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RMB Consulting & Research, Inc. (RMB) specializes in providing consulting services to industrial clients and associated organizations. RMB's greatest asset is its technical consultants, which represent a wealth of experience in air pollution control and air pollution consulting that can be applied to meet your corporate environmental needs and regulatory challenges. Present clients include many individual electric utility companies, several major chemical and petroleum industry clients, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the Utility Air Regulatory Group (UARG).

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Final Rule Published to Extend Interim MATS Reporting Period! (4/6/17)

Good news! In today's Federal Register dated April 6, 2017 (Volume 82, No. 64: 5 total pages), EPA has formally extended the MATS interim PDF reporting process.  This final rule, effective today, extends the interim reporting period to June 30, 2018.

EPA Withdraws Proposed Greenhouse Gas Rules (4/3/17)

On April 3, 2017, a notice was published in the Federal Register in which EPA withdraws two proposed rules that are related to the Agency’s Clean Power Plan (CPP).  The first proposed rule that EPA is withdrawing was published on October 23, 2015 and is titled, “Federal Plan Requirements for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Electric Utility Generating Units Constructed on or Before January 8, 2014; Model Trading Rules; Amendments to Framework Regulations.”  The second proposed rule was published on June 30, 2016 and is titled, “Clean Energy Incentive Program Design Details.”

In the April 3rd Federal Register notice, EPA explains that the Agency intends to review these proposed rules in conjunction with its comprehensive review of the CPP.  A thorough review of the CPP plan was directed by Executive Order 13784, “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth.”  The notice further states that based on its review of the CPP, the Agency will determine how best to proceed, which may include the development of new, proposed rules consistent with the requirements of the Clean Air Act.

MATS Monitoring & Reporting Workshop (3/15/17)

The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) Rule imposes an array of testing, monitoring, and reporting requirements on utility sources.  Sources may use different options to comply with the various limits.  However, the variety of these choices, exacerbated by unclear rule language and limited guidance from the Agency, can make it difficult to understand what may be required in different situations.  Understanding the MATS requirements is further complicated by on-going rule revisions, particularly the proposed changes to the electronic reporting requirements. 

To help you better ensure MATS compliance, RMB is conducting a one-day workshop that will focus on frequently asked questions and questions related to monitoring or reporting for unusual situations.  The workshop will encourage the exchange of information and experiences among participants.  The topics will include:

 

  • PM CEMS and Hg Monitoring
  • Stack Testing Requirements
  • Boiler Tune-up Frequency
  • Documentation & Recordkeeping
  • Startup/Shutdown Provisions
  • Emission Calculation Details
  • MATS Reporting Requirements
  • Updates on MATS Rule Revisions

 The MATS Monitoring & Reporting Workshop will be held at the Dallas Sheraton Hotel on Tuesday, May 9, 2017 (8:30am - 4:00 pm) in conjunction with the EPRI CEM User Group Meeting, which starts the following day at the same location.  Click here for a registration form.  For more information, please contact Steve Norfleet at norfleet@rmb-consulting.com.

RMB's Spring 2017 CEMS Training Course - SOLD OUT (03/08/17)

Unfortunately, RMB's Spring 2017 CEMS Training Course has sold out and registration is now closed.  However, the Fall CEMS course dates have now been confirmed and the class will be held again in Raleigh, North Carolina on October 3-5, 2017.  More information about the Fall class will be posted when the updated registration forms and hotel accomodations are completed.  For more details on RMB's training courses, click the following link: RMB Training

Procedure 2 - Direct Final Rule Withdrawn (2/15/17)

 

In today's Federal Register dated February 15, 2017 (Volume 82, No. 30: 1 total page), EPA has issued the following statements regarding the November 21, 2016 Direct Final revisions to Part 60, Appendix F, Procedure 2 for PM CEMS:

"Because the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) received an adverse comment, we are withdrawing the direct final rule titled, 'Revisions to Procedure 2—Quality Assurance Requirements for Particulate Matter Continuous Emission Monitoring Systems at Stationary Sources.' Effective February 15, 2017, the EPA withdraws the direct final rule published at 81 FR 83160, on November 21, 2016. We stated in that direct final rule that if we received adverse comment by December 21, 2016, the direct final rule would not take effect and we would publish a timely withdrawal in the Federal Register. We subsequently received adverse comment on that direct final rule requesting that the EPA delete or reserve section(s) in the rule that conflict with the intended revisions. We will address the comment in a subsequent final action, which will be based on the parallel proposed rule also published on November 21, 2016, at 81 FR 83189. As stated in the direct final rule and the parallel proposed rule, we will not institute a second comment period on this action."

 

Executive Order Freezes EPA Regulations (1/26/17)

 

In today's Federal Register dated January 26, 2017, EPA issued the following statement:

"In accordance with the Presidential directive as expressed in the memorandum of January 20, 2017, from the Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff, entitled ‘‘Regulatory Freeze Pending Review,’’ this action temporarily delays until March 21, 2017, the effective date of the regulations listed in the table below. EPA identified 30 regulations that meet those criteria."


The Presidential directive essentially contained or addressed three separate categories of regulations.  Today’s Federal Register notice addresses Category 3 – those regulations that have already been published in Fed. Reg., but have not gone into effect when the Presidential directive was published (e.g., regulations are often published in Fed. Reg. with an effective date 60 days after publication).

 

Perhaps more poignantly, Category 2 of the Presidential directive instructs EPA to withdraw any rules from the Office of Federal Register (OFR) that had been signed by the EPA Administrator and submitted to OFR, but not published in Fed. Reg. as of 1/20/17.  This is of particular importance because the rule to extend the delay in the MATS electronic reporting requirements falls into Category 2.  As many of you may know, on or about 1/8/17, the former EPA Administrator McCarthy signed a rule to extend the delay for MATS electronic reporting from 4/16/17 until 6/30/18; however, that rule had yet to be published in Fed. Reg. at the time the Presidential directive was released.  As a result, EPA must withdraw the rule from OFR.  Obviously, industry needs the additional time while EPA staff works to finalize revised electronic reporting requirements that were proposed in September 2016.  Hopefully, this final rule does not “raise substantial questions of law or policy,” and will get published as soon as the water begins flowing again.  However, until a new Administrator is confirmed, this rule will remain in regulatory purgatory.   

 

EPA's Technology Transfer Network (TTN) Site Moved/Changed (1/26/17)

 

EPA's TTN site has been moved/changed.  It will now be known as "Technical Air Pollution Resources".  As you may know, the TTN site was a great resource for Test Methods, Performance Specifications, and approved Alternative Methods.  The new site may be found at the following URL:  http://www.epa.gov/technical-air-pollution-resources.  From there, you can select the Air Emissions Measurement Center (EMC) for additioanl information, or click here: http://www.epa.gov/emc 

 

MATS Semiannual Reporting Deadline Approaches  (1/17/17)

 

For sources with a one-year extension, the deadline for submitting the first MATS Semiannual Report is rapidly approaching.  The reports must be submitted through ECMPS in PDF format by January 31, 2017.  The semiannual compliance report contains information regarding the monitoring system performance (as applicable), fuel usage, boiler tune-up, excess emissions, and deviations.  The initial Semiannual Report file may represent more than six months if you began compliance monitoring prior to the start of the second quarter of 2016 (e.g., you started demonstrating compliance on 4/16/16).  

 

Final Rule Signed to Extend Interim MATS Reporting Period (1/11/17)

Good news! The EPA Administrator signed a final rule on Monday that extends the MATS interim PDF reporting process while the Agency continues to work on an additional final rule that would address the other proposed reporting changes. The final rule would extend the interim reporting period to June 30, 2018. EPA acknowledged that it received comments suggesting that the deadline be replaced corresponding to fixed time period (e.g., two years) after the promulgation of the complete final reporting rule "in order to provide a smooth transition to the single electronic reporting system." The Agency even suggested that it "may choose to adapt such an approach at a future date." But, EPA said "for now, we believe a deadline of June 30, 2018, will provide certainty to industry stakeholders, third party programmers, regulatory authorities, the public, and the EPA" and "will give us adequate time to complete our review, respond to comments, and promulgate a separate final rule addressing the remaining issues in the September 29, 2016 proposal." Along with extending the interim reporting date, the Agency also finalized correction to alternative relative accuracy specification for mercury CEMS in Appendix A, which was a part of the proposed rule that received no adverse comments.

Although this final rule has been signed by the Administrator, it will not become effective until it is published in the Federal Register.  It is possible that this rule may get caught up in pending regulations, which is an approach that has been used by recent incoming administrations to provide a review of "midnight" regulations issued by out-going administrations.  As a result, there could be a period where the MATS reporting would revert back the original ERT and CEDRI requirements.  However, one might argue that the signed rule provides clear indication of EPA's intent for sources to continue to use the interim PDF reporting requirements while the new reporting provisions are being developed.

A copy of the final signed rule can found in our FTP library.

Court Vacates Certain Major Source IB-MACT Standards (10/31/16)


On July 29, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion in U.S. Sugar v.  EPA that settled all outstanding legal challenges regarding the area source IB-MACT, major source IB-MACT, and CISWI Rules.  The opinion is largely viewed a win for EPA as the court upheld the Agency’s position on a variety of issues related to the major source rule including the following:

  • Elimination of affirmative defense for malfunction events
  • Pollutant-by-pollutant approach for setting emission standards
  • Energy assessment requirement
  • Lack of heath-based emission limitation for HCl
  • Use of upper prediction limit (UPL) in setting emission standards
  • Fuel/combustion-based subcategories

Perhaps the most significant outcome was the court’s decision to vacate certain IB-MACT standards based on a potential flaw in EPA’s methodology for establishing the pool of units used to set the emission floor in the major source IB-MACT rule.   In the final rule, to qualify for certain subcategories, a source was required to burn at least 10% of the fuel associated with a subcategory based on annual heat input.  However, in selecting the units for the emissions floor analysis, EPA only included units that fired at least 90% of that fuel for existing units and 100% for new units.  The court indicated that this disparity would result in a less stringent standard in some cases since the best performing units were not necessarily included in the pool of units if all units for that subcategory had been considered when setting the emissions floor.  EPA has identified the following (11) existing unit and (9) new unit emission standards as potentially affected under the ruling:

  • Existing Solid Fuel (HCl and Hg)
  • Existing Coal Stokers (CO)
  • Existing Wet Biomass Stokers (CO and PM)
  • Existing Biomass Fluidized Bed (CO and PM)
  • Existing Biomass Suspension Burners (PM)
  • Existing Liquid Fuel (HCl and Hg)
  • Existing Heavy Liquid (PM)
  • New Solid Fuel (Hg)
  • New Pulverized Coal Boilers (CO)
  • New Biomass Fluidized Bed (CO and PM)
  • New Biomass Suspension Burners (PM)
  • New Biomass Hybrid Suspension Burners (PM)
  • New Biomass Hybrid Suspension Grate (CO)
  • New Liquid Fuel (HCl)
  • New Heavy Fuel (PM)

EPA has petitioned the three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court to rehear the Court’s vacatur of the emission standards.  While the Court has not acted on EPA’s petition, RMB would be very surprised if the petition was granted or the vacatur were changed to a remand.  The environmental petitioners as well as a group of industry petitioners both have filed petitions for rehearing and rehearing en banc (full court) of certain parts of the D.C. Circuit decision.  The Court has not acted on these petitions either.    Please see our FTP library for a copy of the court’s ruling.

Federal Civil Penalties for CAA Violations Revised (8/8/16)

EPA has promulgated revisions to the statutory civil monetary penalty amounts for the statutes the agency administers.  This action was mandated by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, as amended through 2015.  These penalties, which originally were on the order of $25,000 then increased to $37,500, have now been increased to $93,750.

What does this really mean?  Statutory civil penalties for violations that occurred after November 2, 2015 and assessed on or after August 1, 2016 will cost 250% more than before.  Compliance with the MATS Rule has never been more critical or costly if compliance is not demonstrated! 

MATS Technical Corrections Published (4/6/16)

Today, EPA's MATS "Technical Corrections" have been published in the Federal RegisterTHESE REVISIONS BECOME EFFECTIVE TODAY!.  These revisions include the long awaited revisions to the 80-100 day quarterly testing window requirement.  Many of the revisions remain relatively unchanged from the proposed rule.  However, EPA did change its stance on the proposed alternative mercury RATA specification.  Instead of limiting sources to an untenable 10% of the mercury limit (about +/-0.1 mg/m3 for most sources), the final rule establishes a new alternative limit of 0.5 mg/m3 based on the absolute difference of the mean readings plus the confidence coefficient.   A copy of the promulgated final rule revisions can be found in our FTP library

MATS Technical Corrections Signed (3/21/16)

Last week, EPA released a signed version of the final MATS "Technical Corrections" Revisions including the long awaited revisions to the 80-100 day quarterly testing window requirement.  Many of the revisions remain relatively unchanged from the proposed rule.  However, EPA did change its stance on the proposed alternative mercury RATA specification.  Instead of limiting sources to an untenable 10% of the mercury limit (about +/-0.1 mg/m3 for most sources), the final rule establishes a new alternative limit of 0.5 mg/m3 based on the absolute difference of the mean readings plus the confidence coefficient.   A copy of the signed final rule revisions can be found in our FTP library.

US Supreme Court Rules - Blocks Clean Power Plan  (2/10/16)

 

On Tuesday, the US Supreme Court ordered a stay on the Clean Power Plan.  This ruling temporarily blocks EPA's effort to regulate CO2 emissions until other legal challenges are addressed.

MATS Semiannual Reporting Deadline Approaches  (1/8/16)

 

For sources without a one-year extension, the deadline for submitting the first MATS Semiannual Report is rapidly approaching.  The reports must be submitted through ECMPS in PDF format by January 31, 2016.  The semiannual compliance report contains information regarding the monitoring system performance (as applicable), fuel usage, boiler tune-up, excess emissions, and deviations.  The initial Semiannual Report file may represent more than six months if you began compliance monitoring prior to the start of the second quarter of 2015 (e.g., you started demonstrating compliance on 4/16/15).  

Immediate Legal Challenges to EPA's Clean Power Plan Abound  (10/23/15)

On the very same day which EPA’s suite of carbon rules for electric generating units (EGUs) were published in the Federal Register (see article below), a number of groups filed legal challenges in the D.C. Circuit of Appeals.  The first challenge was led by the State of West Virginia and joined by 23 others states.  According to the State’s Petition, the final rule is in excess of the agency’s statutory authority, goes beyond the bounds set by the United States Constitution, and otherwise is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and not in accordance with law.”  

 

At least 10 additional legal petitions were filed on the day the rule was published including:, the Utility Air Regulatory Group (UARG) and American Public Power Association (APPA); United Mine Workers of America; National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA); International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths and Forgers; Florida Electric Coordinating Group; and several individual electric utility companies.

And so the legal dance begins....

EPA Publishes Final GHG Rules (aka "Clean Power Plan")  (10/23/15)

In today's Federal Register dated October 23, 2015, EPA issued the final version of NSPS Subpart TTTT (GHG emissions for new units) and NSPS Subpart UUUU (GHG emissions for existing units, aka the "Clean Power Plan").  These rules regulate CO2 emissions from new, reconstructed, modified and existing EGUs under 40 CFR Part 60.  In addition, EPA issued a proposed Federal Plan/Model Trading Rule for GHG emissions from existing units that can be found in 40 CFR Part 62.  Copies of these rules can be found in our FTP library.

US Supreme Court Rules Against EPA (6/29/15)

In response to a case brought about by EPA neglecting cost in its "appropriate and necessary" finding, which is the basis for the Utility MATS Rule, the Supreme Court of the United States concluded in a 5-4 decision:

"We hold that EPA interpreted §7412(n)(1)(A) unreasonably when it deemed cost irrelevant to the decision to regulate power plants.  We reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and remand the cases for further proceedings consistent with this opinion."

While this is a big declaration in reeling in the Agency, this ruling DOES NOT REMAND THE MATS RULE!  STAY TUNED!

Final PS-18 and Procedure 6 Released (6/26/15)

EPA released a copy of the final version of PS-18 and Procedure 6 for HCl CEMS this week.  A copy the new final signed version of PS-18 and Procedure 6 can be found in our FTP library.

RMB EPRI CEMS Users Group Meeting Presentations Available (5/26/15)

RMB has added the MATS Rule Implementation and MATS Emission Calculations slides from the presentations that were recently given by Dru Sanders and Bethany White at the EPRI CEMS User Group Meeting under Papers and Presentations.

NSPS Electronic Reporting Rule Proposed (3/23/15)

On Friday, EPA published a proposed rulemaking that would require sources affected by many subparts under the Part 60 new source performance standards to begin reporting data electronically using CEDRI and the ERT. This rulemaking would affect many industries including waste combustors, cement plants, refineries, ore smelters, steel mills, fertilizer plants, paper mills, and many others including electric utilities. While EPA indicates that electronic reporting for Subparts D, Da, Db, and Dc would be addressed "under a separate and independent rulemaking," the proposed rule would require many of combustion turbines under Subparts GG and KKKK to start using CEDRI and the ERT. A copy of the proposed rule can be downloaded from the following link:

A copy the new final version of the transitional electronic reporting rule can be found in our FTP library.

MATS Transition Electronic Reporting Rule Signed (3/16/15)

The Administrator has signed the final version MATS rule revisions that will suspend the requirements to report data electronically using the ERT and/or CEDRI and instead allow sources to report the same type of information in PDF format using ECMPS.  This rule was originally proposed as a direct final rule in November.  While most comments favored of the rule, EPA did receive one adverse comment, which predicated the Agency's withdrawal of the original direct final rule and the promulgation of this new final version. 

Although EPA discusses its response to the comments in some detail in the preamble to this new rule, the Agency generally found the adverse comment to be without substance.  The new version of the rule mirrors the original proposed language with the exception of a minor addition stating that "each PDF version of a submitted report must include sufficient information to assess compliance and to demonstrate that the testing was done properly."  As the preamble describes, these transitional reporting requirements are part of a broader effort to revise the reporting requirements to ultimately allow sources to report MATS data in a similar manner (and formats) to the way emissions data are reported under Part 75.  Awaiting publication, the transitional reporting requirements will become effective immediately when it appears in the Federal Register.

A copy the new final version of the transitional electronic reporting rule can be found in our FTP library.

Proposed MATS Clarifications/Corrections (2/17/15)

 

The proposed MATS "corrections and clarifications" that the Administrator signed late last year were finally published in the Federal Register today. While these proposed revisions are presented primarily as technical corrections, a number of the changes will have significant impact. The proposed changes include allowing 30- or 90-day mercury compliance averaging for most coal-fired sources, tightening the mercury CEMS RATA specifications, and revising to the recent additional reporting requirements that EPA imposed as part of its reconsideration of startup/shutdown issues.  Comments on the proposed rule revisions will be due by April 3, 2015.  A copy of the proposed MATS technical revisions can be found in our FTP library.

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