Posts Tagged ‘EPA’

EPA Revisions to the Lead Ambient Air Monitoring Requirements

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

by Phil DeVita

On December 14, 2010 the EPA revised the ambient monitoring requirements for lead (Pb).  This action comes after the EPA revised the primary and secondary lead National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) on January 12, 2009 from1.5 ug/m3 to 0.15 ug/m3.  Separate from this, the EPA published an advance notice of rulemaking on Lead Emissions from Piston Engine Aircraft Using Leaded Aviation Gasoline in April of this year regarding possible engine emissions standards for such aircraft. 

The new requirements call for monitoring near industrial facilities with emissions greater than 0.5 tons per year (tpy) which is a reduction from the previous threshold of 1.0 tpy.  EPA is maintaining the 1.0 tpy threshold for airports, however, it did identify 15 additional airports where monitoring will be required in order to evaluate the potential lead impact from airports that emit less than 1.0 tpy.  The 15 airports are:

Airport

County

State

Merrill Field Anchorage AK
Pryor Field Regional Limestone AL
Palo Alto Airport of Santa Clara County Santa Clara CA
McClellan-Palmar San Diego CA
Reid Hillview Santa Clara CA
Gillespie Field San Diego CA
San Carlos San Mateo CA
Nantucket Memorial Nantucket MA
Oakland County International Oakland MI
Republic Suffolk NY
Brookhaven Suffolk NY
Stinson Municipal Bexar TX
Northwest Regional Denton TX
Harvey Field Snohomish WA
Auburn Municipal King WA

These airports were selected since they have characteristics the EPA believes could result in higher lead concentrations than at other airports because they have ambient air within 150 meters of maximum emissions (i.e. take-offs) and the meteorological conditions were conducive to potential higher lead impacts at nearby ambient locations.

In addition to industrial facilities and airports, EPA is requiring monitoring at non source oriented sites with populations greater than 500,000 people or more.

The additional lead monitoring must be operational within 1 year of when the rule is published in the Federal Register which is expected in the next few weeks.  For the non source sites, monitoring will begin January 1, 2012.

For our aviation clients, they should understand that these monitoring requirements will be conducted by the state agencies and not the airports.  It will be the state agency’s responsibility to come up with a compliance plan if results show impacts above the lead standards near airports.  However, EPA is limited in authority under federal law for states to adopt mitigation plans.  The agency is working with the FAA and industry to evaluate alternatives to the current use of lead in Avgas which could be used to mitigate impacts.

 

EPA Delays Greenhouse Gas Stationary Permits Until 2011

Monday, April 5th, 2010

by Phil DeVita

On March 29, 2010, the EPA issued a final decision to delay the greenhouse gas permitting requirements for stationary sources until January 2011.  The delay allows facilities and state agencies to adequately prepare to cut GHG emissions.  This announcement is a first step to what the agency called a “phasing in” approach to addressing GHG emissions.  The phased approach will require large stationary sources that already must apply for Clean Air Act (CAA) permits to address their GHG emissions in their permit applications in the first half of 2011.  Other large sources will need to address their emissions in the latter half of 2011.  The permits will require sources to prove they are using the best available control technology (BACT) to reduce emissions.  Typical large sources include power plants, factories, and refineries.  The emission threshold requiring a GHG permit has not been finalized, however, the EPA expects that the threshold will be higher than the 25,000 ton limit originally proposed.  

EPA is also expected to announce on April 1st final GHG standards for cars and trucks.  These standards will not take effect until January, 2011 for the 2012-2016 model years. 

This announcement is part of EPA’s response to comply with the Supreme Court’s decision three years ago in the Massachusetts v. EPA case.  In the landmark decision, the court ruled that greenhouse gases are subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act.  In December of 2009, EPA determined that GHG pollution endangers the public health and welfare, as such, it believes it is obligated under the CAA to issue greenhouse gas emissions standards for motor vehicles.

Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska recently introduced a “disapproval resolution” that would block EPA from moving ahead on these issues.  The disapproval resolution is currently in committee and there is no timeline for a potential vote.  On the other front, the “cap and trade” bill which would impose steadily declining limits of GHG emissions from large industrial sources has passed the House of Representatives and is stalled in the Senate.  Many Midwest lawmakers, who’s districts are dependant on energy produced by coal, are wary of the implications the bill will have on electricity costs.  After the healthcare debate, many believe the time may not be right for another contentious debate on cap and trade. 

Stay tuned.

EPA Issues New Short-term NO2 National Ambient Air Quality Standard

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

by Phil DeVita

On January 22, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) strengthened the primary national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) by adding a 1-hour NO2standard of 100 ppb.  The EPA administration is retaining the current annual standard of 53 ppb.

The EPA decided the existing annual standard does not provide sufficient protection of public health in the short-term period and believes the new standard will protect against adverse health effects associated with short-term exposure near roadways and urban areas. Current scientific evidence suggests short-term exposures to peak NO2 concentrations correlates with adverse respiratory effects to sensitive populations (i.e., children and the elderly) leading to increased visits to emergency rooms.

Currently, all areas of the U.S. comply with the existing annual NO2 standard.  EPA will designate attainment and non-attainment areas for the new standard by January 2012.  Over the last 30 years, annual NO2 concentrations have continued to decrease.  This decline is mainly attributed to more efficient automobile engines due to the implementation of emission standards for light-duty vehicles.  With the phasing in of emission standards for heavy duty engines in newer vehicles, we should continue to see decreases in NO2 emissions in the future.

Studies have shown that NO2 concentrations are typically higher near roadways when compared to existing monitor locations maintained by state agencies.  Concentrations in heavy traffic areas can be as much as two times greater than residential areas.  As part of this action, EPA is requiring changes to the monitoring network to protect the public health from high short-term concentrations near major roadways, urban areas (i.e., areas with a population greater than 1 million people), and in communities vulnerable to NO2related health effects. These new monitoring and reporting requirements will begin by January 1, 2013.  Once these new monitors are in place, EPA at their discretion could re-designate attainments areas in 2016 or 2017.

The new short-term standard will affect all types of emission sources including aviation, mobile sources, and fossil fuel combustion sources.  For new projects subject to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and located in a NO2 non-attainment region, general conformity determinations will need to demonstrate project emissions will not exceed the new standards prior to receiving federal funding.  This may subject some sources to additional mitigation measures and could require a source to obtain emissions offsets.   In addition to NEPA review, a project may also need to demonstrate compliance with the new standard in order to receive approval under a state environmental policy act or an air quality permit.   One way of addressing compliance with the standard is conducting air dispersion modeling.  Air dispersion modeling is typically used by new or existing facilities to demonstrate compliance with the NAAQS.   Moving forward, dispersion modeling could be an effective tool many sources will utilize in demonstrating compliance with the new standard.