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Proposed Rule to Harmonize New Source Review with Existing Clean Air Programs

Release Date: 10/13/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: Eryn Witcher 202-564-4355 /

(Washington, D.C.-October 13, 2005) To facilitate the smooth implementation of key air programs, EPA is proposing a draft rule to ensure the New Source Review (NSR) program is more compatible with current air pollution control programs that protect public health and the environment. Through the Clean Air Interstate Rule, the Clean Air Visibility Rule and the Acid Rain Program, EPA has set a permanent cap on power plant emissions. Today's proposal provides the nationally consistent regulatory framework to assure NSR complements the programs that achieves these significant emissions reductions.

"We are committed to results and making sure we achieve 70 percent emissions reductions from power plants," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "This rule will provide facilities clearer and simpler rules for operating safely, efficiently and affordably. We'll see deeper, faster, and more efficient emissions reductions."

The proposed rule would establish a uniform emissions test for existing power plants nationwide by adopting the test used under the Clean Air Act's New Source Performance Standards (NSPS). A uniform nation-wide emissions test for the NSR program provides regulatory clarity and certainty needed to aid the smooth and effective implementation of these programs.

As a result of a U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decision, an NSPS-style emissions test currently applies for the NSR program in five states. Today's proposed rule addresses the court decision by ensuring that the NSR program is implemented consistently across the country.

Under the amended rules currently in place and under this proposal, new enforcement cases will be pursued if power plants increase capacity and trigger NSR. This proposal eliminates the disincentives and significant barriers to beneficial projects created under the old NSR rule. These proposed changes will increase power plant efficiency, reliability and availability of electricity for consumers and businesses to improve plant safety.

EPA is also proposing two other options for the new emissions test for consideration. In addition to the existing NSPS test, which compares the maximum hourly emissions achievable before and after a physical or operational change, the agency is proposing a second option that would adjust the NSPS test to compare maximum hourly emissions achieved after the change to those that actually had been achieved before the change. The third option is an NSR emissions test based on the mass of emissions per unit of energy output instead of hourly emissions. Today's proposal also solicits public comments on revising the NSPS emissions increase test using options two or three.

An emissions test is used to determine if a physical or operational change at a power plant will lead to emissions increases that could potentially require a facility to install pollution controls. The proposed rule applies only to existing electric generating units. New electric generating units will continue to be subject to current NSR preconstruction review requirements.

EPA will accept comment on this proposal for 60 days following publication in the Federal Register. For more information on this proposed rule, visit: