Changes to Qualified Facilities in Texas
Posted: August 20th, 2020Authors: All4 Staff
When it comes to a revision of an existing air permit in Texas, the mechanism is primarily determined by the type of permit. For example, a permit-by-rule (PBR) permit usually goes through a revision, whereas a case-by-case permit undergoes an amendment. However, there are some rules in 30 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) that provide more flexibility for this process. If these rules are used properly, it can ease the burden of the permitting process and greatly facilitate the implementation of the changes. One of these mechanisms is referred to as “Changes to Qualified Facilities.”
“Changes to Qualified Facilities” was implemented as 30 TAC 116.116(e). If all the conditions of this rule are met, using this rule may simplify changes to PBRs, standard permits, or case-by-case permits including both minor and major sources Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and Nonattainment New Source Review (NNSR). Sections below provide highlights of this rule.
In order to be considered a qualified facility, the following criteria must be met:
- The facility must be an existing one. No new construction can be permitted using this process.
- There must be no new air contaminants emitted with the project.
- There must be no changes to current monitoring, emissions determinations, or recordkeeping requirements.
- The facility must prepare an impacts analysis to demonstrate that the changes in air contaminants will not have negative off-property effects.
- If the site is an existing major source, a netting analysis is required to demonstrate that the proposed project will not trigger PSD review or NNSR.
- The facility must have received a preconstruction permit or permit amendment, or qualified for a PBR within 120 months (10 years) before the physical or operational change to the facility will occur, or the facility uses an air pollution control method that is at least as effective as the Best Available Control Technology (BACT) requirements in a permit issued to a similar facility 120 months before the change will occur.
Interchange and Intraplant Trading
As mentioned above, changes relating to all air contaminants must not have negative off-property impacts. Usually, a proposed change will increase the emissions rates of certain pollutants. Therefore, it is critical to understand how to achieve “no negative impacts” under this circumstance.
Generally, if an increase in a regulated compound would result in an exceedance of a facility’s allowable emissions, the facility can implement a control device. To provide some flexibility, this rule allows a decrease in emissions of one compound to be interchanged with an increase in emissions of another compound, provided both compounds are within the same air contaminant category. Because the changes are between different compounds, this is defined as an “interchange.” Compounds from different categories may not be interchanged (e.g., volatile organic compounds cannot be used to interchange with carbon monoxide). The interchange is also adjusted by the ratio of the effects screening levels (ESL) of the compounds.
Furthermore, the rule allows the change to happen between different qualified facilities. This is defined as intraplant trading. Depending on the project, a facility or facilities may need to apply both interchange and intraplant trading.
For example, let’s assume compound A has an ESL of 10 milligrams per cubic meter (mg/m3) while compound B has an ESL of 50 mg/m3. If the increase of emissions for compound B is 10 tons per year (tpy), using interchange, the facility would need to reduce the emissions of compound A by 2 tpy. However, since both A and B are under the VOC category, the total VOC will increase by 8 tpy. Because the rule does not allow a net increase for any category, an additional reduction of 8 tpy of VOC must be allocated. Please note this example only presents the long-term (tpy) analysis. A similar study should also be carried out for the applicable short-term emissions in pounds per hour (lbs/hr).
Besides the PI-E form, the application also needs to include one of the following:
- For NNSR, greenhouse gas PSD (GHGPSD), and PSD permits: a revision to an NSR permit condition and federal applicability netting. (Remember, this type of project must be a “minor” NSR action. If the site is a major source, a detailed netting analysis must be made for each proposed change to determine the applicability of major NSR by demonstrating that any increase in actual emissions is below the threshold for major modifications.)
- For case-by-case minor permits: supporting information such as interchange or intraplant trading should be considered as part of a permit revision request. If a control device is used, a pollution control project (PCP) standard permit with form PI-1S is potentially required.
- For standard permits: supporting information such as interchange or intraplant trading should be considered as part of a permit revision request.
- For PBRs: Form APD-CERT must be attached.
How does it matter?
As mentioned above, this permitting mechanism provides a relatively easier way to authorize a project if all the conditions are met. Especially, because this process is a revision to case-by-case, PSD, NNSR and GHGPSD permits, it is much simpler than requesting an amendment. Each company should carefully evaluate its project and determine if this option is feasible.
This blog has discussed the main features of 30 TAC 116.116(e) – “Changes to qualified facilities.” However, it is only meant to be a summary and does not include every detail of the rule. If you have any further questions regarding this topic or would like assistance reviewing your project to determine the appropriate air permitting mechanism, please contact us.