4 The record articles

February 2016 May As Well Be Tomorrow: Major Source Boiler MACT and Timing

Posted: January 24th, 2013

Author: All4 Staff 

Consultants and environmental personnel at industrial facilities are used to spreading the warning “plan now, this compliance date will be right around the corner.”  Although we say it often, the warning is rarely without merit.  Here we are again reviewing the Major Source Boiler MACT regulations and we will say it again:  now is the time to plan for compliance.  The compliance date for existing sources is likely to be in February 2016 (depending on when the final rule is published in the Federal Register).  Although February 2016 seems like the distant future, there are several considerations that will compress the compliance timeline and create the need for immediate action between now and then:

  • Capital Costs:  Many facilities have struggled to set plans for future expansion amidst the uncertainty of how much capital expenditure will be required to comply with the Boiler MACT regulations.  Now that we have the final rule in place, we can define the compliance costs of the rule.  However, the process of defining that cost isn’t always simple because controlling certain pollutants (like carbon monoxide (CO) regulated under Boiler MACT) could increase emissions of other pollutants (like nitrogen oxides (NOX)) and bring New Source Review (NSR) permitting regulations into play.  In rare cases, modifications made for Boiler MACT purposes could trigger NSR permitting and control requirements for other pollutants and complicate the process of defining required capital costs.  Understanding how these rules play together now will be critical in planning for other projects.
  • Resource Access:  Many facilities will be required to install new particulate matter (PM) emissions controls or upgrade existing controls.  These installations and upgrades will be resource intensive.  They will require access to the equipment, access to engineering resources, and access to stack testing firms to measure PM emissions in support of the engineering efforts.  These resources are not unlimited, particularly when many facilities are drawing from them at the same time, as they likely will to comply with Boiler MACT.  Once again, the earlier these resources are addressed the better.
  • Construction Permitting Timelines:  There are very few Boiler MACT modifications that will not require some level of Clean Air Act construction permitting.  Most states require permit application submittals for control device installations and air system modifications, particularly since with those modifications will come the regulatory provisions of Boiler MACT that will be incorporated into facility operating permits.  Like any other construction permitting process, it will take time to receive the appropriate permits authorizing installation and construction of control devices from state agencies.  Further, there are some facilities that have limited windows of time (shutdowns, rampdowns in production, etc.) during which these projects can be implemented.  When you overlay state permitting timelines with the available windows to complete the physical changes and consider the items mentioned above, February 2016 may not look so far away.

Given the time necessary to prepare engineering studies for control device options, to conduct testing programs, and to prepare and submit permit applications, the three (3) year timeframe for compliance now may be a challenge for some facilities. Though the rule has provisions for a one (1) year extension, the message is clear: now is the time for action.


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