On August 12th, the U.S .EPA released two proposed rules to address the potential gap that exists while States adopt rules to regulate greenhouse gases (GHGs) from large stationary sources. What U.S. EPA is really doing is making sure all fifty states will be regulating GHGs beginning January 2011.
On May 12, 2010, U.S. EPA finalized its controversial Tailoring Rule, which raised the trigger level for federal permitting associated with GHG emissions. Unless the U.S. EPA raised the trigger levels from 100/250 tons per year, very small sources would have required federal permits. The Tailoring Rule is U.S. EPA’s attempt to phase in GHG, beginning with only very large sources.
Beginning 2011, very large stationary sources of GHGs (like power plants and oil refineries) will need to address GHGs emissions when seeking permits for expansion or new facilities. For the first time, these sources will need to meet Best Available Control Technology (BACT) standards under the Agency’s New Source Review Program to control or reduce GHG emissions.
Thirty-Seven (37) states, including Ohio, operate U.S. EPA approved air permitting programs. State approved programs cannot be "less stringent" than U.S. EPA regulations. Therefore, when U.S. EPA adopts new standards, States are required to incorporate those standards into their programs.
However, each State has its own rulemaking process. U.S. EPA recognized that some states may not be able to complete the rulemaking process to incorporate GHG regulations prior to 2011. Therefore, the August 12th proposal is EPA’s attempt to create a backstop rule should states fail to complete their rulemaking process. The backstop is referred to as a "federal implementation plan" or FIP. It really means U.S. EPA would temporarily take over permitting functions for sources above the GHG trigger levels in the Tailoring Rule.
Ohio doesn’t like the prospect of U.S. EPA imposing the FIP. If the FIP is imposed U.S. EPA would temporarily issue PSD permits in Ohio until the State finalizes its rules. Ohio has released its proposed modifications to incorporate the Tailoring Rule into Ohio EPA’s regulations to try and avoid U.S. EPA direct involvement in its permitting program.