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Pennsylvania RACT 2 – Are We There Yet?

Posted: April 22nd, 2015

Authors: John S. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) has announced several changes to the Final-Form Reasonably Available Control Technology regulations that affect major sources of nitrogen oxides (NOX) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).  This particular rule has been under development since 2012 and the Pennsylvania Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee (AQTAC) approved the final form rule on November 7, 2014 following a presentation by PADEP.   ALL4 has been following the development of the RACT 2 rule since 2012 and has been providing periodic updates via our website. Several important changes have been made to the RACT 2 rule since AQTAC approval including generic revisions, source specific revisions, and interpretive revisions to the emissions averaging provisions.  PADEP made these revisions after review of Federal RACT requirements and reconsideration of comments made both during and after the official comment period, citing their responsibility to adopt regulations that meet all of the Federal RACT requirements. While PADEP does not believe that it is necessary to re-propose the RACT 2 regulation or have AQTAC reconsider the Final Form rule for approval, they presented the changes to AQTAC during their meeting on April 16, 2015.

The source-specific RACT 2 changes impact Electric Utility Generating Units (EGUs) that are required to control NOX emissions for units with existing Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) controls.  Previously the EGUs were required to meet a RACT emission limit of 0.15 pounds of NOX per million Btu of heat input when the SCR inlet temperature is at or above 600° F.  PADEP lowered this RACT emission limit to 0.12 pounds NOX per million Btu of heat input.  PADEP elected to lower this RACT 2 presumptive emission limit following reconsideration of the dataset used to establish the original limit, which included the removal of higher emitting affected EGUs from the average that were deemed not representative of typical SCR RACT performance levels.

The other changes were characterized by PADEP as “clarifications” of the RACT 2 regulations.  The first clarification affected definitions and boiler/heater tune-up requirements, which were revised to be more consistent with Federal definitions and rules for those RACT affected source types.  The second clarification was to the formula for determining the allowable emissions for facilities planning to use the 30-day rolling emission average limit option across multiple emission units.  PADEP clarified that the 30-day allowable RACT limit must represent the lowest permitted emission rate for each affected source if such limits are lower than the presumptive RACT NOX emission limit specified in the RACT rule in Section 129.97.  This revision effectively makes any NOX emission limit in an operating permit a de-facto RACT emission limit for purposes of a 30-day average for multiple sources if that NOX emission limit is lower than the presumptive RACT NOX emission limit.  PADEP cited 25 Pa. Code Section 129.98(k) of the RACT 2 regulation as the source of this interpretation.  25 Pa. Code Section 129.98(k) states that NOX emission reductions required by state and federal regulations cannot be used to offset RACT NOX emission reductions.

No matter how one characterizes the changes to the method for determining the 30-day NOX RACT emissions limit, it will mean that more “case-by-case” RACT submittals will be prepared by affected sources and submitted to PADEP under RACT 2 for review, approval, and finally included in Pennsylvania’s State Implementation Plan (SIP) than would otherwise have been submitted before this clarification.  Companies that were considering use of the RACT multi-source emission averaging provisions will need to carefully reconsider their margin of compliance before committing to this compliance option. Of special note are industrial natural gas-fired boilers that must meet the 0.10 pounds of NOX per million BTU of heat input under RACT 2.  Such units would have been prime candidates for the NOX averaging provisions across multiple boilers.  The RACT 2 natural gas industrial boiler presumptive emission limit is very tight considering that the New Source Performance Standard for these types of gas-fired boilers (e.g., which apply to “new” affected sources) is also 0.10 pound of NOX per million BTU of heat input.  Many of the natural gas-fired boilers (or combustion units per the RACT rule vernacular) that are affected by RACT 2 were also impacted by Pennsylvania’s “first round” of NOX RACT in the 1990s and elected to install new, low-NOx burners to meet RACT at that time to comply. Additional controls would be required for many of these units to meet the new lower presumptive NOX RACT 2 emission rate.

This appears to be the final version of RACT 2 that will be presented to the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) in July or August this year for adoption.  Now is the time to begin testing your RACT applicable emission sources and strategizing regarding how your facility will meet these new NOX and VOC regulations.  Unless approved otherwise, compliance will be required within one (1) year of adoption.  If you have any questions, give me a call at (717) 822-0009 or email me at jslade@all4inc.com.


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