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Last year was a busy year for air quality permitting stakeholders in New Jersey. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) introduced several changes, proposed changes or changes to be proposed in the future that are expected to significantly impact the regulated community. As we embark on a new year, we are providing a review of these key changes from 2019, many of which are expected to go in to affect this year.

Intent to Propose New Air Regulatory Changes

In January 2019, the NJDEP held a preliminary stakeholders meeting to discuss their intent to propose the following rule changes:

  • Codify Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S), n-Propyl Bromide, and Sulfuryl Fluoride as new Air Toxics. Facilities with the potential to emit these compounds above the respective Reporting Thresholds (RTs) would need to include these pollutants in their air permit and perform health risk assessment to demonstrate negligible risk. Facilities would also need to evaluate control technologies if their potential to emit exceeded the respective State of the Art (SOTA) thresholds. The NJDEP did not disclose the RTs and SOTA thresholds they were contemplating for these compounds.
  • Add 28 new compounds to the list of Toxic Air Pollutants (TAPs) that facilities would need to report on under the Annual Emission Statement (AES).
  • Update Subchapter 8 to specifically include fumigation sources as a significant source needing an air permit; require all fumigation sources be exhausted through a stack that meets Good Engineering Practices (GEP); and have these facilities perform health risk assessment to demonstrate negligible health risk. Fumigation sources are being already regulated by the NJDEP under the generic 50 lb/hr rule - this proposed new rule making will make applicability explicit and add new requirements.

While the NJDEP had initially indicated the rule proposal timeline to be before year-end 2019, this rule has not yet been officially proposed. Rule proposal in early-2020 appears likely.

Change to AES Deadline

All electronic AES will, from now on, be due May 15 of each year. The NJDEP, for many years, provided automatic extension to June 15 for submissions made through the NJDEP Online portal. Moving forward, all electronic AES (whether through the NJDEP Online portal or via an electronic medium such as a disk) will be due May 15. There are no changes for paper submittals due April 15 as these are only allowed for limited hardship circumstances upon advance approval by the NJDEP. Therefore, the electronic AES for reporting year 2019 is due May 15, 2020.

Proposed New Risk Screening Worksheet

NJDEP proposed a new version of the Risk Screen Worksheet (RSW) in 2019. The RSW is used as a first level risk screening tool, as part of an air permit application for those HAPs that are above their respective RTs. The proposed version is significantly more conservative than the existing RSW. Given its conservatism, most facilities with reportable level of HAP emissions will likely be required to perform refined air dispersion modeling in order to document negligible health risks from HAPs. The refined air dispersion modeling increases the permitting timeline (including delays in getting the modeling protocol approved), adds more complexity to the air permitting process and demands more resources (including cost). NJDEP's lowering of RTs for most HAPs in 2018 already increased the number of air permit applications that will need to evaluate health risk. Their proposal to make the RSW tool more conservative will only compound the burden on the regulated community.

NJDEP was expected to finalize the proposed RSW before year-end 2019 'as-proposed'. Finalization is now expected in early-2020.

New Policy for Facility-wide Health Risk Assessment for Minor Facilities

In Fall 2019, NJDEP unveiled a new policy that brings minor facilities into the realm of facility-wide health risk assessments, which typically were only required from Title V major facilities. As per this new policy, if a facility fails the first level RSW for a HAP from one source (i.e., > 1 in a million risk) and there are other sources of the same HAP at that facility, the NJDEP would require that the facility evaluate facility-wide health risk of that HAP from all sources (and document below 10 in a million risk facility-wide). A worst-case stack can be used in the RSW tool, but in most instances, a full-fledged refined air dispersion modeling will likely be required to document negligible health risk.

Pre-1998 Preconstruction Permits (PCPs)

Throughout 2019, the NJDEP has continued its focus on Pre-1998 Preconstruction Permits (PCPs) for minor facilities. Facilities that operate under these PCPs may be contacted by the NJDEP to ascertain the accuracy of permitted equipment inventory. NJDEP has also indicated its intent to conduct onsite inspections for several of these focus facilities. Wherever modifications have occurred since the original pre-1998 permits, a new PCP air permit application will need to be submitted by the facility. General Permits should be utilized where applicable. This effort is expected to continue throughout 2020. We recommend facilities with these permits to proactively start planning so they can close any potential gaps.

New General Permits for Minor Facilities

In 2019, the NJDEP issued several new General Permits (GPs) that superseded their corresponding older versions. If you currently operate under an older version of a GP, you will no longer be able to renew it simply by paying the renewal invoice. Instead, you will need to apply for the newer version of the same GP before your existing permit expires.

Similar to GPs for minor facilities, there are General Operating Permits (GOPs) available for major facilities. A GOP typically gets incorporated into the Title V permit during permit modification or renewal, whichever comes first. The Department has updated some of these GOPs in 2019. New applications will need to use the latest versions of the GOPs available from the NJDEP.

The NJDEP is expected to continue its efforts updating the remaining GPs/GOPs throughout 2020.

Increase in Air Permitting Fees

The NJDEP has instituted a 7.9% increase in all air permitting fees - for both major and minor facilities. The new fee schedule for minor and major facilities is effective January 01, 2020.

NJ Formally Back in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) Program

In June 2019, NJDEP finalized the rules pertinent to the RGGI program. Subject facilities are those containing a fossil fuel-fired unit that, at any time on or after January 1, 2005, served or serves an electricity generator with a nameplate capacity equal to or greater than 25 MWe. Existing facilities were required to submit an air permit application to the NJDEP by January 01, 2020 to incorporate RGGI provisions in their Title V permit.

The changes discussed in this article might directly impact your facility's compliance strategy in 2020 as it pertains to NJDEP's air quality regulations and policies. If you have any questions or need additional information or clarification on any of these topics (or others not addressed here), please do not hesitate to contact Trinity's Princeton, New Jersey team at (609) 318-5500.