Dr. Dragun Receives Foundation Achievement Award

Congratulations to “our boss,” Dr. James Dragun, who was the recipient of the AEHS Foundation Achievement Award in San Diego, California last week.  Dr. Dragun is a soil chemist, author of several books on soil chemistry, Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Soil and Sediment Contamination, full Professor at the University of Massachusetts and at Wayne State University, Detroit, MI…and president of The Dragun Corporation. 

To read more about the award, follow this hyperlink to page 4

http://www.aehsfoundation.org/Member/AEHSFoundation/Images/ImageGallery/2012%20FINAL%20PROGRAM.pdf

The Clean Air Act, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and a Watchful Eye

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released documents and is requesting comments on the draft air emissions estimating methodologies developed as part of the January 2005, “voluntary” Air Compliance Agreement with the animal feeding operations industry. This agreement resulted in the two year National Air Emissions Monitoring Study (NAEMS).

As focus is on the June 11, 2012 deadline for submitting comments to the EPA and how the emission factors from this study will impact agriculture, don’t take your eye off the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions issue.  Let me explain why.

Last month we mentioned an article published in “Counterpunch.”   This article states that “factory farming” is the major source of Greenhouse Gas (GHGs) emission.  Setting aside Counterpunch’s admittedly less than mainstream views, we also mentioned a recent study by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).  In this research, NASA presented the results of their study on GHGs and suggested that “Control of methane emissions from livestock, mainly through farm-scale anaerobic digestion of manure from cattle and pigs,” is one key method to slow the pace of global warming.

Also, recall also that in our February 2011 issue we mentioned a Federal Register Notice regarding the USDA’s intent to find methods that will help farmers, ranchers, and forest land owners to assess their greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint.  And don’t forget the lengthy internationally funded study “Livestock’s Long Shadow” sponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2006). This 300-page report said among other things that the world’s livestock sector has a significant impact on the environment leading to climate change, air pollution, land, soil and water degradation, and reduction in biodiversity.

Make no mistake, there are several organizations that are interested in quantifying GHGs from farms, and others that are interested in reducing GHGs from farms.

Most regulations, and particularly, environmental regulations, have a significant political component to them. The very fact that GHGs are being regulated under the Clean Air Act (CAA) is politically and emotionally charged. One of the reasons this is controversial is the very nature of the CAA permitting process, which can be a regulatory monstrosity. 

The regulatory burden under the CAA grew significantly when the 1990 CAA Amendments (CAAA) were passed.  This is when Title V of the CAAA was introduced.  For “Major Sources” of emissions, Title V was (and is) a headache.  Obtaining and maintaining a Title V permit is no small undertaking, and the record keeping requirements are significant.

But Title V only applies to Major Sources of air pollution – so most companies were spared from this.

But now you can be a Major Source, not because you have hazardous air pollutants, but based on your GHG emissions alone. While the threshold is still fairly high (100,000 tons per year (tpy) Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (CO2e)), there is no guarantee that number will remain at 100,000 tpy.

So what are the GHG emissions from agriculture (GHG emissions were not part of the NAEMS)?  As stated previously, it is the focus of several studies. According to the EPA’s 2012 Draft U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report, nation-wide aggregate emission of the two major GHGs from agriculture (methane and nitrous oxide) are estimated at 444,000,000 metric tpy of CO2e.

Does all this suggest that agriculture can expect future GHG regulation?  At a minimum it’s worth keeping one eye on the emission standards being developed from completion of the NAEMS and another eye on the GHG issue.

NOTE: We want to again point out that as it relates to regulating GHGs from livestock agriculture, Part 98, Subpart JJ addresses Manure Management. The EPA is not currently implementing Subpart JJ due to a Congressional restriction.

Is Your Company a Title V Major Source Based on GHG Emission?

The Tailoring Rule1 is potentially a significant environmental permitting issue for some companies.  You can now be a Title V Major Source under the Clean Air Act (CAA) based solely on your greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. And with the July 1, 2012 deadline approaching, there might be a sense of urgency as some companies try to determine if they are a major source.

Prior to the June 3, 2010 rule, a Title V major source was defined as a source with potential emissions greater than 100/250 tons/year (tpy) of a single criteria pollutant or aggregate criteria pollutants respectively or 10/25 tpy of a single Hazardous Air Pollutant (HAPs) or aggregate HAPs respectively.

This definition of a major source changed when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule that established their approach to address GHG emissions from stationary sources under the CAA permitting program. This rule is “fallout” from the Massachusetts v. EPA case.

This final rule “tailors” the requirements of these CAA permitting programs to limit which facilities will be required to obtain PSD and title V permits.  So why was this tailoring of the rule necessary?  If the existing (100/250) criteria pollutant threshold would have been applied to GHG “emitters,” the EPA said, “…millions of Title V permits would have been required nationwide.”

So what does this Tailoring Rule mean to you and how can you know if you are a major source under the CAA? While it’s a bit complicated, it essentially boils down to this: Facilities that emit or have the potential to emit, at least 100,000 tpy Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (CO2e) and 100 tpy of GHGs on a mass basis, may be subject to Title V permitting requirements.

Remember the key words here are “potential to emit.”  When you are evaluating your GHG emissions and crunching your numbers, you have to assume your facility is operating at full capacity (8,760 hours/year) and your equipment (whether in use or not) is operating at its theoretical capacity. That is your potential to emit.

The next logical question is what are the GHGs? There are six regulated GHGs; carbon dioxide (CO2), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6).  Some of these GHGs include a “family of compounds.”

Each GHG has a specific Global Warming Potential (GWP) associated with it – the GWP factor for CO2 would be one.    But the GWP will vary greatly based on the specific chemical.  For example, trifluoromethyl sulphur pentafluoride (SF5CF3) has a GWP of 17,700.

There are several (tedious) steps necessary to calculate your facility-wide actual and potential emissions.  But if you are now a major source, you must do one of the following:

  1. Apply for a Title V Permit by the July 1, 2012 deadline
  2. Become a true minor source (e.g., use of more efficient equipment, decommission equipment no longer in use, change fuels, etc…)
  3. Immediately opt out of the permit (e.g. enforceable limits on emissions)

It’s worth noting that the Best Available Control Technology (BACT) for GHGs is “efficiency,” in other words, reduction of your emission.

This is a very brief overview of the Tailoring Rule, and we encourage you to evaluate the potential applicability of this rule at your facility soon.  If you have any questions or require assistance with this or other environmental regulations, please contact Matthew Schroeder, P.E. (mschroeder@dragun.com) at 248-932-0228.

Note 1: Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Title V Greenhouse Gas Tailoring Rule; Final Rule, 70 Fed. Reg. 31,514, June 3, 2010

Ontario’s Toxics Reduction Act

ONTARIO REGULATION 455/09

Owners and operators at companies in Ontario have increased environmental reporting and planning obligations under the Toxics Reduction Act (TRA).  Facilities in a prescribed sector (NAICS code commencing with “31,” “32,” “33,” or “212” that process minerals) are required to report under the Ontario TRA.  The chemicals that must be reported in the TRA are those chemicals found on (Environment Canada’s) National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) list.  Additionally, facilities are required to report for acetone under O.Reg.127/01, which is not on the NPRI list.

For those who are required to develop a TRA Plan (Plan), your Plan must include an approach to reduce each substance.  It is important to note that while the Plan is required, the implementation is voluntary.

There are seven acceptable reduction options:

  1. Materials substitution
  2. Product  design or reformulation
  3. Equipment or process modification
  4. Spill or leak prevention
  5. On-site reuse or recycling
  6. Improved inventory management and purchasing techniques
  7. Training or improved operating techniques

Some key points to consider include: “no reduction” can also be an option; in other words, there may not be a suitable option to reduce the amount of a toxic chemical.  Your Plan is based on the previous year’s data. The Plan will be kept at your facility (one plan per facility), and there is no prescribed format.   Keep in mind the Plan must be certified jointly by a Toxic Substance Reduction Planner and by the highest ranking employee at the facility.

Some key upcoming dates to keep in mind:  For facilities subject to the TRA, a Plan Summary is to be submitted to Ministry of the Environment and provided to the public by December 31, 2012.  An annual report must be submitted to the Ministry by June 1, 2013.

These are just a few considerations as you prepare for your TRA Compliance requirements. If you have question or need assistance with your TRA Compliance, contact Christopher Paré (cpare@dragun.com) at 519-979-7300.

Is There an Environmental Regulatory “Onslaught”?

Kathleen Hartnett White, writing for the Texas Public Policy Foundation says, “The U.S. economy, struggling to find a path back to sustained growth, stands in the cross-hairs of the Environmental Protection Agency’s heavy-handed regulatory onslaught. EPA, under the Obama administration, is churning out new rules unprecedented in speed, number, scope, stringency and costs.”

Ms White, a Distinguished Senior Fellow-in-Residence and Director for the Armstrong Center for Energy and the Environment also writes, “Never in its 40-year history has EPA simultaneously promulgated so many major environmental rules characterized by converging effective dates, massive compliance costs, and mandates exceeding existing technological controls. Nor has EPA before relied on such speculative, manipulated science to justify this most aggressive regulatory agenda to date.”

 The 20-page paper provides a critique of 10 EPA rules

 1. Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR);

2. Electric Utility Maximum Available Control Technology

Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (Utility MACT);

3. Industrial Boiler MACT;

4. Portland Cement Kiln MACT;

5. Cooling Water Intake Structure Rule (CWIS);

6. Coal Combustion Residuals Rule (CCR);

7. Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS);

8. Particulate Matter (PM) NAAQS;

9. Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Regulation of Stationary Sources;

10. GHG Regulation of Mobile Sources

The document can be found here http://www.texaspolicy.com/pdf/2012-02-RR01-EPAsApproachingRegulatoryAvalanche-ACEE-KathleenHartnettWhite.pdf