Costly Controls? How will Pennsylvania’s proposed RACT 2 regulation impact your facility?
Pennsylvania is in the process of promulgating a new Reasonably Available Control Technology (RACT) regulation to address persistent ozone nonattainment status. The proposed regulation will impose more stringent emission limits on sources of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC), both of which are classified as ozone “precursor” pollutants. It is referred to as “RACT 2” because Pennsylvania imposed a similar “RACT 1” regulation in 1995 that required major NOx/VOC sources to identify “case-by-case” RACT Plans.
Upon review completion by PADEP, the regulation will be forwarded to the Environmental Quality Board (EQB). After EQB approval, the rulemaking package will go to the Office of General Counsel, the Independent Regulatory Review Committee (IRRC), the standing committees, and the Office of the Attorney General. Following the completion of the regulatory process, the proposed rulemaking will be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. At present, RACT 2 is expected to be finalized by the end of 2015.
The proposed RACT 2 Regulations (25 PA Code Section 129.96-129-100) are applicable to existing (existing before July 20, 2012) major sources of NOx and VOC, therefore if a facility has a potential to emit (PTE) in excess of 100 tpy NOx or 50 tpy VOC, it is subject to the RACT 2 requirements. Facilities that became major after July 20, 2012 are also potentially subject to the regulation.
The regulation does allow facilities that are currently major sources to cap emissions below major source thresholds and opt out of RACT 2. The caps must be in place within one year of the effective date of the regulation. The regulation also exempts facilities for which a requirement or emission standard has already been established under the following regulations:
- 25 PA Code Section 129.51-129.52c: Surface Coating Processes
- 25 PA Code Section 129.54-129.69: Oxidizers, Refineries, Storage Tanks, Gasoline Distribution, Degreasing Operations, Cutback Asphalt Paving, Cutback Asphalt Paving, Ethylene Production and Graphic Arts Systems
- 25 PA Code Section 129.71-129.73: Organic Chemical/Polymer Manufacturing, Surface Active Agent Manufacturing, Aerospace Manufacturing
- 25 PA Code Section 129.75: Mobile Equipment Repair and Refinishing
- 25 PA Code Section 129.77: Adhesives, Sealants, Primers and Solvents
- 25 PA Code Section 129.101-107: Wood Furniture Manufacturing
- 25 PA Code Section 129.301-129.310: Glass Melting
Major facilities having sources of NOx or VOC with a PTE >1.0 tpy of NOx or VOC that are not regulated by the above-listed regulations are subject to RACT 2. Note that these exemptions do not include the RACT 1 case-by-case RACT Plan limits imposed in 25 PA Code 129.92-96. This means that some sources will need to re-evaluate case-by-case RACT determinations made in the 1990’s.
The proposed RACT 2 regulations include presumptive RACT requirements (emission limits, work practice standards, recordkeeping, reporting, etc.) for the following source categories:
- Combustion units
- Combustion turbines
- Incinerator/thermal oxidizer/catalytic oxidizer air pollution control units
- Internal combustion engines
- Municipal solid waste landfills
- Municipal waste combustors
- Cement kilns
Existing affected facilities must comply with the presumptive RACT requirements within one (1) year of the effective date of the regulation. Facilities that become major due to installation of new sources or modifications to existing sources must comply within one (1) year of becoming a major facility.
Facilities that cannot meet applicable presumptive RACT requirements without the installation of an air cleaning device may submit a petition requesting an alternative compliance schedule. The petition must be submitted within six (6) months of the effective date of the regulation or within (6) months of becoming a major facility. PADEP can approve alternate compliance date extensions of up to three (3) years.
Facilities that cannot meet presumptive RACT requirements for NOx emissions on a source-by-source basis may elect to meet the requirements by averaging NOx emissions on a facility-wide or system-wide basis using a 30-day rolling average. Facilities that wish to average emissions must submit a request within six (6) months of the effective date of the regulation or within six (6) months of becoming a major facility.
Major facilities with sources having PTEs of > 5.0 tpy NOx or 2.7 tpy VOC not regulated by presumptive RACT must propose case-by-case NOx and/or VOC emissions limitations by six (6) months after the effective date of the rule (or within 6-months of becoming a major source). Facilities with sources subject to the presumptive RACT requirements that cannot meet the presumptive RACT requirements may also propose case-by-case NOx and/or VOC emission limitations (again, within six  months of the effective date of the rule). Facilities must include a compliance schedule for implementing the emissions limitations within one (1) year of the effective date of the regulation or within one (1) year of becoming a major facility.
The case-by-case RACT evaluation requires assessment of the cost effectiveness of installing air pollution control devise like oxidizers, carbon adsorption systems, or low-NOx burner technologies. These assessments can be time consuming and require pollution control vendor cost estimates in some cases. Because pollution control capital and operating costs can be significant, it is important to start planning early.
If the facility is proposing to meet the case-by case RACT through the installation of an air cleaning device, the facility may submit a petition requesting an alternative compliance schedule. The petition must be submitted within six (6) months of the effective date of the regulation or within (6) months of becoming a major facility. PADEP can approve alternate compliance date extensions of up to three (3) years.
Compliance Demonstration and Recordkeeping
RACT 2 Requires CEMS or source testing to demonstrate compliance with RACT 2 emission limits within one (1) year of the effective date of the regulation or within one (1) year of becoming a major facility . Source tests are to be conducted every five (5) years thereafter. Facilities may request a waiver from these source testing requirements if they have performed a recent source test, but the waiver request must be submitted within six (6) months of the effective date of the regulation or within six (6) months of becoming a major facility.
Potential Industries Impacted
The following are examples of major NOx/VOC sources that may be required to evaluate case-by-case RACT because they are not subject to Pennsylvania’s presumptive RACT rules:
- Bakeries (VOC from yeast fermentation, ovens)
- Foam Packaging Plants (VOC from blowing agent)
- Solvent Operations (VOC from solvent extraction and manufacturing process using solvents that are not subject to Pennsylvania’s degreasing and surface coating RACT rules)
- Food Roasting (VOC from large coffee and cocoa roasters and associated operations)
- Material Dryers (VOC from wood dryers, pulp/paper and other industrial dryers)
Strategies to Manage RACT 2 Impacts
If you determine that you will be impacted by the proposed RACT 2 Regulation, here are four key tasks for developing your strategy.
- Evaluate the feasibility of capping facility-wide VOC emissions at < 50 tpy.
- Evaluate source VOC caps of < 2.7 tpy.
- Assess cost effectiveness of air pollution controls on a dollar per ton basis.
- Initiate detailed engineering assessment if the costs are close to benchmarks (e.g., $5,000 per ton).
This article was authored by Michael Zeiders, Project Manager at Liberty Environmental. With nearly 25 years of experience in environmental management for industry and government, Zeiders is an expert on air pollution source permitting and control strategy preparation. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credit: foodprocessing-technology.com