Following through on a January 2011 commitment, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to defer, for three years, Clean Air Act permitting requirements for carbon dioxide emissions from bioenergy and other biogenic sources. This additional time will allow the agency to conduct a detailed examination of the science on this issue.
Seeking advice of federal partners, states, a diverse group of expert scientists including industry and other stakeholders, and an independent scientific panel, will help to determine how these emissions should be treated under the EPA’s air permitting program. In July 2010, EPA issued a call for information seeking public comment.
New EPA guidance is also being provided to help permitting authorities determine that using biomass as a fuel can be considered the best available control technology for CO2 emissions from the large sources needing permits. The guidance can be used until EPA takes final action on the deferral.
Sources covered by this proposal would include facilities that emit CO2 from burning forest or agricultural products for energy, wastewater treatment, waste management (landfills), and fermentation processes for ethanol production. Facilities meeting the requirements under the agency’s greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting program will still need to report their CO2 emissions.
Beginning on 2 January 2011, the Clean Air Act required large plants and factories planning to make major modifications or build new facilities to obtain pre-construction permits addressing their GHG emissions. Emissions from small sources, such as farms and restaurants, are not covered by these permitting requirements.
EPA will accept comments on the proposed deferral for 45 days following publication in the Federal Register.