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Georgia EPD Proposes Relaxation of Non-Attainment Area New Source Review Rules

Georgia EPD has proposed amendments to the Georgia Air Quality Rules for the removal of the Non-Attainment Area New Source Review (NAA NSR) Rules that are applicable to the 13-County Atlanta Area. A public hearing will be held at 2:00 PM on Thursday, April 12, 2018, and public comments may be submitted via email (by April 18, 2018).  The rule is scheduled to be voted on by the Board of Natural Resources on May 23, 2018.

Background: The Atlanta Metro Area was classified as a serious nonattainment area for the 1-hour ozone standard in 1991.  EPD promulgated the NAA NSR rule in 1992 to reduce emissions of the precursors to ozone, volatile organic compounds (VOC) and nitrogen oxides (NOx).  Sources in the 13 affected counties with the potential to emit more than 50 tons per year of VOC or NOx were classified as “major sources” and were subject to more stringent permitting.  The major source threshold was reduced to 25 tons per year in 2004 when the area was redesignated to severe nonattainment.  In 2005, the Atlanta Metro Area was designated as in attainment of the 1-hour ozone standard and the standard was revoked; however, anti-backsliding provisions required that NAA NSR rules remain in place.

Proposed Changes: The proposed rule removes subparagraph 391-3-1-.03(8)(c)13, applicable to the 13 counties previously designated as severe nonattainment.  These counties would fall under subparagraph 391-3-1-.03(8)(c)14, which would consist of all 8-hour ozone non-attainment counties. Additionally, five counties previously subject to 391-3-1-.03(8)(c)14 would be moved to 391-3-1-.03(8)(c)15 for electrical generating units in areas contributing to the Atlanta ozone non-attainment area.  The list below summarizes the proposed changes.

13-County Area (Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Paulding, and Rockdale)

  • NAA NSR Major Source Threshold (VOC or NOx): Change from 25 tpy to 100 tpy
  • NAA NSR Major Modification Threshold (VOC or NOx): Change from 25 tpy over 5 years to 40 tpy per modification
  • Title V Major Source Threshold (VOC or NOx): Change from 25 tpy to 100 tpy

2 Additional Counties in Ozone NAA (Bartow and Newton)

  • NAA NSR Major Source Threshold (VOC or NOx): Remains at 100 tpy
  • NAA NSR Major Modification Threshold (VOC or NOx): Remains at 40 tpy
  • Title V Major Source Threshold (VOC or NOx): Remains at 100 tpy

4 Additional Impacting Counties (Barrow, Carroll, Hall, Spalding, and Walton):

  • NAA NSR Major Source Threshold (VOC or NOx): Change from 100 tpy to Not Applicable*
  • NAA NSR Major Modification Threshold (VOC or NOx): Change from 40 tpy to Not Applicable*
  • Title V Major Source Threshold (VOC or NOx): Remains at 100 tpy

* Sources containing an electrical generating unit (EGU) are subject to a 100 tpy major source threshold and 40 tpy modification threshold. PSD permitting thresholds will apply in lieu of NAA NSR thresholds for all other sources.

What Does This Mean for You? If the proposed rules are promulgated, sources in the affected counties will have more flexibility in permitting.

Existing facilities in the 13 counties previously classified as severe nonattainment could take higher VOC and NOx permit limits to avoid NAA NSR permitting for modifications and can implement projects that may have previously not been feasible due to the burden of NAA NSR permitting. Existing major source facilities may find relief from the burdensome “25 ton/yr over 5 years” tracking for projects under the amended rules.  Facilities with potential or allowable VOC and NOx emissions between 25 tons per year and 100 tons per year may be able to downgrade from Title V permits to synthetic minor or SIP permits.

Existing facilities in Barrow, Carroll, Hall, Spalding, and Walton counties without electrical generating units would only be subject to Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) thresholds.  Sources with 100 ton per year limits to avoid major source status may be able to increase the limits to 250 tons per year.  PSD permitting is an easier and less time-consuming process than NAA NSR permitting and does not require the purchasing of expensive emissions offsets.

New facilities in the 13-county area could have a 75 ton per year higher potential to emit of VOC and NOx before being subject to NAA NSR permitting – that is an increase of 300%.

How Can We Help? Once the proposed rules are promulgated, if there is a construction project or production increase you would like to implement, or if you simply want to downgrade your permit from a Title V permit to reduce fees and recordkeeping requirements, EPS can help.  Our staff has experience with dozens of industries across the state of Georgia and provide assistance from project conception to implementation.  Please call us at (404) 315-9113 to find out what we can do for you.

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