On October 22, 2020, EPA finalized a rule to allow emission decreases as well as increases from a project to be considered at Step 1 of the New Source Review (NSR) applicability process.  When Step 1 follows this approach, and no significant increase in emissions is found after reviewing both increases and decreases, this would end the applicability evaluation.  These projects could generally proceed under a minor source permit procedure.

The finalized rule is consistent with a 2018 guidance memorandum, where EPA interpreted its existing rules to allow for consideration of decreases.  According to EPA’s news release, the finalized rule “provides further clarity and certainty” regarding project emissions accounting.

States Not Required to Change

The new rule does not require states with delegated air permitting programs to make any changes, as states may have regulations more stringent than EPA’s requirements.  However, the news release states that if delegated states implement their programs based on the new rule, they do not need to submit State Implementation Plan revisions or stringency determinations.

Petition for Rulemaking at TCEQ

Based on the 2018 guidance and EPA’s proposal for this rule, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) received a Petition for Rulemaking in February 2020.  The Petition identifies differing approaches in TCEQ’s NSR programs and requests changes in TCEQ’s NSR rules to allow for emission decreases to be considered in both programs.

The Petition for Rulemaking to TCEQ is available https://www.tceq.texas.gov/assets/public/legal/rules/rule_lib/petitions/20034PET_petition.pdf

To see EPA’s news release, which includes links to see the Fact Sheet for and text of the rule https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-continues-improve-and-clarify-clean-air-permitting-process