By Jeryl L. Olson

On January 9, 2011 U.S. EPA (EPA) published in the Federal Register a proposed rule for revisions to air testing methods and procedures specified under the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) regulations, the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), and National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPS). 77 FR 1130 (January 9, 2012). EPA will be accepting comments on the proposed rules until March 9, 2012.

The proposed amendments affect almost every performance test method identified in the appendices to the PSD, NSPS, NESHAPS, and Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) provisions, and have broad applicability to numerous industries regulated under the Clean Air Act (CAA). In addition to changes to performance test methods, the proposal includes revisions to performance specifications for monitoring equipment.

The proposed revisions incorporate changes in performance testing and monitoring technologies and methodologies that have been developed since the methodologies were last updated in October 2000. According to EPA, the revisions include: (1) testing and monitoring alternatives that were not previously known or available in 2000; (2) changes that facilitate the use of mercury-free equipment used in testing and monitoring; (3) updates needed to correct obsolete provisions; (4) flexibility in testing methodology; and (5) typographical corrections and corrections to equations. EPA notes that while the revisions may arise in connection with various industry and equipment specific subparts of the NSPS and NESHAPS, there are no changes being made to any compliance standard, reporting or recordkeeping requirement under the PSD, NSPS or NESHAPS rules; changes are merely to testing and monitoring requirements. Whether the proposed changes in effect make the underlining standards more stringent is unclear.

The impacts of revisions will directly affect consultants, testing firms, testing and monitoring equipment manufacturers; and emitting facilities subject to the CAA. The affect will be most felt by facilities where the difference between compliance and noncompliance is attributable to subtle differences in testing or monitoring methodologies, and/or for facilities that have in the past relied on alternatives to testing and monitoring requirements. Affected facilities may want to review the proposed changes and discuss them with their counsel and testing and monitoring consultants to determine whether it is appropriate to comment on the proposed changes.