03.17.2010 Implementation of GHG Permitting Requirements Delayed

Last week U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, Lisa Jackson, announced the Agency intends to delay implementation of the permitting requirements for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The Administrator further announced EPA intends to reduce the number of sources that will be subject to the permitting requirements. EPA's “Endangerment Finding” provides the basis for EPA’s authority to regulate GHG emissions.  Because of that finding, EPA can regulate GHG emissions from stationary sources under the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permitting scheme.

EPA intends to issue a tailoring rule which will attempt to limit GHG permitting requirements to larger stationary sources.Accordingly, the Administrator stated sources which emit less than 75,000 tons of GHGs will not need a permit for the next two years. This means that fewer than 400 facilities are expected to be subject to the permitting requirements by early 2011. However, the Administrator stated as many as 1,700 additional permits may need to be reviewed for GHG emissions during the second-half of 2011, and possibly as many as 3,000 additional sources by 2013.

Despite EPA’s announcement regarding the delay in implementation of the GHG permitting requirements, EPA’s Endangerment Finding is actively being challenged by many congressional leaders who have proposed various bills aimed at blocking the Agency’s Endangerment Finding from taking effect.