On July 28, 2011, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) denied a petition for the adoption of a rule to regulate fossil fuel carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and to establish an effective emissions reduction strategy that will achieve a concentration of 350 parts per million (ppm) atmospheric CO2 by the year 2100. The petition was filed on May 4, 2011, by Kezia Kamenetz, of New Orleans, and Kids vs Global Warming, a non-profit organization formed in Oak View, California.
Continue Reading Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality Declines to Regulate Carbon Dioxide Emissions

As of July 3, 2011, the air quality measured at the official ozone monitor at 1425 Airport Drive, which is within Shreveport, but located in Bossier Parish, indicated that the design value for the parish is now 76.7 parts per billion (ppb) which exceeds the 75 ppb standard set by EPA in 2008. 40 C.F.R. §50.15. The design value for each monitor is the 3 year average of the 4th highest ozone reading at that monitor each year. The exceedance of the current standard will likely cause the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) to propose that EPA designate Bossier Parish, and perhaps Caddo and DeSoto Parishes, as an ozone nonattainment area.

LDEQ was required to submit its recommendation for nonattainment designations under the 2008 ozone standard by March 12, 2009. EPA was then required to act on the proposals and make final designations no later than March 12, 2010. 73 Fed. Reg. 16436, 16503 (Mar. 27, 2008). In its 2009 recommendation, LDEQ did designate Caddo, but not Bossier or DeSoto, parishes as nonattainment. (1) However, when air quality in Caddo parish improved to compliance status over the past several years, LDEQ amended that recommendation in January 2010 to classify Caddo as attainment. (2)
Continue Reading Shreveport-Bossier Area Exceeds Current Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard – Triggers Potential Consequences for Air Emission Sources

New major and modified existing stationary sources require air permits prior to beginning construction. Where increases of criteria pollutants  such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, particulate and volatile organic compounds exceed a “significance” threshold, the permittee is required to analyze available and technically feasible control technology with the goal of selecting the best available control technology (BACT) for new or modified emissions units. With agency agreement, the selection of BACT becomes an enforceable part of the permit. 

We now have a new “pollutant,” greenhouse gas (“GHG”) equivalents for the six regulated greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, perfluorocabons, and hydrofluorocarbons). GHGs are measured as equivalents to carbon dioxide, the most common GHG (CO2e). Starting January 2, 2011, permits issued for facilities that otherwise trigger PSD (as above) and have a new or increased potential to emit (PTE) of CO2e of 75,000 TPY, must address GHG emissions. Following July 1, 2011, a PSD permit may be required for significant increases in GHGs alone (100,000 tpy for a new source or 75,000 tpy for` a modification), even where there is no significant increase of any other regulated criteria pollutant. 

As with other pollutants, once PSD is triggered for GHGs, the permittee must evaluate and propose that which constitutes BACT to control the CO2e. Although the general scheme for selecting BACT is familiar, a top down ranking of available and technical feasible technologies, the available options are not. There are no conventional CO2e scrubbers or waste heat boilers, or filter traps to capture CO2e.  While some technologies are emerging, the process of determining BACT for CO2 control is a new frontier, and lack of guidance can cause permitting delays. To address some of the uncertainties,  EPA issued guidance on November 10, 2010 concerning permitting GHGs explaining the process for determining the required emission control technology – BACT.

Continue Reading EPA Issues Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Permitting Guidance

During the 2010 Session, the Louisiana Legislature enacted Act 986 to amend La. R.S. 30:2022, the state law concerning the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality’s (LDEQ) permit process. The legislation began as House Bill 1169 and was authored by Representative Karen St. Germain. Governor Bobby Jindal signed the legislation on July 7, 2010, as Act 986. The Act became effective that same day.

The Act enacted La. R.S. 30:2022(D), which requires greater transparency from LDEQ regarding changes made to permits, renewals, extensions, and modifications. First, Act 986 requires that, if requested by a permit applicant, LDEQ provide the applicant with a written summary of the specific changes to the existing permit whenever LDEQ prepares a draft database permit for the renewal, extension, or substantial permit modification of an existing hazardous waste permit, solid waste permit, Louisiana Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (LPDES) permit, or air quality permit. The database is LDEQ’s Tools for Environmental Management and Protection Organization (TEMPO) database system. Previously, LDEQ was under no obligation to inform a permit applicant of each and every change that had been made in the renewal, extension, or substantial modification of an existing permit.Continue Reading Legislature Changes Permit Process at the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality

On June 2, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency adopted a final rule which significantly lowers the primary National Ambient Air Quality Standard (“NAAQS”) for sulfur dioxide (“SO2 ”). EPA is phasing out both the annual standard (0.03 parts per million or ppm) and the existing 24-hour standard set at 0.14 ppm, and phasing in a new 1-hour standard set at 75 parts per billion (“ppb”). The new 1-hour standard is met when the 3-year average of the 99th percentile of daily maximum 1-hour averages at each monitor does not exceed 75 ppb. EPA will transition to the new standard with overlap of the existing standards. In areas that are in compliance with the current standards (all of Louisiana), the existing 24-hour and annual standards will be revoked one year after the designations of new nonattainment areas. Designations are to be final in June 2012, so the existing standards will no longer remain effective as of June 2013.
Continue Reading EPA Significantly Tightens National Sulfur Dioxide Standard – Affects Louisiana Parishes

The February 10, 2010 Federal Register contains a notice of EPA’s final decision that the Baton Rouge ozone nonattainment area “has attained the 1-hour ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS).” (The Baton Rouge area consists of the parishes of Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Iberville, Livingston, and West Baton Rouge.) EPA found that the ambient monitoring data for 2006-2008 demonstrated attainment and noted there were no exceedances of the standard in 2009. Although this 1-hour ozone standard was revoked in 2005 and replaced with a more stringent 8-hour standard, some of the SIP requirements associated with the old 1-hour standard were continued under the Clean Air Act’s “anti-backsliding” provisions. The EPA action, known as a “Clean Data Policy Determination,” formally suspends several requirements associated with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality’s (“LDEQ’s”) State Implementation Plan (“SIP”) as long as the area continues to achieve the 1-hour standard. These suspended requirements include “a severe attainment demonstration, a severe reasonable further progress plan (RFP), applicable contingency measures plans, and other planning State Implementation Plan (SIP) requirements related to attainment of the 1-hour ozone NAAQS.”
Continue Reading EPA Recognizes That Baton Rouge Area Attained the 1-Hour Ozone Standard

On January 27, 2010, the SEC voted 3-2 to issue an interpretive guidance “on existing SEC disclosure requirements as they apply to business or legal developments relating to the issue of climate change.” Chair Mary Shapiro emphasized that the interpretive release is not intended to create new legal requirements, but is to clarify the requirements already applicable for reporting material risks on public disclosure statements. She was careful to avoid arguments on the science, stating: “We are not opining on whether the world’s climate is changing, at what pace it might be changing, or due to what causes. Nothing that the Commission does today should be construed as weighing in on those topics.”
Continue Reading Securities and Exchange Commission Issues Interpretive Guidance for Reporting Risks Due to Climate Change