EPA has announced that it intends to fully regulate GHG emissions by phasing in new rules over the next decade. Its first step is to phase in applicability thresholds for both the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and title V programs for sources of GHG emissions. This phase of regulation is expected to take six years and involves establishing a temporary level for the PSD and title V applicability thresholds and a temporary PSD significance level. These rules are only expected to impact large industrial facilities (i.e., power plants, refineries, and cement production facilities). At the proposed threshold levels, EPA believes that small businesses and farms will be shielded from the new permitting requirements. Specifically, EPA is proposing:

  • that all facilities with GHG emissions above the applicability threshold of 25,000 tons per year (tpy) of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) be required to obtain a title V operating permit demonstrating that the facility is using the best practices and technologies to minimize GHG emissions;
  • to set a PSD permit trigger level of 25,000 tpy of CO2e for new facilities and major modifications at existing facilities; and
  • to set a "significant level" PSD permit trigger level to range somewhere between 10,000 and 25,000 tpy of CO2e that will require existing major sources making modifications that result in an increase of emissions above the significance level to obtain a PSD permit.

Since there are currently no air emission control requirements, existing facilities with GHG emissions greater than 25,000 tons per year that already have operating permits will not need to immediately revise them. But, when their operating permits must be renewed, these facilities will be required to include GHG emission estimates in their permit applications. New or modified facilities with GHG emissions that trigger PSD permitting requirements will need to revise their operating permits to incorporate the best available control technologies and energy efficiency measures.