The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

State & National News

September 15, 2013

Public hearing scheduled on changes to state air toxics rules

Sunday, September 15, 2013 — RALEIGH – Proposed changes to North Carolina’s rules for controlling toxic air pollutants will be the subject of a Sept. 19 public hearing scheduled in Raleigh.

 

The General Assembly enacted some of the changes to the state air toxics rules in legislation adopted during its 2012 session (Session Law 2012-91). The legislature also directed the state Division of Air Quality to further review the rules and determine whether changes could be made to reduce unnecessary regulatory burden and increase efficient use of the state agency’s resources while maintaining protection of public health.

 

The state Division of Air Quality has scheduled the hearing for 3 p.m. Sept. 19 in the Training Room (Room 1210) in the Green Square office building, 217 West Jones St., Raleigh. Directions and parking information can be found online at http://www.ncair.org/about/Directions_to_Green_Square.pdf .

 

The state agency will accept written comments on the rules through Oct. 14. Written comments may be submitted at the hearing, emailed to joelle.burleson@ncdenr.gov or mailed to: Joelle Burleson, Division of Air Quality, 1641 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1641.

 

The proposed rules would exempt most facilities from state air toxics rules if they demonstrate compliance with federal rules for controlling hazardous air pollutants, unless the director of the state Division of Air Quality determines that their emissions pose unacceptable health risks. The proposal also would change some of the minimum requirements for facilities needing toxics evaluations and would exempt certain natural gas/propane boilers and emergency generators from the state rules.

 

The state Division of Air Quality enforces federal and state requirements for controlling toxic and hazardous air pollution. Under federal rules, certain industries must install state-of-the-art controls – or Maximum Achievable Control Technologies (MACTs) or Generally Available Control Technologies (GACTs) – if they emit hazardous air pollutants above specified threshold levels.

 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sets federal MACT and GACT standards by industry groups, such as chemical plants, pulp and paper mills, dry cleaners and furniture manufacturers. The federal rules generally specify technological processes or controls that facilities must use to limit their emissions of hazardous air pollution.

 

In addition to EPA regulations, North Carolina has a separate air toxics program that is health-based rather than technology-based. The state rule sets health-based limits for about 100 compounds, 21 of which are not regulated under the federal program. Facilities subject to the state air toxics rules must demonstrate that their emissions do not exceed these limits, known as Acceptable Ambient Levels.

 

Another portion of the law enacted by the 2012 session of the legislature specified that sources subject to the federal air toxics rules would not have to demonstrate compliance with the state rules unless the director of the state Division of Air Quality determined that their emissions posed unacceptable health risks. The law also requires the state air quality agency to review all permit applications that would result in air toxics emissions increases to ensure protection of public health.

 

More information on proposed rules can be found at http://www.ncair.org/rules/hearing/. Information about other air quality issues can be found at the Division of Air Quality’s website, www.ncair.org.

 

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