PADEP Continues Work to Finalize Air Quality Permitting Exemption Guidance

August 8, 2010
by MIKE NINES
Client Alert Newsletter August 2010

On May 29, 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection ("PADEP") re-issued its Air Quality Permit Exemptions Draft Technical Guidance Document for public comment. Pursuant to 25 Pa. Code 127.14(d), the PADEP may establish a list of sources and physical changes meeting permitting exemption criteria. This guidance document was re-issued and subject to public comment based on additional changes to the originally proposed revisions of November 22, 2008.

Of note, PADEP is proposing revisions to this guidance document to include more restrictive exemption criteria for oil and gas exploration and production facilities and operations under Category No. 38. The owners and operators of internal combustion engines, flares, and/or liquid storage tanks not meeting the requirements identified in Category No. 38, are required to submit a request for determination ("RFD") to the department. If the RFD is not approved by PADEP, an application seeking authorization to use a general permit or plan approval must be submitted to the appropriate PADEP regional office.

Additional changes include the requirement to submit an RFD for internal combustion engines, and all exempted internal combustion engines regardless of size at a facility with combined nitrogen oxide ("NOx") emissions less than or equal to 100 lbs/hr, 1,000 lbs/day, 2.75 tons during the ozone season (i.e., the period beginning May 1st of each year and ending on September 30th of the same year). In addition, annual NOx emissions at the facility must not exceed 6.6 tons on a 12-month rolling basis. This category of emission sources would not include peak shaving engine generators. In the event that internal combustion engines are exempted from permitting through the RFD process, the owner or operator must maintain an operating log that includes the dates the unit operated, total operating hours per day, and total number of days of operation per year.

The proposed revisions to the guidance document also provide a conditional exemption for uncontrolled volatile organic compound ("VOC") emissions at a single facility less than or equal to 2.7 tons per year. VOC emissions containing hazardous air pollutants ("HAPs") at the facility must be less than 1,000 lbs/yr of a single HAP or one ton per year of a combination of HAPs. VOC emissions from sources containing HAPs including polychlorobiphenols, chromium, mercury, lead, polycyclic organic matter or dioxins and furans will not be eligible for the limited VOC exemption.

Although the public comment period officially closed on July 18, 2010, the PADEP anticipates that the final document will be available prior to the end of 2010.