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EPA Proposes Refined Emissions Test to Improve Safety, Reliability, and Efficiency of Existing Power Plants


EPA is proposing further options to change the emissions test used to determine if the New Source Review (NSR) permitting program would apply when an existing power plant makes a physical or operational change. Congress established the NSR program as part of the 1977 Clean Air Act Amendments and modified it in the 1990 Amendments. NSR is a preconstruction permitting program that maintains air quality while providing for economic growth. These goals are achieved through installation of state-of-the-art control technology at new plants and at existing plants that undergo a major modification.

On Oct. 20, 2005, EPA proposed to replace the annual emissions increase test with an hourly emissions test. The hourly emissions increase test would be used to determine whether planned changes at an existing power plant would be subject to emissions control requirements under the major NSR program. This supplemental action proposes further options by:

refining the originally proposed test options;
proposing a new test option;
analyzing the impacts on control device installation, emissions, and air quality that would result if either proposed option were finalized; and
including proposed rule language for public comment.

The Bush Administration has taken significant steps to improve national air quality. While the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) and other programs will lead to significant further reductions in sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emissions from the power sector, the agency projects that today’s NSR proposals will have very little effect on air quality. Both the October 2005 proposal and today’s supplemental proposed changes to the NSR program would complement the CAIR and other program requirements by eliminating administrative and other barriers that the power sector faces regarding safety, reliability, and efficiency improvements.


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