EPA finalizes changes to “Once in – Always In” rule. Allows some major polluters to follow weaker HAPS emissions standards

November 3, 2020

On October 1, 2020 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule that could reclassify many “major” sources of pollution as minor ones, allowing facilities to abide by less-stringent emissions standards for dangerous hazardous air pollutants (HAPS) such as mercury, lead and arsenic according to an October 1, 2020 report from The Hill.

The reclassification changes a 1995 rule that for decades has held major emitters to tighter standards even if their operators have taken actions to reduce their pollution — a policy known as “once in, always in.” The agency estimated that the changes will result in up to 1,258 tons per year of additional emissions of hazardous air pollutants.

John Walke, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the rule would allow corporations to emit more of “some of the most potent carcinogens and neurotoxins” they’ve successfully reduced.

“It’s especially outrageous because it’s 100 percent gratuitous: these are plants that have been complying with 95 to 98 percent reduction obligations, with already-installed [pollution] controls, for decades,” he said.

The rule allows major sources to become reclassified if they now meet the hazardous air pollutants (HAPS) guidelines in place for the smaller “area” polluters — producing 10 tons per year or less of a single toxin, or 25 tons a year for facilities that emit multiple toxins.

The EPA argues that the current policy reduces incentives for facilities to limit their air pollution while rescinding it encourages them to do so.

“Today’s action is an important step to further President Trump’s regulatory reform agenda by providing meaningful incentives for investment that prevents hazardous air pollution,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler in a statement, adding that the rule “will end regulatory interpretations that discourage facilities from investing in better emissions technology.”

But critics say facilities that have been ordered to reduce pollution anywhere from 90 to 99 percent may now emit well below the 10 ton and 25 ton threshold, so cutting back on the use of expensive controls could lead their emissions to skyrocket. When it first proposed the rule, the EPA estimated that about 3,900 emitters could be reclassified and subjected to weaker standards than before.

EPA says there are a total of 7,183 facilities currently subject to the major source standards.

What this means to you
EPA has finalized a rule that could reclassify many “major” sources of pollution as minor ones, allowing facilities to abide by less-stringent emissions standards for hazardous air pollutants (HAPS). The reclassification is of the ‘once in, always in’ rule that held major emitters to tighter standards even if their operators have taken actions to reduce their pollution.

MIRATECH can help
Contact MIRATECH for stationary engine HAPs emissions solutions.