Environmental Regulations

EPA Must Fix Permitting Paradox Created by New Ozone Regulations

EPA’s action puts chemical industry investment at risk. We are concerned that some projects—new facilities, plant expansions and factory restarts—will remain in limbo until EPA explains how to obtain a permit under the new standards. » News Release on EPA Final Ozone Standards | ACC Letter in Support of H.R. 4000

Environmental regulations must promote the shared national goal of a healthy environment while preserving America’s ability to innovate and create jobs. Some U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations that would restrict air emissions at myriad facilities are impractical and will cost American jobs—these regulations must be improved.

Policy Background

Ozone: On September 2, 2011, President Obama asked EPA to withdraw its proposed national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) for ozone, a decision that helped ensure communities would have a fighting chance of attracting new factories, construction projects and energy production. America’s chemical manufacturers are announcing projects that will help create hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs, thanks to domestic shale gas. On October 1, 2015, EPA lowered the ozone NAAQS to 70 parts per billion. EPA must provide prompt guidance explaining how manufacturing facilities may obtain a permit under the new standards.

Boiler MACT: EPA in 2010 proposed new air emissions standards for boilers that are used to power various processes for 200,000 businesses, institutions and municipalities across the country. As originally written, these “Boiler MACT” standards would require manufacturers, hospitals, restaurants and other enterprises to buy and install expensive new technologies—in an attempt to meet unrealistic standards. Many industries, small businesses, lawmakers—even the U.S. Small Business Administration—informed EPA that these rules overreach and would hurt the economy and cost jobs. Early in 2013, EPA issued final rules. While significantly improved, they contain a few provisions that need more work to be achievable.

Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions: To reduce greenhouse gas emissions, EPA in January 2011 began requiring certain manufacturing facilities, farms and power plants to obtain Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permits if GHG emissions would exceed specified levels when building or modernizing facilities. Since then, additional manufacturing facilities and large commercial enterprises came under EPA GHG permitting requirements. On June 23, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that only facilities emitting above threshold amounts of a conventional pollutant trigger PSD permitting requirements. Once PSD is triggered, such facilities must control emissions of conventional pollutants as well as GHGs. ACC has advanced this statutory interpretation from the beginning of the litigation.

ACC’s Policy Position

To attract manufacturing in the United States, EPA must improve its Boiler MACT standards and ensure that GHG emissions alone do not trigger a PSD permit.

  • EPA must provide prompt guidance regarding permitting requirements under the new ozone standards.

  • EPA should address outstanding issues with its Major and Area Source boiler rules to ensure they are achievable.

  • ACC believes the PSD permitting program is not triggered by GHG emissions from industrial facilities. We are glad the Court corrected EPA’s misreading of the Clean Air Act, which even the Agency conceded would lead to "absurd results."

The business of chemistry and other manufacturers must be allowed to meet environmental goals in ways that do not jeopardize jobs and innovation.