On September 24, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed two alternate amendments to New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) OOOO and NSPS OOOOa in order to re-define the affected source category and to remove duplicative requirements.
Specifically, the first proposed amendment would redefine the regulated source category by removing sources in the transmission and storage segment, thereby relieving these sources from NSPS OOOOa applicability. Also, as part of this first proposal, the EPA would rescind all methane-specific requirements for the production and processing segments. The second proposed amendment is an alternative that would retain the transmission and storage segment in the source category for regulation of VOC but would remove methane requirements for all NSPS OOOOa source segments.
An overarching aspect of the above proposed amendments is the way in which EPA develops NSPS rules under the “cause or contribute significantly to air pollution” requirement in Clean Air Act Section 111. When EPA passed the 2016 NSPS OOOOa rule that regulated methane, it relied on an interpretation that requires only an initial finding that a source category contributes to air pollution, and thereafter, the EPA need only to provide a “rational basis” for regulating additional pollutants under that source category. An alternate interpretation of the Clean Air Act is that EPA must make a significant finding for each source category AND each pollutant it chooses to regulate under an NSPS. Removal of methane from NSPS OOOOa relies on the latter interpretation. As such, EPA is seeking comment on both interpretations to determine whether it properly regulated methane in the 2016 rule. The outcome will have a significant impact on how EPA develops and updates NSPS rules.
The 60-day comment period will end on November 25, 2019. EPA also plans to hold a public hearing in Dallas, Texas on October 17, 2019. For more information, please contact Trinity at 1-800-229-6655 or you can view EPA's full announcement and supporting documents here.
These proposed amendments are separate from the NSPS OOOOa revision proposal released in September 2018. EPA expects to take final action on that proposal later this year.