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Pennsylvania RACT 2 Gains Environmental Quality Board Approval

Posted: December 11th, 2013

Author: All4 Staff 

RACT 2 has been on the regulatory radar screen for major sources of nitrogen oxides (NOX) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in Pennsylvania since mid-2012 as reported by ALL4 in several previous blog posts on 9/17/2012, 10/23/2012, and 11/7/2012.  As noted by John Slade, the Pennsylvania Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee (AQTAC) originally considered RACT 2 during their September 12, 2012 meeting. AQTAC did not provide approval to send the original draft of the RACT 2 regulation to Environmental Quality Board (EQB) as a proposed rule citing several concerns including short submittal and compliance deadlines, questions regarding the expected number of affected facilities, and the anticipated number of case-by-case RACT analyses.  PADEP staff presented a revised RACT 2 draft to AQTAC during the February 4, 2013 meeting and after discussion AQTAC approved to move the draft RACT 2 rule to the EQB for consideration.  The EQB considered the draft RACT 2 rule during the November 17, 2013 meeting and approved the draft rule, making it a proposed rulemaking ready for publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.  Documentation for the RACT 2 rule approved by the EQB can be accessed here.  The exact timing of the publication of a proposed RACT 2 rule in the Pennsylvania Bulletin has not yet been determined but is anticipated to occur during the first quarter of 2014.

The RACT 2 requirements would apply to major NOX or VOC emitting facilities that were in existence on or before July 20, 2012 and would affect emissions units at such facilities for which no RACT requirement has been established.  The term “has been established” pertains to specific limits as defined in 25 Pa. Code §§129.51-129.52c, 129.54-129.69, 129.71-129.73, 129.77, 129.101-129.107, and 129.301-129.310 (i.e., Standards for Sources).  The proposed RACT 2 requirements would supersede the requirements of a RACT permit issued under 25 Pa. Code §§129.91-129.95 (i.e., case-by-case RACT), except in cases where an existing RACT permit specifies more stringent requirements.  Conversely, the draft proposed RACT 2 requirements would not supersede the requirements of 25 Pa. Code §§129.201-129.205 or §§145.111-145.113, except where the proposed RACT 2 requirements are more stringent.

RACT 2 requirements would also apply to facilities that become major NOX or VOC emitting facilities after July 20, 2012 as a result of a modification or the addition of a new source and would affect emissions units at such facilities for which no RACT requirement has been established.  The draft proposed RACT 2 rule differs significantly from its predecessor RACT rule from the mid-1990s as it includes “defined” unit specific RACT limits for most units instead of an overall “case-by-case” approach.  In addition to presumptive RACT requirements for certain combustion units, the draft proposal includes defined numerical NOX RACT standards for specific sources including combustion turbines, stationary internal combustion engines, combustion units greater than 50 MMBtu/hr, and cement kilns.  RACT 2 also includes defined NOX RACT standards for municipal waste landfills and municipal waste combustors.  Specific RACT 2 standards for various sources are presented in terms that are reflective of the source (e.g., combustion units – lb/MMBtu, combustion turbines – ppmvd, internal combustion engines – grams/bhp-hr, etc.).  Presumptive VOC RACT for combustion sources is good engineering practices.  PADEP has made the VOC emission limits in 25 Pa. Code §§129.51-129.52c, 129.54-129.69, 129.71-129.73, 129.77, 129.101-129.107 as presumptive for RACT 2.  All other subject sources of VOC at affected facilities will need to go through case-by-case RACT which PADEP believes will be a relatively small population.

The proposed RACT 2 rule also includes an option for facilities that cannot meet the applicable RACT requirement or RACT emission limitation without installation of an air cleaning device to propose alternative RACT emission limitations for units that are subject to specific RACT limitations.  Unit specific RACT emissions limits would also be required for NOX and VOC sources (at major NOX and VOC emitting facilities) that are not subject to specific RACT emission limitations.  All unit specific RACT proposals would be due six (6) months after the effective date of the RACT 2 rule, with compliance for all units required one (1) year after the effective date of the RACT 2 rule.  The proposed RACT 2 rule would allow subject sources that need to install controls to meet either the presumptive or approved alternative standards to petition for an extension of compliance for up to 3 years after the effective date of the regulation.

An averaging provision is included in the rule that would allow a facility that cannot meet the applicable NOX RACT requirement emission limitation to meet such requirement or limitation by averaging NOX emissions on either a facility-wide or system-wide basis using a 30-day rolling average.  System-wide emissions averaging must be among sources under common control of the same owner or operator in Pennsylvania.  However, there is a trade-off for site or system emissions averaging as the  30-day rolling average cannot be greater than 90% of the sum of the NOX emissions if each individual source included in the average complied with the applicable NOX RACT requirement or emission limitation.

Prescriptive compliance demonstration and recordkeeping requirements are specified in the proposed RACT 2 rule and address continuous emission monitoring systems (CEMS), where applicable, and emission testing requirements.  Compliance demonstrations are generally required within one year of rule finalization or within one year of becoming a major NOX or VOC source, with provisions for waivers under certain circumstances.

An initial review of the proposed NOX RACT presumptive emission limits indicates that technology is available to achieve these emission limits, but in some cases these emission limits are significantly more stringent than the previous RACT case-by-case limits that were approved.  For example, in some cases boilers with older low-NOX burners that met the original RACT will not be able to meet the proposed presumptive NOX RACT limits without either the installation of new low-NOX burners or the use of the NOX RACT averaging provisions.  For facilities that cannot use the averaging provisions, new low-NOX burners will be a significant expense.  It is very important to understand if your RACT 2 subject sources can meet the proposed presumptive emission limits.  Additionally if you have RACT 2 subject VOC emission sources that are not combustion related or already covered by the existing Chapter 129 standards, you should be prepared to conduct a significant case-by-case demonstration of the appropriate VOC RACT for those sources.

The RACT 2 regulations will impact all major NOX and VOC sources in Pennsylvania and many of those impacts could be significant.  ALL4 recommends that potentially affected facilities review and understand how the rule, as proposed, could impact their operations.  Based on that review, facilities should plan on preparing comments in response to the proposal for submittal during the upcoming public comment period and begin to strategically think about compliance strategies for a final RACT 2 rule by the end of 2014.


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