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Proposed Rule

Proposed Approval and Promulgation of Implementation Plans; Texas; Lawn Service Equipment Operating Restrictions; and Requirements for Motor Vehicle Idling for the Houston/Galveston (HG) Ozone Nonattainment Area

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

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AGENCY:

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION:

Proposed rule.

SUMMARY:

The EPA proposes to approve revisions to the Texas State Implementation Plan. This proposal covers two separate actions. We are proposing approval of: A rule that would implement an operating-use restriction program requiring that the handheld and non-handheld spark-ignition engines, rated at 25 hp and below, be restricted from use by commercial operators between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and noon, April 1 through October 31, in the counties Brazoria, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, and Montgomery; and, a rule to implement idling limits for gasoline and diesel-powered engines in heavy-duty motor vehicles in the HG area counties of Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery, and Waller. These new rules will contribute to attainment of the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone standard in the HG area. The EPA is proposing approval of these revisions to the Texas SIP to regulate emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOX) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in accordance with the requirements of the Federal Clean Air Act (the Act).

DATES:

Written comments must be received on or before July 11, 2001.

ADDRESSES:

Written comments should be addressed to Mr. Thomas H. Diggs, Chief, Air Planning Section (6PD-L), at the EPA Region 6 Office listed below. Copies of documents relevant to this action are available for public inspection during normal business hours at the following locations. Anyone wanting to examine these documents should make an appointment with the appropriate office at least two working days in advance.

Environmental Protection Agency, Region 6, Air Planning Section (6PD-L), 1445 Ross Avenue, Dallas, Texas 75202-2733. Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, Office of Air Quality, 12124 Park 35 Circle, Austin, Texas 78753.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Steven Pratt, P.E., Air Planning Section (6PD-L), EPA Region 6, 1445 Ross Avenue, Dallas, Texas 75202-2733, telephone (214) 665-2140.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Throughout this document “we,” “us,” and “our” refers to EPA.

This document concerns Control of Air Pollution of NOX and VOCs for on-road and non-road equipment and vehicle sources in the HG area and the control measures for attainment demonstration purposes. For further information, please see the Technical Support Document (TSD) prepared for this action.

What Action Are We Taking Today?

On December 20, 2000, the Governor of Texas submitted to EPA these two rule revisions (an operating-use restriction program for handheld and non-handheld spark-ignition engines, rated at 25 hp and below, used by commercial operators; and, idling limits for gasoline and diesel-powered engines in heavy-duty motor vehicles) to the 30 TAC, Chapter 114, “Control of Air Pollution From Motor Vehicles,” as a revision to the SIP.

These new rules will contribute to attainment of the ozone standard in the HG area. The EPA is proposing to Start Printed Page 31198approve these revisions to the Texas SIP to regulate emissions of NOX and VOCs in accordance with the requirements of the Federal Clean Air Act (the Act). For more information on the SIP revision, please refer to our TSD and the State's December 20, 2000 SIP revision.

What Are the Requirements of the December 20, 2000, Texas SIP Revision for the Operation of Lawn Service Equipment?

The purpose of this rule is to implement an operating-use restriction program requiring that the handheld and non-handheld spark-ignition engines, rated at 25 hp and below, be restricted from use by commercial operators between the hours of 6 a.m. and noon, April 1 through October 31. Spark-ignition lawn and garden service handheld equipment includes, but is not limited to, trimmers, edgers, chain saws, leaf blowers/vacuums, and shredders. Spark-ignition lawn and garden service non-handheld lawn and garden equipment covered by the rules includes such devices as walk-behind lawnmowers, lawn tractors, tillers, and small generators. The engines are both two cycle and four cycle engines, generally unable to use automotive technology, such as closed-loop engine control and three-way catalysts, to reduce emissions.

As a result of this restriction, production of ozone precursors will be stalled until later in the day when optimum ozone formation conditions no longer exist, ultimately reducing the peak level of ozone produced. It is estimated that this measure will achieve a minimum of 0.23 tons per day (tpd) delay of NOX until after noon. There will also be a 12.4 tpd delay in VOC emissions until after noon. Because the emission of NOX and VOC, both precursors to the formation of ozone, will be delayed until after noon, this delay will lead to a reduction in ozone that is equivalent to that which would result from approximately 4.6 tpd of NOX reduction.

The Texas regulation allows operators to submit an alternate emissions reduction plan by May 31, 2003. The alternate plan would allow operation during the restricted hours, provided the plan achieves reductions of NOX and VOCs that would result in ozone benefits equivalent to the underlying regulation.

The regulation exempts from the restriction use at a domestic residence by the owner of, or a resident at, that domestic residence, use by a non-commercial operator, or any equipment used exclusively for emergency operations to protect human health and safety or the environment, including equipment being used in the repair of facilities, devices, systems, or infrastructure that have failed, or are in danger of failing, in order to prevent immediate harm to public health, safety, or the environment.

The affected area would include the following counties within the HG nonattainment area: Brazoria, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, and Montgomery. This control strategy is a necessary measure to consider for contributing to a successful attainment demonstration with the NAAQS for ozone.

What Are the Requirements of the December 20, 2000, Texas SIP Revision for Restricting Motor Vehicle Idling?

The purpose of this rule is to establish idling limits for gasoline and diesel-powered engines in heavy-duty motor vehicles in the HG area. The rule defines heavy-duty motor vehicles as those motor vehicles that have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of greater than 14,000 pounds. To comply with the motor vehicle idling regulations, no person in the affected counties may cause, suffer, allow, or permit the primary propulsion engine of a heavy-duty motor vehicle to idle for more than five consecutive minutes when the vehicle is not in motion during the time period April 1 through October 31.

These idling limits will lower NOX emissions and other pollutants from fuel combustion. Because NOX is a precursor to ground-level ozone formation, reduced emissions of NOX will result in ground-level ozone reductions. It is estimated that this measure will achieve a minimum of 0.48 tpd of NOX equivalent reductions.

The Texas regulation allows the following exemptions: covered vehicles that are forced to remain motionless because of traffic conditions over which the operator has no control; vehicles being used as an emergency or law enforcement motor vehicle; when the engine of a covered motor vehicle is being operated for maintenance or diagnostic purposes; when the engine of a covered motor vehicle is being operated solely to defrost a windshield; when the covered vehicle is being operated to provide a power source necessary for mechanical operation other than propulsion, passenger compartment heating, or air conditioning; where the primary propulsion engine of a covered vehicle is being operated to supply heat or air conditioning necessary for passenger comfort/safety in those vehicles intended for commercial passenger transportation or school buses, in which case idling up to a maximum of 30 minutes is allowed; where the primary propulsion engine of a covered vehicle is being used for transit operations, in which case idling up to a maximum of 30 minutes is allowed; and where the primary propulsion engine of a vehicle is being used in airport ground support equipment. The exemption for ground service equipment is intended to cover all equipment that is used to service aircraft during passenger and/or cargo loading and unloading, maintenance, and other ground-based operations.

The affected area would include the following counties within the HG nonattainment area: Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery, and Waller. This control strategy is a necessary measure to consider for contributing to a successful attainment demonstration with the NAAQS for ozone.

The TNRCC has proposed revisions to the idling restriction rule. The changes clarify that the operator of a rented or leased vehicle is responsible for compliance with the requirements in situations where the operator of a leased or rented vehicle is not employed by the owner of the vehicle. Our preliminary review indicates that the changes do not weaken the rule, but merely clarify enforcement provisions. Should a SIP revision be submitted incorporating these changes, the EPA may publish a revision to this rule.

Proposed Action

We are proposing approval of two rules: Lawn Service Equipment Operating Restrictions; and, Requirements for Motor Vehicle Idling for the HG Ozone Nonattainment Area.

Administrative Requirements

Under Executive Order 12866 (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993), this action is not a “significant regulatory action” and therefore is not subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget. This action merely approves state law as meeting federal requirements and imposes no additional requirements beyond those imposed by state law. Accordingly, the Administrator certifies that this rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.). Because this rule approves pre-existing requirements under state law and does not impose any additional enforceable duty beyond that required by state law, it does not contain any unfunded mandate or significantly or uniquely affect small governments, as described in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Public Law 104-4). This rule also does not have a Start Printed Page 31199substantial direct effect on one or more Indian tribes, on the relationship between the Federal Government and Indian tribes, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities between the Federal Government and Indian tribes, as specified by Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000), nor will it have substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government, as specified in Executive Order 13132 (64 FR 43255, August 10, 1999), because it merely approves a state rule implementing a federal standard, and does not alter the relationship or the distribution of power and responsibilities established in the Clean Air Act. This rule also is not subject to Executive Order 13045 (62 FR 19885, April 23, 1997), because it is not economically significant.

In reviewing SIP submissions, EPA's role is to approve state choices, provided that they meet the criteria of the Clean Air Act. In this context, in the absence of a prior existing requirement for the State to use voluntary consensus standards (VCS), EPA has no authority to disapprove a SIP submission for failure to use VCS. It would thus be inconsistent with applicable law for EPA, when it reviews a SIP submission, to use VCS in place of a SIP submission that otherwise satisfies the provisions of the Clean Air Act. Thus, the requirements of section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (15 U.S.C. 272 note) do not apply. As required by section 3 of Executive Order 12988 (61 FR 4729, February 7, 1996), in issuing this rule, EPA has taken the necessary steps to eliminate drafting errors and ambiguity, minimize potential litigation, and provide a clear legal standard for affected conduct. EPA has complied with Executive Order 12630 (53 FR 8859, March 15, 1988) by examining the takings implications of the rule in accordance with the “Attorney General's Supplemental Guidelines for the Evaluation of Risk and Avoidance of Unanticipated Takings” issued under the executive order. This rule does not impose an information collection burden under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.).

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List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

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Authority: 42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

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Dated: May 29, 2001.

Lynda F. Carroll,

Acting Regional Administrator, Region 6.

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[FR Doc. 01-14477 Filed 6-8-01; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6560-50-P