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EPA New Source Review Overhaul to Target Particular Permit Policies
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EPA New Source Review Overhaul to Target Particular Permit Policies


EPA's plans for overhauling and easing Clean Air Act New Source Review (NSR) permitting mandates includes plans to issue a mixture of guidance and regulation on key issues, including “aggregating” emissions for permitting purposes and revising a policy on what qualifies as facility “maintenance” exempt from NSR.


In a presentation from April 5, Ann Marie Wood from the Office of Air and Radiation (OAR) said that the list of NSR “improvements” and “updates” includes steps EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has already taken, such as deferring to industry calculations of whether a project's estimated emissions should trigger NSR.


Upcoming steps include a guidance change to “aggregating,” or combining, sources for air quality permitting. Combining emissions from several nearby sources could push facilities over the threshold for triggering NSR, so EPA's reform could make it easier for companies to keep sources separate and never trigger NSR permitting.


Additional reforms include changes to the definition of “ambient air” that could change when permits are required for certain facilities, and the revision to the facility “maintenance” exemptions from NSR.


Wood, director of the air quality policy division at OAR's Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, said in her presentation that the upcoming policy overhauls will be done with a mix of guidance and rulemaking. While notice-and-comment rulemaking is binding nationwide, some critics of EPA's early steps to ease NSR have said that because they were done through guidance and not rules, states opposed to the changes could ignore them.

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