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U.S. EPA Conditionally Approves Pennsylvania RACT 2 Rule

Posted: May 8th, 2018

Author: All4 Staff 

This article is available as a podcast episode on ALL4’s Air Quality Insider

In a March 14, 2018 Federal Register notice, the U.S. EPA proposed, for public comment, to conditionally approve the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) revision to the State Implementation Plan (SIP) to incorporate regulations to implement Reasonably Available Control Technology (RACT 2) requirements.  The RACT 2 regulations were adopted by PADEP on May 16, 2016 to address Pennsylvania’s obligations under the Clean Air Act (CAA) as a state within the Northeast Ozone Transport Region (OTR).   The RACT 2 obligation is to implement further evaluation of control measures for the ozone precursors, nitrogen oxides (NOX) and volatile organic compounds (VOC), to protect the maintenance of the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone.  U.S. EPA stated in the proposal that the Pennsylvania SIP submittal is adequate to meet RACT requirements under the CAA for both the 1997 and 2008 8-hour ozone NAAQS, except for portions of Sections 25 Pa. Code Sections 129.98 and 129.99 which deal with Alternate RACT Compliance Plans.  The Pennsylvania RACT 2 regulations stipulate how affected facilities should evaluate RACT and to propose an alternative RACT Plan in situations where the facility demonstrates that it cannot meet a presumptive RACT limit or where no RACT presumptive limit was provided for that type of air emissions unit.

U.S. EPA is proposing to fully approve the provisions in 25 Pa. Code §§ 129.96–129.97, and 129.100 of the PADEP RACT 2 Rule and relevant definitions in 25 Pa. Code section 121.1 into the SIP, but is only conditionally approving §§129.98 and 129.99.  The provisions of 25 Pa. Code §§129.98 and 129.99 will become fully approvable as revisions to the Pennsylvania SIP, if PADEP submits the issued Plan Approval or Operating Permit conditions that provide alternative NOXaveraging limits and source-specific RACT limits that satisfy the CAA RACT compliance requirements to U.S. EPA as SIP revisions, within 12 months of U.S. EPA final action on this proposal.

This is exactly what U.S. EPA did for the Pennsylvania RACT I regulations in 1994 about alternative RACT compliance plans.  This action should come as no surprise for any of us that were around during the implementation of RACT I in Pennsylvania. However, I will remind those that may have forgotten and those that did not experience RACT I that if you have an alternative RACT 2 plan issued by PADEP, it will become part of the Pennsylvania SIP.  Once a plan is approved as part of the SIP, it becomes a source-specific “regulation” in addition to being a permit condition.  As a regulation, it is extremely difficult to change, because to change it would require another SIP revision.  Please be extremely sure your affected facility and emissions units can comply with your alternative RACT 2 plan before the provisions of the plan become part of the Pennsylvania SIP.  Please contact me at 610.933.5246, extension 136 if you have any questions.


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