ERM Client Alert: US EPA Re-Proposed Boiler Air Toxic Rules

28 December 2011

On December 2, 2011 US EPA re-proposed MACT and GACT emission standards and work practices for boilers and process heaters

In the continuing saga of developing hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emission standards for industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) boilers, after reconsideration of their previously issued final rules in March, US EPA has come out with a revised set of proposed requirements. The re-proposed rules will have the greatest impact on existing and new solid and liquid fuel-fired boilers and will still require meeting emission limitations, performing additional monitoring, instituting work practices, or in some cases requiring the installation of emission control systems. For natural gas boilers and the roughly 187,000 units defined as small sources, the re-proposed rules will still impose compliance obligations including routine maintenance, an initial energy assessment and tune-ups.

While facilities with solid and liquid fuel-fired boilers will be burdened with more requirements, any facility subject to these rules will need to devote resources to conduct applicability assessments, perform business impact assessments, determine compliance demonstration methods and develop monitoring, recordkeeping and reporting procedures. Carrying out these steps takes time and planning, and, similar to complying with many of US EPA’s other HAP regulations, thoughtful long-term focused consideration. ERM has been actively evaluating the impacts of these rules for our clients and can help you develop and implement a plan to comply with the new requirements. 
The following highlights some of the more substantive changes to the proposed rules issued on December 2, 2011. The rules cover existing boilers, new or reconstructed boilers and process heaters, and establish different emission limits and other requirements depending on whether a facility is a Major HAP emission   source or an Area (minor HAP emission) source. As these are proposed rules, US EPA may make further changes after consideration of public comments.

Refer to USEPA’s website for more details:

Major Source Boiler Rule – What Changed & Highlights

General Provisions

  • US EPA has expanded the number of subcategories under the boiler maximum achievable control technology (BMACT) rule, in theory to provide greater flexibility for achieving compliance;
  • The definition of startup and shutdown is clarified to be based on when a unit achieves or last operates at 25% load; certain limits will not apply during these times but you will need to follow work practices;
  • PM CEMS monitoring approach changed to PM continuous parameter monitoring systems (CPMS) to allow for a less costly operating parameter monitoring approach;
  • The scope of the energy assessment requirement and compliance dates have been clarified;  and
  • New units must complete the initial tune-up within one year of startup.  Existing units must complete the initial tune-up prior to the compliance date.

More Specific Provisions

  • Compliance with CO limits will remain a concern: proposed short term (3-hr) CO limits for new and existing boilers are very stringent;
  • The proposed rule has eliminated numeric dioxin/furan emission limits and replaced them with tune-up work practice standards;
  • For oil-fired boilers, US EPA has split heavy and light liquids for PM and CO limits, which allows better alignment with differences in boiler design and operation and fuel type; and
  • US EPA has proposed less-stringent Hg and HCl emission limits for existing oil-fired units, but more stringent limits for coal and biomass boilers.

Area Source Boiler Rule - What Changed & Highlights

  • The proposed boiler generally available control technologies (BGACT) rule for Area Source (non-Major) facilities targets existing, new and reconstructed boilers within the subcategories for coal, biomass, and oil;
  • To align more realistically with variations in boiler and fuel type additional subcategories were created, including a new subcategory for seasonally operated boilers;
  • The initial compliance date for existing boiler tune-ups changed, and is now March 21, 2013; US EPA is proposing  to  remove the initial tune-up requirement for new boilers;  and
  • Similar to the BMACT rule, the scope of the energy assessment and compliance dates for the BGACT rule have been clarified. Only existing boilers greater than 10 MMBtu/hr are required to perform the one-time energy assessment.

Important Dates You Need to Know

  • The public comment period for the proposed rules will extend for 60 days following publication in the Federal Register (which occurred on December 23rd 2011);
  • US EPA anticipates issuing its final Boiler MACT/GACT Rules in the Spring of 2012;
  • Existing sources must comply with the new emission limits within 3 years from the effective date (one year extension available with justification); new, modified, or reconstructed sources must comply 60 days after promulgation of final rule or upon startup (whichever is later);
  • The Initial Notification for the BMACT is due 120 days from the effective date; and
  • Perform initial compliance tests within 180 days of the compliance date.

Strategic Considerations & Compliance Planning
The following presents a list of recommended steps to take now:

  • For each of your boilers, determine the applicable emission limits and whether you can comply with them.
  • Consider operational, process and/or fuel changes to reduce the regulatory burden of complying with the rules and/or to eliminate applicability.
  • Determine whether additional emissions controls are required to meet emissions limits, perform economic analyses and start planning future CapEx budgetsDetermine if additional monitoring systems will be required to comply with the rules.

How ERM Can Help?

Strategic Planning - ERM can help you develop compliance strategies that take into consideration your future business plans, including re-permitting efforts.

Regulatory Applicability Analysis - ERM can assist with determining the applicability of the rules and potential regulatory and economic implications for your operations.

Control Technology Evaluations - ERM can support the evaluation, engineering design, equipment procurement and installation of emission controls and monitoring systems for affected boilers and process heaters.

Initial and On-going Performance Tests - ERM can assist with energy assessments, fuel assessments and performance testing for demonstrating compliance.

Reporting - ERM can help with preparing initial notification letters, notice of compliance status reports (NOCSR) and periodic compliance reports.


US EPA Re-Proposed Boiler Air Toxic Rules

Download a copy of ERM's Client Alert on the revised set of MACT and GACT emission standards and work practices for boilers and process heaters (98KB PDF)