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RACT 2 – I have less than a year to comply!? What should I be doing now?

Posted: February 12th, 2016

Authors: All4 Staff 

Wow!  Raise your hand if you can’t believe that you are now less than one (1) year away from the final compliance deadline for the Pennsylvania Reasonably Available Control Technology (RACT 2) regulations.  That’s right – even though the final form of the rule has not yet been published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, it is already certain that January 1, 2017 is the Federally mandated compliance deadline by which you must meet if you are a Pennsylvania facility subject to this rule.

Given this very short timeline, a facility subject to the rule should be engaged right now in determining what constitutes RACT for each of its affected emissions units and making decisions as to how compliance with RACT 2 will be specifically demonstrated by the January 1, 2017 compliance deadline.  In this blog, I’m going to share a little background concerning how one determines what constitutes RACT for each of its affected sources.

The process begins by determining which of your emissions units at the facility are considered affected under RACT 2 and then determining whether those units can meet what is termed “presumptive RACT.”  PADEP specifies specific work practice standards, and nitrogen oxides (NOX) and volatile organic compound (VOC) emission limits, at proposed 25 Pa. Code §129.97 for specific NOX– and VOC-emitting sources.  These requirements are known as “presumptive RACT requirements” and “presumptive RACT limitations.”   Very simply, each NOX and/or VOC-emitting emissions unit at your facility must be reviewed in the context of proposed 25 Pa. Code §129.97.  If it is determined that an emissions unit at your facility is subject to, and can comply with, the applicable presumptive RACT provisions identified in the rule, then “presumptive RACT” constitutes RACT for that source and you can proceed to the step of determining how you will demonstrate compliance with those presumptive RACT provisions by January 1, 2017 (a topic that will be discussed in a subsequent blog post).  Alternatively, you have the option of voluntarily adding controls to meet a presumptive RACT limit and thus avoiding a case-by-case analysis as described below.

However, should you determine that an emissions unit cannot meet the applicable presumptive RACT provisions and you want to avoid adding controls, things are not so simple because you must still determine what constitutes RACT!  This process involves evaluation on your end and ultimate approval by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP).  If a unit cannot meet presumptive RACT, you have an option to propose an alternative RACT limit based on a case-by-case analysis.  Utilization of a case-by-case NOX and/or VOC alternative emissions limitation approach under proposed 25 Pa. Code §129.99 requires a facility to submit a RACT proposal within six (6) months of publication of the rule.  The proposal is in the form of an Operating Permit Modification or a Plan Approval Application (PAA) (if installation of controls will be required).  Case-by-case RACT submittals propose alternative emissions limitations and involve top-down technical evaluations specified by 25 Pa. Code §129.92(b).  The case-by-case analysis would need to demonstrate that the emissions limitation you propose is equivalent to RACT for the affected source.  The case-by-case RACT proposal must also, among many other things, outline your plan for demonstrating compliance as well as your proposed alternative compliance timeline (including dates for ordering equipment, dates for making any physical modifications or changes, and dates for the completion of compliance testing) for achieving the NOX and/or VOC emissions limit(s) you propose.  If you intend to go the route of a case-by-case proposal it is extremely important to keep in mind that you only have six (6) months from final publication of the RACT 2 regulation to submit a plan with a proposed alternative RACT limit, or to submit a PAA to install controls if those are necessary.  Because the final form rule will not likely change, facilities that are contemplating alternative RACT limits should already be in action regarding their plans.

Is submitting a case-by-case proposal the only alternative available to facilities that can’t meet a presumptive RACT limit or requirement?  Facilities also have the ability to comply with the rule’s NOX averaging provisions.  Under this scenario, a facility may determine whether it would be more advantageous for the entire facility (or a portion of the facility) to take advantage of the rule’s NOX averaging provisions than to submit a case-by-case RACT proposal.  To ascertain the feasibility of utilizing the NOX averaging provisions, the facility would need to evaluate whether the 30-day rolling average of aggregate NOX emissions (for the defined units included in the averaging plan) are equal to or less than the NOX emissions that would be emitted if each affected source included in the plan complied with the applicable NOX presumptive RACT emissions limitation(s) on a source-specific basis.  If it is determined that the NOX averaging provisions are feasible, then a “facility-wide” or “system-wide” NOX Emissions Averaging Plan would be prepared consistent with the provisions of 25 Pa. Code §129.98(g) and submitted to PADEP in either an Operating Permit Modification and/or a Plan Approval Application (PAA) if installation of controls is required.  One key provision of the averaging plan requirements that changed during the evolution of the RACT 2 rule is the requirement for units included in a plan to use the most stringent NOX limit that applies to the unit to calculate allowable mass emissions.  This provision may dictate how facilites look to structure site-specific averaging plans regarding units to include or exclude from the plan. However, if NOX averaging does NOT prove to be feasible, alternative NOX RACT 2 proposals would need to be prepared on a “case-by-case” basis as described above.

Just as there are numerous limits and requirements that could constitute RACT for your affected sources, there are numerous methods you can use to comply with the rule by January 1, 2017.  The methods of compliance that exist for RACT 2 sources will be discussed in a subsequent blog.  In the meantime, we are here to help you determine what constitutes RACT for each of your affected sources so that you can plan to be in compliance with RACT 2 before the upcoming deadline of this fast-moving rule.  Contact Ron Harding, Philadelphia Office Director, at 610.933.5246 extension 119.

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