EPA Residual Risk Settlement Affects Pulp and Paper Mills

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is preparing to initiate a Clean Air Act (CAA) Section 114 request for pulp and paper mills related to reviewing the industry’s New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) and National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) emission standards.  The three federal emission standards that are the subject of this information collection include:

  • Standards of Performance for Kraft Pulp Mills (40 CFR part 60, subpart BB)
  • National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants from the Pulp and Paper Industry (40 CFR part 63, subpart S)
  • National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Chemical Recovery Combustion Sources at Kraft, Soda, Sulfite, and Stand-Alone Semi-chemical Pulp Mills (40 CFR part 63, subpart MM)

The purpose of this effort is to determine the affected population of pulp and paper processes and re-evaluate emissions standards for these sources.

Required Standards Review

As required by the Clean Air Act, EPA must set industry air pollution standards that are up-to-date, ensuring that the standards reflect the newest available technology and provide protection for human health and the environment.  EPA must also perform “residual risk” assessments for the Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) standards, under the NESHAPS, to analyze the public health impacts that remain once all required MACT controls have been put in place.  The agency must review these standards and perform residual risk assessments every eight years.  Since the pulp and paper industry’s current MACT standards were finalized in 1998 and 2001, the EPA is currently behind schedule in these reviews.

As a result of a January 2009 lawsuit regarding the delay in the required MACT reviews, a July 6, 2010 court settlement establishes a schedule for EPA to complete the residual risk review for the pulp and paper industry. By June 15, 2011, EPA must issue proposed revisions to the pulp and paper NESHAP and propose residual risk standards or sign proposed determinations that such standards are not required.  By December 16, 2011, EPA must finalize the NESHAP revisions and risk standards or finalize the determinations that these are not required.

Information Request Requirements

The information request would apply to “major sources” and “synthetic area sources”.  There are 386 mills across the U.S. targeted to receive the pulp and paper sector survey.  EPA proposes to request information such as facility/company information, process and emissions unit configurations, emissions and CEMS data, process flow diagrams, production data, cost data and future anticipated changes, among other items.  A response would be due back to the EPA sixty days after receipt.

EPA must move forward quickly on the data collection to support this rule development, potentially as early as this Fall.  Comments EPA received during the public comment period were related to concerns over EPA collecting more information than is necessary, EPA underestimating the cost burden to the industry for the information collection, and the short time frame and heavy reporting period in which mills would be expected to respond.

Any rulemaking that results from this standards review presents a potential impact on a facility’s capital planning.  A newly proposed rule could tighten emissions control standards and require air pollution control equipment upgrades.  Once promulgated, facilities typically have three years to comply.

For more information, see the Federal Register notice (75 FR 35792, 06/23/2010 http://www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/home.html#docketDetail?R=EPA-HQ-OAR-2007-0544) regarding Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment Request; Information Request for Pulp and Paper Sector New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) and National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) Residual Risk and Technology Review.  Other sectors that face review include aerospace, furniture, aluminum production, cement manufacturing, lead smelting, pesticide manufacturing, pharmaceuticals production and shipbuilding.

Section 114 Response Support

Trinity has assisted multiple clients in the pulp and paper industry and other sectors in the preparation of responses to Section 114 Information Collection Requests (ICRs).  In support of these requests, Trinity has assisted clients with services such as: commenting on previous and proposed Section 114 responses; Section 114 response submittals; reviews of a company’s facility and corporate environmental files; reviews of regulatory agency files for a facility; historical PSD applicability determinations; control device and process information summaries; performing and checking emission inventories; development of economic data; and quality assurance reviews of submissions.  For assistance contact your local Trinity office at (800) 229-6655.