Greenhouse Gas Energy Audits for Colorado Manufacturers

The Air Pollution Control Division (APCD) is working on a Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Audit Program that will focus on reducing GHG emissions from manufacturing facilities.  The program has been created in response to Colorado Revised Statute Section 25-7-102(2(g) which set the following goals for GHG reduction in the state:

  • 26% reduction by 2025
  • 50% reduction by 2030
  • 90% reduction by 2050

The audit program will be based on manufacturing facilities’ relative contribution, so large contributors to GHG emissions will be the focus of the program in the beginning.  Manufacturing facilities with direct emissions of equal to or more than 50,000 metric tons of CO2e per year through 2019 will be the affected facilities at first.  It is expected that the applicability will be lowered to smaller contributors in the future.   Facilities that will be excluded will be Oil and Gas, Landfills, Underground Coal Mines, Electric Generating Units and Food Processing Facilities.  Most of those types of sources are covered under separate regulations.

The audit program will require energy and emission control audits addressing GHG emissions from energy-intensive, trade exposed manufacturing facilities (EITEs) as well as non EITE facilities.  For EITEs it will require that the audit be done by a 3rd party every 5 years through 2035. Non EITE facilities will be required to implement management systems for energy and GHG emission reductions over a 5-year period.   APCD wants facilities to help decide what sources should be included in their own audit, with the focus being on the sources that have the most emissions.

The audit will help to establish GHG Best Available Control Technologies (BACT) and Best Available Energy Efficiency Practices (BAEEP). These will likely be set per facility instead of per industry.  The audit report should recommend a compliance process.  If sources do not meet GHG BACT and BAEEP, the commission will consider the regulatory requirements to further mitigate the costs of reducing emissions and provide incentives to reduce emissions.  APCD would also like to utilize existing programs like ISO.

APCD expects to have draft language for the audit program out by mid-February 2021.  In April there will be a request for a rulemaking and a rulemaking hearing in July.   For more information on the upcoming GHG audit program for Colorado manufacturer’s, go to the CDPHE website for the program:

https://cdphe.colorado.gov/greenhouse-gas-emissions-and-energy-efficiency-management-and-audit-program-for-manufacturing-in

Planning for Ozone Non-attainment Downgrade – Again

On December 15, 2020 Governor Polis released a statement about his intentions to push for a downgrade for the Denver Metropolitan/North Front Range Area from serious to severe non-attainment for the area’s ozone levels.  The area has been unable to achieve a ground-level ozone standard of 75 ppb.  The statement said that state agencies and stakeholders should plan for the downgrade in 2022.

Currently, sources that have a potential to emit (PTE) over 50 tons per year of VOC and NOx need to have Title V permits.  However, this will likely soon change again.  The major source level was only recently moved down from 100 tons per year in January of 2020.  Sources that have air permits with VOC or NOx emissions between 25 and 50 tons per year are going to have to either limit their emissions to less than 25 tons per year or apply for a Title V permit within 1 year of the severe designation.

If a source intends to submit a synthetic minor permit, which would limit their emissions to less than 25 tons per year, then the permit needs to be ISSUED by the Air Pollution Control Division within the 12-month period after the change to avoid Title V permit application requirements.  Often permits take several (4-18) months to be issued by the Air Pollution Control Division, so applications for synthetic minor permits need to be submitted in the upcoming months.

If a source intends to submit a Title V permit application, the application will need to be submitted within 12 months of the redesignation date, so likely in 2023.

Sources should now be looking at their PTE accounting and deciding what will work best for them.

To help sources decide which direction to go with their air permit, Applewood has assembled the following table that outlines the benefits and disadvantages of each type of air permit:  Benefits and Drawbacks of Major or Minor Source Permits

Protection from Wildfire Smoke

My son has asthma and the wildfire smoke has been making him cough.  It is a nasty, goopy cough, which has garnered some fun stares in COVID times.  His asthma specialist recommended that we purchase HEPA air purifiers and place them in our home.  This is also the best way to deal with wildfire smoke even if you do not have asthma.  However, if you do not want to go out and buy expensive HEPA filters, check out this great video from the University of Michigan on how to make a HEPA air purifier yourself! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kH5APw_SLUU

Improved Air Quality from COVID-19 and Compliance with NAAQS

Cities in the United States have seen a noticeable improvement in air quality because of reduced vehicle miles traveled. Improved air quality that has been the result of people staying at home recently could help some marginal nonattainment areas meet the 2015 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) of 0.070 ppm Ozone. That would mean some nonattainment areas could see improved air quality that would help them avoid more stringent permit limits on Nitrogen Oxide and Volatile Organic Compound pollution, which are Ozone precursors. The avoidance of more stringent limits could be beneficial to industry in the designated marginal nonattainment areas.

Avoiding a more stringent designation, however, could be quite tricky. Just as states have argued that events such as wildfires are “Exceptional Events” and should be exempted from data for the area, it is also likely that “Exceptional Event” designation would be used in the opposite manner in this situation. Environmental groups could argue that areas which met the standard due to the impact of COVID-19 should not be able to use the improved air quality data to avoid more stringent reclassification.

Clean Air Act Section 107, 42 USC Section 7407(d)(3)(E)(iii) states that nonattainment redesignation needs to show that “improvement in air quality is due to permanent and enforceable reductions in emissions resulting from implementation of the applicable implementation plan.” States would have figure out a way to make reductions part of the implementation plan and enforceable.

If there is a silver lining in the COVID-19 pandemic, reduction in overall vehicle miles traveled and longer-term improved air quality could be it. Many companies have been able to use the stay at home orders to improve their work-from-home capabilities. It is also possible that some companies will continue to let more employees work from home, which could show permanent reductions in ozone levels in nonattainment areas even over time. The pandemic has shown us that it is possible to get people out of cars and the impact does reduce air pollution in cities – and fast. Now it will be interesting to see if these changes lead to permanent policy changes and improvements in overall air quality in cities, which would help the people living in those cities to breathe cleaner air and it could help industry avoid more stringent air permit limitations.

Colorado Air Quality News

Yesterday was a busy day for air quality in Colorado! Governor Jared Polis signed a Greening the Government Executive Order which sets specific targets for lowering greenhouse gas emissions. See the announcement here: https://www.colorado.gov/governor/news/gov-polis-signs-greening-government-executive-order

The EPA also sent out a press release stating that it is finalizing the reclassification of the Denver Front Range as a “serious” nonattainment area for ozone. The reclassification won’t be final until it is published in the Federal Register, which will likely happen in the next few days. See the update on Denver 7 News here: https://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/state-news/epa-lowers-denver-areas-air-quality-rating-to-serious