Utilities say new Superfund rule could force them to report emissions for engines as small as a lawn mower.
Even utility lawyers can laugh at adversity.
Consider the comments they filed when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published an "Interim Guidance" document on Dec. 21 to help industry understand when it must report air emissions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), commonly known as the "Superfund Law." (Docket No. EC-G-1999-029, at 64 FR 71614.)
Did EPA aim too low when it recommended a minimum threshold for "federally permitted releases" exempt from reporting? When last we checked, the EPA was planning to issue an update this month.
Big Brother, John Deere, and the Absurd
"EPA may be, unwittingly or otherwise, adversely impacting the environment as well as the operations of millions of businesses due to EPA's absurdly low reportable quantity (RQ) proposed for nitrogen oxide (NO x) of 10 pounds per day. ... Consequently, EPA's proposed reporting hurdle would include engines down to the size in most riding lawn mowers. ... [T]ens of millions of new reports could ultimately be necessitated by DOE's proposed RQ for NO x . ...
We hope that EPA's proposed RQ for NO x is an unfortunate oversight rather than an attempt to increase its regulatory reach into the lives of potentially millions of American citizens."
"The absurdity of this requirement is apparent when you consider that NO x emissions from a larger, permitted boiler are typically on the order of 50,000 pounds per day, yet the latter would not require reporting, because they are 'federally permitted releases.'"
- Katerina M. Eftimoff, attorney representing FirstEnergy
Wasn't Pollution the Goal?
"The stigma of 'Superfund' reporting also could make [businesses] less inclined to use distributed generation and more inclined to purchase electric energy generated at a central station coal-fired power plant, since the reporting burden and stigma in the latter case would fall on the electric utility rather than the business customer. This would result in increased emissions of NO x, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter."
- Pamela A. Lacey, senior managing counsel, American Gas Association
Sidestepping & Second-Guessing at EPA?
"[M]ore than ten years have passed since the last rulemaking was initiated, and EPA has yet to promulgate any rules. EPA's 'guidance,' therefore, appears to be an attempt to side-step the rulemaking process and preclude the right to judicial review that a properly promulgated rule on the federally permitted release exemption would allow."
- Paul C. Bailey, vice president, environmental affairs, Edison Electric Institute
"The Agency's proposed re-interpretation appears to be designed to usurp authority from the states' air quality control agencies. ... Having approved state plans, ... why does EPA seek to renege on its approval and require reporting for such minor sources as a 25 horsepower gas-fired engine...?"
- Roland Gow, manager of environmental affairs, Questar
"By extending the CERCLA/EPCRA chemical listing process to anticipated, controlled releases, we now find ourselves reporting under the Interim Guidance ongoing releases ... in a way that implies these emissions reports