EPA plans to propose rule to clarify NSR preconstruction process

The US EPA plans to propose a rule to clarify the process for evaluating whether a New Source Review preconstruction permit is needed when an existing major-emitting facility (such as a refinery or production site) plans to make changes or expand.

The US Environmental Protection Agency plans to propose a rule to clarify the process for evaluating whether a New Source Review (NSR) preconstruction permit is necessary when an existing major-emitting facility such as a refinery or oil and gas production site plans to make changes or expand.

“By simplifying the permitting process and implementing a commonsense interpretation of our NSR rules, we will remove a major obstacle to the construction of cleaner and more efficient facilities,” EPA Administrator Andrew R. Wheeler said.

Under the NSR program, existing major sources planning modifications need to determine whether their proposed project must obtain an NSR permit following a two-step applicability test, the agency said. The first step is to determine if there is a “significant emission increase” of a regulated NSR pollutant from the proposed modification. If there is, the second step is to determine if there is a “significant net emission increase” of that pollutant.

Specifically, this rule would revise the NSR applicability regulations that apply to projects that include a combination of new and existing units by clarifying that project emissions accounting is allowed as part of Step 1 of the two-step NSR major applicability test, EPA said. It will accept comments on the proposal for 60 days following its publication in the Federal Register.

Officials from several organizations involved in the oil and gas and other industries applauded the proposal. “[It] is a common-sense approach to the NSR permitting process that will allow for an accurate assessment of an emission profile,” Texas Oil & Gas Association Pres. Todd Staples said in Austin. “The proposed revision will reduce tedious and redundant bureaucratic protocols while continuing to ensure that regulators and permitted industry correctly assess a planned change in operations.”

Christopher Guith, acting president of the US Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute in Washington, said, “Simplifying [NSR] regulations shouldn’t be controversial. For too long, manufacturing and industrial investments and upgrades have been plagued by uncertainty. These reforms will help reduce that uncertainty and enable much needed improvements in efficiency and technology.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@endeavorb2b.com.

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