EPA Proposes New Waste Combustion Emissions Limit

EPA Proposes New Waste Combustion Emissions Limits Under the Clean Air Act

Proposed rules would increase the stringency of Clean Air Act standards applicable to facilities that burn 250 tons or more of municipal solid waste per day.

Among the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ("EPA") latest environmental initiatives is its proposal to amend the 1995 Standards of Performance for New Stationary Sources and Emission Guidelines for Existing Sources: Large Municipal Waste Combustors ("LMWCs"). On January 11, 2024, EPA announced proposed rules that would increase the stringency of Clean Air Act standards applicable to facilities that burn 250 tons or more of municipal solid waste per day.

For new sources, the proposed rules would limit emissions of nine pollutants, including particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen chloride, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, lead, cadmium, mercury, and dioxins/furans. For existing sources, the proposed rules would revise emissions limits for all nine of the above pollutants except for carbon monoxide limits for two subcategories of combustors. Clients should consider the impact of the proposed rules on waste-to-energy systems and other operations that depend on large waste combustion facilities.

EPA is also proposing to: 

  • Remove exemptions and exclusions for startup, shutdown, and malfunction;
  • Add provisions for electronic reporting of certain notifications and reports;
  • Revise recordkeeping requirements; and 
  • Clarify Title V permitting requirements for certain air curtain incinerators. 

The Clean Air Act requires EPA to evaluate these standards every five years in order to take into account developments in pollution control technologies and techniques. EPA states that the proposed standards are based on emission levels achieved by the "best controlled and lower-emitting" sources, particularly "cost-effective advances in NOx emissions controls."

As of January 11, 2024, EPA estimates that the proposed rules would apply to 57 facilities with 152 units that have the capacity to combust more than 250 tons per day of municipal solid waste. EPA states that these facilities nearly are disproportionately located in low-income communities and communities of color, and that the proposed amendments would result in an estimated 14,000 tons per year reduction in regulated pollutants. 

EPA will accept comment on the proposal for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

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