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Environmental News Briefs – Fall 2018

November 15, 2018

News briefs were originally published in Currents, POWER’s quarterly Environmental newsletter.


EPA Proposes to Revise Significant Aspects of Methane Rule

On September 11, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed significant changes to the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) OOOO, also known as the oil and gas (O&G) methane rule. These revisions are primarily in response to petitions submitted on behalf of the O&G industry and would significantly reduce the regulatory burden on the industry. The proposed revisions address a range of issues, including the frequency of fugitive emissions monitoring at well sites and compressor stations; requirements for pneumatic pumps at well sites; and requirements for professional engineers to certify certain activities and facility designs. They also address implementation issues, such as the location of separators at well sites, as well as clarifications, including definitions of “well site” and “capital expenditure.”

Contact: Pete Stevenson
(512) 579-3805

OSHA Proposes to Protect Personally Identifiable Information

On July 30, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed rescinding the requirements for employers (with 250 or more employees) to electronically submit Forms 300 and 301 to the agency. OSHA believes the proposal maintains safety and health protections for workers, protects privacy, and reduces the burdens of complying with the current rule. This sensitive information could have been found disclosable under the Freedom of Information Act. OSHA Form 300A, the summary form, will still be required to be submitted electronically for employers with 250 or more employees. The proposed rulemaking will not change the requirement for employers to collect information on employee injuries, illnesses, and accidents on OSHA Forms 300 and 301.
Contact: Bonnie Blam, CSP
(512) 579-3817

EPA Promulgates Significant New Use Rules Under TSCA for 28 Chemical Substances

On September 17, EPA published significant new use rules under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) for 28 chemical substances which were the subject of premanufacture notices. Persons who intend to manufacture, process, or use any of these 28 chemical substances for an activity that is designated as a significant new use by this rule must notify the EPA at least 90 days before commencing that activity. The required notification initiates EPA’s evaluation of the intended use within the applicable review period. Persons may not commence manufacture, processing, or utilization for the significant new use until EPA has conducted a review of the notice, made an appropriate determination on the notice, and has taken such actions as are required with that determination. The 28 chemical substances are predominantly used in polymers, resins, surface coatings, lubricants/lubricant additives, and semiconductor binders.
Contact: Michele Foss, REM
(281) 668-7342

Revisions to Disposal of CCRs from Electric Utilities

On August 29, EPA finalized certain revisions to the minimum criteria for existing and new surface impoundments. Two alternative performance standards were approved that may be implemented by either EPA or states with an approved coal combustion residuals (CCR) permit program. Also, revisions were made to the groundwater protection standard for four constituents that do not have maximum contaminant limits: cobalt, lead, lithium, and molybdenum.
Contact: Betty Moore, P.G.
(512) 879-6622

OSHA Posts New FAQs and Videos for Controlling Silica in Construction

On August 22, OSHA announced that new frequently asked questions (FAQs) and training videos on its standard for respirable crystalline silica in construction (29 CFR Part 1926.1153) are now available on the OSHA website. The agency has identified specific tasks that typically generate silica exposures below the new action limit of 25 ug/m3 as an 8-hour time-weighted average and are considered outside of the standard. These tasks include mixing small amounts of mortar; mixing small amounts of concrete; mixing bagged, silica-free drywall compound; mixing bagged exterior insulation finishing system base and finish coat; and removing concrete formwork. The FAQs provide employers and workers with guidance on the standard’s requirements. In addition, a series of six new videos instruct users on methods for controlling exposure to silica dust when performing common construction tasks or using construction equipment. The video topics include handheld power saws, jackhammers, drills, and grinders.
Contact: Molly McKenna
(512) 579-3837

EPA Proposes Affordable Clean Energy Rule to Replace Clean Power Plan

On August 31, EPA proposed the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule to replace the 2015 Clean Power Plan (CPP). These rules are intended to address climate change by regulating greenhouse gas emissions of fossil fuel-fired electric generating units (EGUs). The ACE rule focuses solely on EGU heat rate (efficiency) improvements as the best system of emissions reductions. Although the CPP included heat-rate improvement (HRI) requirements, it also shifted generation away from coal to natural gas and renewables. To promote implementation of HRI, the ACE rule also proposed revisions to the New Source Review program to make it less likely for an HRI project to trigger preconstruction air permitting requirements by making the applicability test be based on both the annual and hourly emissions change. EPA accepted comments until October 30. For more information about the proposed ACE rule, see Jennifer Seinfeld’s article, “7 Things to Know About the Proposed Affordable Clean Energy Rule.”
Contact: Brian Petermann, P.E.
(913) 402-4217

Stormwater CGP Modifications Expected Late 2018

After EPA issued the 2017 Construction General Permit (CGP) in January 2017, the National Association of Home Builders and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation filed petitions for review of the CGP in the D.C. Circuit Court. Following the review, EPA announced earlier this year that it will propose a narrow scope of changes to the CGP focusing on clarifying site operator liability, operator responsibilities when sharing stormwater controls, and aligning permit language with effluent limitation guidelines for construction and development. The proposed CGP modifications will not affect state-issued CGPs or change the current five-year permit term. EPA plans to release the proposed changes to the CGP for public comment by the end of the 2018 calendar year.
Contact: Nathan Collier
(210) 951-6425

EPA Proposes NESHAP Changes for Surface Coating of Large Appliances and Metal Furniture

On September 12, EPA published results of the residual risk and technology reviews (RTR) for three National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) rules: surface coating of large appliances; printing, coating, and dyeing of fabrics and other textiles; and surface coating of metal furniture. EPA found the risks due to emissions of air toxics from these source categories to be acceptable and proposed no revisions to the numerical emission limits. Based on results of the RTR, EPA proposes the use of high efficiency spray application equipment for large appliances and metal furniture surface coating operations, if the source is not using the emission rate with add-on control compliance option. EPA is also proposing to amend provisions addressing emissions during periods of startup, shutdown, and malfunction as well as electronic reporting of performance test results. EPA anticipates finalizing these rule revisions in late 2018 or early 2019.
Contact: Michele Foss, REM
(281) 668-7342

Renewable Fuels Standard Program Acquires New Feedstock

On July 24, EPA issued a final notice approving pathways for renewable fuels derived from sorghum oil that include biodiesel, heating oil, jet fuel, and liquefied petroleum gas. This approval is a boon for farmers who have experienced a downturn in the commodities market, resulting in lower revenues. Sorghum oil is a by-product in the production of ethanol from sorghum grain. A major benefit to the production of these biofuels is a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that will allow users of this fuel to qualify for credits. It’s estimated that sorghum oil will produce around 21 million gallons of fuel resulting in flexibility and diversity in biofuels.
Contact: Betty Moore, P.G.
(512) 879-6622


Jon Niermann Named Chairman of the TCEQ

On August 31, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced the appointment of Jon Niermann as Chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Mr. Niermann has been on the commission since 2015 and will continue to serve as the governor’s appointee on the Western States Water Council, working with 17 other western states concerning conservation, development, and management of water resources. He is also responsible for overseeing the $209 million of Texas mitigation funds resulting from Volkswagen’s fraud to evade federal vehicle emission standards. Mr. Niermann replaces Dr. Bryan Shaw who retired in September.
Contact: Pete Stevenson
(512) 579-3805

PADEP Finalizes Industrial Cleaning Solvents Rule

On August 11, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) published its final industrial cleaning solvents rule in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. The regulation (25 Pa. Code §129.63a) applies to facilities at which an industrial cleaning solvent is used or applied in a cleaning activity at a cleaning unit operation, a work production-related work area, or a part, product, tool, machinery, equipment, vessel, floor, or wall. The regulation requires the implementation of control measures to reduce volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from affected facilities that are not regulated elsewhere in 25 Pa. Code Chapter 129 or Chapter 130. A facility at which the total combined actual VOC emissions from all subject cleaning unit operations are equal to or greater than 2.7 tons per 12-month rolling period, before consideration of controls, is required to (1) meet a solvent VOC content limit or solvent VOC composite vapor pressure limit or (2) utilize a capture/control device to reduce VOC emissions. Certain work practice, recordkeeping, and reporting requirements also apply to affected facilities.
Contact: John Schmelzle
(717) 942-1203

EPA to Reclassify DFW and HGB Nonattainment Areas

On October 1, TCEQ announced that EPA intends to reclassify the Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and Houston-Galveston-Brazoria (HGB) nonattainment areas from “moderate” to “serious” on or before January 18, 2019. The reclassification will lower Major Source Potential to Emit thresholds for the area from 100 tons per year (tpy) to 50 tpy for VOC and NOx and the Major Modification emission increase thresholds from 40 tpy to 25 tpy for VOC and NOx. Additionally, emissions netting will be triggered for projects with 5.0-tpy increases. Credit generation projects in the area submitted after the January 18, 2019 date will be required to use a more recent state implementation plan baseline year.
Contact: Bryan Osborne
(512) 579-3815

Ozone Designation for the San Antonio Metropolitan Area Announced

EPA designated Bexar County, Texas as a marginal nonattainment area for the 2015 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) on July 17 (effective September 24, 2018). Additional counties within the San Antonio metropolitan areas (Atascosa, Bandera, Comal, Guadalupe, Kendall, Medina, and Wilson) were designated as attainment/unclassifiable. This completes the initial designations for the 2015 Ozone NAAQS. The initial designations will be summarized in 40 CFR Part 81 for each state.
Contact: David Castro
(512) 579-3820