June 13, 2002

EPA's New Source Review Proposal

Lawrence N. Curtin

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that it will be pursuing reforms to the Clean Air Act New Source Review (NSR) Program as a result of extensive study by the Agency and broad-based, bi-partisan support for improvement of the program.

EPA has identified the following reforms that it will pursue:

  • Plantwide Applicability Limits (PAL). EPA will finalize the 1996 NSR proposal that would permit a source to apply for and obtain a PAL based upon its actual emissions baseline.  Thereafter, changes could be made without obtaining a major NSR permit so long as the emissions do not exceed the plantwide cap.

  • Clean Unit Exclusion. EPA would finalize the 1996 proposal for a clean unit exclusion under which an identified clean unit would only trigger NSR if permitted allowable emissions increase as a result of a modification.  A clean unit would be one that would achieve the Best Available Controlled Technology or Lowest Achievable Emission Rate, or comparable state BACT as a result of a review process.

  • Pollution Control and Prevention Projects. EPA will revise its Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and nonattainment NSR regulations to exclude projects resulting in a net overall reduction of air pollutants regardless of the primary purpose of the project.

  • Actual to Projected Future Actual Methodology. EPA would finalize rulemaking using the actual to projected future actual methodology for calculating emissions increases for all industrial sectors.  This is in contrast to the actual to future allowable methodology currently required for most industrial sectors.

  • Routine Maintenance, Repair and Replacement. EPA will engage in rulemaking to establish cost-based thresholds for excluding from NSR projects for routine maintenance, repair and replacement of component parts of sources. 

  • Debottlenecking.  EPA will engage in rulemaking to clarify the debottlenecking policy.  This will include clarifying that when calculating emissions associated with a physical change or change in the method of operation, the source will generally look only at the facility undergoing the change.

  • Aggregation. EPA will engage in rulemaking to clarify that projects are considered separate from any other project at a source except where it is dependent upon another project to be economical or technically viable and where the project is intentionally separated from other projects for the purpose of avoiding NSR.

 A more detailed analysis will be prepared in the near future.

Latest Insights