The Best Available Control Technology (BACT) Guidelines apply to new, modified or
relocated equipment in the South Coast Basin with over 1 pound of emissions. The
guidelines require installation of the most stringent control achieved in practice for the
particular piece of equipment. At times, the SCAQMD takes cost into consideration, when
determining whether or not controls will be required for a specific application.
The Environmental Protection Agency has the Lowest Achievable Emission Rate (LAER) federal
requirement. LAER is the federal equivalent to BACT. Since the South Coast Air quality
Management District is in extreme non-attainment, the EPA requires that BACT be at least
as stringent as LAER.
Recently, the EPA determined that the SCAQMD BACT guidelines were outdated. This prompted
the SCAQMD to launch an update process. Some of the most controversial categories
currently being updated are Degreasers, Boilers and Spray Booths.
Cost is at the center of the controversy between the regulators and industry. The federal
EPA's long standing ten-year-old policy is not to consider cost whenever a control
technology has been achieved in practice. The EPA's definition of achieved-in-practice is
one installation with over 6 months of operating data.
To try to change the Feds' mind, the Home Rule Advisory Group-an advisory committee to the
SCAQMD board- has formed a congressional task force. The group hopes to take the problem
to Congress and argue that when the Clean Air Act was passed, Congress did not intend to
take cost out of the equation. Currently, the Clean Air Act is silent as to the subject of
cost and left it up to the EPA to come up with a guidance memo that precludes cost.
What does this mean to a permit applicant? It means that an applicant would be subject to
the most stringent control achieved in practice for his type of process. Currently, since
cost is not a factor, the applicant would be required to install control even if the cost
of the control system was in the millions of dollars. The Congressional task force,
spearheaded by a representative of Sempra Energy, will bring these issues to Congress. The
group will focus on the hardship small businesses would suffer if cost is ignored.
In the meantime, SCAQMD has developed a new format, which will be posted on their website.
The burden is left up to the industry to show why the listing should not apply to their
particular operation. Ultimately the permitting engineer has discretion to make a BACT
determination. Industry can appeal to the BACT Review Committee (BRC).
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) deals with materials currently
destined for disposal or recycling. This EPA regulation applies to Treatment, Storage and
Disposal Facilities (TSDF) and specifies how to manage and dispose of waste. RCRA was
passed in 1976 as an amendment to the Solid Waste Disposal Act of 1956. The last revisions
were made in 1984 (Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments). Hazardous wastes can be liquids,
solids or sludge that are by-products of manufacturing processes or discarded commercial
RCRA is divided into four distinct yet related programs:
Subtitle C: Hazardous Waste
Subtitle D: Solid, primarily hazardous waste
Subtitle I: Underground storage tanks
Subtitle J: Medical Waste
What is a RCRA permit?
A RCRA permit sets forth waste management activities that a
facility can perform. Requirements can include safety standards, monitoring, record
keeping, emergency plans, insurance and financial backing, and employee training.
Who needs a RCRA permit? All facilities that treat, store or
dispose of hazardous wastes need a RCRA permit. New TSDFs must receive a permit prior to
construction. Once issued, the permit may last up to ten years. The permit must be renewed
Who does not need a RCRA permit? Facilities that generate
hazardous waste and transport it offsite for treatment and do not store the waste for long
periods of time are exempt from permitting. Businesses that only transport hazardous waste
are also exempt as well as businesses that store hazardous waste for short periods of time
without treating it.
What to do if I need a permit? RCRA permitting requires a
significant amount of time and effort. Before applying for a permit, the business must
hold an informal public meeting (pre-application meeting). The applicant company can then
submit an application addressing facility design, maintenance and operation. The
application must outline the steps taken by the company to protect public health and the
environment. After the permitting agency receives the application, they make it available
for public review. The agency simultaneously reviews the application for compliance with
the rules and regulations. The agency can issue Notices of Deficiency (NOD) requesting
additional information from the applicant. After receiving the necessary information the
permitting agency either issues a draft permit or a "Notice of intent to deny."
After considering public comments, the agency issues a "response to public
comments." Once the permit is issued, a business can make modifications or renew the
permit if needed.
Now the World Wide Web can help you save gas and thus reduce air pollution. Caltrans
sensors in freeways and major arterial routes measure and feed current traffic speeds to
central computers. The public can check current road speeds on the Internet or via phone
at any time.
The web sites where motorists can find the information are www.trafficassist.com and
www.scubed.com/caltrans. If you choose the Internet route you can get display maps which
show freeway speeds at both of these sites. The trafficassist site also has the capability
of showing the fastest route and travel time to reach your destination.
Motorists who would rather use the phone can call (626) 583-8661 toll free.
The AQMD has undergone many changes in the last few months. We have seen the restructuring
of the Governing Board with a new Chairman William Burke and Vice Chair Norma Glover. The
agenda has shifted from the previous Chairman Michels' economic balance agenda to Chairman
Burke's Environmental Justice Initiative.
In the "out with the old and in with the new" spirit, the Board did not renew
Executive Officer Jim Lents' contract and opened the prestigious position to potential
candidates. There were over 900 applicants, which included individuals from all over the
world. The winner was Barry Wallerstein, who held the Acting Executive Officer position,
while the Board was interviewing candidates.
The changes do not stop at the top but trickle all the way down to the engineering and
enforcement staff. Mr. Wallerstein recently announced a reorganization. The structure will
revert back to that of years ago when Engineering and Enforcement Divisions were separate.
The new structure phases out Lents' theory that the two functions can merge into one.
The agency has also decided to move away from business "self inspections" by
beefing up the Enforcement staff. With the inspectors dedicated solely to enforcement, a
greater AQMD presence can be expected by the industry.
Many new regulations do not apply to equipment, which has been
installed prior to the regulation adoption date. This is commonly referred to as
grandfathering. EPA is evaluating a New Source Review plan, which permits companies to
make changes without triggering NSR requirements. The goal is to give businesses
flexibility in their operations, while closing previous loopholes which facilities could
use to avoid NSR requirements. According to an EPA official, the agency is looking at the
proposed changes as the end of grandfathering.
The companies seeking the exemption must agree to come into compliance with the NSR
regulation at the end of the grace period. Also, the exemption does not apply to
significant new units.
Industry has opposed most, if not all of the agencys proposals for their NSR program
since it was first conceived in 1994. Most recently, companies have threatened to sue the
The newly proposed alternatives seem to be gaining industry support. However, industry
officials are apprehensive about issues that have not been resolved. Several questions
How long will the exemption period be?
What types of controls will be required?
What is the definition of a significant new unit?
EPA will be holding several public meetings to seek input on the
proposal before it is finalized.
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is offering to fund new
pollution prevention and reduction technologies. Up to $2 million is available this year
alone through the agencys Innovative Clean Air Technologies (ICAT) Program. An
applicant must show in their proposal that the proposed technology increases the
efficiency of an existing pollution prevention strategy or control system, or increases
its cost effectiveness, or is a new cost effective alternative. The deadline for the first
RFP was February 19 but more RFPs will follow. For more information contact Emma Plasencia
at (916) 323-1067 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Internet website at www.arb.ca.gov/research/icat/icat.htm
The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) filed a
lawsuit suit to require EPA to act on the 1997 AQMP and 51 adopted rules. Under the Clean
Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is required to take action on the plan
and rules within 18 months. It is the SCAQMDs contention that the EPA failed to act
within the required time frame.
AQMD officials have said that EPAs inaction means that they might have to implement
the older and already approved 1994 AQMP which has outdated and
In the meantime, business owners are caught in the predicament of having to implement
local District requirements, which have not been officially approved by the Federal
Stringent recent regulations have compelled industry to look at new ways to reduce
emissions. In the past, most businesses that caused emissions chose to control them with
end-of-pipe controls such as carbon adsorption or incineration. Now, more and more
companies are looking at preventing pollution rather than controlling it.
Industry faces the challenge of complying with government mandates while staying in
business. This challenge has become increasingly burdensome in recent years as regulations
get stricter. Especially for businesses in Southern California that are subject to tougher
regulations than the rest of the country. This is because Southern California has the
worst air quality in the nation and is considered an "extreme non-attainment"
area. The same regulations, which apply to companies in other states, emitting over 100
tons per year of pollutants, can apply to businesses here, with as little as 4 tons per
year of emissions. Many of these are small businesses faced with the dilemma of competing
with their non-regulated counterparts from other regions of the country.
In the past, federal and local regulations did not offer an avenue for Pollution
Prevention (P2) strategies. In order to comply with the regulations, businesses were
basically locked into end-of-pipe controls. With an increasing number of businesses coming
into the regulated pool, government agencies are looking to provide as much flexibility as
possible in meeting regulatory requirements. Both the SCAQMD and the EPA are weaving P2
strategies into their regulatory framework by listing them as equivalent to end-of-pipe
controls. For example, the SCAQMD's proposed Best Available Control Technology (BACT)
Guidelines define materials with a Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) content of less than 50
grams per liter as "Superclean." Such materials include Ultraviolet/Electron
Beam (UV/EB) cured materials, waterborne and powder to name a few. The use of any of these
processes would be considered equivalent to having a control device on a solvent process.
This type of information dissemination about pollution prevention helps companies,
especially small businesses, to find out about the available options and make an educated
business decision, which ensures compliance.
Regulatory agencies also offer "avoiding the regulations" as incentives for
companies to choose P2 strategies. Printing and coating processes using less than 3
gallons per day of waterborne type materials do not need an air permit. Similarly, UV/EB
type processes using materials with a VOC content of less than 50 grams per liter are
exempted from permit. UV/EB operations using inks or coatings with a VOC content greater
than 50 grams per liter are exempt if the usage is less than 6 gallons per day.
Government agencies have gone a step farther by granting government dollars to the
development and implementation of what they refer to as "clean air
technologies." Businesses who qualify and choose P2 processes can use government
funds to subsidize their investment.
From a regulatory standpoint, P2 strategies have the advantage of not generating secondary
criteria pollutants, such as Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) and Sulfur Oxides (SOx), as in the case
of incineration. With most P2 processes, there is no need to regenerate control equipment
beds, as is the case with carbon adsorbers. In some cases, by choosing pollution
prevention, the generation of hazardous waste can be minimized or completely eliminated.
In addition, unlike incineration equipment, P2 processes do not generate CO2, which is a
For businesses, installing end-of-pipe control does not offer a return on their
investment. The control equipment is simply there to comply with the government
regulations. Pollution prevention processes can provide for faster production, reduced
energy costs and a better product, eventually helping recover the initial investment.