Delay of Biomass Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Vacatur
Posted: November 22nd, 2013Author: All4 Staff
On May 18, 2011 U.S. EPA issued a final action deferring, for a period of three (3) years, the application of Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and Title V permitting for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from bioenergy and other biogenic stationary sources. Biogenic CO2 emissions are defined as emissions from a stationary source directly resulting from the combustion or decomposition of biologically-based materials other than fossil fuels and mineral sources of carbon. Common examples include CO2 from decomposition of waste in landfills, combustion of the biological fraction of municipal solid waste or biosolids, combustion of the biological portion of tire-derived fuel, and combustion of wood, wood waste, forest residue, etc.
In a July 12, 2013 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the biogenic CO2 deferral was vacated. This left many open questions such as potential exposure for facilities, or individual projects, that now may retroactively have become major for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (inclusive of biogenic CO2). Would these facilities need to obtain a major source permit for GHGs and would projects that were previously not major for GHGs now need to conduct a Best Available Control Technology (BACT) analysis for GHG emissions?
To complicate matters further, on November 14, 2013 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit granted a request from the biomass industry to delay the July 12, 2013 vacatur of the biogenic CO2 deferral, at least until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on an upcoming related GHG permit case. So, for now, the original three (3) year deferral still stands. Suffice it to say, however, that this isn’t the last word on this topic. Stay tuned…