NEW CROSS-STATE AIR TRADING RULE SCHEDULED TO BECOME EFFECTIVE IN OCTOBER

Posted on September 17, 2011 by Michael McCauley

On July 7, 2011, one year after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued its proposed Clean Air Pollution Transport Rule, EPA released the final transport rule, now entitled the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR).  The CSAPR will become effective on October 7, 2011, 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register.  That is also the deadline for filing judicial challenges to the new rule.  One Petition for Judicial Review has already been filed in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, and others are expected to be filed prior to October 7.

CSAPR will replace the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR), which EPA promulgated in 2005.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit vacated and remanded CAIR in July 2008.  However, in December 2008, the Court allowed CAIR to remain in place while EPA completed its remand rulemaking. 

CSAPR primarily addresses emissions from electric power plants in twenty-seven states located in the Eastern and Midwestern portions of the U.S.  The new rule generally requires covered, upwind states to reduce sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions in order to enable downwind states to achieve or maintain compliance with the NAAQS for ozone and fine particulate matter (PM2.5).  CSAPR requires reductions of SO2 emissions, annual NOx emissions, and ozone-season NOx emissions.  A state may be subject to the reduction requirement for one or more of these types of emissions.  CSAPR establishes an emission budget and a variability limit for each state that is subject to an emission reduction requirement.  The budgets are established for two phases.  Phase I begins in 2012, and Phase II, under which more stringent state budgets apply, begins in 2014. 

Within the confines of the state budget, emission allowances will be allocated to covered sources.  Covered sources must comply with CSAPR by surrendering an allowance for each ton of SO2 or NOx emitted.  The sources are authorized to trade, bank, and utilize allowances issued under the relevant program.  However, as required by the D.C. Circuit decision, trading is only allowed within states; no interstate trading is permitted.

The states themselves will most likely play only a secondary role in the implementation of CSAPR.  EPA framed CSAPR as a federal implementation plan (FIP) program and set deadlines that generally do not allow enough time for each state to develop its own program to address interstate transport.  By taking these steps, EPA effectively preempted state discretion in determining how to meet at least the first phase of emission reduction obligations.  EPA decided to bypass the states because, in the Agency’s view, the states have arguably not met their Clean Air Act obligations with respect to implementing measures for achieving compliance with the 1997 ozone standard and the PM2.5 standards.  Concurrent with the issuance of CSAPR, EPA published a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking which, if adopted, would include six additional states in the NOx ozone-season program.

While CSAPR’s structure and approach is generally consistent with the EPA’s preferred option under the 2010 CATR proposal, for many states, the final CSAPR rule is more stringent than the proposed CATR.  For example, the assurance provisions are effective starting in 2012 instead of 2014 as proposed in CATR.  In addition, the allowance surrender requirements under the assurance provisions have increased from one additional allowance per ton of emissions to two additional allowances.  NOx budgets for some states were reduced.

Electric power plants regulated under CAIR will be required to comply with the CAIR 2011 compliance requirements already in effect.  CSAPR will replace CAIR beginning in 2012.  EPA is currently developing federal implementation plans for each state covered by CSAPR to achieve the Phase I requirements in 2012.

Most power plants are expected to achieve the required emission reductions by operating existing air emission control equipment, utilizing low sulfur coal, or increasing electrical generation from cleaner generating units.  Some plants will be required to install new air quality control systems, such as low NOx burners or selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems, scrubbers or dry sorbent injection capability.  CSAPR could lead to the retirement of some older, less efficient coal-fired units which have not already been upgraded with modern air quality control systems.

 

For further comments or questions, please contact Michael McCauley.



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