US EPA sets hearings this week on factory emissions plan

16 November 2009 22:35  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--US environmental regulators said on Monday they will hold two public hearings later this week on federal plans to impose limits on emissions from as many as 14,000 major manufacturers, refiners and utilities.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that it will hold hearings on Wednesday and Thursday respectively in Arlington, Virginia, and Rosemont, Illinois, to hear public comment on the agency’s plans to restrict emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) by new or modified power plants, refineries, cement production facilities and other manufacturers.

The hearings schedule was first announced at the end of October.

The agency said in late September that under authority of the Clean Air Act (CAA) it will require large industrial facilities - those that emit 25,000 tonnes or more of GHG annually - to obtain new construction or modification permits from the EPA.

The new rules are expected to go into effect by the second quarter of next year.

In order to obtain those permits to proceed with new construction or major improvements, facilities such as electric power stations, factories and refineries would have to demonstrate to the EPA that they are installing the best available emissions-control and energy-efficiency technologies.

Presumably, if the agency did not approve a permit application, new facility construction or existing plant improvements would not be allowed to proceed.

The EPA said it estimates that its anticipated rulemaking on GHG emissions by major facilities likely will apply to 14,000 US power stations, refineries and factories.

The agency said it would set the emissions threshold at 25,000 tonnes/year in order to exempt farms, restaurants, other small businesses and facilities such as hospitals, schools and office buildings from the planned regulations.

However, the proposed regulation of emissions above 25,000 tonnes/year has been criticised by many in industry as a unilateral and unwarranted re-write of the Clean Air Act statute by the EPA.

The act stipulates that any facility emitting more than 250 tonnes/year of a regulated pollutant is a “major source” subject to EPA action.

Some industry observers argued that only two public hearings seemed inadequate to allow public input on a proposed rule that the agency says will impact 14,000 US facilities.

EPA said written comments on the proposed regulation will be accepted until 28 December.

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By: Joe Kamalick
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