Our Insights

Environmental News Briefs – Spring 2019

May 24, 2019

News briefs were originally published in Currents, POWER’s quarterly Environmental newsletter.


EPA Issues Revisions to NPDES Program

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized certain revisions to the comprehensive National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting regulations codified in 40 CFR Part 122 as proposed in May 2016. Not all modifications proposed in 2016 were adopted during this revision. Updates enacted are intended to provide clarity for certain regulatory definitions, streamline expectations within permit applications and update public notice requirements to conform with modern requirements. Entities potentially affected by the revisions include new NPDES permit applicants, pesticide applicators, permitting authorities and entities that perform routine water quality monitoring as a condition of an existing permit. The revisions to the final rule were published on February 12 and become effective on June 12, 2019.

Contact: Lindsey Branham
(513) 326-1565

EPA Retains Primary Ambient Standard for Sulfur Dioxide

In February 2019, EPA announced that it will not revise the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for sulfur dioxide (SO2), leaving the primary 1-hour NAAQS as is. Primary NAAQS are intended to protect human health; the 1-hour NAAQS was established to provide protection from respiratory effects associated with short-term exposures to SO2. According to EPA, its decision was based on currently available health effects evidence, quantitative risk and exposure information, advice from the Clean Air Act Scientific Advisory Committee and public comments. NAAQS are required by the Clean Air Act to be periodically reviewed and, if needed, revised by EPA. The SO2 NAAQS were last revised in 2010.

Contact: Lou Corio
(410) 312-7912

PHMSA Issues Enhanced Safety Provisions for Lithium Batteries Transported by Aircraft

On March 6, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued an interim final rule to revise its Hazardous Materials Regulations for lithium cells and batteries transported via aircraft. These revisions will prohibit the transport of lithium ion cells and batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft, require all lithium ion cells and batteries to be shipped at not more than a 30% state of charge on cargo-only aircraft and limit the use of alternative provisions for small lithium cell or battery to one package per consignment. These amendments will predominately affect air carriers (both passenger and cargo-only) and shippers offering lithium ion cells and batteries for transport as cargo by aircraft. The amendments will not restrict air transportation of lithium ion cells or batteries when packed with or contained in equipment. These rule revisions, or an updated version thereof, are anticipated to be adopted by the end of 2020.

Contact: Michele Foss, REM
(281) 668-7342

EPA Proposes Changes to Greenhouse Emission Standards for New and Modified Electric Generating Units

On December 6, 2018, EPA proposed changes to the New Source Performance Standards for greenhouse gas emissions from new, modified and reconstructed electric utility generating units. With the proposed changes, new steam generating units will no longer be based on partial carbon capture and storage, but will instead be based on the most efficient demonstrated steam cycle (e.g., supercritical steam conditions for large units and subcritical steam conditions for small units) in combination with best operating practices. The rule proposes standards for reconstructed units that are consistent with revised standards for newly constructed units and adds coal refuse fired units as a third subcategory with their own standards. With the changes, standards for modified units will continue to be based on historical annual carbon dioxide emission rates; however, the most stringent standards for modified units will be equivalent to standards for new and reconstructed units. The proposed rule did not reopen performance standards for stationary combustion turbines. The public comment period for the proposal closed on February 19, 2019.

Contact: Erik Hendrickson
(512) 579-3808

EPA Proposes to Lift Stay of Gas-Fired MACT Requirements

On April 12, EPA proposed amendments to the March 2004 National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for Combustion Turbines in 40 CFR 63 Subpart YYYY (CT MACT). Besides concluding that the residual risk of the CT category is acceptable and there are no new cost-effective controls, EPA proposes to remove their August 18, 2004 stay of the effectiveness of the CT MACT for “new” gas-fired CTs. If promulgated as proposed, all “new” gas-fired CTs (greater than 1 MW) at major HAP sources would need to comply with the CT MACT emission limit of 91 parts per billion by volume @ 15% O2 of formaldehyde. “New” in the CT MACT means commenced construction after January 14, 2003, thus lifting this stay would retroactively impact existing CTs constructed up to 16 years ago. The proposed rule states that these existing “new” gas-fired units must comply with the MACT standard upon final rule promulgation and demonstrate compliance through an initial test within 180 days of promulgation.

Contact: Brian Petermann, P.E.
(913) 402-4217

EPA Releases New Portal for Oil and Natural Gas Extraction Industry

On April 9, EPA, in collaboration with the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences and the State Review of Oil and Natural Gas Environmental Regulations, released a new Compliance Assistance Center specifically for owners and operators in the energy extraction industry. The online portal provides a variety of information that is intended to help companies of all sizes in the industry comply with applicable environmental regulations related to exploration and development, extraction, production and processing of on-shore crude oil and natural gas. The information is organized by geographic area (states and Indian country), statute, and technical topics with additional resources and links to external organizations as well as a listing of recent regulatory developments and industry news. www.eciee.org

Contact: Tom Rolfson
(207) 869-1418

OSHA Rescinds Requirement for Large Employers to Electronically Submit OSHA Forms 300 and 301

On January 25, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) eliminated the requirement for employers with 250 or more employees to electronically submit information from their OSHA Forms 300 and 301. This was done to protect worker privacy. However, employers in certain designated industries will continue submitting information from their annual summary (Form 300A) electronically, as will employers with 20 to 249 employees. The rule also requires all employers who are required to electronically submit Form 300A to include their Employer Identification Number (EIN). The rule did not change any employer’s obligation to complete and retain injury and illness records for recording and reporting occupational injuries and illnesses. The final rule also did not add to or change the recording criteria or definitions for these records.

Contact: Molly McKenna, ASP
(512) 579-3837

EPA Publishes Action Plan for Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances

On February 14, EPA released an Action Plan to address a family of chemicals known as Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS). PFAS is a diverse group of chemicals that include PFOA, PFOS, PFNA, PFBS, GenX Chemicals, and potentially thousands of others. PFAS are almost ubiquitous having been used in numerous consumer and commercial products (e.g., water and stain resistant coatings, firefighting foams, nonstick cookware, food packaging) and industrial manufacturing (e.g., automotive, aerospace, semiconductor, electronics). The Plan outlines initial steps toward: expanding research and evaluating the toxicity of PFAS; implementing a nationwide drinking water monitoring program for PFAS; strengthening cleanup strategies and enforcement actions concerning PFAS contamination; and moving forward with the process to possibly develop a drinking water standard for PFOA and PFOS, two of the most prevalent PFAS compounds. The EPA Action Plan is an initial step toward providing federal guidance and regulation for this family of chemicals and the EPA is expected to provide multiple opportunities for public comment as it implements specific items within the Plan.

Contact: Dennis Schucker, Ph.D., P.G.
(513) 326-1549

EPA Proposes Modifications to Fuel Regulations

On March 12, EPA published a notice of proposed rulemaking that would extend a waiver currently allowed for E10 fuel (gasoline blended with 10% ethanol) to E15 fuel (gasoline blended with 15% ethanol). Specifically, the waiver would allow E15 to be sold year-round without additional vapor pressure controls, instead of just eight months of the year. In this same proposed rulemaking, EPA is including changes to certain elements of the renewable identification number (RIN) compliance system under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program, which they expect will bring greater transparency to the market to help prevent price manipulation.

Contact: Pete Stevenson
(512) 579-3805


Maryland Legislators Approve 50% Renewable Energy Target for 2030

On April 8, the Maryland General Assembly passed the “Clean Energy Jobs” bill, which would require the state to generate 50% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030. The 50% renewable portfolio standard (RPS) is based on a doubling of the offshore wind power target (by adding 1,200 megawatts of generation) and significantly increasing the contribution from solar power. The bill also would require the state to study the costs and benefits of increasing the RPS to 100% by 2040. Although Governor Hogan could still veto the bill, the General Assembly has enough votes to override any such veto.

Contact: Lou Corio
(410) 312-7912

New TCEQ NSR Application Procedures

Beginning on June 1, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) will require all New Source Review (NSR) permit applications, except State of Texas Environmental Electronic Reporting System (STEERS) submittals (PBR and Standard Permit registrations), use both the newly developed New Source Review Workbook (NSRWB) and Electronic Modeling Evaluation Workbook (EMEW). The NSRWB will provide applicants a common format to input emission point numbers (EPNs) and emission rates. All sources authorized by the permit, including sources already in the TCEQ’s database (or electronic MAERTs) but unchanged if amending the permit, are required to be included in the workbook. The EMEW will be required for all projects utilizing modeling for impacts analysis. The workbook will collect modeling data at the time a permit application is submitted rather than post submittal during the technical review process.

Contact: Kimberly Brandt
(512) 879-6641

CDPHE Renews General Permit for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Construction Activities

On October 31, 2018, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) renewed and issued Colorado’s General Permit for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Construction Activities: COR400000. The renewed permit’s requirements took effect on April 1, 2019, and apply to applicants proposing construction activities from which stormwater runoff would flow to waters of the State of Colorado. Every 5 years, the CDPHE is required to issue updates to renew the General Permit but had not renewed the permit since 2007. The renewed permit better defines key terms that were not clearly defined in the 2007 permit, requires the site owner and site operator to be co-permittees, allows for 7-day or 14-day site inspections, and requires that applicants use the CDPHE’s new Colorado Environmental Online Services electronic platform to apply for permit coverage.

Contact: Charles Hutchinson
(303) 914-2285

TCEQ Renews General Permit for Phase II MS4s

The TCEQ has renewed the stormwater General Permit for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) operators (TXR040000). Permit applicability is based on 2010 census data, so no new MS4s will be added to the permit universe during this renewal cycle. As of January 24, 2019, permittees have 180 days to submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) and an updated Stormwater Management Plan (SWMP), or a “waiver” application, if applicable. The permit renewal features changes for consistency with other TPDES general permits, changes required due to federal rules, and an overall shift towards permit language that is clear, specific and measurable.

Contact: Kelsey Krueger, CISEC
(210) 951-6428

Pennsylvania Enacts More Stringent Storage Tank Compliance Requirements

Revisions to Pennsylvania’s Storage Tank Program regulations went into effect for 2019, strengthening many operation and maintenance requirements for underground storage tank (UST) systems. The types of releases that must be reported to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) also significantly increased. The new regulations emphasize properly operating and maintaining spill prevention, overfill prevention and release detection equipment through increased inspection and testing. In addition, the updated regulations also create a new, intermediate certification level for tank installers.

Contact: Jim Young, P.G.
(717) 942-1202

Maryland Poised to Become First State to Ban Foam Food Packaging

In March 2019, the Maryland General Assembly passed HB109 to ban disposable polystyrene foam food packaging, setting the stage for Maryland to become first in the nation with a statewide ban. The ban applies to food containers, egg cartons, cups, trays, and plates at restaurants, grocery stores, schools, and other food-service businesses. Beginning July 1, 2020, the bill prohibits 1) the sale of foam food containers and 2) food service businesses and schools from selling and providing food in such containers. The bill awaits Governor Hogan’s signature who could still veto the bill. The General Assembly, however, has enough votes to override any such veto.

Contact: Lou Corio
(410) 312-7912

PADEP Proposes New and Increased Air Permit Fees

On April 13, PADEP published proposed Air Quality Fee Schedule Amendments in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. According to PADEP, the proposed new and increased fees are needed to cover PADEP’s costs related to implementing the plan approval and operating permit program. Both the Title V account and non-Title V account expenditures have exceeded revenue during the last several years, and the current fee schedules were last revised in 1994, with staged fee increases occurring up to 2005. For Title V facilities, PADEP is proposing to leave the Title V emission fee structure unchanged, and in addition, collect an annual operating permit maintenance fee of $10,000. For synthetic minor and natural minor facilities, an annual operating permit maintenance fee of $2,500 and $2,000, respectively, is proposed. Significant increases in plan approval fees for new/modified sources are also proposed, along with new fees for Request for Determination (RFD) submittals. The proposed fee schedule amendments would take effect in 2021. The public comment period closes on June 17, 2019.

Contact: John Schmelzle
(717) 942-1203