Revised RICE MACT Goes to OMB Amid Continued Opposition From a Diverse Group of Rule Detractors
Posted: December 11th, 2012Author: All4 Staff
U.S. EPA sent the latest reconsidered revised version of 40 CFR Part 63, Subpart ZZZZ – National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Stationary Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engines, the so called RICE MACT, to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on Thursday December 6, 2012. U.S. EPA’s submission of the reconsidered rule is prompted by a looming December 14, 2012 legally binding consent decree deadline by which time U.S. EPA is required to promulgate a final reconsidered RICE MACT rule. The submission of the rule to the OMB is the last regulatory hurdle that U.S. EPA needs to negotiate prior to promulgating a final reconsidered rule. While the OMB review can legally take upwards of 90-days, the review can also be performed much quicker leaving a small glimmer of hope that U.S. EPA could meet the December 14, 2012 consent decree deadline.
The reconsidered RICE MACT includes the controversial provisions expanding the period that diesel generators can operate under demand response programs from 15 to 100 hours per year. Proponents of the provisions tout the electric grid stabilization impacts of the expanded “bank” of demand response operating hours and include demand response providers like EnerNOC and the like. Demand response providers maintain that the expansion is necessary to maintain grid stability and allow a greater population of engines to participate in such grid stabilization programs.
Opponents of the provisions point instead to the perceived potential for increased emissions associated with the expanded demand response operation of uncontrolled diesel generators and include a rather strange and diverse group of environmentalists, “traditional” power providers, and eastern/mid-Atlantic state officials. Opponents of the reconsidered rules maintain that the potential for increased emissions could impact eastern states’ progress toward attaining and maintaining compliance with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).
Regardless of whether the OMB can complete their rule review in a timeframe that would allow U.S. EPA to promulgate a final rule prior to their December 14, 2012 deadline or not, there is likely to be additional legal repercussions given the continued controversy of the reconsidered rule.