Busy Year Ahead for PA Air Regulation

January 16, 2007
by BART CASSIDY
Client Alert Newsletter Forecast 2007

More than any year in recent memory, 2007 is likely to bring the promulgation of many significant air quality regulatory programs in Pennsylvania. First, with its February 17 publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, state-specific mercury emission regulation of coal-fired electric generating units became effective. The program, superseding a less-onerous federal rule, was approved by the Environmental Quality Board ("EQB") in late 2006 but until recently had been delayed by state Senate opposition. The new regulation calls for cutting power plant mercury emissions 90 percent by 2015.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection ("PADEP") is also advancing two other significant programs. In February, PADEP hopes to secure EQB approval of a substantially revised NSR program, with regulations effective in mid-April. These regulations would impact construction of new sources or modification of existing sources throughout the Commonwealth. They would substantially revise the existing program by changing the test for evaluating emission increases from comparing potential emission rates before and after the change to comparing past actual emissions to future projected emissions. Also, under PADEP's approach, the use of "future projected emissions" would require incorporating emission values into applicable permits. EPA may not approve the revised regulation because it does not fully conform to EPA's program. Separately, PADEP is moving forward with a state regulation to implement, or potentially expand, the federal Clean Air Interstate Rule ("CAIR"). The state program will include an allowance trading program for electric generating unit sulfur dioxide ("SO2") and nitrous oxides ("NOx") emissions.