EPA approving final state air plan revision for Maryland

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is approving a revision to the Maryland State Implementation Plan for regional haze submitted by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) on Feb. 13.

EPA is also, on top of regional haze program requirements, approving this revision as meeting the infrastructure requirements relating to visibility protection for the 1997 8-hour ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) and the 1997 and 2006 fine particulate matter (PM2.5) NAAQS, EPA noted in a July 6 Federal Register notice. This final rule is effective on Aug. 6.

The revision includes a long term strategy with enforceable measures ensuring reasonable progress towards meeting the reasonable progress goals for the first regional haze planning period through 2018. Maryland’s haze plan contains the emission reductions needed to achieve Maryland’s share of emission reductions agreed upon through the regional planning process.

EPA said one thing it is doing is clarifying its approval of the best available retrofit technology (BART) determinations for SO2, NOX and particulate matter (PM) for Unit 25 at the NewPage Luke Pulp and Paper Mill located in Allegany County, Md., which EPA is approving into the Maryland SIP.

EPA received a number of comments on its proposal to approve Maryland’s Regional Haze SIP submittal. Comments were received from the Luke Paper Co. and the U.S. Forest Service. A joint letter from the Sierra Club and the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) was also received. The U.S. Forest Service acknowledged the work that the state of Maryland has accomplished and encouraged the state of Maryland to continue to reduce regional haze.

Alliance’s Mettiki coal cleaning plant figures into plan

One unnamed commenter recommended that emission controls for a coal cleaning facility and three electric generating units (EGUs) which are not BART subject sources in Maryland should be evaluated under the reasonable progress provisions of the Regional Haze Rule (RHR) as was done in Wyoming and North Dakota. The commenter stated that initially the coal cleaning facility was identified as BART-eligible and modeling for this source demonstrated that it may impact visibility at one or more Class I areas located in West Virginia. This source was subsequently found not to be subject-to-BART.

“EPA finds Maryland’s decision not to further evaluate controls at the coal cleaning facility and the three EGUs under the reasonable progress provisions of the RHR to be reasonable,” EPA responded. First, two of the EGUs are subject to Maryland’s Healthy Air Act (HAA), which requires significant emission reductions at those EGUs. More generally, Maryland followed a specific strategy for addressing reasonable progress. West Virginia did not request additional emission reductions from neighboring states for the first planning period other than what has already been planned, EPA noted.

Another commenter questioned the BART-eligibility of a coal cleaning facility in Maryland because Maryland originally identified this source as BART-eligible. The commenter suggested that a permit condition to shut down the coal cleaning facility by the end of 2014 would address the commenter’s concerns because the facility indicated that it did not plan to operate beyond 2014.

“EPA disagrees with the Commenter’s assertions that the identified Maryland coal cleaning facility should be subject to BART,” EPA responded.  It added: “While the facility may intend to cease operations in the near future, Maryland was not required to make such a shutdown enforceable in its Regional Haze SIP.”

While the name of that coal cleaning facility isn’t given in the July 6 notice, EPA’s prior SIP approval proposal said it is a facility of Mettiki Coal Corp., which is an Alliance Resource Partners (NASDAQ: ARLP) unit with a coal mining operation in western Maryland. This facility was not included in the BART-eligible list since the source was not in existence by Aug, 7, 1977, which is a statutory cut-off date.

EPA said it’s not mandating specific technologies for Luke Paper

One commenter stated that EPA mischaracterized Luke Paper’s commitment in a letter dated Oct. 31, 2007, for BART controls at the NewPage Luke Mill. The commenter stated that EPA noted in its proposed rulemaking that Luke Paper committed to installing either a spray dryer absorber or a circulating dry scrubber resulting in approximately 90% emission reductions in SO2 and to year round operation of the existing selective non-catalytic reduction (SNCR) control at Unit 25 for NOX control as BART for the BART subject Unit 25 at the NewPage Luke Mill.

EPA said it agreed with the commenter that Maryland’s Regional Haze SIP submittal and EPA’s approval of the submittal requires the NewPage Luke Mill at Unit 25 to meet BART limits of 0.44 lb/MMbtu for SO2, a rolling 30-day emission rate of 0.40 lb/MMbtu for NOX, and 0.07 lb/MMbtu for PM. Although Maryland’s BART determination was based on the use of certain controls, BART is an emission limit, EPA noted. EPA said that in its rulemaking it inadvertently suggested that the Maryland Regional Haze SIP required the use of specific controls.

EPA reaffirms that Maryland Healthy Air Act is better than BART

One commenter stated that the BART analyses submitted by Constellation Energy for the coal-fired Wagner Unit 3 and Crane Unit 2 are deeply flawed and failed to identify correctly BART technology and BART limits for those units. The commenter also stated that Maryland improperly compared HAA emissions to those under presumptive BART and that Maryland must redo its analysis and compare emissions reductions under the HAA to those produced by full source-specific BART analyses. 

EPA responded that the primary requirement is for sources to procure, install, and operate BART. In some cases this requirement is met with an analysis of potential controls considering five factors given in EPA’s RHR. EPA has interpreted this requirement to be met if an alternative set of emission limits are established which mandate greater reasonable progress toward visibility improvement than direct application of BART on a source-by-source basis. While EPA recognizes that a case-by-case BART analysis may result in emission limits more stringent than the presumptive limits, the presumptive limits are reasonable for assessing an alternative emissions reductions scenario such as the HAA when comparing it to the BART scenario. The HAA limits SO2, NOX, and mercury emissions from coal-fired EGUs in Maryland. Although Maryland is also now using the HAA as an alternative to BART for its EGU BART-eligible sources as permitted pursuant to EPA’s haze rules, the use of presumptive limits is appropriate, EPA said.

“Regarding the units at H.A. Wagner and C.P. Crane, EPA notes that H.A. Wagner Units 2 and 3 and C.P. Crane Units 1 and 2 are subject to the HAA (Maryland’s alternative BART program) while only C.P. Crane Unit 2 and H.A. Wagner Unit 3 are BART-eligible units,” EPA added. “Because these additional units (as well as units at Brandon Shores and Dickerson) are covered under the HAA, significantly more emission reductions are achieved by the HAA than through application of presumptive BART.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.