The Next Phase

Producers urged to prepare for Tailoring Rule
By Kris Bevill | September 12, 2011

The second leg of the U.S. EPA’s three-tiered greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions regulations came into play on July 1, triggering compliance requirements for many of the nation’s ethanol plants. According to the rule, Prevention of Significant Deterioration permits are now required for any new construction project that will result in GHG emissions exceeding 100,000 tons per year. Modifications at existing facilities, such as adding new equipment, which will increase GHG emissions by 75,000 tons or more per year are also required to obtain PSD permits. Additionally, any facility that emits at least 100,000 tons per year of CO2 equivalent is subject to Title V permitting requirements.

Prior to the rule’s finalization, representatives from all aspects of U.S. manufacturing fought hard to prevent the EPA from implementing emissions regulations that were envisioned to be too costly and complicated. The final rule was a heavily amended version of the proposed rule, reflecting many of the industry’s concerns regarding excessive regulation. While, of course, not everyone was pleased with the final decision (several lawsuits are pending and various members of Congress have suggested eliminating the regulations altogether), it appears that there have been relatively few problems with the rule as affected parties adjust to their new requirements.”

“It’s been pretty much business as usual,” says Marnie Stein, senior environmental specialist at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Air Quality Bureau. “But they still have until next July to apply for their Title V permits.”

According to Aimee Andrews, managing consultant of climate change services at environmental consulting firm Trinity Consultants, although the Title V permit applications are not due until next July, producers should not procrastinate in preparing their documents. “It’s a big process,” she says. “A Title V application is not a two-pager. Most states are requiring a large set of forms to go with that application. It’s a huge exercise in paperwork, but it’s also data collection issues and [possible] delays in getting the data together that you need to build in time for.” Andrews says it will likely take about four weeks to put together a Title V application, but because of those possible delays, producers should not wait until next June to begin the process.

While some ethanol plants and other industrial facilities employ environmental, health and safety personnel to focus on environmental compliance issues, Andrews says she has seen an increase in the number of facilities that have cut those positions and therefore have to assign regulatory tasks to employees with other responsibilities who also may not be as skilled at compiling the necessary data. “Companies are trimming everywhere and it’s sad because a lot of people don’t realize that if they’re not compliant, they’ll get shut down,” she says. 

—Kris Bevill