So, You Thought You Were Through With RACT 2 – Think Again
Posted: May 22nd, 2019Authors: Roy R.
On April 23, 2016, the Pennsylvania “RACT 2 Rule” (i.e., Additional RACT Requirements for Major Sources of NOX and VOCs) was published final in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. The rule includes provisions intended to meet Reasonably Available Control Technology (RACT) requirements under the 1997 and 2008 8-hour ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). The RACT 2 rule is broadly applicable as the entirety of Pennsylvania is classified as an ozone nonattainment area because of its inclusion in the Northeast Ozone Transport Region (OTR). As many affected facilities recall, the RACT 2 rule included tight deadlines that required potentially affected facilities to very quickly evaluate rule applicability, consider avoidance strategies (i.e., accept synthetic minor permit conditions), determine if affected sources met “presumptive” RACT emissions standards, develop compliance strategies, prepare “case-by-case” alternative RACT determinations, prepare Plan Approval and/or Operating Permit modifications, implement monitoring requirements, submit plans and applications by October 22, 2016, and as applicable, “comply” by January 1, 2017. It is fair to say that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) has been occupied with the aftermath of the RACT 2 rule.
About the Most Recent RACT 2 Update
On May 9, 2019, the U.S. EPA conditionally approved the Pennsylvania RACT 2 rule as a revision to the Pennsylvania State Implementation Plan (SIP). Final approval of SIP revisions is generally a formality as the implications of such rules are experienced at the State rule level. However, the fact that U.S. EPA only conditionally approved the rule will result in a bit more activity by PADEP, U.S. EPA, and affected facilities over the next 12 months. The conditional approval by U.S. EPA stipulates that by May 10, 2020:
- All facility-wide or system-wide averaging plans approved by PADEP under 25 Pa. Code section 129.98 including, but not limited to, any terms and conditions that ensure the enforceability of the averaging plan as a practical matter (e.g., any monitoring, reporting, recordkeeping, or testing requirements); and
- All source-specific RACT determinations approved by PADEP under 25 Pa. Code section 129.99, including any alternative compliance schedules approved under section 129.97(k) and 129.99(i); the source-specific RACT determinations submitted to EPA for approval into the SIP should include any terms and conditions that ensure the enforceability of the source-specific RACT emissions limitation as a practical matter (e.g., any monitoring, reporting, recordkeeping, or testing requirements).”
You may be asking yourself what this action means for your affected facility. The answer depends on where PADEP stands on their review of your RACT 2 submittal. PADEP has acted on many RACT 2 submittals by issuing permits, as applicable, and incorporating alternative RACT determinations into the SIP as revisions. However, there are apparently many facilities where the associated RACT 2 requirements have not been resolved. For those facilities and for PADEP, the clock is officially running and will stop on May 10, 2020. We expect that PADEP will focus resources on finalizing RACT 2 reviews, issuing permits as applicable, and developing SIP revisions for U.S. EPA and public review that reflect approved facility-wide or system-wide averaging plans, alternative RACT determinations, and alternative compliance schedules.
If your facility has submitted alternative RACT proposals and/or averaging plans and has not yet received approval and associated permits from PADEP, you can expect to hear from your Regional Office in the near future. It may even be in your best interest to reach out to PADEP to assure you will have the time to work through any outstanding RACT 2 items. You can be certain that PADEP does not intend to receive a SIP deficiency letter from U.S. EPA next May.