Choose a different state:
For assistance in OR, contact
Aaron Day
(253) 867-5600
Publications

Oregon Environmental News

Upcoming Training

Ozone NAAQS Revisions Proposed

Sunday, January 25, 2015

On November 25, 2014, the U.S. EPA proposed to strengthen the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone. The current primary ozone standard (finalized in 2008) is 75 ppb. Two new NAAQS for ozone have been proposed, a primary (health based) standard as well as a secondary (welfare based) standard, both proposed as 8-hour standards between 65 -70 ppb. EPA is also proposing and/or requesting comments on the following:

  • Feasibility of even lower ozone standards including 60 ppb
  • Proposed revision to the Air Quality Index (AQI)
  • Possible revisions to the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) program to add a transitional provision to grandfather PSD projects
  • Revisions to the O3 monitoring seasons for certain areas

The proposal was published in the Federal Register on December 17, 2014, and the public comment period ends March 17, 2015. EPA plans to hold public hearings on January 29, 2015 in Arlington, TX and Washington, DC and February 2, 2015 in Sacramento, CA.

At this time, EPA's timeline for making the associated air quality attainment designations is as follows:

  • October 2015: The final rule for the Ozone standard will be promulgated
  • October 2016: States will make attainment recommendations
  • October 2017: EPA will make final attainment designations based on 2014-2016 monitoring data

Potential Implications of the Proposed Standard

The proposed standard is very stringent. EPA's data indicates that if the standard is finalized at 70 ppb, 358 counties nationwide would violate the standard (based on 2011-2013 monitoring data). Using the same data, if the standard is set at 65 ppb, an additional 200 counties would violate the standard. It is important to note that initial attainment designations will likely be based on 2014-2016 monitoring data. This map from the EPA website illustrates the areas that could potentially violate the standard based on 2011-2013 data.

Based on the 2011-2013 data, Alaska does not show any counties above the 65 ppb threshold, or even the lower 60 ppb threshold, which EPA has stated is within the scope of requested comments, but not within the range of the proposed NAAQS.

Because the revised standard is only proposed and because EPA is considering the grandfathering of projects that are in the pipeline, there is currently no known cut-off date for facilities that are submitting PSD applications. If EPA finalizes the rule and hundreds more areas become classified as nonattainment, major sources or major modifications in those jurisdictions will be required to go through the Non-Attainment New Source Review permitting process, rather than the PSD process. Due to the stringency of the proposed standards, facilities planning major capital projects may benefit from moving forward quickly. 

Please contact Ashley Jones in our office at 253-867-5600 or via email with any questions.

DEQ Proposes Temporary Revisions to Address Supreme Court GHG Ruling

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

On November 12, 2014, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) proposed temporary revisions to its air quality greenhouse gas (GHG) permitting rules to address the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on GHG permitting. Specifically, DEQ undertook this temporary rulemaking to address the June 23, 2014 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, which found that the Clean Air Act (CAA) neither compels nor permits EPA to adopt rules that require a facility to obtain a Title V or Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permit solely based on its potential GHG emissions (i.e., “GHG-only permitting”).

Although the Court’s ruling took effect immediately on EPA’s federal regulations and delegated states’ permitting programs, because Oregon operates SIP-approved programs for Title V and PSD permitting, Oregon’s rules were not directly impacted by the Court’s decision. As such, Oregon’s permitting program continues to require any facility with potential GHG emissions of 100,000 tons per year or more to obtain a Title V permit. Likewise, any new facility with potential GHG emissions of 100,000 tons per year or more, and any existing facility that makes modifications that increase its GHG emissions by at least 75,000 tons per year and that has total GHG emissions of 100,000 tons per year or more after the modification, must still obtain a PSD permit. However, if approved by the Environmental Quality Commission (EQC), DEQ’s proposal will temporarily remove certain portions of Oregon’s GHG permitting requirements while DEQ determines how to permanently respond to the Court’s ruling. The temporary rules would be applicable for six months after the approval date, unless the changes are made permanent by a second rule adoption.

DEQ is currently in the process of evaluating public comments on permanent rule amendments that DEQ plans to present to the EQC for decision in 2015. According to DEQ, the temporary rules would prevent some facilities from spending thousands of dollars in 2014 to comply with Oregon’s current requirements, which may change when the EQC considers permanent rules in 2015. However, even if the EQC adopts the proposed temporary rules, Oregon’s air quality permitting program will still contain uncertainty with respect to GHG permitting requirements, as DEQ cannot predict the final outcome or timing of the 2015 rulemaking.

In general, applications must comply with the rules in effect when the application is submitted, and the permit must comply with the rules in effect when the permit is issued. Accordingly, if the rules change between the date the application is submitted and the date the permit is issued in a way that makes any part of an application unnecessary, then DEQ will ignore the unnecessary parts. On the other hand, if the rules change in a way that requires the permit to address additional requirements, then the applicant must submit the necessary additional information when the rules become effective. Consequently, if the EQC adopts the temporary rules but later decides to retain the current greenhouse gas permitting rules (or if the EQC allows the temporary rules to expire before adopting permanent rules to eliminate GHG-only permitting), then affected facilities would ultimately have to comply with the GHG-only permitting requirements and submit relevant application elements. In this case, the temporary rule would only delay the submittal of these application elements. On the other hand, if the EQC adopts the temporary rules and the 2015 permanent rules follow the Court’s decision, then GHG-only permitting will no longer be required in Oregon.

If you have any questions regarding DEQ’s temporary rulemaking and its impact on Title V and PSD permitting requirements, please contact Maren Seibold at (253) 867-5600 or mseibold@trinityconsultants.com.

DEQ Plans Rule Updates to Accommodate Supreme Court Decision on GHGs

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) proposed temporary revisions to portions of its air quality regulations to accommodate the recent Supreme Court decision on greenhouse gases (GHGs). In a June 23, 2014 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated portions of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) GHG Tailoring Rule. Specifically, the Court found that EPA did not have the authority to rewrite unambiguous portions of the Clean Air Act (CAA) to accommodate its policy goals.

This finding invalidates the federal “GHG-only” permitting triggers established by the Tailoring Rule for the Title V and Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permitting programs. Although the Court affirmed EPA’s authority to regulate GHGs under the CAA, from a federal perspective, a facility must now trigger Title V or PSD permits for traditionally regulated air pollutants, in order to be subject to GHG-related requirements under these programs. EPA issued preliminary guidance in July 2014 to explain how it will accommodate this ruling for near term issues such as in-progress permits and State Implementation Plan (SIP) approvals.

States that have delegated status with respect to the Title V and PSD programs will be able to implement EPA’s preliminary guidance immediately. However, SIP-approved states such as Oregon must modify relevant portions of its regulations to incorporate this Supreme Court decision. Until such revisions are made, stationary sources in Oregon may still trigger “GHG-only” PSD and Title V permits.

In order to accommodate the Court’s decision, DEQ proposed temporary revisions to various portions of its air quality regulations. Specifically, DEQ’s proposal modifies Division 200 (General Air Pollution Procedures and Definitions), Division 216 (Air Contaminant Discharge Permits), and Division 224 (Major New Source Review) under Chapter 340 of the Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR). This proposal is not subject to public comment, but will be reviewed for approval by the Environmental Quality Commission (EQC), which is scheduled to meet on November 5, 2014.

If approved, the temporary revisions will become effective for a period not exceeding six months. During that time period, DEQ plans to finalize a permanent rulemaking that will accommodate the Supreme Court decision. This rulemaking will be subject to public comment. Until the temporary rule is adopted, stationary sources may still trigger GHG-only Title V and PSD permits in Oregon. Likewise, if the EQC rejects or delays approval of the temporary rulemaking, or if the subsequent final rulemaking is delayed or rejected, then stationary sources may still trigger GHG permitting in Oregon.

For more information about this proposed rulemaking and its potential consequences for your facility, please contact Maren Seibold of Trinity Consultants at (253) 867-5600 or mseibold@trinityconsultants.com.

Oregon Proposes Numerous Updates to Air Quality Regulations

Monday, June 30, 2014

On June 16, 2014, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) proposed various updates to its air quality permitting rules and related emission standards. DEQ’s proposal will streamline, reorganize, and update the air quality permit rules, including the state’s Source Sampling Manual and Continuous Monitoring Manual. The proposed rulemaking package includes the following general regulatory updates:

  • Change the statewide particulate matter (PM) emission standards and the preconstruction permitting program to assist Oregon with complying with EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for fine PM (PM2.5);
  • Incorporate additional state air quality designations;
  • Expand preconstruction permitting flexibility for small facilities;
  • Allow DEQ to use technology such as teleconferencing for public meetings to improve community outreach; and
  • Improve program implementation by proposing minor amendments to the woodstove replacement program (i.e., Heat Smart) and gasoline dispensing facility rules.

Among these proposed changes, the updated PM emission standards, adjusted permitting requirements for emergency generators and small oil and gas-fired combustion equipment, and new state air quality designations could potentially affect a large number of industrial sources in Oregon. As such, additional detail is provided for each of these updates:

  • The current PM and opacity rules distinguish between units installed before and after 1970. Specifically, a pre-1970 unit is currently subject to limits of 0.2 grains per dry standard cubic foot (gr/dscf) and 40 percent opacity, whereas post-1970 units are subject to limits of 0.1 gr/dscf and 20 percent opacity. DEQ is proposing that the grain-loading requirement for all units (both pre- and post-1970) that are currently emitting less than 0.080 gr/dscf (based on a representative compliance source test conducted prior to the rule filing date) be reduced to 0.10 gr/dscf. Note the additional significant figure relative to the current grain-loading standard, which is included for consistency with federal guidance. For sources that are currently emitting more than 0.080 gr/dscf (based on a representative compliance source test conducted prior to the rule filing date), DEQ proposes a standard of 0.15 gr/dscf for pre-1970 units and a standard of 0.14 gr/dscf for post-1970 units. However, the grain-loading standard for equipment or modes of operation that are used less than 876 hours per year (i.e., less than 10 percent of the year) will remain at 0.20 gr/dscf. Furthermore, the proposed opacity standard for all sources will be reduced to 20 percent based on a six-minute block average, with the exceptions for wood-fired boilers. The proposal allows for a five-year transition period to comply with the revised standards. This transition period would end no later than January 1, 2020, but the proposal provides the option for a one-year extension, if necessary. As such, the current grain-loading and opacity standards will apply through the end of 2019, unless an extension is granted; however, new sources installed after this rulemaking takes effect will be subject to a grain-loading standard of 0.10 gr/dscf immediately upon startup. Additionally, the proposal provides an option for industrial facilities to request a source-specific limit, if boiler or multiclone optimization does not enable a source to meet the proposed standards by 2020. This provision ensures that the proposed rules will not require any sources to replace a boiler or convert fuel types to meet the proposed standards.
  • The proposed rules remove emergency generators and small natural gas or oil-fired equipment from the list of categorically insignificant activities if either of the following apply: (1) The units are above size thresholds that make them subject to emission limits (e.g., under the new federal NESHAP standard for Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engines (RICE)) and (2) aggregate emissions from the units are greater than the state’s de minimis levels. If equipment at an industrial facility no longer qualifies as a categorically insignificant activity, then DEQ would add these sources to the facilities’ existing permits. If a facility has been relying on this insignificant designation to avoid permitting, then this proposed change may trigger permitting for these sources alone. For example, DEQ identified one business in Oregon that operates eight small boilers that qualify for the current insignificant designation based on the boilers’ individual rated capacities. However, when emissions from these boilers are added together, they total approximately 12 tons per year of NOx, which is well over the de minimis threshold for NOx of 1 ton per year. Consequently, this business will no longer qualify for the categorically insignificant exemption, and will need to obtain a permit for operating these boilers when the proposed rules are implemented.
  • The proposed rules establish two new state air quality designations, “sustainment” and “reattainment.”
    • The “sustainment” designation would apply to areas that are in danger of failing to meet at least one NAAQS, but for which EPA has not yet applied the nonattainment area designation. By establishing these areas as “sustainment”, DEQ’s goal is to provide communities more opportunity to avoid the nonattainment designation by working with DEQ to improve air quality. For example, DEQ would provide incentives to new or modified facilities to obtain emission offsets for problem pollutants.
    • The “reattainment” designation would apply to a federally designated nonattainment area that is currently meeting all NAAQS, but for which EPA has not yet redesignated the area as attainment. By establishing these areas as “reattainment”, DEQ’s goal is to allow communities to discontinue costly elements of an attainment plan when those elements are no longer necessary to improve or protect air quality. For example, new and modified facilities within a “reattainment” area would be subject to less stringent air permitting requirements than are typical for nonattainment areas, unless DEQ has identified the facility as a significant contributor to air quality problems.
     

DEQ’s proposal contains numerous additional modifications to the air quality regulations. As such, it is recommended that Oregon sources review the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued on June 16, 2014 in detail to identify other areas that may impact the sources operations. DEQ requested that the Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) approve the proposed rules for incorporation into Oregon’s State Implementation Plan (SIP). With EQC’s approval, DEQ would then submit the proposed rules to the EPA to be included in revisions to Oregon’s SIP, as required under the Clean Air Act. DEQ is currently requesting feedback on the ability of industrial sources to meet the new PM grain-loading and opacity standards, the stringency of Lane Regional Air Protection Agency (LRAPA) rules relative to comparable DEQ rules, and any alternative strategies to achieve the proposal’s goals. DEQ plans to hold a statewide public hearing on this proposed rulemaking package, which will be accessible to the public at locations in Portland, Bend, and Medford. DEQ will consider all oral and written comments received at the hearing, as well as all other comments received by the close of the public comment period on July 31, 2014 at 5:00 PM.

Please contact Maren Seibold of Trinity Consultants at (253)867-5600 or mseibold@trinityconsultants.com if you have any questions about this proposal or if you would like to discuss its potential implications on your facility’s operations.

Various Oregon Regulatory Updates:

Friday, January 24, 2014

DEQ Proposes Incorporation of Various Federal Standards. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently proposed to align Oregon rules with changes to federal air quality regulations. Specifically, DEQ’s proposal would adopt the following new federal standards:

  • Area source National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for boilers, but only for sources required to have a Title V permit or Air Contaminant Discharge Permit (ACDP)
  • Major and area source NESHAP for standards for stationary internal combustion engines, but only for sources required to have a Title V permit or ACDP
  • Major source NESHAP for boilers and process heaters
  • New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for stationary internal combustion engines, but only for sources required to have a Title V permit or ACDP
  • NSPS for nitric acid plants
  • NSPS for crude oil and natural gas production, transmission, and distribution
  • Federal emission guidelines for commercial and industrial solid waste incineration units
  • Federal plan for hospital, medical, and infectious waste incinerators

This proposal also includes the adoption of amended federal NSPS and NESHAP standards for various source categories including electric utility steam generating units, chemical manufacturing, Portland cement manufacturing, and others. Sources in Oregon are already subject to these new and amended federal standards; therefore, DEQ’s proposal would change the responsibility for enforcement of these rules from EPA to DEQ. For those area sources not required to have a DEQ permit, EPA would retain responsibility for enforcement for the aforementioned standards.

DEQ Increases Air Contaminant Discharge Fees and GHG Reporting Fees. DEQ published a temporary rule to increase annual ACDP fees by 20 percent. The permit invoices issued by DEQ in October 2013 included this 20 percent increase. The permit fees are not adjusted annually for inflation and were last increased in 2007. Although the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reporting program is separate from the ACDP program, the GHG reporting fee is based on the ACDP fee. To avoid increasing the GHG reporting fee for permit holders as a result of this ACDP fee increase, the temporary rule also revises the GHG reporting fee from 15 percent to 12.5 percent of the ACDP fee. The temporary rule is set to expire on April 22, 2014. DEQ plans to propose permanent rules for adoption in 2014.

DEQ Amends and Adopts Regulations Regarding NAAQS and PSD Increments. DEQ recently adopted a rule to incorporate new and revised air quality standards into the state air quality regulations and the Oregon State Implementation Plan (SIP). Specifically, the rule incorporates the primary one-hour National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for NO2, the primary one-hour NAAQS for SO2, the primary and secondary NAAQS for lead, as well as the new one-hour Significant Impact Levels (SILs) for NO2 and SO2 into the state regulations.

Proposed Rule Aligns Oregon Regulations with Federal Hazardous Chemical Reporting Requirements. In December 2013, the Department of State Police and the Office of State Fire Marshal published a proposed rule to align state regulations codified under OAR 837-085 with federal standards concerning hazardous chemical reporting codified under 40 CFR 370. Therefore, Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) reporting requirements for Oregon facilities will be consistent with federal requirements.

DEQ Increases Permit Fees for NPDES and WPCF Permits. DEQ recently adopted a rule to increase most water quality permitting fees by 2.9 percent. Specifically, permit application and annual fees will increase for most National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) and Water Pollution Control Facilities (WPCF) permits.

If you have any questions about how these proposed and adopted rules may impact environmental requirements for your facility, please contact Maren Seibold of Trinity Consultants at (253) 867-5600 or mseibold@trinityconsultants.com.

Registration for Oregon Clean Fuels Program Due June 30th – Possible Impacts to Suppliers in Surrounding States

Friday, June 07, 2013

The CFP applies to entities that import, produce, sell, supply or offer certain regulated transportation fuels for sale in Oregon.  Entities that are subject to the Oregon Clean Fuels Program (CFP) must submit an application for registration to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) by June 30, 2013.  Since this program applies to importers of fuel, it will potentially affect fuel suppliers in surrounding states (e.g., Washington, Idaho, and California) as well as Oregon suppliers. 

The purpose of the CFP is to mitigate Oregon's GHG emissions by reducing the carbon intensity of fuels used in Oregon by at least 10% below 2010 levels.   Fuel suppliers will eventually accomplish this reduction by comparing the carbon intensity of their fuels to a declining carbon intensity schedule, calculating corresponding surpluses and shortfalls relative to this schedule, and reconciling any shortfalls by obtaining credits in a market-based system.  However, the current phase of the CFP program (Phase 1, codified under OAR 340-253) is intended only to gather information necessary to establish the second phase of the program, which will include a declining carbon intensity schedule for each fuel.  Accordingly, regulated parties are not required to balance surpluses and shortfalls at this time. 

Any entity that is not subject to Oregon's CFP may become an opt-in party by registering with DEQ.  Opt-in parties must keep records and submit reports as required by the CFP for opt-in fuels.  The following table lists regulated fuels that will trigger CFP requirements, opt-in fuels that trigger requirements if an entity chooses to opt-in to the program, as well as fuels and fuel uses that are exempt from the CFP:

Oregon Clean Fuels Program Fuel Types

 

 Regulated Transportation Fuels

Opt-in Transportation Fuels

 Exempt Fuels and Fuel Uses

Gasoline

Hydrogen fuel

Fuel types sold or supplied to Oregon that totals aggregate volume of less than 360,000 gasoline gallon equivalents per year (gge) from all providers

Diesel fuel

Hydrogen blends

Fossil liquefied natural gas that is imported, but not transferred by a natural gas pipeline in Oregon

Fossil liquefied natural gas derived from fuel delivered through a natural gas pipeline

A fuel blend containing ethanol

Fossil compressed natural gas

Fuel produced by R&D or demonstration facility if annual production volume is either (1) less than 10,000 gallons or (2) less than 50,000 gallons and producer uses entire volume in its own vehicles

A fuel blend containing biomass-based diesel or biodiesel

Biogas compressed natural gas

Ethanol or denatured ethanol (i.e., E100)

Biogas liquefied natural gas

Neat biomass-based diesel and biodiesel (i.e., B100)

Liquefied petroleum gas

Fuels sold or supplied for use in aircrafts, racing and military vehicles, locomotives, ocean-going vessels, farm vehicles and tractors, and motor trucks used to transport logs

Any other liquid or non-liquid fuels not listed as opt-in fuels or exempt fuels

Electricity

 

A complete registration application must be submitted for each type of fuel that the entity has imported, produced, sold, supplied, or offered for sale on or before July 1, 2013, and for each fuel type that the entity plans to continue to handle in those ways after July 1, 2013.   Furthermore, if an entity plans to begin handling a new type of fuel in the aforementioned ways after July 1, 2013, then the entity must submit a complete application to DEQ for that fuel type on or before the date it begins to provide the fuel for use in Oregon.   The registration must include company identification information, the fuel types that will be sold, supplied, or offered for sale in Oregon, the producer of each type of fuel, and a proposed carbon intensity value for each fuel type. 

The following types of entities are considered initial regulated parties under the CFP:

  • Oregon producers:  (1) For liquid blendstocks or finished fuels, the person who makes the fuel at an Oregon production facility is considered to be the Oregon producer; (2) for biogas produced in Oregon, the person who refines the gas to pipeline quality is considered to be the Oregon producer.
  • Large Oregon importers:  Any person who imports more than 250,000 gallons of fuel in a given calendar year into Oregon is classified as a large Oregon importer.
  • Small Oregon importers:  Any person who imports 250,000 gallons of fuel or less in a given calendar year into Oregon is classified as a large Oregon importer. 

If fuel is transferred from one regulated party to another, the regulated party subject to CFP requirements may also change.  The specific circumstances for transferring the CFP compliance obligation from one entity to another vary depending on whether the initial regulated party is a large or small Oregon importer.  For example, if a Washington refinery sells gasoline to a company that will be importing the fuel into Oregon, then the importer must notify the refinery of its status as an Oregon producer, a large Oregon importer, or a small Oregon importer before actual fuel ownership is transferred from the refinery to the importer. 

  • Scenario 1:  If the importer is designated as a large Oregon importer, then the importer becomes the regulated party and is subject to the CFP registration, recordkeeping, and reporting requirements for that fuel, unless the refinery chooses to remain the regulated party. 
  • Scenario 2:  If the importer is designated as a small Oregon importer, then the refinery remains the regulated party unless the importer chooses to become the regulated party for that fuel. 

Considering the potential for transferring a CFP compliance obligation for a given fuel type, producers of regulated transportation fuels in surrounding states should communicate with companies that purchase their fuel to determine whether it will eventually be imported into Oregon (and if so, whether the company importing the fuel will be designated as a large or small Oregon importer), in order to assess whether they are subject to registration, recordkeeping, and reporting requirements.

Each regulated and opt-in party must complete registration, recordkeeping, quarterly reporting, and annual reporting requirements established for Phase 1 of the CFP under OAR 340-253.  Entities that satisfy the exemptions listed in the above table must demonstrate that the exemption applies, obtain exemption approval from DEQ, and maintain required documentation as described in OAR 340-253-0250 .  Implementation of Phase 2 of the CFP is expected to begin in late 2015 or 2016.  Phase 2 will mandate a 10% reduction in the carbon content of certain transportation fuels over a 10-year period.  DEQ is asking the state legislature to remove the current 2015 sunset date for the program before they proceed with the development of Phase 2.

Trinity's upcoming webinar (June 12th at 12:00 PM) will provide a more detailed overview of this program. If you have questions or require assistance with evaluating the applicability of the CFP for your operations, please contact Maren Seibold at Trinity Consultants' Seattle office at (253) 867-5600 or mseibold@trinityconsultants.com