Abate Technologies International, Inc.

ATI QUARTERLY 3rd QUARTER 2015

 

AQMD CONSIDERS REGULATIONS FOR "INDIRECT SOURCES" LOW VAPOR PRESSURE EXEMPTION AT RISK
NEW GREENHOUSE GAS TARGET IN CARB'S "5 PILLARS" PROP 39 FUNDING FOR ENERGY EFFICIENCY
ARB FOCUS ON SHORT LIVED CLIMATE POLLUTANTS "VOC WHITE PAPER" IN THE AIR QUALITY MANAGEMENT PLAN
INCREASE IN RISK NUMBERS WITH NEW OEHHA GUIDELINES BUSINESSES RELIEVED AS SECTION 185 LITIGATION CONCLUDES
ODOR REGULATIONS, THE LATEST TREND

 

AQMD CONSIDERS REGULATIONS FOR "INDIRECT SOURCES"

South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) staff announced plans to regulate "Indirect sources" of pollution. Agency staff commented that since the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD) has adopted a rule, the SCAQMD is obligated to address the issue. The SJVAPCD rule targets construction and development projects through design features and on-site measures. The rule applies to any applicant that seeks to gain a final discretionary approval for a development project, or any portion thereof, which upon full buildout would include any one of the following:

  • 50 residential units;
  • 2,000 square feet of commercial space;
  • 25,000 square feet of light industrial space;
  • 100,000 square feet of heavy industrial space;
  • 20,000 square feet of medical office space;
  • 39,000 square feet of general office space;
  • 9,000 square feet of educational space;
  • 10,000 square feet of government space;
  • 20,000 square feet of recreational space; or
  • 9,000 square feet of space not identified above.
  • Any transportation or transit project where construction exhaust emissions equal or exceed 2.0 tons of NOx or 2.0 tons of PM10.

Although the presentation was not specific, it appears that the SCAQMD is looking to the San Joaquin rule as a model. Industry groups are concerned that for warehouses and the real estate industry the emission levels will be set based on the number of trucks coming to any facility. A statewide industry coalition has formed around this issue and will be the predominant focus of the industry's efforts regarding the 2016 Ozone Air Quality Management Plan.

 

LOW VAPOR PRESSURE EXEMPTION AT RISK

Compounds that do not readily participate in ozone formation (low vapor pressure VOCs) are currently exempted under the State's Consumer Products Regulations. Pursuant to Air Resources Board regulations, an LVP VOC is:

A chemical "compound" or "mixture" that contains at least one carbon atom and meets one of the following:

(A) Has a vapor pressure less than 0.1 mm Hg at 20oC, as determined by ARB Method 310; or
(B) Is a chemical "compound" with more than 12 carbon atoms, or a chemical "mixture" comprised solely of "compounds" with more than 12 carbon atoms as verified by formulation data, and the vapor pressure and boiling point are unknown; or
(C) Is a chemical "compound" with a boiling point greater than 216oC, as determined by ARB Method 310; or
(D) Is the weight percent of a chemical "mixture" that boils above 216oC, as determined by ARB Method 310."

For the purposes of the definition, chemical "compound" means a molecule of definite chemical formula and isomeric structure, and chemical "mixture" means a substance comprised of two or more chemical "compounds."

In 2012 SCAQMD signaled its intent to eliminate the exemption in a control strategy of its AQMP entitled: "CTS04 – Emission Reductions from the Removal of Consumer Products Lower Vapor Pressure Exemption" – thereby generating strong opposition from industry groups who contend that the exemption is essential for consumer products and its elimination would "have a significant effect on the formulation of consumer products." Following industry testimony opposing the proposals impacting the consumer products industry, the SCAQMD Governing Board voted to withdraw the LVP provision from the 2012 AQMP in favor of the SCAQMD sending a letter to CARB requesting a study examining whether and how LVPs contribute to ozone formation. CARB staff is in the process of conducting further research. The industry proposal would not eliminate the LVP exemption and is being largely supported by industry groups. The SCAQMD has not issued any new staff recommendations on the issue and plans to wait for CARB studies to be concluded. The studies are scheduled for completion in late 2015 to mid-2016. Additionally, industry groups have undertaken their own studies which, they hope, would "support collective industry efforts to retain use of the LVP compounds."

 

NEW GREENHOUSE GAS TARGET IN CARB'S "5 PILLARS"

A recent Executive Order by Governor Brown outlined new greenhouse gas reductions in California. The order calls for a 40 percent reduction below 1990 levels by 2030. The Governor's office commented that it is "the most aggressive benchmark enacted by any government in North America to reduce dangerous carbon emissions over the next decade and a half." The action mirrors similar targets set by the United Nations. The ultimate goal is to achieve 80 percent reductions below 1990 levels by 2050.

The executive order also specifically addresses the need for "climate adaptation" and directs state government to:

  • Incorporate climate change impacts into the state's Five-Year Infrastructure Plan;
  • Update the Safeguarding California Plan - the state climate adaption strategy - to identify how climate change will affect California infrastructure and industry and what actions the state can take to reduce the risks posed by climate change;
  • Factor climate change into state agencies' planning and investment decisions;
  • Implement measures under existing agency and departmental authority to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Governor Brown announced that within the next 15 years, California will:

  1. Increase the electricity derived from renewable sources from one-third to 50 percent.
  2. Reduce today's petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50 percent;
  3. Double the efficiency savings from existing buildings and make heating fuels cleaner;
  4. Reduce the release of methane, black carbon and other potent pollutants across industries;
  5. Manage farm and rangelands, forests and wetlands so they can store carbon.

The above measures are being termed the "5 Pillars" and require that "all agencies with jurisdiction over sources of greenhouse gas emissions"…continue to develop and implement emissions reduction programs to reach the state's 2050 target. Agencies such as the California Air Resources Board and the California Natural Resources Agency were directed to update the Climate Change Scoping Plan to comply with the executive order; identifying vulnerabilities to climate change by sector and regions. That would include: water, energy, transportation, public health, agriculture, emergency services, forestry, biodiversity and habitat, and ocean and coastal resources. An implementation plan to outline the proposed actions is due by September 2015 with a report on actions taken, back to the California Natural Resources Agency by June 2016.

 

PROP 39 FUNDING FOR ENERGY EFFICIENCY

California Proposition 39 created a fund of $550 million annually available for projects that "improve energy efficiency and expand clean energy generation in schools." Eligible local educational agencies (LEAs) — including county offices of education, school districts, charter schools and state special schools — can request funding by submitting an application to the California Energy Commission.
For the fiscal year 2014-15, the California Legislature appropriated:

  • $279 million to LEAs for energy efficiency and clean energy projects.
  • $25.2 million to the Energy Commission's Energy Conservation Assistance Act-Education (ECAA-Ed), a no interest revolving loan program for LEAs.
  • $2.8 million to the Energy Commission Bright School's program for energy audits and other technical assistance for LEAs.
  • $39 million to California community college districts for energy efficiency and clean energy projects.
  • $3 million to the California Workforce Investment Board to develop and implement a competitive grant program for eligible workforce training organizations to prepare disadvantaged youth, veterans and others for employment in clean energy field.
  • $5 million to the California Conservation Corps to perform energy surveys and other energy conservation related activities.

Eligible energy projects include, but are not limited to:

  • Repairs to heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems.
  • New chillers, boilers and furnaces.
  • New lighting and lighting control systems.
  • Installation of energy-efficient windows, programmable thermostats and thermal window shades.
  • On-site clean energy generation, such as solar photovoltaic.

The Energy Commission approves plans and works with the California Department of Education, which subsequently distributes funds after plans have been approved.

 

ARB FOCUS ON SHORT LIVED CLIMATE POLLUTANTS

In a recently released concept paper, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) identified a group of chemicals with what the agency considers "extremely high global warming potential." Short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) include methane, black carbon and fluorinated gases (refrigerants, insulating foam and aerosol propellants). CARB estimates that they may be responsible for 40 percent of the global warming to date. The agency believes the gases trap heat at many times the level of carbon dioxide, but also tend to have a shorter duration in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

Senate Bill 605 (Lara) requires ARB to develop, in coordination with other state agencies and local air districts, a comprehensive strategy to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants. ARB will develop an initial draft strategy through public workshops over the summer. The draft proposed strategy will be presented to the Board in the fall of this year and will include specific actions over a "broad array of economic sectors, including the natural environment and biological systems."

For black carbon, produced in California primarily from diesel combustion and burning wood (including wildfires), the concept paper suggests building on, accelerating and expanding existing programs including the ongoing sustainable freight strategy and forest management. Development of a regulation by ARB is already underway to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas drilling and storage sites. Reducing methane emissions from dairies and eliminating the disposal of organic materials at landfills and an 80 percent reduction by 2030 in the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in new refrigeration and air conditioning equipment are also proposed. The concept paper suggests an approach to consider new funding mechanisms and incentives to address all sources.

 

"VOC WHITE PAPER" IN THE AIR QUALITY MANAGEMENT PLAN

As part of its Air Quality Management Plan process, the SCAQMD forms various advisory committees comprised of stakeholders. Staff recently presented the Preliminary Draft VOC Controls White Paper to the committee. According to the staff, "cracking down on VOCs" is one of the goals.

At first, the agency contemplated a Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) heavy reduction strategy but now there are estimates of VOC reductions ranging from 30 to 100 tons per day. The paper also looks at the role of VOCs in ozone and PM2.5 (particles with diameters less than 2.5 µm) formation to "inform policymakers of the most efficient and effective strategies to attain the federal standards that are the subject of the upcoming 2016 AQMP." According to the paper, chemical reactions of VOCs in the atmosphere can form surface level ozone pollution and particulate matter.

Promoting pollution prevention at the source, which would include waste reduction and leak detection, and incentivizing zero and near-zero VOC materials, are being considered as VOC reduction strategies. Using Maximum Incremental Reactivity (a metric used by CARB in its aerosol products regulations) is being considered for future AQMPs.

 

INCREASE IN RISK NUMBERS WITH NEW OEHHA GUIDELINES

In March of this year, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) approved revisions to their Air Toxics Hot Spots Program Guidance Manual for Preparation of Risk Assessments (Revised OEHHA Guidelines). The Guidelines are used to estimate health risks for permitting new, relocated and modified sources, the AB2588 Hot Spots Program and when a facility is required to provide public notification. The Revised OEHHA Guidelines now incorporate age sensitivity factors. SCAQMD staff estimates that the new procedure will cause cancer risk numbers to increase (on average) by three times and in some cases up to six times, in the absence of emission increases. Industry representatives have expressed concern that facilities would have to notify the public of a risk increase, when in reality the actual emissions have remained the same.

SCAQMD has held public workshops for proposed amendments to Rules 1401 and 1401.1 (for permitting), Rule 1402 (which implements facility risk notification and reduction), and Rule 212 (public notification for permitted sources), that will take the revised guidelines into account. The Revised OEHHA Guidelines will also affect CEQA projects. According to SCAQMD staff, "interim provisions may be needed for specific source categories that cannot meet Rule 1401 risk limits." Thus, Rule 1401 will be amended to narrowly provide temporary relief from Revised OEHHA Guidelines for new and modified sources that cannot be permitted. The district is setting aside certain equipment categories such as spray booths and gasoline dispensing stations for future source specific rulemaking.

 

BUSINESSES RELIEVED AS SECTION 185 LITIGATION CONCLUDES

In 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved a San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District rule allowing certain fees mandated under the Clean Air Act (Section 185 fees) to be shifted from stationary sources to mobile sources. SCAQMD also promulgated a similar rule - Rule 317. A provision in the Clean Air Act required areas in non-attainment of standards to collect fees from every major stationary source in the area. Business groups estimated that SCAQMD sources were looking at additional fees of $9,000 per ton.

Environmental groups sued the EPA, arguing that the federal approval of the rule was "the latest in a string of attempts" to rewrite the protections guaranteed under the Clean Air Act to address ozone pollution. They claimed the Act did not allow approval of alternatives by EPA. Respondent SJVAPCD and the entities involved in the lawsuit, including the SCAQMD and industry groups contended that the alternative control was not only "not less stringent" than Section 185, but it is in fact more stringent.

The Court held: "Because the EPA concluded that the Pollution Control District's revision to its portion of California's SIP is not less stringent than the Section 185 controls, the EPA was authorized to approve it." Thereby bringing the legal battle to an end and relief to stationary sources in SJVAPCD and SCAQMD who could have been subjected to additional fees had the decision gone the other way.

 

ODOR REGULATIONS, THE LATEST TREND

Rule 415 – Odors from Rendering Facilities and Rule 416 – Odors from Kitchen Grease Processing – are the latest SCAQMD proposals which unveil a trend to regulate odors. Agency staff points to their "Clean Communities Plan" initiative that identified odors as one of the top community concerns in Boyle Heights. Staff commented that there have been more than 350 complaints over the ten years or more, but they have trailed off in recent years, perhaps due to "lack of awareness of or satisfaction with the complaint response process."

Animal rendering and kitchen grease processing facilities (four in the Vernon area) fall under Rule 415. Facilities that process kitchen grease but do not render animal material would be subject to Rule 416. The agency admits that odors from these operations "are difficult to measure and quantify, and some can be fleeting" but justify the proposed actions citing negative health effects such as nausea, coughing, headache and respiratory irritation.

Proposed rule requirements include: implementation of odor best management practices (BMPs) in the short term; enclosures vented to odor control equipment or closed systems in the longer term; odor complaint signage; and the use of odor mitigation plans (OMPs) for ongoing odor issues. Some stakeholders have requested additional time to work with the agency to address the odor issues; stating that the rule as currently proposed would cause facilities to go out of business due to untenable costs. A facility representative pointed out that rendering is repurposing of animal waste into useful products and that the industry processes billions of pounds of material each year, diverting such material from landfills. The State of California prohibits disposal of carcasses into landfills.

 

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