Since the US Congress is deadlocked on climate change
legislation, the Obama administration is moving forward to regulate
greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the Clean Air Act,
starting January 2, 2011. One of the challenges in doing this is
that the Clean Air Act was designed for toxins emitted in
relatively small quantities, in the hundreds of tons/ year, not for
GHG, which can be emitted in the hundreds of thousands of tons by a
single company. Special rules are therefore being developed to
"tailor" the CAA regime to GHG.
Last week, the EPA released wide-ranging guidance documents on how the new rules will
actually apply to major stationary emitters of GHGs:
"Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the largest stationary
sources will, for the first time, be covered by the Prevention of
Significant Deterioration (PSD) and title V Operating Permit
Programs beginning January 2, 2011. These permitting programs,
required under the Clean Air Act, are proven tools for protecting
air quality and the same tools will be used to reduce GHG
emissions. But the thresholds established in the Act for
determining when emissions of pollutants make a source subject to
these permitting programs, 100 and 250 tons per year, were based on
traditional pollutants and were not designed to be applied to
EPA's GHG Tailoring Rule issued in May 2010,
established a common sense approach to permitting GHG emissions.
Under the rule, GHG permitting will focus initially on the largest
industrial sources, while shielding millions of small businesses
that make up the vast majority of the U.S. economy.
State and local permitting authorities have long-standing
experience working together with owners and operators of industrial
facilities, and EPA believes they are best suited to issue Clean
Air Act permits to sources of GHG emissions. EPA is working closely
with permitting authorities to ensure that the transition to GHG
permitting runs seamlessly."
So far, there is no sign of Canada following suit.
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