EPA grants request for reconsideration of Title V ethanol rule

By Erin Voegele | November 06, 2019

The U.S. EPA announced Nov. 6 it is granting a request for reconsideration filed by the National Resource Defense Council in March 2009 related to the agency’s exclusion of ethanol plants from Title V permitting requirements under the Clean Air Act.

A proposed rule published in the Federal Register explains the NDRC submitted a petition for reconsideration on March 2, 2009, challenging the agency’s rule tilted “Prevention of Significant Deterioration, Nonattainment New Source Review and Title V: Treatment of Certain Ethanol Production Facilities Under the ‘Major Emitting Facility’ Definition.”

That rule, referred to as the “Ethanol Rule” was published in the Federal Register on May 1, 2007. Within the rulemaking, the EPA excluded all facilities that produce ethanol through a natural fermentation process from the statutory definition of major emitting facilities. The rule pertains to three CCA permitting programs, including the Prevention of Significant Deterioration permitting program, the Nonattainment New Source Review permitting program, and the Title V Operating permits program.

A fact sheet published by EPA several years ago explains that prior to the final Ethanol Rule, the agency considered facilities that produced ethanol for fuel use to be chemical processing plants, while facilities that produced ethanol for human consumption were not. Since the two processes are extremely similar, the final Ethanol Rule altered the definition of chemical processing plants to exclude fuel ethanol facilities, providing equal treatment for corn milling facilities and facilities that produce ethanol through the natural fermentation of carbohydrate feedstock.

The NDRC’s petition claims that the EPA’s Ethanol Rule did not appropriately address the CCA anti-backsliding requirements for nonattainment areas. Therefore, the EPA said it convening a proceeding for reconsideration. In the near future, the agency said it will publish a document in the Federal Register establishing a comment period and opportunity for a hearing regarding the proceeding.

A full copy of the EPA’s Nov. 6 proposed rule can be downloaded from the Federal Register website.