Curious about Pennsylvania Air Quality – PADEP RACT III Rulemaking Process Update
Posted: March 30th, 2021Authors: Nick L.
It has been about a year in the regulatory rulemaking process since ALL4’s previous article on Pennsylvania’s plan for the third iteration of their Reasonably Available Control Technology (RACT) rule (i.e., the RACT III Rule). An evaluation of RACT is required for emissions units that emit NOX and/or VOC above certain thresholds, are operated at major sources of those ozone precursor pollutants, and are located within specific geographic areas that have not attained the ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) (i.e., nonattainment areas). In this particular case, the RACT III Rule is the result of the 2015 revision to the Ozone NAAQS and Pennsylvania’s inclusion in the northeast Ozone Transport Region (OTR). Pennsylvania is in the northeast OTR, a nonattainment area with regard to the 2015 ozone NAAQS, thus a state requirement to address RACT is necessary, and voila, we have the Pennsylvania RACT III Rule. An update on where things stand is provided below:
- PADEP had a draft proposed RACT III Rule available for the May 2020 air quality technical advisory committee (AQTAC) meeting.
- AQTAC voted to advance the proposed rulemaking to the environmental quality board (EQB) for review and approval.
- The Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued its Opinion in Sierra Club v. U.S. EPA on August 27, 2020. Sierra Club challenged U.S. EPA’s approval of Pennsylvania’s 2016 RACT II regulation. The Court vacated three aspects pertaining to coal-fired power plants with selective catalytic reduction (SCR) controls and remanded the rule to the agency for revision.
- The rulemaking process was paused temporarily and PADEP will need to consider the Third Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision and its impact on the RACT III proposed rulemaking before moving forward.
- A revised proposed RACT III rulemaking is targeted for submission to the EQB in the second quarter of 2021.
Based on the latest draft version of the RACT III Rule, Pennsylvania’s approach is very similar to RACT II. We’ll have to wait for the final version of the rule to understand the nuanced differences. However, there are a few noteworthy items in the draft RACT III Rule. The draft RACT III Rule contains presumptive requirements (e.g., emissions limits and work practice standards) for some affected sources, as well as an alternative case-by-case mechanism in certain situations. The proposed compliance date is January 1, 2023, which would allow an 18-month compliance timeline if the rule is finalized by the end of the second quarter 2021.
Stay tuned for additional updates as the RACT III rulemaking process unfolds. If you have any questions or wish to discuss what RACT in Pennsylvania means for your facility, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610-933-5246 x121.