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Clean Air Act Permitting for Greenhouse Gases

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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 GHGs.

EPA’s GHG Tailoring Rule, issued in May 2010, established a common sense approach to permitting GHG emissions under PSD and Title V. The rule set initial emission thresholds - known as Steps 1 and 2 of the Tailoring Rule - for PSD and Title V permitting based on carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions. EPA’s Step 3 of the GHG Tailoring Rule, issued on June 29, 2012, continues to focus GHG permitting on the largest emitters by retaining the permitting thresholds that were established in Steps 1 and 2. In addition, the Step 3 rule improves the usefulness of plantwide applicability limitations (PALs) by allowing GHG PALs to be established on CO2e emissions, in addition to the already available mass emissions PALs, and to use the CO2e-based applicability thresholds for GHGs provided in the "subject to regulation" definition in setting the PAL on a CO2e basis. The rule also revises the PAL regulations to allow a source that emits or has the potential to emit at least 100,000 tons per year of CO2e, but that has minor source emissions of all other regulated NSR pollutants, to apply for a GHG PAL while still maintaining its minor source status.

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. 

U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA
On June 23, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA (No. 12-1146).  The Court said that EPA may not treat greenhouse gases as an air pollutant for purposes of determining whether a source is a major source required to obtain a PSD or title V permit. The Court also said that PSD permits that are otherwise required (based on emissions of other pollutants) may continue to require limitations on greenhouse gases emissions based on the application of Best Available Control Technology (BACT). EPA is currently evaluating the implications of the Court’s decision and awaiting further action by the U.S. Courts. As we better understand the full impact of the decision on PSD and Title V permitting regulations, EPA will provide relevant guidance and information on GHG permitting requirements through this website.

This website provides access to the following important guidance and tools:

Implementing GHG Permitting - Questions and Answers - This page lists responses to implementation questions EPA has received on GHG permitting.

EPA comment letters on GHG permitting actions - This page contains EPA written comments on permit applications and draft permits that involve GHG emissions.

Permitting Guidance for GHG – EPA’s “PSD and Title V Permitting Guidance for Greenhouse Gases” provides the basic information that permit writers and applicants need to address GHG emissions in permits. 

The document posted above incorporates updates to the guidance originally posted in November 2010. We provided an opportunity for comment, inviting comment on all aspects of the guidance, but most immediately requesting comments on technical errors. This updated March 2011 version of the guidance reflects the technical corrections that were identified during our review of those comments. We also received substantive comments on several broader policy issues. We will respond to those substantive comments as appropriate as we continue to implement the PSD program for GHG through issuing permits and responding to inquiries from stakeholders.

The following slides summarize the "PSD and Title V Permitting Guidance for Greenhouse Gases" and are for informational purposes only. EPA presented these slides during the stakeholder webinars on November 18 and 19, 2010. For more specifics on EPA's guidance on the permitting of GHGs, please consult the actual guidance document.

Modular Training on Greenhouse Gas Permitting - December 2010

For more information on the permitting guidance for GHGs, please contact Dave Svendsgaard at 919-541-2380, or svendsgaard.dave@epa.gov.

Interim Permitting Guidance for GHG Emissions from Bioenergy Production (PDF) (35pp, 622k) – This document provides guidance that permitting authorities may use when determining Best Available Control Technology (BACT) for GHG emissions at Bioenergy facilities. This guidance can be used on an interim basis as EPA completes its detailed examination of the science and technical issues associated with the accounting for biogenic CO2 emissions from stationary sources.

GHG Control Measures White Papers –This series of technical “white papers” summarize readily available information on control techniques and measures to reduce GHG emissions from specific industrial sectors. These papers provide basic technical information which may be useful in a BACT analysis, but they do not define BACT for each sector.  The industrial sectors covered include:

For general information on the GHG control measures white papers, please contact David Solomon at 919-541- 5375, or solomon.david@epa.gov.

Enhancements to the Control Technology Clearinghouse (known as the RACT/BACT/LAER Clearinghouse, or the RBLC) – This website provides access to information and decisions about pollution control measures required by air pollution emission permits issued for GHG by permitting agencies.  Information is accessible to all permitting agencies working on similar projects.  The expanded RBLC includes GHG control and test data, and a GHG message board for permitting authorities. 

For more information on the enhancements to the RACT/BACT/LAER Clearinghouse, please contact Iliam Rosario at 919-541-5308, or rosario.iliam@epa.gov.

GHG Permitting Action Team – This team will assist permitting authorities respond to GHG permitting questions.  The GHG Permitting Action Team,  comprised of experienced senior staff and permitting managers from EPA, will work with permitting authorities to provide a smooth transition to GHG permitting and consistent GHG permitting guidance.   

GHG Regional Points of Contact

EPA
Region
Primary Contact Phone Number Secondary Contact Phone Number
1 Donald Dahl 617-918-1657 Ida McDonnell 617-918-1653
2 Frank Jon 212-637-4085 Suilin Chan 212-637-4019
3 Dave Talley 215-814-2117  Mike Gordon 215-814-2039
4 Katy Forney 404-562-9130 Heather Ceron 404-562-9185
5 Richard Angelbeck 312-886-9698 Genevieve Damico 312-353-4761
6 Melanie Magee 214-665-7161 Jeff Robinson 214-665-6435
7 Ward Burns 913-551-7960  Mark Smith 913-551-7876
8 Mike Owens 303-312-6440 Carl Daly 303-312-6416
9 Geoffrey Glass  415-972-3498 Gerardo Rios 415-972-3974
10 Pat Nair 208-378-5754 Davis Zhen 206-553-7660

 

Resources for Estimating GHG Emissions

 

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