The EPA's new Tailoring Rule

The Environmental Protection Agency issued a 100-page proposal, the “PSD and Title V Permitting Guidance for Greenhouse Gases” for public review and feedback in mid-November, providing two weeks  for responses by a Dec. 1 deadline. Finalized terms will be put in place by Jan. 2, 2011, in accordance with an implementing “Tailoring Rule” to guide state-level permitting authorities and extend the EPA’s influence over the greenhouse gas emissions of industrial sectors.  Click here to see a copy of the rule and EPA factsheets on the issue.

Operating through permitting authority asserted under the Clean Air Act, the agency will now require CO2 emissions to be considered in the design of every major project in which fossil fuel is combusted or CO2 emissions are released. Included are electrical power generation, refineries, iron and steel mills, pulp and paper mills and cement production.

Effective July 1, 2011, any new source of greenhouse gas emissions that exceeds 100,000 tons of CO2 per year or plant modification adding 75,000 tons annually, will be subject to permit approval based upon currently undefined case-by-case “best available control technology” assessments.

Some background information

In an April 2, 2007, Supreme Court case (Massachusetts v. EPA), the court ruled in a split 5-4 decision that greenhouse gasses fit within the definition of “air pollutants” and subsequently the EPA issued a finding of public health or welfare endangerment.

On Dec. 7, 2009, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson signed two distinct findings. One was an “Endangerment Finding,” which found that current and projected atmospheric concentrations of six greenhouse gases (including CO2) “threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations.” A second “Cause or Contribute Finding” found that “combined emissions of these well-mixed [greenhouse gases] from new motor vehicles and new motor vehicle engines contribute to greenhouse gas pollution which threatens public health and welfare.”

On April 1 the EPA finalized a light-duty vehicle rule controlling greenhouse gas emissions, confirming that Jan. 2, 2011, is the earliest date that a 2012 model year vehicle meeting established limits can be sold in the U.S. Then on Oct. 25 the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a proposed rule to establish the first-ever greenhouse emission and economy standards for heavy-duty trucks that will phase in during model years 2014 to 2018 arguing that improved fuel efficiency growing out of this ruling will save the trucking industry money.