GOVERNMENT ACTIONS
Get information on one of these important actions, and make a pledge to complete the action that you can share with your community.

CONTACT:
Allegheny County Health Department, Air Quality Program
301 39th St., Building #7
Pittsburgh, PA 15201
E-mail: boh@achd.net

Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD)

Responsible for formulating rules and regulations for the prevention of disease; for the prevention and removal of conditions which constitute a menace to health; and, for the promotion and preservation of the public health. The Board of Health is a nine-member governing board appointed by the County Chief Executive, subject to approval by County Council.

 

Complaint Line: 412-687-ACHD (2243)
Enforcement staff responds to each complaint and by reporting to this line, citizens can help lead ACHD to take enforcement actions and mitigate air pollution issues quickly.


Proposed Regulations

Air Pollution Control Permits

Permits that impact air quality such as an Installation Permit (IP), Operating Permit (OP), Title V Operating Permit Renewals (TVOPR), and IP Modification (IPM) Applications are received by the Allegheny County Health Department.

Permits open to public comment

Copies are open for public inspection at 301 39th Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15201-1891. Written comments may be submitted to the same address within 30 days from the date of publication of the comment notice or by e-mail at aqpermits@achd.net. Phone number is 412-578-8115.

The Department may conduct a hearing in response to any given comments. Commenters will be notified in writing of the time and place if a hearing is held. Also where indicated, this is notice of final action by the Department of issuance, amendment, renewal, or denial of the subject permit.

Appeals to final actions may be filed in accordance with Article XI of the County Health Department Regulations and the Pa. Local Agency Law, 2 Pa. C.S.A. 101 et seq., 551 et seq., & 751 et seq., within 10 days of the date of publication of the notice to the Director, Allegheny County Health Department, 3333 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213.

Proposed regulations and permits in public comment can also be found on the right hand side of the Air Quality Program homepage.

Revision to Prevention of Significant Deterioration – Violation regulation

Proposal to delete the phrase, “except if such person is lawfully temporarily relieved of the duty to comply with such requirements” from Article XXI of the ACHD Air Pollution Control regulation as per EPA request.

Addition of Notification System for Unconventional Wells (Shale Drilling)

ACHD is implementing a notification system for natural gas wells in unconventional formations. This regulation will place requirements on shale gas well operators to report to ACHD prior to initial well site construction, drilling, hydraulic fracturing and flaring. The purpose of these reports is to inform ACHD staff of new well developments and to enable enforcement of existing air quality regulations. Violations may be issued if the activities outlined in the proposed regulation are conduced without notification.

Liberty-Clairton PM2.5 State Implementation Plan

ACHD is charged with developing a State Implementation Plan (SIP) to bring the Liberty-Clairton Area into attainment with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards promulgated by the U.S. EPA for PM2.5 by December 2014. Primary control measures in the current working draft of the SIP include interstate transport rules issued by EPA to reduce upwind transport of PM2.5 precursors from power plants; upgrades and shutdowns to the U.S. Steel Mon Valley Works-Clairton Plant; and permanent shutdowns of sources surrounding the Liberty-Clairton area.

Existing Regulations

Article XXI Air Pollution Control Regulations contains all of the air quality regulations that must be followed in Allegheny County. It sets ambient air quality standards to protect the air resources of Allegheny County through pollution prevention and pollution control.

 

Air Toxics Review of Installation Permit Applications
Guidelines that establish a policy for use by the Allegheny County Health Department Air Quality Program to evaluate the human health impacts of new or significantly modified sources emitting toxic air emissions into the ambient air. The Board of Health approved these updated air toxics rules on November 7, 2012 (the final version will have some changes).


CONTACT:
Arleen Shulman, Chief of Air Resource Management
Phone: (717) 772-3436
E-mail: ashulman@state.pa.us

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

DEP’s Bureau of Air Quality is responsible for safeguarding the health of Pennsylvanians by achieving the goals of the federal Clean Air Act and the Pennsylvania Air Pollution Control Act. The bureau develops air quality regulations; conducts meteorological tracking and air quality modeling studies and reviews; and develops transportation control measures and other mobile source programs. The bureau also helps to improve the economic climate for firms to locate and expand in Pennsylvania through programs such as the Small Business Assistance Program.


Proposed Regulations

Policy for Implementing the DEP Permit Review Process and Permit Decision Guarantee

The Department of Environmental Protection issued this technical guidance after Governor Tom Corbett rescinded a former policy meant to guarantee permit issue within a certain timeframe. This new technical guidance is meant to implement an executive order that would hasten permitting for air pollution sources and set priorities for the use of DEP resources. These priorities include issuing permits based on which ones would protect “public health, safety or the environment” or “create and/or retain jobs.”

Air Quality Permit Exemptions

The DEP has revised a technical guidance for its air permitting regulators to use when determining what kinds of sources of air pollution do not need permits. This revision was aimed at reducing the size and number of oil and gas exploration-related air pollution sources that are exempt from permitting requirements. However, this document has not been finalized, leaving these sources exempt from regulation.

General Permit 5 (“GP5”) 

The General Permit 5 is a permitting device used by the DEP to pre-approve the construction and operation of a wide array of oil- and gas-related air pollution sources. The General Permit 5 is then applied to individual sites to quickly permit construction and operation of these air pollution sources. Public input and comment on these facilities is reduced to participation in the General Permit 5 revision process only; individuals wishing to provide public comment as with normal construction permits under the Clean Air Act cannot do so any longer. 

Source: David Presley, Staff Attorney, Clean Air Council

Finalized Regulations

State Implementation Plan (SIP)

The Clean Air Act requires state and local air pollution control agencies to adopt federally approved control strategies to minimize emissions of the criteria air pollutants or their precursors, including sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, lead, carbon monoxide and ozone. The resulting body of regulations is known as a State Implementation Plan (SIP). Also included are special control strategies for nonattainment areas–areas that are not meeting the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).

Pittsburgh-Beaver Valley Nonattainment Area

The Pittsburgh-Beaver Valley nonattainment area is located in southwestern Pennsylvania and consists of Beaver, Butler, Washington, and Westmoreland counties and portions of Allegheny, Armstrong, Greene and Lawrence counties. The Pittsburgh-Beaver Valley nonattainment area previously has violated the U.S. EPA’s health-based annual PM2.5 standard (15.0 μg/m3) set in 1997 and the revised daily standard (35 μg/m3) set in 2006.

Liberty-Clairton Nonattainment Area

Located within the Pittsburgh-Beaver Valley Area is a separate nonattainment area known as the Liberty-Clairton nonattainment area, comprised of the boroughs of Glassport, Liberty, Lincoln, Port Vue and the city of Clairton. The Liberty-Clairton PM2.5 nonattainment area was designated as a separate nonattainment area because the combination of emissions from the local sources in a narrow river valley creates a distinctive air quality problem. 

Guidance for Performing Single Stationary Source Determinations for Oil and Gas Industries

The DEP recently finalized a guidance document to determine what sources of air pollution would need to be counted together (“aggregation” or “source determination”) for permitting purposes in the oil and gas industry. This guidance is meant to implement a federal regulation requiring two air pollution sources be permitted together if: 1) they are in the same standard industrial classification, 2) they are located on one or more contiguous or adjacent properties and 3) they are under common control. Pennsylvania’s guidance states that, because oil and gas operations are spread apart, they “would not generally comport with the “common sense notion of a plant.’” This tends to release oil and gas facilities from being aggregated, ensuring they do not have to comply with more strict federal permitting requirements.

Policy on Clean Alternative Fuel Conversion Systems

This program allows new passenger cars and light-duty trucks to be converted to operate on clean alternative fuels under certification from either the California Air Resources Board (CARB) or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It provides guidance to clean alternative fuel conversion system manufacturers, installers and potential purchasers of conversion systems regarding the repair and warranties of emission control components on new passenger cars and light-duty trucks retrofitted with clean alternative fuel conversion systems.

Source: David Presley, Staff Attorney, Clean Air Council


CONTACT:
Region 3 U.S. EPA

1650 Arch Street

Philadelphia, PA 19103

Phone: (215) 814-5000

Fax: (215) 814-5103

Toll free: (800) 438-2474

E-mail: r3public@epa.gov

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA’s purpose is to ensure that all Americans are protected from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live, learn and work. It is responsible for enforcing federal laws protecting human health and the environment and providing access to accurate information to all citizens.  Its contributions help ensure that our communities and ecosystems are diverse, sustainable and economically productive.


Proposed Regulations

New Source Performance Standards for Stationary Combustion Turbines (“Turbines NSPS”)

The EPA is proposing to update the New Source Performance Standards for turbines at electric generation facilities for administrative efficiency and to expand what kinds of turbines are covered by some pollutant emission limits. The agency also is rethinking how a turbine is considered “reconstructed” in order to get around accounting and repair problems that occur when turbines are remanufactured after several years of use.

Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engine National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (“RICE NESHAP”)

The EPA recently proposed changes to the RICE NESHAP that would exempt many engines at natural gas compressor stations in rural areas from requiring basic pollution control equipment. The agency also proposed expanding the amount of time low-efficiency, high-polluting diesel emergency generators could operate when necessary for power grid management and reliability.

Source: David Presley, Staff Attorney, Clean Air Council

Finalized Regulations

Clean Air Act
The Clean Air Act is the law that defines EPA’s responsibilities for protecting and improving the nation’s air quality and the stratospheric ozone layer. The EPA sets limits on certain air pollutants and determines how much can be in the air anywhere in the United States.  The EPA also has the authority to limit emissions of air pollutants coming from sources like chemical plants, utilities, and steel mills. Individual states or tribes may have stronger air pollution laws, but they may not have weaker pollution limits than those set by EPA.

National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS)
The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards for pollutants considered harmful to public health and the environment.  These standards set limits to protect public health, including the health of “sensitive” populations such as asthmatics, children, and the elderly. They also protect public welfare, including protection against decreased visibility, damage to animals, crops, vegetation, and buildings.

Acid Rain Program
Uses a combination of traditional requirements and a market-based cap and trade program to reduce power plant emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2), which contribute both to acid rain and to fine particle formation.

National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants From Coal- and Oil-Fired Electric Utility Steam Generating Units (“Utility MACT” or “MATS”)

More than 20 years after the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, some power plants still don’t control emissions of toxic air pollutants despite the wide availability of control technology. The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS)—finalized by the EPA in February 2012—set the first-ever power plant standards for mercury, acid gases and non-mercury metallic toxic pollutants. The MATS, assuming they survive a court challenge, cover about 1,400 coal- and oil-fired electric generating units at 600 power plants, which will have up to four years to comply.

Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR)/Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR)

The Clean Air Act mandates that sources in one state cannot interfere with attaining pollution standards in another. To resolve this issue, on July 6, 2011, the U.S. EPA finalized the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule that requires 28 states—including Pennsylvania—to reduce power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) that contribute to air pollution in states downwind. In August 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit struck down CSAPR, leaving the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) in place while the EPA goes back to the drawing board. CAIR is a 2005 multi-state cap and trade program also intended to reduce interstate transport of SO2 and NOx, but would not result in as deep reductions in S02 in our region. The EPA filed a petition on October 5, 2012 seeking a rehearing of the CSAPR ruling.

Clean Air Standards for Harmful Soot Pollution

In response to a court order, the U.S EPA in December 2012 tightened its national air quality standards for harmful fine particle pollution, including soot (known as PM 2.5). These microscopic particles can penetrate deep into the lungs and have been linked to premature death, heart attacks, stroke, acute bronchitis and aggravated asthma. The new soot limit strengthens the annual health standard for PM2.5 to 12 micrograms per cubic meter; it replaced a 1997 annual standard of 15 micrograms per cubic meter.

Oil and Natural Gas Sector New Source Performance Standards, National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants, and Control Techniques Guidelines (“Oil & Gas NESHAP/NSPS”)

This package of rules has been revised in light of the broad expansion of unconventional shale gas drilling. New performance standards restrict the amount of pollution oil and gas equipment is allowed to emit. New technology requirements were mandated for most aspects of oil and gas drilling and production, including drilling equipment, green completions for wells and compressor stations that move natural gas. These rules, if they survive challenges in court, promise to reduce air pollution from natural gas production in unconventional shale formations.

Source: David Presley, Staff Attorney, Clean Air Council


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