May 3, 2013 Initial Compliance Deadline for New Air Standards for Existing Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engines at Area Sources

May 9, 2013
Katherine L. Vaccaro

On May 3, 2013, owners and operators of existing stationary reciprocating internal combustion engines (“RICE”) located at area sources of hazardous air pollutants (“HAP”) were required to begin complying with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA”) recently-promulgated National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (“NESHAP”) for RICE (codified at 40 CFR Part 63, Subpart ZZZZ).  The new rule, which was published in the Federal Register on January 30, 2013, became effective on April 1 and establishes an initial compliance deadline for existing RICE at area sources of May 3.  Although EPA initially sought to establish NESHAP for existing RICE at area sources several years ago, the regulation was delayed until recently while it was tied up in litigation and EPA undertook to revise the rule.  Therefore, May 3, 2013 is the first date that existing RICE at area sources have been required to comply with standards under EPA’s NESHAP program. 

An area source of HAP is a facility that emits or has the potential to emit less than ten tons per year of any single HAP, and less than 25 tons per year of any combination of HAP.  Area sources typically include, but are not limited to, commercial office buildings, hospitals and doctors’ offices, universities, and restaurants.  Area sources typically do not include larger industrial facilities with more significant HAP emissions.  RICE are any internal combustion engines which use reciprocating motion to covert heat into mechanical work, such as any generators used to generate electricity (back-up or otherwise) and fire pumps.

 Among other requirements, EPA’s new standards for RICE establish emission limits, work practice standards, and recordkeeping and reporting requirements for existing RICE at area sources.  The application of these standards to a particular RICE hinges, in part, on whether the unit is classified as “emergency” or “non-emergency” under the rule.  Specifically, if a RICE is classified as an emergency engine, then it is required to comply with certain relatively non-burdensome work practice standards, such as changing the unit’s oil filter and air cleaner on a periodic basis.  By contrast, if a RICE cannot demonstrate compliance with the operating restrictions for emergency units, then it will be classified as a non-emergency engine and required to comply with stringent emission limits, including for carbon monoxide, which may not be achievable without the installation of costly add-on controls.  Importantly, the operating restrictions for emergency RICE in EPA’s new rule are meaningfully more stringent than any earlier limitations on emergency use in this context.  As a result, many RICE that were previously thought (or intended) to be emergency engines may actually be considered non-emergency units under EPA’s new standards.

Existing RICE subject to the new regulation will also have to comply with any applicable recordkeeping, reporting, and notification requirements.  Such requirements would include maintaining records sufficient to demonstrate compliance with applicable operating and emissions limits, as well as submitting a notification of compliance status to EPA within approximately six months of the May 3, 2013 initial compliance deadline.  Please contact Kate Vaccaro at (484) 430-2329 for more information.