EPA withdraws “once in always in” MACT policy for major sources under Clean Air Act.

February 3, 2018

On January 25, 2018 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it has issued a guidance memorandum to its Regional Air Division Directors stating that it is withdrawing the “once in always in” policy for MACT (Maximum Achievable Control Technology) applying to major sources of hazardous air pollutants under section 112 of the Clean Air Act.

With the new guidance, sources of hazardous air pollutants previously classified as “major sources” may be reclassified as “area” sources at any time, provided the facility limits its potential to emit below major source thresholds.

Rolling back the policy, which was first implemented in 1995 under the Clean Air Act, follows several moves by the Trump administration to rescind environmental regulations. Environmentalists charge that the moves have often had the effect of benefiting the industries the agency is supposed to be regulating, as opposed to protecting health and the environment, according to a January 27, 2018 CNN report.

The move allows major facilities to be reclassified as “area” sources after they reduce the air toxins they emit to levels below what defines a major source. A major source, according to the EPA’s standards, emits 10 tons or more of pollutants a year or 25 tons or more of a combination of pollutants.

EPA says its January 25th guidance memo finds that EPA had no statutory authority under the Clean Air Act to place a time limit on when a facility may be determined to be an area source, and that a plain language reading of the Act must allow facilities to be reclassified as area sources once their potential to emit hazardous air pollutants falls below the levels that define major sources.

EPA anticipates that it will soon publish a Federal Register notice to take comment on adding regulatory text that will reflect EPA’s plain language reading of the statute as discussed in this memorandum.

What this means to you
EPA has announced it is withdrawing the “once in always in” policy for MACT (Maximum Achievable Control Technology) applying to major sources of hazardous air pollutants.

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