June 7, 2017
Industry and Regulatory News include OTC’s Spring Meeting, Designations Delay, and the CSAPR Revision.
Updates from the Ozone Transport Commission’s (OTC) Spring Meeting on June 6, 2017 in Saratoga Springs, NY:
- Members of the Ozone Transport Commission (OTC) of Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states are warning that early data show 2017 ozone levels are worsening and that EPA’s one-year delay for implementing the 2015 ozone ambient air limit risks stopping the states’ “momentum” on tackling ozone air pollution.
- The latest OTC computer modeling presented at the meeting suggests several OTC areas: Connecticut, New York City and Maryland will fail to meet even the more lenient 75 ppb NAAQS by 2023, and that these states plus New Jersey will also fail to meet the 2015 NAAQS in 2020. Failure of states to come into attainment and meet federal air standards means their federal highway funds could be withheld.
- Mike Koerber of EPA’s Office of Air Quality Planning & Standards said at the meeting that no decision had been made on a one-year delay. “We have not said we are doing that” and no decision on it has been taken but “it is on the table,” Koerber said. The move would be legal if EPA lacks sufficient data to make a determination on attainment for a given area, he said. Koerber said the Trump administration is taking a “very deliberative approach.”
- EPA issued a press release announcing that agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is delaying by one year — from Oct. 1 this year to Oct. 1, 2018 — the deadline for issuing designations for whether areas are in attainment or non-attainment with the 2015 NAAQS because he has “insufficient information.”
- OTC at its meeting issued a formal statement opposing the GOP legislation targeting the ozone NAAQS, specifically S. 263, S. 452 and H.R. 806. All three of these bills, if enacted, “will postpone the substantial public health and environmental benefits offered by the 2015 NAAQS for almost a decade,” the group says
- In a June 6 letter to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R), Pruitt says the extra year will give EPA more time to collect “the most recent air quality data” to make the designations.
- Pruitt also noted the additional time will enable EPA to conduct its previously announced review of the Obama EPA’s decision to tighten the ozone limit in 2015. As part of that review, EPA will consider issues such as the role of naturally occurring “background” ozone in affecting states’ ozone levels, “appropriately accounting” for ozone transported internationally, and considering the role of “exceptional events” such as uncontrollable and unplanned dust winds or wild fires that can affect a states’ overall ozone air pollution.
- Pruitt is establishing, in accordance with the fiscal 2017 omnibus funding law, an Ozone Cooperative Task Force to “develop additional flexibilities for states to comply with the ozone standard.”
EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) (Currently no Plans for a Revision)
- Under emissions trading established under CSAPR NOx and sulfur dioxide trading program, power plants can legally buy NOx allowances rather than run their controls on hot days. If NOx allowances are too cheap, power plants will not have incentives to run controls.
- OTC figures show allowance prices are up, but they are not at the $800 per ton level believed to represent the cost of running controls such as selective catalytic reduction.
- EPA staff said there are no current plans for a CSAPR revision. Even if updated, it would not fully ensure compliance with the 2008 ozone NAAQS nor does it address the more stringent 2015 NAAQS