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EPA Announces New Ozone Standard

Ground level ozone, which is created by combining the emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds in the presence of sunlight, can cause respiratory health issues and has been on the radar for decades. Since 1980, substantial progress has been made on ozone reduction and levels have fallen 33% while the economy continues to grow. Most recently, the Obama Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were evaluating the current ozone standard and proposed earlier this year a new decreased standard of 65 to 70 parts per billion (ppb). The current standard of 75 ppb was set in March of 2008, and some counties are still not in compliance.

The long awaited decision on the National Ambient Air Quality Standards was announced by the EPA yesterday, and the standard was reduced from 75 ppb to 70 ppb for ground-level ozone, produced by emissions released into the air from industrial plants, utilities, and vehicles. The EPA states that the public health benefits resulting from this new rule are an estimated annual savings of $2.9 to $5.9 billion in health care costs by 2025.

The EPA doesn’t expect states to comply to the new standard right away, and depending on the severity of the specific state’s ozone problem, the majority of states will have until between 2020 and 2025 to meet the standards. California, however, will have a longer period of time to comply, through 2037, due to its decades-long air pollution issues. Although fewer counties are in violation of the new standard than if they had lowered it to 65 ppb, 241 counties will be nonattainment for the 70 ppb standard, and it is estimated that 14 counties outside of California will not meet their deadlines.

States will be required to submit a state implementation plan (SIP) to the EPA for any designated nonattainment areas. The plans will outline how the State will attain and maintain the standard, and will contain control measures and strategies to reduce emissions. Plants that fall under the rule will likely be required to upgrade pollution equipment and monitoring systems to meet the new standard.

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EPA Proposes Emissions Limits for New Coal & Natural Gas-fired Plants

The USEPA announced today new proposed carbon dioxide limits for new power plants that will set separate standards for coal-fired and natural gas-fired generating units.  The proposed limit for new gas plants is 1,000 pounds per megawatt-hour for new gas units and 1,100 pounds per megawatt-hour for smaller gas plants and new coal plants. New coal plants would be allowed to average their emissions over a seven-year period if they agreed to meet a more stringent standard in a range from 1,000 pounds per megawatt-hour to 1,050 pounds per megawatt-hour. 

This rule is a new proposal, revising an earlier proposal from April 2012, in which the USEPA had intended to set a single standard of 1,000 pounds per megawatt-hour for both coal- and gas-fired plants.  Under the proposal, new power plants would have to install carbon capture and sequestration technologies to comply with the emissions limits outlined for the plants.   Those technologies capture carbon dioxide and bury it underground but requiring use of the technologies has been vigorously opposed by industry user groups, which say they are not feasible yet. 

For more details about this new proposal visit: http://www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards/2013-proposed-carbon-pollution-standard-new-power-plants. Included are fact sheets, technical sheets, and regulatory impact sheets, along with a link to the previously-proposed 2012 rules for comparison.

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Energy Department to Provide Technical Assistance to Facilities Impacted by EPA Boiler Rule

On December 20, 2012, the EPA finalized the Boiler MACT, a specific set of adjustments to existing Clean Air Act standards, for boilers and certain solid waste incinerators. These adjustments set standards to cut emissions of hazardous air pollutants, such as mercury, dioxin, and lead, from large boilers in a range of industrial facilities and institutions.

The DOE will offer technical assistance to affected sites currently burning coal or oil, highlighting strategies such as natural gas combined heat and power (CHP), and more efficient boilers, to cut harmful pollution and reduce operational costs. DOE will also provide site-specific technical and cost information to the major source facilities currently burning coal or oil through its regional Clean Energy Application Centers (CEACs).

The CEACs will visit these facilities to discuss strategies for compliance, including CHP, as well as provide information on potential funding and financing opportunities available for CHP, controls, boilers and energy efficiency assessments. Facilities that make use of this technical assistance can potentially develop strategies to comply with the regulations while adding to their bottom line.

Contact Nationwide Boiler today to discuss how we can help you come up with a solution that will cut emissions in your facility. Call: 1-800-227-1966.

For more information on the DOE technical assistance program, see:
http://www1.eere.energy.gov/manufacturing/distributedenergy/boilermact.html

Information on financial incentives available at the local, state, utility and federal levels to assist facilities with the costs of investing in CHP, boiler tune-ups, controls and/or energy efficiency assessments is available at:
http://www1.eere.energy.gov/manufacturing/states/pdfs/incentives_boiler_mact.pdf

Information about the rule, including links to the regulatory dockets, technical information on how the limits were developed, and impact assessments, is available at:
http://www.epa.gov/airquality/combustion/actions.html

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GHG Reporting Webinar Offered by the EPA

The EPA will host a Web-based training session for those involved with reporting under the Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gases Rule. The next webinar is planned for Wednesday, February 24th, 1:00 - 3:00 pm EST. For additional details, go to: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/training.html.
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