Our Insights

Environmental News Briefs – Winter 2019

January 30, 2019

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


EPA Risk Management Plan Amendments Now in Effect

On December 3, the Risk Management Plan (RMP) amendments went into effect. The amendments include changes to the accident prevention program requirements (root cause analysis, independent third party audits after an RMP reportable accident, and changes to process hazard analysis); emergency response requirements (coordination with local agencies and notification exercises annually, full field exercises every 10 years, table-top exercises every three years); and public availability of chemical hazard information (through company website, social media, or other means, public meeting after an RMP reportable accident). Recent proposals to rescind some of the requirements have not been finalized so the January 13, 2017 amendments are in effect.

Contact: Bonnie Blam, CSP
(512) 579-3817

NPDES General Permit Modifications Proposed for Stormwater Discharges from Construction Activities

On December 12, EPA proposed a permit modification for the 2017 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Construction General Permit (CGP). The proposed modifications include: 1) removal of examples of the type of parties that could be considered operators; 2) clarification on the importance of dust control; 3) aligning the requirements of Part 2.2.11 with the construction and development rule regarding erosion of stormwater conveyance channels; 4) restoring the 2012 CGP provision excluding the need to prevent exposure for building materials that are not a source of stormwater contamination; and 5) clarification on shared permit responsibilities and Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans for common-plan development operators. Modifications proposed will not affect the expiration date of this permit. Public comments will be accepted until January 28, 2019.

Contact: Julie Morelli, P.G., REM
(210) 951-6424

EPA Revises Policy on Exclusions from Ambient Air

In November 2018, EPA issued a draft revised policy regarding exclusions from “ambient air,” which could have significant ramifications for future compliance assessments for National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) compliance and Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) increment consumption. In such assessments, air quality impacts must be assessed in all areas considered to be ambient air. Historically, EPA has required that for an area (e.g., property around a permittee’s emission source(s)) to be excluded from ambient air, public access to that area should be precluded by means of a fence or other physical barrier(s). EPA’s revised policy replaces the terminology of physical barrier with “measures, which may include physical barriers, that are effective in deterring or precluding access to the land by the general public.” These measures may include traditional fencing, but may also include video surveillance and monitoring, clear signage, routine security patrols, drones, and other potential technologies. EPA recommends that regulatory agencies apply rules of reason in evaluating the effectiveness of measures in precluding public access.

Contact: Lou Corio
(410) 312-7912

OSHA Proposes to Revise New Beryllium Standard for General Industry

On December 11, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed modifications to the new beryllium standard, which went into effect in May 2017. In an effort to make the rule easier to understand, OSHA proposes to modify several of the definitions for general industry as well as adjust the methods of compliance, personal protective clothing and equipment, hygiene areas and practices, housekeeping, medical surveillance, communication of hazards, and recordkeeping. The proposed revisions would also remove Appendix A and replace it with Operations for Establishing Beryllium Work Areas. Comments must be submitted by February 9, 2019

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

EPA Signs MOU with the State Review of Oil and Natural Gas Environmental Regulations

On November 29, EPA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the State Review of Oil and Natural Gas Environmental Regulations (STRONGER), a non-profit organization with equal representation from the oil and gas industry, state oil and gas environmental regulatory agencies, and the environmental public advocacy community. Through the MOU, EPA and STRONGER will work together to identify specific areas for collaborating on such issues as providing opportunities for meaningful stakeholder engagement, identification of emerging issues impacting states and tribes, and the development of improved compliance assistance tools. Per EPA’s Acting Administrator, Andrew Wheeler, this MOU will provide more opportunities for EPA and STRONGER to work together to enhance EPA’s enforcement and compliance efforts and improve environmental protection and economic outcomes.

Contact: Pete Stevenson
(512) 579-3805

EPA Finds States Meet “Good Neighbor” Obligations for 2008 Ozone Standard

On December 6, EPA updated the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) to fully address certain states’ obligations under the “good neighbor” provision for the Clean Air Act (CAA) regarding interstate pollution transport for the 2008 ozone NAAQS. This ruling is based on information that became available after the 2016 CSAPR update. In a related action, EPA is finalizing a determination that 2023 is an appropriate future analytic year to evaluate the remaining “good neighbor” obligations. The final rule takes effect February 19, 2019.

Contact: Sally Bittick, P.E.
(512) 579-3811

PHMSA Amends Federal Pipeline Safety Regulations

On November 20, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published a final rule that amends portions of the Federal Pipeline Safety Regulations that govern the use of plastic piping systems for the transportation of natural gas and other gases. These revisions are required to ensure and enhance pipeline safety, allow for the expanded use of plastic pipe products in the transportation of natural or other gas, adopt innovative technologies and industry best practices, and respond to petitions from stakeholders. These amendments are effective January 22, 2019.

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

EPA Proposes Revisions to Power Plant NSPS and GHGs

On December 6, EPA proposed revisions to the greenhouse gas (GHG) New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for new, modified and reconstructed electric generating units (EGUs). This revision proposes to modify the standards for coal-fired units and does not impact the combustion turbine section of the rule. The proposal removes from consideration partial carbon capture and storage as an option for CO2 control and as a result relaxes the CO2 emission limits for all coal-fired units. The proposed revisions also add additional emission limit size categories for new coal-fired units creating separate standard for units above and below 2,000 MMBtu/hr and combines the standards for new and reconstructed units. Comments are due February 19, 2019.

Contact: Steven Babler
(913) 402-4215

EPA Confirms 2009 NSR Project Aggregation Actions and Establishes Effectiveness Date

On November 7, EPA affirmed the 2009 interpretation of when physical or operational changes should be combined into a single “modification” for analysis of major New Source Review (NSR) applicability. EPA’s interpretation on when said activities should be combined for NSR purposes are when those changes are “substantially related.” EPA would apply a policy of rebuttable presumption for projects undertaken three or more years apart and analyze them as separate projects unless the specifics of the activities refute this presumption.

Contact: Sally Bittick, P.E.
(512) 579-3811

EPA Withdraws TSCA Significant New Use Rules for Over 50 Chemical Substances

On November 16 and December 4, EPA published notifications that it was withdrawing Significant New Use Rules (SNURs) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) for over 50 chemical substances that were the subject of premanufacture notices (PMNs). These withdrawals are necessary to address adverse public comments received by the EPA in response to the SNURs that were promulgated in September 2018 and October 2018. EPA will not consider petitions for significant new uses for these affected chemicals until adverse public comments are adequately addressed and final SNURs are published. The chemical substances that are the subject of these withdrawals are predominantly used in polymers, resins, surface coatings, lubricants/lubricant additives and semiconductor binders. A complete list of chemicals is included in the November 16, 2018 and December 4, 2018 Federal Register notices.

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

EPA Finalizes Amendments to the Petroleum Refinery NESHAP and NSPS Requirements

On November 8, EPA amended the petroleum refinery National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) rules (40 CFR 63 Subparts CC and UUU) and the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for petroleum refineries (NSPS J/Ja) in response to second and third petitions for rule reconsiderations filed in February 2016. The amendments relate to several corrections for work practice standards, recordkeeping and reporting provisions. The amendment also includes revised compliance dates for existing maintenance vent standards as well as delayed coking units using a water overflow alternative compliance option.

Contact: Eric Quiat, P.E.
(512) 579-3823

USACE, EPA Propose Revising the Definition of “Waters of the United States”

On December 11, EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) signed a proposed rule to revise the definition of “waters of the United States” regulated under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Consistent with the Executive Order 13778 signed on February 28, 2017, the agencies propose to clarify the scope of waters, including wetlands federally regulated under the CWA. The agencies propose to interpret several statutory definitions, most importantly the definition of jurisdictional waters. In drafting the proposed definitions, the agencies used as a basis the text and structure of the CWA, legislative history and Supreme Court precedent, while also considering agency policy choices and other relevant factors. The proposed definitions will clarify how the agencies will evaluate interrelated functions and hydrologic connections of navigable waters, tributaries with perennial, intermittent or ephemeral flows, adjacent wetlands, and so forth. The agencies will notify the public of a revised public comment period, and other outreach activities in the Federal Register after federal appropriations for the EPA have been passed by Congress.

Contact: Steve Damiano
(774) 643-1832


Significant Tier II Reporting Changes to Come for Texas Facilities

On March 1, 2019, Tier II reports are due for reporting year (RY) 2018. Tier II reports are required for all facilities (manufacturing, non-manufacturing, retail, etc.) that store hazardous chemicals in quantities exceeding certain thresholds. In Texas, Tier II reporters will no longer be able to use Tier2Submit software to prepare and submit reports for RY2018. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has launched a new online reporting system through STEERS (State of Texas Environmental Electronic Reporting System). With this new change, it is important to start the reporting process as soon as possible. Facilities must identify one person to register as the “Owner/Operator” for reporting purposes. Personnel who prepare the report must be “Authorized” by the Owner/Operator. Prior year reports should be migrated into STEERS, however, if you cannot locate your facility’s RY2017 report in the system, contact the TCEQ Tier II Reporting Program.

Contact: Bonnie Blam, CSP
(512) 579-3817

Pennsylvania EQB Approves Over $20 Million in Proposed Permit Fee Increases

On December 18, Pennsylvania’s Environmental Quality Board (EQB) approved over $20 million in proposed increases to air and water quality and NPDES permit fees. The fee increases are necessary to pay for the administrative costs of these programs resulting from the failure of Pennsylvania’s General Assembly to provide adequate General Fund appropriations to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP). There will be a 30-day comment period once the proposed increases are published.

Contact: Greg Gromicko, P.E.
(717) 942-1201

TCEQ to Require Electronic Submission of Stormwater MSGP Sampling Results

In accordance with the EPA’s Final NPDES Electronic Reporting Rule, the TCEQ announced in November 2018 that it will begin requiring electronic submittal of annual discharge monitoring reports (DMRs) for facilities covered under the TXR050000 Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP). Annual DMR submittals containing analytical results for determining compliance with the hazardous metals and sector-specific numeric effluent limitations outlined in the MSGP must now be reported in the NetDMR system through the EPA’s Central Data Exchange (CDX). Annual DMR submittals for reporting year 2018 must be reported in the NetDMR system by March 31, 2019.

Contact: Nathan Collier, CESSWI, CPESC
(210) 951-6425