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

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