineries that are responsible for 70% of the greenhouse gases from stationary sources in the US.

EPA’s phased-in approach will start in January 2011, when Clean Air Act permitting requirements for GHGs will kick in for large facilities that are already obtaining Clean Air Act permits for other pollutants. Those facilities will be required to include GHGs in their permit if they increase these emissions by at least 75,000 tons per year (tpy).

In July 2011, Clean Air Act permitting requirements will expand to cover all new facilities with GHG emissions of at least 100,000 tpy and modifications at existing facilities that would increase GHG emissions by at least 75,000 tpy. These permits must demonstrate the use of best available control technologies to minimize GHG emission increases when facilities are constructed or significantly modified.

Under the new emissions thresholds for GHGs that begin in July 2011, EPA estimates approximately 900 additional permitting actions covering new sources and modifications to existing sources would be subject to review each year. In addition, 550 sources will need to obtain operating permits for the first time because of their GHG emissions.

In April 2010, EPA set the first national GHG tailpipe standards for passenger cars and light trucks. When GHG emissions limits for these vehicles go into effect in January 2011, EPA is also required to address GHG emissions from stationary sources under the Clean Air Act’s permitting programs, which it is doing in the plan just outlined.

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

EPA issued a proposed rule in October 2009 and held a 60-day public comment period. The agency received about 450,000 comments.

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