Batteries play a fundamental role in energy storage, and currently nearly 99 million lead acid batteries are manufactured each year. This past Wednesday, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposed rule in the Federal Register relating to air emissions controls for lead acid battery manufacturers. Highlights of the proposed rule are more stringent lead emission limits for grid casting, paste mixing, and lead reclamation operations under both the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) (for new and existing sources) and new New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for lead acid battery facilities that begin construction, reconstruction, or modification after February 23, 2022.

Continue Reading EPA Issues Proposed Rule Imposing More Stringent Air Emissions Controls for Lead Acid Battery Manufacturing

On January 5, EPA added 1-bromopropane (1-BP), which is also called n-propyl bromide, to the list of Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAP) under the federal Clean Air Act. 1-BP is used as a substitute for other HAPs in dry cleaning and other industries. This marks the first addition to the list since it was established as part of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. The addition was prompted by petitions to list 1-BP by the Halogenated Solvents Industry Alliance and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

EPA is expected to issue additional guidance and regulation under the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) that will further govern the emission of the 1-BP; in the interim, companies that emit 1-BP need to consider how the addition of 1-BP to the list of HAPs will affect their permitting, emissions reporting, and regulatory compliance.
Continue Reading EPA Expands the List of Clean Air Act Hazardous Air Pollutants

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently progressed its effort to stymie the aftermarket tuning of vehicles used for racing and competition in a complaint alleging that Gear Box Z violated the Clean Air Act by selling certain types of aftermarket software that modifies the engine control module (ECM), among other practices. EPA’s action is part of its national mobile source enforcement initiative to prevent the manufacturing, sale, and installation of aftermarket tuning and emission control defeat devices, in which EPA has pursued enforcement against both large and small suppliers.
Continue Reading EPA Reinforces Position that Certain Types of ECM Changes in Road-Certified Vehicles Constitute “Tampering” Under the Clean Air Act

Under a new rule effective on Monday, March 23, 2020, owners and operators of stationary sources are required to report qualifying accidental releases to the ambient air of hazardous substances to the federal Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB). While many companies are currently consumed with handling operations and logistics related to the coronavirus pandemic, compliance will still be expected going forward. Importantly, however, the CSB’s preamble to the new rule expresses a one-year grace period from the effective date of the rule, during which it will refrain from referring reporting violations for enforcement absent a knowing failure to report.

Continue Reading Requirement to Report Accidental Releases to Chemical Safety Board Takes Effect

The EPA announced its final rule for power plant greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, culminating often rancorous discussion and litigation over the EPA’s authority to regulate GHG emissions from existing coal-fired electricity generating sources. Under the new Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, the states, not the federal government, are now responsible for driving down GHG emissions from power plants. Specifically, the EPA now requires unit-specific standards of performance to be developed by the states using its new emission guideline that details the “best system of emission reduction.”
Continue Reading EPA’s Final Power Plant Greenhouse Gas Rule Shifts Emissions Regulation to States

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently proposed a revised policy to clarify what constitutes “ambient air” under the Clean Air Act, which will directly affect what areas stationary sources of air emissions must model to determine the effect of their facilities on air quality. The revised policy will most notably affect sources that have to model air quality around their facilities to demonstrate compliance with National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), as well as sources applying for air construction permits under the EPA’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permitting program.
Continue Reading EPA Proposes to Clarify Areas Excluded from Clean Air Act’s Definition of “Ambient Air”

Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) completed its reconsideration of a January 2009 final action on “project aggregation.” Project aggregation is the concept that addresses when to combine nominally separate physical or operational changes at a stationary source to determine whether the changes trigger New Source Review (NSR) permitting requirements under the Clean Air Act (CAA). The 2009 final action (74 FR 2376) (the “2009 Aggregation Action”) sets forth the EPA’s desired interpretation and policy concerning when to aggregate such activities into a single project. The EPA has submitted the final action reconsidering the 2009 Aggregation Action for publication in the Federal Register (the “2018 Reconsideration”). After the 2018 Reconsideration is published, the 2009 Aggregation Action will go into effect
Continue Reading EPA Completes Reconsideration of “Project Aggregation” Final Action

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a new guidance memorandum on Thursday, January 25, 2018 that addresses the question of when – and whether – a major source of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs, such as lead, mercury, and benzene) can be reclassified as an “area source” under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act, and thereafter avoid major source permitting requirements. The new guidance allows major sources to become area sources at any time, by agreeing to federally enforceable limits on their potential to emit HAPs. This replaces the EPA’s previous “once in, always in” policy, whereby any major source of HAPs remained a major source regardless of later reductions in its potential to emit HAPs.

Continue Reading EPA Revises Guidance Allowing Reclassification of Major Sources of Hazardous Air Pollutants as Area Sources Under the Clean Air Act

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia recently denied the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed delay of an Obama-era rule that limits methane emissions from new oil and gas equipment, sending oil and gas companies scrambling to immediately ensure compliance with the rule to avoid any enforcement actions.
Continue Reading Methane Rule Litigation Creates Uncertainty for Oil and Gas Companies

Under a recent summary judgment decision from a federal district judge, the EPA must continuously examine the effects that certain Clean Air Act (CAA) regulations have on employment in the coal industry specifically and other industries more broadly. This means the EPA will be subject to increased requirements before taking action under the CAA. The ruling also suggests that additional requirements could be imposed on the EPA under similar provisions in other environmental statutes, such as the Clean Water Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Solid Waste Disposal Act, and CERCLA.
Continue Reading EPA Must Examine Effects of Clean Air Act Regulations on Jobs