4 The record articles

U.S. District Court Rules on Risk and Technology Review for Pulp Mills

Posted: March 18th, 2016

Author: All4 Staff 

Every eight (8) years, U.S. EPA is required to conduct a Risk and Technology Review (RTR) for maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards.  Based on the results of the RTR, U.S. EPA must either promulgate revised emissions standards or publish a finding indicating that a revision is not necessary.  In addition, U.S. EPA is required to prepare a Residual Risk Report to Congress on the methods to be used to assess the risk remaining (i.e., the residual risk) after control technology standards applicable to emissions sources of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) have been promulgated and applied.

In a March 15, 2016 ruling by U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (Sierra Club and California Communities Against Toxics v. U.S. EPA) the court has established a timeline for U.S. EPA to comply with the missed RTR deadline for 40 CFR Part 63, Subpart MM- National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Chemical Recovery Combustion Sources at Kraft, Soda, Sulfite, and Stand-Alone Semichemical Pulp Mills.  Neither the plaintiff nor the defendant dispute that U.S. EPA has failed to meet its regulatory obligation to conduct the RTRs for these rules within the required eight (8) year period.  The disputed issue is the timeline in which U.S. EPA must now complete the RTRs.  The court has ruled generally in favor or the plaintiff and has required that U.S. EPA must complete the RTR for these standards, including revision of the standard or issuance of a final determination that a revision is not necessary, by October 1, 2017. 

If your facility is subject to Subpart MM what should you expect?  If U.S. EPA determines that rule changes are warranted, you should expect to see the development of a proposed rule, followed by publication and eventual development of the final rule package.  The other possibility is that U.S. EPA will publish findings indicating that rule changes are not warranted.  Because of the tight timeline established by the court, those facilities subject to Subpart MM should keep their collective ears to the ground on this issue.  Watch for updates from ALL4. 



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