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Proposed Rule

Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; Virginia; Prevention of Significant Deterioration; Greenhouse Gas Permitting Authority and Tailoring Rule Revision

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION:

Proposed rule.

SUMMARY:

EPA is proposing to approve a State Implementation Plan (SIP) revision submitted by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VADEQ). This revision pertains to EPA's greenhouse gas (GHG) permitting provisions as promulgated on June 3, 2010. This action is being taken under the Clean Air Act (CAA).

DATES:

Written comments must be received on or before February 11, 2011.

ADDRESSES:

Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID Number EPA-R03-OAR-2010-1028 by one of the following methods:

A. www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.

B. E-mail: cox.kathleen@epa.gov.

C. Mail: EPA-R03-OAR-2010-1028, Kathleen Cox, Associate Director, Office of Permits and Air Toxics, Mailcode 3AP10, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region III, 1650 Arch Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103.

D. Hand Delivery: At the previously-listed EPA Region III address. Such deliveries are only accepted during the Docket's normal hours of operation, and special arrangements should be made for deliveries of boxed information.

Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket ID No. EPA-R03-OAR-2010-1028. EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included in the public docket without change, and may be made available online at www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided, unless the comment includes information claimed to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Do not submit information that you consider to be CBI or otherwise protected through www.regulations.gov or e-mail. The www.regulations.gov Web site is an “anonymous access” system, which means EPA will not know your identity or contact information unless you provide it in the body of your comment. If you send an e-mail comment directly to EPA without going through www.regulations.gov, your e-mail address will be automatically captured and included as part of the comment that is placed in the public docket and made available on the Internet. If you submit an electronic comment, EPA recommends that you include your name and other contact information in the body of your comment and with any disk or CD-ROM you submit. If EPA cannot read your comment due to technical difficulties and cannot contact you for clarification, EPA may not be able to consider your comment. Electronic files should avoid the use of special characters, any form of encryption, and be free of any defects or viruses.

Docket: All documents in the electronic docket are listed in the www.regulations.gov index. Although listed in the index, some information is not publicly available, i.e., CBI or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such as copyrighted material, is not placed on the Internet and will be publicly available only in hard copy form. Publicly available docket materials are available either electronically in www.regulations.gov or in hard copy during normal business hours at the Air Protection Division, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region III, 1650 Arch Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103. Copies of the State submittal are available at the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, 629 East Main Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

David Talley, (215) 814-2117, or by e-mail at talley.david@epa.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Throughout this document, whenever “we,” “us,” or “our” is used, we mean EPA. On October 27, 2010, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality submitted a revision to its SIP for the addition of a new Chapter 85 of 9VAC5.

I. Background

On October 27, 2010, VADEQ submitted a draft revision to EPA for approval into the Virginia SIP to establish appropriate emission thresholds for determining which new or modified stationary sources become subject to Virginia's Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permitting requirements for GHG emissions. Final approval of Virginia's October 27, 2010, SIP revision will put in place the GHG emission thresholds for PSD applicability set forth in EPA's “Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Title V Greenhouse Gas Tailoring Rule,” (the Tailoring Rule) Final Rule, 75 FR 31514 (June 3, 2010), ensuring that smaller GHG sources emitting less than these thresholds will not be subject to permitting requirements when these requirements begin applying to GHGs on January 2, 2011. Pursuant to section 110 of the CAA, EPA is proposing to approve this revision into the Virginia SIP.

Today's proposed action on the Virginia SIP generally relates to three federal rulemaking actions. The first rulemaking is EPA's Tailoring Rule. The second rulemaking is EPA's “Action to Ensure Authority to Issue Permits Under the Prevention of Significant Deterioration Program to Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Finding of Substantial Inadequacy and SIP Call,” Proposed Rule (GHG SIP Call). 75 FR 53892 (September 2, 2010). The third rulemaking is EPA's “Action to Ensure Authority to Issue Permits Under the Prevention of Significant Deterioration Program to Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Federal Implementation Plan,” Proposed Rule, 75 FR 53883 (September 2, 2010) (GHG FIP), which serves as a companion rulemaking to EPA's proposed GHG SIP Call. A summary of each of these rulemakings is described below.

In the first rulemaking, the Tailoring Rule, EPA established appropriate GHG Start Printed Page 2071emission thresholds for determining the applicability of PSD requirements to GHG-emitting sources. In the second rulemaking, the GHG SIP Call (which is not yet final), EPA proposed to find that the EPA-approved PSD programs in 13 States (not including Virginia) are substantially inadequate to meet CAA requirements because they do not appear to apply PSD requirements to GHG-emitting sources. For each of these States, EPA proposed to require the State (through a “SIP Call”) to revise its SIP as necessary to correct such inadequacies. EPA proposed an expedited schedule for these States to submit their SIP revision, in light of the fact that as of January 2, 2011, certain GHG-emitting sources will become subject to the PSD requirements and may not be able to obtain a PSD permit in order to construct or modify. In the third rulemaking, the GHG FIP (which is not yet final), EPA proposed a FIP to apply in any state that is unable to submit, by its deadline, a SIP revision to ensure that the state has authority to issue PSD permits for GHG-emitting sources. Because Virginia already has authority to regulate GHGs, Virginia is only seeking to revise its SIP to put in place the GHG emission thresholds for PSD applicability set forth in EPA's Tailoring Rule, thereby ensuring that smaller GHG sources emitting less than these thresholds will not be subject to permitting requirements when these requirements begin applying to GHGs on January 2, 2011.

Below is a brief overview of GHGs and GHG-emitting sources, the CAA PSD program, minimum SIP elements for a PSD program, and EPA's recent actions regarding GHG permitting. Following this section, EPA discusses, in sections III and IV, the relationship between the proposed Virginia SIP revision and EPA's other national rulemakings as well as EPA's analysis of Virginia's SIP revision.

A. What are GHGs and their sources?

A detailed explanation of GHGs, climate change and the impact on health, society, and the environment is included in EPA's technical support document for EPA's GHG endangerment finding final rule (Document ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2009-0472-11292 at www.regulations.gov).

The endangerment finding rulemaking is discussed later in this rulemaking. A summary of the nature and sources of GHGs is provided below.

GHGs trap the Earth's heat that would otherwise escape from the atmosphere into space and form the greenhouse effect that helps keep the Earth warm enough for life. GHGs are naturally present in the atmosphere and are also emitted by human activities. Human activities are intensifying the naturally occurring greenhouse effect by increasing the amount of GHGs in the atmosphere, which is changing the climate in a way that endangers human health, society, and the natural environment.

Some GHGs, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), are emitted to the atmosphere through natural processes as well as human activities. Other gases, such as fluorinated gases, are created and emitted solely through human activities. The well-mixed GHGs of concern directly emitted by human activities include CO2, methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2 O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), hereafter referred to collectively as “the six well-mixed GHG,” or, simply, GHGs. Together these six well-mixed GHGs constitute the “air pollutant” upon which the GHG thresholds in EPA's Tailoring Rule are based. These six gases remain in the atmosphere for decades to centuries where they become well-mixed globally in the atmosphere. When they are emitted more quickly than natural processes can remove them from the atmosphere, their concentrations increase, thus increasing the greenhouse effect.

In the United States, the combustion of fossil fuels (e.g., coal, oil, gas) is the largest source of CO2 emissions and accounts for 80 percent of the total GHG emissions by mass. Anthropogenic CO2 emissions released from a variety of sources, including through the use of fossil fuel combustion and cement production from geologically stored carbon (e.g., coal, oil, and natural gas) that is hundreds of millions of years old, as well as anthropogenic CO2 emissions from land-use changes such as deforestation, perturb the atmospheric concentration of CO2, and the distribution of carbon within different reservoirs readjusts. More than half of the energy-related emissions come from large stationary sources such as power plants, while about a third come from transportation. Of the six well-mixed GHGs, four (CO2, CH4, N2 O, and HFCs) are emitted by motor vehicles. In the United States, industrial processes (such as the production of cement, steel, and aluminum), agriculture, forestry, other land use, and waste management are also important sources of GHGs.

Different GHGs have different heat-trapping capacities. The concept of Global Warming Potential (GWP) was developed to compare the heat-trapping capacity and atmospheric lifetime of one GHG to another. The definition of a GWP for a particular GHG is the ratio of heat trapped by one unit mass of the GHG to that of one unit mass of CO2 over a specified time period. When quantities of the different GHGs are multiplied by their GWPs, the different GHGs can be summed and compared on a carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2 e) basis. For example, CH4 has a GWP of 21, meaning each ton of CH4 emissions would have 21 times as much impact on global warming over a 100-year time horizon as 1 ton of CO2 emissions. Thus, on the basis of heat-trapping capability, 1 ton of CH4 would equal 21 tons of CO2 e. The GWPs of the non-CO2 GHG range from 21 (for CH4) up to 23,900 (for SF6). Aggregating all GHG on a CO2 e basis at the source level allows a facility to evaluate its total GHG emissions contribution based on a single metric.

B. What are the general requirements of the PSD program?

1. Overview of the PSD Program

The PSD program is a preconstruction review and permitting program applicable to new major stationary sources and major modifications at existing stationary sources. The PSD program applies in areas that are designated “attainment” or “unclassifiable” for a national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS). The PSD program is contained in part C of title I of the CAA. The “nonattainment new source review (NSR)” program applies in areas not in attainment of a NAAQS or in the Ozone Transport Region, and it is implemented under the requirements of part D of title I of the CAA. Collectively, EPA commonly refers to these two programs as the major NSR program. The governing EPA rules are contained in 40 CFR 51.165, 51.166, 52.21, 52.24, and part 51, Appendices S and W. There is no NAAQS for CO2 or any of the other well-mixed GHGs, nor has EPA proposed any such NAAQS; therefore, unless and until EPA takes such further action, the nonattainment NSR program does not apply to GHGs.

The applicability of PSD to a particular source must be determined in advance of construction or modification and is pollutant-specific. The primary criterion in determining PSD applicability for a proposed new or modified source is whether the source is a “major emitting facility,” based on its predicted potential emissions of regulated pollutants, within the meaning of CAA section 169(1) that either constructs or undertakes a modification. EPA has implemented these requirements in its regulations, which use somewhat different Start Printed Page 2072terminology than the CAA does, for determining PSD applicability.

a. Major Stationary Source

Under PSD, a “major stationary source” is any source belonging to a specified list of 28 source categories that emits or has the potential to emit (PTE) 100 tons per year (tpy) or more of any air pollutant subject to regulation under the CAA, or any other source type that emits or has the potential to emit such pollutants in amounts equal to or greater than 250 tpy. We refer to these levels as the 100/250-tpy thresholds. A new source with a potential to emit (PTE) at or above the applicable “major stationary source threshold” is subject to major NSR. These limits originate from section 169 of the CAA, which applies PSD to any “major emitting facility” and defines the term to include any source that emits or has a PTE of 100 or 250 tpy, depending on the source category. Note that the major source definition incorporates the phrase “subject to regulation,” which, as described later, will begin to include GHGs on January 2, 2011, under our interpretation of that phrase as discussed in the recent memorandum entitled, “EPA's Interpretation of Regulations that Determine Pollutants Covered by Federal Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) Permit Program.” 75 FR 17004 (April 2, 2010).

b. Major Modifications

PSD also applies to existing sources that undertake a “major modification,” which occurs when: (1) There is a physical change in, or change in the method of operation of, a “major stationary source;” (2) the change results in a “significant” emissions increase of a pollutant subject to regulation (equal to or above the significance level that EPA has set for the pollutant in 40 CFR 52.21(b)(23)); and (3) there is a “significant net emissions increase” of a pollutant subject to regulation that is equal to or above the significance level (defined in 40 CFR 52.21(b)(23)). Significance levels, which EPA has promulgated for criteria pollutants and certain other pollutants, represent a de minimis contribution to air quality problems. When EPA has not set a significance level for a regulated NSR pollutant, PSD applies to an increase of the pollutant in any amount (that is, in effect, the significance level is treated as zero).

2. General Requirements for PSD

This section provides a very brief summary of the main requirements of the PSD program. One principal requirement is that a new major source or major modification must apply best available control technology (BACT), which is determined on a case-by-case basis taking into account, among other factors, the cost effectiveness of the control and energy and environmental impacts. EPA has developed a “top-down” approach for BACT review, which involves a decision process that includes identification of all available control technologies, elimination of technically infeasible options, ranking of remaining options by control and cost effectiveness, and then selection of BACT. Under PSD, once a source is determined to be major for any regulated NSR pollutant, a BACT review is performed for each attainment pollutant that exceeds its PSD significance level as part of new construction or for modification projects at the source, where there is a significant increase and a significant net emissions increase of such pollutant.[1]

In addition to performing BACT, the source must analyze impacts on ambient air quality to assure that sources do not cause or contribute to violation of any NAAQS or PSD increments and must analyze impacts on soil, vegetation, and visibility. In addition, sources or modifications that would impact Class I areas (e.g., national parks) may be subject to additional requirements to protect air quality related values (AQRVs) that have been identified for such areas. Under PSD, if a source's proposed project may impact a Class I area, the Federal Land Manager is notified and is responsible for evaluating a source's projected impact on the AQRVs and recommending either approval or disapproval of the source's permit application based on anticipated impacts. There are currently no NAAQS or PSD increments established for GHGs, and therefore these PSD requirements would not apply for GHGs, even when PSD is triggered for GHGs. However, if PSD is triggered for a GHG-emitting source, all regulated NSR pollutants that the new source emits in significant amounts would be subject to PSD requirements. Therefore, if a facility triggers NSR for non-GHG pollutants for which there are established NAAQS or increments, the air quality, additional impacts, and Class I requirements would apply to those pollutants.

Pursuant to existing PSD requirements, the permitting authority must provide notice of its preliminary decision on a source's application for a PSD permit and must provide an opportunity for comment by the public, industry, and other interested persons. After considering and responding to comments, the permitting authority must issue a final determination on the construction permit. Usually NSR permits are issued by a state or local air pollution control agency that has its own authority to issue PSD permits under a permit program that has been approved by EPA for inclusion in its SIP. In some areas, EPA has delegated its authority to issue PSD permits under federal regulations to the state or local agency. In other areas, EPA issues the permits under its own authority.

C. What are the CAA requirements to include the PSD program in the SIP?

The CAA contemplates that the PSD program be implemented in the first instance by the states and requires that states include PSD requirements in their SIPs. CAA section 110(a)(2)(C) requires that—

Each implementation plan * * * shall * * * include a program to provide for * * * regulation of the modification and construction of any stationary source within the areas covered by the plan as necessary to assure that national ambient air quality standards are achieved, including a permit program as required in part[] C * * * of this subchapter.

CAA section 110(a)(2)(J) requires that—

Each implementation plan * * * shall * * * meet the applicable requirements of * * * part C of this subchapter (relating to significant deterioration of air quality and visibility protection).

CAA section 161 provides that—

Each applicable implementation plan shall contain emission limitations and such other measures as may be necessary, as determined under regulations promulgated under this part [C], to prevent significant deterioration of air quality for such region * * * designated * * * as attainment or unclassifiable.

These provisions, read in conjunction with the PSD applicability provisions as well as other provisions such as the BACT provision the under CAA Section 165(a)(4), mandate that SIPs include PSD programs that are applicable to, among other things, any air pollutant that is subject to regulation. As discussed below, this includes GHGs on and after January 2, 2011.[2] A number of Start Printed Page 2073states do not have PSD programs approved into their SIPs. In those states, EPA's regulations at 40 CFR 52.21 govern, and either EPA or the state as EPA's delegatee acts as the permitting authority. However, most states have PSD programs that have been approved into their SIPs, and these states implement their PSD programs and act as the permitting authority. Virginia's PSD program has been granted a “limited” approval. The approval was limited because the definition of “baseline actual emissions” at 9 VAC5 Chapter 80 differs from the federal definition at 40 CFR 51.166 (b)(47). This issue will not prevent today's proposed action from being fully approved.

D. What actions has EPA taken concerning PSD requirements for GHG-emitting sources?

1. What are the Endangerment Finding, the Light Duty Vehicle Rule, and the Johnson Memo Reconsideration?

By notice dated December 15, 2009, and pursuant to CAA section 202(a), EPA issued two findings regarding GHGs that are commonly referred to as the “Endangerment Finding” and the “Cause or Contribute Finding.” “Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases Under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act,” 74 FR 66496. In the Endangerment Finding, the Administrator found that six long-lived and directly emitted GHGs—CO2, CH4, N2 O, HFCs, PFCs, and SF6—may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health and welfare. In the Cause or Contribute Finding, the Administrator “define[d] the air pollutant as the aggregate group of the same six * * * greenhouse gases,” 74 FR 66536, and found that the combined emissions of this air pollutant from new motor vehicles and new motor vehicle engines contribute to the GHG air pollution that endangers public health and welfare.

By notice dated May 7, 2010, EPA published what is commonly referred to as the “Light-Duty Vehicle Rule” (LDVR), which for the first time established federal controls on GHGs emitted from light-duty vehicles. “Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards and Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards; Final Rule.” 75 FR 25324. In its applicability provisions, the LDVR specifies that it “contains standards and other regulations applicable to the emissions of six greenhouse gases,” including CO2, CH4, N2 O, HFCs, PFCs, and SF6. 75 FR 25686 (40 CFR 86.1818-12(a)). Shortly before finalizing the LDVR, by notice dated April 2, 2010, EPA published a notice commonly referred to as the Johnson Memo Reconsideration. On December 18, 2008, EPA issued a memorandum, “EPA's Interpretation of Regulations that Determine Pollutants Covered by Federal Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) Permit Program” (known as the “Johnson Memo” or the “PSD Interpretive Memo,” and referred to in this preamble as the “Interpretive Memo”), that set forth EPA's interpretation regarding which EPA and state actions, with respect to a previously unregulated pollutant, cause that pollutant to become “subject to regulation” under the CAA. Whether a pollutant is “subject to regulation” is important for the purposes of determining whether it is covered under the federal PSD permitting program. The Interpretive Memo established that a pollutant is “subject to regulation” only if it is subject to either a provision in the CAA or regulation adopted by EPA under the CAA that requires actual control of emissions of that pollutant (referred to as the “actual control interpretation”). On February 17, 2009, EPA granted a petition for reconsideration on the Interpretive Memo and announced its intent to conduct a rulemaking to allow for public comment on the issues raised in the memorandum and on related issues. EPA also clarified that the Interpretive Memo would remain in effect pending reconsideration.

On March 29, 2010, EPA signed a notice conveying its decision to continue applying (with one limited refinement) the Interpretive Memo's interpretation of “subject to regulation” (“Interpretation of Regulations that Determine Pollutants Covered by Clean Air Act Permitting Programs,” 75 FR 17004). EPA concluded that the “actual control interpretation” is the most appropriate interpretation to apply given the policy implications. However, EPA refined the Agency's interpretation in one respect: EPA established that PSD permitting requirements apply to a newly regulated pollutant at the time a regulatory requirement to control emissions of that pollutant “takes effect” (rather than upon promulgation or the legal effective date of the regulation containing such a requirement). In addition, based on the anticipated promulgation of the LDVR, EPA stated that the GHG requirements of the vehicle rule would take effect on January 2, 2011, because that is the earliest date that a 2012 model year vehicle may be introduced into commerce. In other words, the compliance obligation under the LDVR does not occur until a manufacturer may introduce into commerce vehicles that are required to comply with GHG standards, which will begin with model year 2012 and will not occur before January 2, 2011.

2. What is EPA's Tailoring Rule?

On June 3, 2010 (effective August 2, 2010), EPA promulgated a final rulemaking, the Tailoring Rule, for the purpose of relieving overwhelming permitting burdens that would, in the absence of the rule, fall on permitting authorities and sources. 75 FR 31514. EPA accomplished this by tailoring the applicability criteria that determine which GHG emission sources become subject to the PSD program [3] of the CAA. In particular, EPA established in the Tailoring Rule a phase-in approach for PSD applicability and established the first two steps of the phase-in for the largest GHG-emitters. Additionally, EPA committed to certain follow-up actions regarding future steps beyond the first two, discussed in more detail later in this notice.

For the first step of the Tailoring Rule, which will begin on January 2, 2011, PSD requirements will apply to major stationary source GHG emissions only if the sources are subject to PSD anyway due to their emissions of non-GHG pollutants. Therefore, in the first step, EPA will not require sources or modifications to evaluate whether they are subject to PSD requirements solely on account of their GHG emissions. Specifically, for PSD, Step 1 requires that as of January 2, 2011, the applicable requirements of PSD, most notably, the BACT requirement, will apply to projects that increase net GHG emissions by at least 75,000 tpy CO2 e, but only if the project also significantly increases emissions of at least one non-GHG pollutant.

The second step of the Tailoring Rule, beginning on July 1, 2011, will phase in additional large sources of GHG emissions. New sources that emit, or have the PTE, at least 100,000 tpy CO2 e will become subject to the PSD requirements. In addition, sources that emit or have the PTE at least 100,000 tpy CO2 e and that undertake a modification that increases net GHG Start Printed Page 2074emissions by at least 75,000 tpy CO2 e will also be subject to PSD requirements. For both steps, EPA notes that if sources or modifications exceed these CO2 e-adjusted GHG triggers, they are not covered by permitting requirements unless their GHG emissions also exceed the corresponding mass-based triggers in tpy.

EPA believes that the costs to the sources and the administrative burdens to the permitting authorities of PSD permitting will be manageable at the levels in these initial two steps and that it would be administratively infeasible to subject additional sources to PSD requirements at those times. However, EPA also intends to issue a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking in 2011, in which the Agency will propose or solicit comment on a third step of the phase-in that would include more sources, beginning on July 1, 2013. In the Tailoring Rule, EPA established an enforceable commitment that the Agency will complete this rulemaking by July 1, 2012, which will allow 1 year's notice before Step 3 would take effect. In addition, EPA committed to explore streamlining techniques that may well make the permitting programs much more efficient to administer for GHG, and that therefore may allow their expansion to smaller sources. EPA expects that the initial streamlining techniques will take several years to develop and implement.

In the Tailoring Rule, EPA also included a provision, that no source with emissions below 50,000 tpy CO2 e, and no modification resulting in net GHG increases of less than 50,000 tpy CO2 e, will be subject to PSD permitting before at least 6 years (i.e., April 30, 2016). This is because EPA has concluded that at the present time, the administrative burdens that would accompany permitting sources below this level would be so great that even with the streamlining actions that EPA may be able to develop and implement in the next several years, and even with the increases in permitting resources that EPA can reasonably expect the permitting authorities to acquire, it would be impossible to administer the permit programs for these sources until at least 2016.

As EPA explained in the Tailoring Rule, the threshold limitations are necessary because without it, PSD would apply to all stationary sources that emit or have the PTE more than 100 or 250 tons of GHG per year beginning on January 2, 2011. This is the date when EPA's recently promulgated LDVR takes effect, imposing control requirements for the first time on CO2 and other GHGs. If this January 2, 2011, date were to pass without the Tailoring Rule being in effect, PSD requirements would apply to GHG emissions at the 100/250 tpy applicability levels provided under a literal reading of the CAA as of that date. From that point forward, a source owner proposing to construct any new major source that emits at or higher than the applicability levels (and which therefore may be referred to as a “major” source) or modify any existing major source in a way that would increase GHG emissions would need to obtain a permit under the PSD program that addresses these emissions before construction or modification could begin.

Under these circumstances, many small sources would be burdened by the costs of the individualized PSD control technology requirements and permit applications that the PSD provisions, absent streamlining, require. Additionally, state and local permitting authorities would be burdened by the extraordinary number of these permit applications, which are orders of magnitude greater than the current inventory of permits and would vastly exceed the current administrative resources of the permitting authorities. Permit gridlock would result since the permitting authorities would likely be able to issue only a tiny fraction of the permits requested.

In the Tailoring Rule, EPA adopted regulatory language codifying the phase-in approach. As explained in that rulemaking, many state, local and tribal area programs will likely be able to immediately implement the approach without rule or statutory changes by, for example, interpreting the term “subject to regulation” that is part of the applicability provisions for PSD permitting. EPA has requested permitting authorities to confirm that they will follow this implementation approach for their programs, and if they cannot, then EPA has requested that they notify the Agency so that we can take appropriate follow-up action to narrow federal approval of their programs before GHGs become subject to PSD permitting on January 2, 2011.[4] On July 28, 2010, Virginia provided a letter to EPA with confirmation that the Commonwealth has the authority to regulate GHG in its PSD and title V programs. See the docket for this proposed rulemaking for a copy of Virginia's letter.

The thresholds that EPA established in the Tailoring Rule are based on CO2 e for the aggregate sum of six GHGs that constitute the pollutant that will be subject to regulation, which we refer to as GHG.[5] These gases are: CO2, CH4, N2 O, HFCs, PFCs, and SF6. Thus, in EPA's Tailoring Rule, EPA provided that PSD applicability is based on the quantity that results when the mass emissions of each of these gases is multiplied by the GWP of that gas, and then summed for all six gases. However, EPA further provided that in order for a source's GHG emissions to trigger PSD requirements, the quantity of the GHG emissions must equal or exceed both the applicability thresholds established in the Tailoring Rule on a CO2 e basis and the statutory thresholds of 100 or 250 tpy on a mass basis.[6] Similarly, in order for a source to be subject to the PSD modification requirements, the source's net GHG emissions increase must exceed the applicable significance level on a CO2 e basis and must also result in a net mass increase of the constituent gases combined.

3. What is the GHG SIP Call?

By Federal Register notice dated September 2, 2010, EPA proposed the GHG SIP Call. In that action, along with the companion GHG FIP rulemaking published at the same time, EPA took steps to ensure that in the 13 States that do not appear to have authority to issue PSD permits to GHG-emitting sources at present, either the State or EPA will have the authority to issue such permits by January 2, 2011. EPA explained that although for most states, either the state or EPA is already authorized to issue PSD permits for GHG-emitting sources as of that date, our preliminary information shows that these 13 States have EPA-approved PSD programs that do not appear to include GHG-emitting sources and therefore do not appear to authorize these States to issue PSD permits to such sources. Therefore, EPA Start Printed Page 2075proposed to find that these 13 States' SIPs are substantially inadequate to comply with CAA requirements and, accordingly, proposed to issue a SIP Call to require a SIP revision that applies their SIP PSD programs to GHG-emitting sources. In the companion GHG FIP rulemaking, EPA proposed a FIP that would give EPA authority to apply EPA's PSD program to GHG-emitting sources in any State that is unable to submit a corrective SIP revision by its deadline. Virginia was not one of the States for which EPA proposed a SIP Call.

II. What is the relationship between today's proposed action and EPA's proposed GHG SIP Call and GHG FIP?

As noted above, by notice dated September 2, 2010, EPA proposed the GHG SIP Call. At the same time, EPA proposed a FIP to apply in any state that is unable to submit, by its deadline, a SIP revision to ensure that the state has authority to issue PSD permits to GHG-emitting sources.[7] As discussed in Section IV of this rulemaking, Virginia interprets its current PSD regulations as providing them with the authority to regulate GHG, and as such, Virginia is not included on the list of areas for the proposed SIP call. Additionally, Virginia would not be subject to the FIP to implement GHG for PSD applicability. Virginia's October 27, 2010, proposed SIP revision (the subject of this rulemaking) merely modifies Virginia's SIP to establish appropriate thresholds for determining which stationary sources and modification projects become subject to permitting requirements for GHG emissions under the PSD program of the CAA.

III. General Information Pertaining to SIP Submittals From the Commonwealth of Virginia

In 1995, Virginia adopted legislation that provides, subject to certain conditions, for an environmental assessment (audit) “privilege” for voluntary compliance evaluations performed by a regulated entity. The legislation further addresses the relative burden of proof for parties either asserting the privilege or seeking disclosure of documents for which the privilege is claimed. Virginia's legislation also provides, subject to certain conditions, for a penalty waiver for violations of environmental laws when a regulated entity discovers such violations pursuant to a voluntary compliance evaluation and voluntarily discloses such violations to the Commonwealth and takes prompt and appropriate measures to remedy the violations. Virginia's Voluntary Environmental Assessment Privilege Law, Va. Code Sec. 10.1-1198, provides a privilege that protects from disclosure documents and information about the content of those documents that are the product of a voluntary environmental assessment. The Privilege Law does not extend to documents or information (1) that are generated or developed before the commencement of a voluntary environmental assessment; (2) that are prepared independently of the assessment process; (3) that demonstrate a clear, imminent and substantial danger to the public health or environment; or (4) that are required by law.

On January 12, 1998, the Commonwealth of Virginia Office of the Attorney General provided a legal opinion that states that the Privilege law, Va. Code Sec. 10.1-1198, precludes granting a privilege to documents and information “required by law,” including documents and information “required by Federal law to maintain program delegation, authorization or approval,” since Virginia must “enforce Federally authorized environmental programs in a manner that is no less stringent than their Federal counterparts. * * *” The opinion concludes that “[r]egarding § 10.1-1198, therefore, documents or other information needed for civil or criminal enforcement under one of these programs could not be privileged because such documents and information are essential to pursuing enforcement in a manner required by Federal law to maintain program delegation, authorization or approval.” Virginia's Immunity law, Va. Code Sec. 10.1-1199, provides that “[t]o the extent consistent with requirements imposed by Federal law,” any person making a voluntary disclosure of information to a state agency regarding a violation of an environmental statute, regulation, permit, or administrative order is granted immunity from administrative or civil penalty. The Attorney General's January 12, 1998 opinion states that the quoted language renders this statute inapplicable to enforcement of any Federally authorized programs, since “no immunity could be afforded from administrative, civil, or criminal penalties because granting such immunity would not be consistent with Federal law, which is one of the criteria for immunity.”

Therefore, EPA has determined that Virginia's Privilege and Immunity statutes will not preclude the Commonwealth from enforcing its PSD program consistent with the Federal requirements. In any event, because EPA has also determined that a state audit privilege and immunity law can affect only state enforcement and cannot have any impact on Federal enforcement authorities, EPA may at any time invoke its authority under the CAA, including, for example, sections 113, 167, 205, 211 or 213, to enforce the requirements or prohibitions of the state plan, independently of any state enforcement effort. In addition, citizen enforcement under section 304 of the CAA is likewise unaffected by this, or any, state audit privilege or immunity law.

IV. What is EPA's analysis of Virginia's SIP revision?

On October 27, 2010, VADEQ provided a revision to Virginia's SIP to EPA for approval. This revision to Virginia's SIP is necessary because without it, PSD requirements would apply, as of January 2, 2011, at the 100- or 250-tpy levels provided under the CAA. This would greatly increase the number of required permits, imposing undue costs on small sources; which would overwhelm Virginia's permitting resources and severely impair the function of the program.

Virginia's October 27, 2010, proposed SIP revision establishes thresholds for determining which stationary sources and modification projects become subject to permitting requirements for GHG emissions under Virginia's PSD program. Specifically, Virginia's October 27, 2010, proposed SIP revision includes changes to VADEQ's Rule 9VAC5, specifically the creation of Chapter 85: Permits for Stationary Sources Subject to Regulation, and addresses the thresholds for GHG permitting applicability.

The current SIP-approved program (adopted prior to the promulgation of EPA's Tailoring Rule) applies to major stationary sources (having the potential to emit at least 100 tpy or 250 tpy or more of a regulated NSR pollutant, depending on the type of source) or modifications constructing in areas designated attainment or unclassifiable with respect to the NAAQS.

The changes to Virginia's PSD program regulations at 9VAC5 Chapter 85: Permits for Stationary Sources Subject to Regulation are substantively the same as the federal provisions amended in EPA's Tailoring Rule. As Start Printed Page 2076part of its review of the Virginia submittal, EPA performed a line-by-line review of Virginia's proposed revision and has preliminarily determined that they are consistent with the Tailoring Rule. These changes to Virginia's regulations are also consistent with section 110 of the CAA because they are incorporating GHGs for regulation in the Virginia SIP.

V. Proposed Action

Pursuant to section 110 of the CAA, EPA is proposing to approve Virginia's October 27, 2010, SIP revision, relating to PSD requirements for GHG-emitting sources. Specifically, Virginia's October 27, 2010, proposed SIP revision establishes appropriate emissions thresholds for determining PSD applicability to new and modified GHG-emitting sources in accordance with EPA's Tailoring Rule. EPA has made the preliminary determination that this SIP revision is approvable because it is in accordance with the CAA and EPA regulations regarding PSD permitting for GHGs. EPA is soliciting public comments on the issues discussed in this document. These comments will be considered before taking final action.

VI. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

Under the CAA, the Administrator is required to approve a SIP submission that complies with the provisions of the Act and applicable federal regulations. 42 U.S.C. 7410(k); 40 CFR 52.02(a). Thus, in reviewing SIP submissions, EPA's role is to approve state choices, provided that they meet the criteria of the CAA. Accordingly, this proposed action merely approves the State's law as meeting federal requirements and does not impose additional requirements beyond those imposed by the State's law. For that reason, this proposed action:

  • Is not a “significant regulatory action” subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget under Executive Order 12866 (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993);
  • Does not impose an information collection burden under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.);
  • Is certified as not having a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.);
  • Does not contain any unfunded mandate or significantly or uniquely affect small governments, as described in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-4);
  • Does not have Federalism implications as specified in Executive Order 13132 (64 FR 43255, August 10, 1999);
  • Is not an economically significant regulatory action based on health or safety risks subject to Executive Order 13045 (62 FR 19885, April 23, 1997);
  • Is not a significant regulatory action subject to Executive Order 13211 (66 FR 28355, May 22, 2001);
  • Is not subject to requirements of Section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (15 U.S.C. 272 note) because application of those requirements would be inconsistent with the CAA; and
  • Does not provide EPA with the discretionary authority to address, as appropriate, disproportionate human health or environmental effects, using practicable and legally permissible methods, under Executive Order 12898 (59 FR 7629, February 16, 1994).

In addition, this proposed SIP revision pertaining to greenhouse gas permitting does not have tribal implications as specified by Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000), because the SIP is not approved to apply in Indian country located in the State, and EPA notes that it will not impose substantial direct costs on tribal governments or preempt tribal law.

Start List of Subjects

List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

End List of Subjects Start Authority

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

End Authority Start Signature

Dated: January 3, 2011.

W.C. Early,

Acting Regional Administrator, Region III.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

Footnotes

1.  EPA notes that the PSD program has historically operated in this fashion for all pollutants—when new sources or modifications are “major,” PSD applies to all pollutants that are emitted in significant quantities from the source or project. This rule does not alter that for sources or modifications that are major due to their GHG emissions.

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2.  In the Tailoring Rule, EPA noted that commenters argued, with some variations, that the PSD provisions applied only to NAAQS pollutants, and not GHG, and EPA responded that the PSD provisions apply to all pollutants subject to regulation, including GHG. See 75 FR 31560-62 (June 3, 2010). EPA maintains its position that the PSD provisions apply to all pollutants subject to regulation, and the Agency incorporates by reference the discussion of this issue in the Tailoring Rule.

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3.  The Tailoring Rule also applies to the title V program, which requires operating permits for existing sources. However, today's action does not affect Virginia's title V program.

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4.  Narrowing EPA's approval will ensure that for federal purposes, sources with GHG emissions that are less than the Tailoring Rule's emission thresholds will not be obligated under federal law to obtain PSD permits during the gap between when GHG PSD requirements go into effect on January 2, 2011 and when either (1) EPA approves a SIP revision adopting EPA's tailoring approach, or (2) if a state opts to regulate smaller GHG-emitting sources, the state demonstrates to EPA that it has adequate resources to handle permitting for such sources. EPA expects to finalize the narrowing action prior to the January 2, 2011 deadline with respect to those States for which EPA will not have approved the Tailoring Rule thresholds in their SIPs by that time.

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5.  The term “greenhouse gases” is commonly used to refer generally to gases that have heat-trapping properties. However, in this notice, unless noted otherwise, we use it to refer specifically to the pollutant regulated in the LDVR.

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6.  The relevant thresholds are 100 tpy for title V, and 250 tpy for PSD, except for 28 categories listed in EPA regulations for which the PSD threshold is 100 tpy.

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7.  As explained in the proposed GHG SIP Call (75 FR 53892, 53896), EPA intends to finalize its finding of substantial inadequacy and the SIP call for the 13 listed states by December 1, 2010. EPA requested that the states for which EPA is proposing a SIP call identify the deadline—between 3 weeks and 12 months from the date of signature of the final SIP Call—that they would accept for submitting their corrective SIP revision.

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[FR Doc. 2011-495 Filed 1-11-11; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6560-50-P