This morning, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt issued a guidance memorandum fixing ambiguities in the air permitting process that have thwarted manufacturers from installing cleaner equipment. Today’s action clarifies how to properly account for project emissions under step 1 of New Source Review (NSR), a federal air permitting program under the Clean Air Act that applies to new facilities or major modifications to facilities. Until today, the EPA would allow only consideration of emissions increases when determining whether NSR applies, even for projects that had a net emissions decrease because old equipment was being upgraded to new equipment.
As the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) told the Senate in testimony last fall:
An NAM member company manufactures gas turbine upgrade technology that could improve the vast majority of in-service gas turbines by 2.6 percent and reduce their total CO2 emissions per MWh by 6.5 percent; however, many manufacturers are choosing not to install this equipment simply because it triggers NSR. The same can be said for steam turbine upgrades, which would ensure higher grid efficiency, lower emissions and reduced wear and tear that is occurring from a rapidly changing electric grid.
There is no good reason for the permitting process to create unnecessary obstacles for a manufacturer that wants to make efficiency upgrades or install modern pollution control equipment. In fact, manufacturers have been leaders in this space, working to successfully reduce emissions while adding to the overall economy. The NAM has made NSR a priority in its regulatory reform filings with the EPA and the White House. It’s clear that Administrator Pruitt agrees and is committed to fixing the permitting process for manufacturers.