Volume IV, Number 8
eMDE is a quarterly publication of the Maryland Department of the Environment. It covers articles on current environmental issues and events in the state.
The reduction of green house gas emission through permitting is scheduled to begin in the new year – meaning that new coal-fired power plants and other facilities could be required to consider ways to reduce their carbon footprint.
The Supreme Court said such permitting was required when it ruled that greenhouse gases meet the definition of an air pollutant under the Clean Air Act. Only sources of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and hexafluoride will be permitted.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will phase in the permitting requirements. Beginning on January 2, 2011, newly constructed or newly modified large industrial facilities whose non-greenhouse gas emissions exceed certain thresholds and will increase carbon dioxide emissions levels, or their equivalent, by more than 75,000 tons per year must be permitted. Sources affected initially will include coal-fired power plants, refineries, cement manufacturers, solid waste landfills, and other large polluters.
Beginning on July 1, 2011, new sources will be required to apply for greenhouse gas permits if they have the potential to emit 100,000 tons per year of carbon dioxide or the equivalent.
A source that is required to secure a permit for its greenhouse gas emissions must consider Best Available Control Technology when determining the level of carbon dioxide reduction measures that should apply to that particular source. Potential technologies to limit those emissions are determined through an evaluation of possible options, including a do-nothing scenario, and a consideration of cost. Carbon dioxide reductions would generally come in the form of energy efficiency, fuel switching, or sequestering carbon dioxide emissions. EPA issued guidance on what constitutes Best Available Control Technology on November 11, 2010.
In 2013, more sources will be included, and some source categories may be granted permanent exclusion from the requirements. By April 30, 2015, the EPA will complete a study on the status of the permitting process.
Federal greenhouse gas permitting will reduce pollution, save energy, and protect public health as we take action on climate change.
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