Jack C. Bender

President Trump Issues Memorandum to EPA to Ease NAAQS Implementation Impacts on Industry

April 27, 2018Newsletters
The AIR QUALITY Letter: April 2018

On April 12, 2018, President Trump issued a memorandum to Administrator Pruitt to promote domestic manufacturing and job creation through policies intended to streamline implementation of national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS). The memorandum directs the EPA “to take specific actions to ensure efficient and cost-effective implementation of the NAAQS program, including with regard to permitting decisions for new and expanded facilities, and with respect to the regional haze program.”

Section 1 of the memorandum directs EPA, as practicable and consistent with law, to take final action on state implementation plans (SIPs) within 18 months of the date of submission of a SIP.

Section 2 directs EPA to undertake a process to review all full or partial federal implementation plans (FIPs) issued under the 2007 planning period of the Regional Haze Program to develop options at the request of states to replace FIPs with approved SIPs.

With respect to preconstruction permit applications, Section 3 of the memorandum directs EPA to endeavor to take final action on applications within one year of the date of receiving a complete application. EPA is also directed to endeavor to provide prompt technical support, reviews and determinations in order to assist states in the timely issuance of preconstruction permits.

Section 4 addresses petitions submitted pursuant to Sections 319 and 179B of the CAA relating to emissions beyond the state’s control that are contributing to or causing NAAQS exceedances. For exceptional event demonstrations, EPA is directed to endeavor to take final action within four months of a complete submission. For petitions relating to international transport of criteria pollutants, EPA is directed not to limit its consideration of demonstrations or petitions to states located on borders with Mexico or Canada. Rather, all states can consider impacts of emissions that emanate from any location outside the United States, including Asia. EPA is directed to continue to assess background concentrations and sources from areas outside the control of states and natural events.

With respect to monitoring and modeling data, EPA is directed in Section 5 to rely on data from EPA-approved air quality monitors for nonattainment designations to the extent feasible and permitted by law. The clear implication is that modeling is disfavored as a basis for making nonattainment designations. EPA is also directed to ensure its applicable modeling tools are sufficiently accurate for their intended application and is to seek to streamline the process for approving alternative models and to provide other methods that promote innovative state approaches. EPA is also directed to develop significant impact levels (SILs) and related values to identify source permitting and related decisions that do not require modeling or that can rely on streamlined modeling approaches for permitting. EPA is also directed in Section 6 of the memorandum to provide flexibility to states with regard to identifying and achieving offsets, including by allowing intrastate and regional inter-precursor trading.

When revising NAAQS, EPA is directed in Section 7 to concurrently issue regulations and guidance necessary for implementing the new or revised standards. As noted elsewhere in this issue of the AIR QUALITY Letter, EPA has not yet finalized implementation guidance for the 2015 ozone standard.

Finally, Section 9 of the President’s memorandum directs EPA to evaluate existing rules, guidance, memoranda and other public documents relating to the implementation of NAAQS to determine whether any such documents should be revised or rescinded to ensure more timely permitting decisions under the NAAQS.

The President’s memorandum is welcomed by industry in that it addresses many of the most critical delays and stringency concerns associated with new source review and NAAQS nonattainment designations.

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