4 The record articles

Pennsylvania RACT III Update – Three Strikes and You’re Out!

Posted: April 27th, 2020

Authors: Nick L. 
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This article is part of ALL4’s 4 The Record: Quarantine Series.

There is a fundamental phrase in baseball, three strikes and you are out.  The regulated community is wondering how much change will come with Pennsylvania’s Reasonably Available Control Technology (RACT) rules because RACT III is coming on the heels of RACT II.  Will RACT III be the last of Pennsylvania’s RACT rules?  This probably will not be the case if the ozone national ambient air quality standard is lowered as Pennsylvania is located within the ozone transport region (OTR).
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On the heels of RACT II rule being incorporated into the Pennsylvania State Implementation Plan (SIP), a draft of this newest rule was discussed at the April 2020 air quality technical advisory committee (AQTAC) meeting.  The sentiment that was conveyed is that RACT III will include updates (relative to RACT II) to meet regulatory and technical requirements and will also address concerns that were expressed and lessons that were learned during RACT II implementation.  This most recent rule is at the preliminary stages of development and an official rule has not yet been proposed.  Several important highlights of what you can expect in the RACT III rule (based on what we know at this stage of the process) are provided below.

  1. Affected facilities will be required to make a detailed notification. The notification requirement will apply to facilities, regardless of whether the facility is subject to presumptive requirements or will propose a case-by-case analysis.  It is unclear if notification will extend to non-major NOX or VOC emitting facilities in the state, but it is a possibility.
  2. Emissions units in existence before August 3, 2018, will be subject to the RACT III requirements.
  3. The presumptive RACT limit for electric arc furnaces is not expected to include a numerical emissions limitation. However, there will be a work practice standard to operate the source in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications and with good operating practices.
  4. Combustion units (i.e., boilers) rated between 20 and 50 MMBtu/hr heat input will have tune-up requirements consistent with the Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) rule for boilers.
  5. Compliance with this latest RACT update’s emissions limits for combustion units with continuous emissions monitoring systems (CEMS) will be on a 30-operating day basis. However, the averaging period will be daily during the ozone season (i.e., May 1 through September 30).
  6. The presumptive NOx emissions limit for simple cycle combustion turbines will be ratcheted down for many units (depending on size rating).
  7. A presumptive NOX limit for combustion sources (e.g., direct-fired furnaces, ovens) of greater than 20 MMBtu/hr will be added.
  8. The NOx emissions limit for cement kilns will be lowered (e.g., reduced from 3.44 lb/ton of clinker to 3.0 lb/ton clinker for long dry kilns).
  9. Several source-specific RACT limits will be specified in the rule.

Watch Our Presentation on RACT 3

The draft RACT III rule regulatory development schedule is for PADEP to complete the technical development of the rule with submittal of a nearly complete draft to the environmental quality board (EQB) during the third quarter of 2020.  A proposed rule is expected in the fourth quarter of 2020.  Once a final rule is published in the Pennsylvania bulletin, facilities will have 6 months from the compliance date to complete notifications and submit case-by-case analyses.

While it’s unclear if Pennsylvania will fully achieve its air quality goals with RACT III as the last strike, it is more likely that we are only at the seventh inning stretch and RACT rules will continue to follow future changes in the ozone NAAQS. If you have questions about how the Pennsylvania RACT rules or other air quality regulations may apply to your facility, please reach out to me at nleone@all4inc.com or 610-933-5246 x121.

RACT III Resources


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