The EPA has proposed easing the emission test for triggering new source review (“NSR”) requirements for installation of modern pollution controls as part of its power sector climate rule. The proposal is contained in the August 21st “Affordable Clean Energy” (“ACE”) which would replace the Obama-Era Clean Power Plan. Under the existing NSR program, facilities undergoing major modifications that increase actual emissions are required to install state-of-the-art pollution controls. Opponents of the NSR rules cite it as a deterrent to making modifications and modernizing aging coal-fired plants. To resolve this issue, the new rule would ease the emission testing requirements used to determine if NSR has been triggered from an annual to an hourly test. Under the proposed rule, NSR review is only triggered if undertaking a physical change or a change in operation method results in an increase in the hourly emission rate based on either the maximum achieved hourly emission, or maximum achievable hourly emission rate. Both proponents and opponents of the rule admit that under the new emission test NSR would rarely, if ever, be triggered at coal plants.
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