PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE REGIONAL HAZE RULE
AND PROPOSED GUIDELINES FOR BEST AVAILABLE RETROFIT TECHNOLOGY (BART)
DETERMINATIONS UNDER THE REGIONAL HAZE RULE
- On April 15, 2004, the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) proposed amendments to its July 1999 regional haze rule.
These amendments would apply to the provisions of the regional
haze rule that require emissions controls known as best available
retrofit technology or BART for industrial facilities emitting
air pollutants that reduce visibility. These pollutants include
fine particulate matter (PM2.5), and compounds which contribute
to PM2.5 formation, such as oxides of nitrogen, sulfur dioxides,
and certain volatile organic compounds.
- The BART requirements of the regional haze rule apply to facilities
built between 1962 and 1977 that have the potential to emit more
than 250 tons a year of visibility-impairing pollution. Those
facilities fall into 26 categories, including utility and industrial
boilers, and large industrial plants such as pulp mills, refineries
and smelters. Many of these facilities previously have not been
subject to federal pollution control requirements for these pollutants.
- Under the 1999 regional haze rule, states are required to set
periodic goals for improving visibility in the 156 natural areas.
As they work to reach these goals, states must develop "implementation
plans" that contain enforceable measures and strategies for reducing
visibility-impairing pollution. States must develop their implementation
plans by January, 2008. States will need to identify the facilities
that will have to install BART controls, and must support their
decisions in their implementation plans.
- The BART requirement directs state air quality agencies to identify
whether emissions from sources subject to BART are well controlled,
or whether retrofit measures are available to reduce the emissions
below current levels. For some of the source categories, existing
technology often can reduce emissions by up to 90 to 95 percent.
Implementation of this proposal would result in reductions of
2.2 million tons of sulfur dioxide and 1.2 million tons of nitrogen
oxides from the power sector by 2015.
- The proposed amendments would not set federal emission limits
for these plants; states will set those limits as they implement
the regional haze rule. Today's amendment also proposes guidelines,
known as BART guidelines, for states to use in determining which
facilities must install controls and the type of controls they
- According to the Clean Air Act, as states conduct BART determinations
for individual facilities, they must consider a number of factors,
- the cost of the controls;
- the impact of controls on energy availability or any non-air
quality environmental impacts;
- the remaining useful life of the equipment to be controlled;
any existing pollution controls already in place; and
- the visibility improvement that would result from controlling
- These factors may lead states to use the best technology available,
a less-effective technology, or none at all. The proposed guidelines
includes information to help states evaluate these issues.
- The proposed guidelines also explain:
- How to identify the plants and equipment for which a BART
analysis is required;
- The circumstances under which a source may avoid a detailed
- The procedures for reviewing available emission control
methods, and procedures for summarizing and reporting the
results of this review; and
- The type of air quality analysis that EPA requires in the
regional haze regulation.
- Today's proposed rule also provides guidelines for states that
want to establish an emissions trading program, an alternative
to BART allowed under the haze rule. States may use such cost-effective
trading programs, provided they yield greater visibility improvement
and emissions reductions than would be expected through emission
controls on each facility.
- EPA will take public comment on the proposal for 60 days after
it is published in the Federal Register. EPA will consider
public comment before finalizing this rule by April 15, 2005.
- To reduce haze, and to meet requirements of the Clean Air Act,
EPA in April 1999 issued a regional haze rule aimed at protecting
visibility in 156 federal areas. The rule seeks to reduce the
visibility impairment caused by many sources over a wide area.
EPA's previous visibility regulation, issued in 1980, addressed
only local visibility impairment from local sources.
- Soon after the regional haze rule was finalized, several parties
filed petitions to challenge the rule with the U.S. Court of Appeals
for the D.C. Circuit.
- Because regional haze is a problem caused by multiple sources
over a wide area, EPA's rule required states in determining BART
requirements to analyze visibility impacts from multiple sources
rather than on a source-by-source basis. In May 2002, the court
ruled that EPA's specific approach to this issue was not consistent
with the Clean Air Act.
- This proposed rule is in response to the May 2002 ruling by
the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit vacating parts
of the BART provisions of the regional haze rule (American
Corn Growers et al. v. EPA, 291 F. 3d 1 (D.C. cir. 2002)).
- EPA initially proposed BART guidelines on July 20, 2001, but
did not finalize that proposal, in light of the Court ruling.
- When compared to the 2001 proposal, this proposal would require
states to consider the visibility impacts of an individual facility
when determining whether they have to install controls, and what
those controls would be.
- The other change of note is with the presumptive levels of
controls for large electric generating units. This proposal would
add an emissions standard for nitrogen oxides that was not included
in the 2001 guidelines, and would refine the emissions standard
for sulfur dioxide. Other changes are relatively minor clarifications
in response to comments received.
- During much of the year, a veil of white or brown haze hangs
over many of the country's most visited natural areas, obscuring
some of the nation's most famous scenic vistas. This haze - caused
primarily by tiny particles that absorb and scatter sunlight -
is a result of air pollution from power plants, cars and factories
that travels hundreds of miles to some of the country's most remote
- The same pollution that causes haze also poses serious health
risks, especially for people with chronic respiratory diseases.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
- For a copy of the Regional Haze Rule, go to: http://www.epa.gov/airquality/visibility/rhfedreg.pdf
(PDF 62 pp.,
- For further information on this notice, contact one of the
following people at EPA's Office of Air Quality Planning & Standards:
Kathy Kaufman at (919) 541-0102 or firstname.lastname@example.org;
or, Todd Hawes at (919) 541-5591 or email@example.com.
- Use of EPA's electronic public docket to submit comments to
EPA electronically is EPA's preferred method for receiving comments.
Go directly to EPA Dockets at http://www.epa.gov/edocket,
and follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
- You may also submit comments and data by electronic mail (e-mail)
or you may also mail any comments on the proposed rulemaking to:
Air and Radiation Docket, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
1301 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Room: B102, Washington, DC 20004.
Attention ID: Docket No. OAR 2002-0076.
- Submit electronic comments as an ASCII file to avoid the use
of special characters and encryption problems or in WordPerfect
version 5.1, 6.1, or Corel 8 file format. Electronic comments
and data must note the docket number (Docket No. OAR 2002-0076).
You may file electronic comments online at many Federal Depository
Libraries. Do not submit confidential business information (CBI)
by e-mail. See the Federal Register notice for more information
on how to handle the submittal of CBI. Avoid the use of special
characters and any form of encryption.