EPA to Finalize Fine Particle Rule, State Implementation to Follow

January 16, 2006
by KATE VACCARO
Client Alert Newsletter Forecast 2006

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") has acted in recent months to regulate emissions of fine particulate matter ("PM2.5") and its precursors. Fine particles are less than or equal to 2.5 micrometers in diameter and can lead to a host of health problems, including respiratory infections, asthma attacks, and diminished lung capacity. In early 2006, EPA expects to finalize its November 2005 proposed rule to implement the fine particulate matter National Ambient Air Quality Standard ("NAAQS") established in 1997 ("PM2.5 Implementation Rule"). Pursuant to the PM2.5 Implementation Rule, states with areas deemed to be in nonattainment with the PM2.5 NAAQS (including Pennsylvania and New Jersey) must submit state implementation plans by 2008 that demonstrate how they will achieve attainment. Such state plans will include new source review requirements for PM2.5 sources in nonattainment areas, and as a result, these and other sources may have to employ more stringent pollution control technologies to enable the states to demonstrate reasonable further progress toward attainment. Although such requirements may not take effect prior to 2008, sources of PM2.5 and its precursors should be aware of issues and costs surrounding the testing, quantification, and control of these emissions. In addition to the PM2.5 Implementation Rule, EPA recently proposed tightening the existing PM2.5 NAAQS. A more stringent PM2.5 NAAQS will undoubtedly result in even more areas designated as being in nonattainment with the PM2.5 standard, and thereby subject additional sources to PM2.5 control requirements. EPA expects to finalize the proposed PM2.5 NAAQS in September 2006.