THE U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY HAD A novel idea: For power plants and sources relying on devices to control air emissions, rather than attempt to monitor the actual physical emissions to determine compliance with federal law, it simply would require inspections and tests of the performance of the control device. %n1%n
This strategy was formalized in the EPA's compliance assurance monitoring (CAM) rule signed Oct. 17, 1997. The EPA's theory is that if the control device is working properly, it is likely pollutant emissions fall within the required limits. %n2%n
The CAM rule, added as part 64 to title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations, forms one more part of the new Clean Air Act enforcement model envisioned by the 1990 amendments. Under CAM, air emissions sources would submit operating data that at least indirectly reflects the facility's compliance status on an ongoing basis. Taken with the relaxed standard for proof of violations and facility-specific permit requirements, a CAM-type rule should make federal enforcement easier.
Nevertheless, many questions arise regarding the formula that triggers the rule's application, plus its effectiveness and accuracy. Can utilities rely on equipment monitoring to produce trustworthy results? Will it actually become more difficult for utilities to certify that they meet emissions standards?
Other questions stem from the shift from reference tests to enforcement based upon any proffered credible evidence. This aspect has caused significant problems for industry.