LCA Comments on the EPA’s Recent Proposed SSM SIP Call
BATON ROUGE – February 28, 2023- Today, Greg Bowser, the CEO and President of the Louisiana Chemical Association responded to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed finding of “substantial inadequacy” on the State of Louisiana’s state implementation plan (SIP) and their decision to restore a ban on startup, shutdown, and malfunction (SSM) provisions. The EPA’s proposal was published in the Federal Register on Friday, February 24, 2023.
“It is inappropriate for the EPA to issue this rule because this is taking away Louisiana’s ability to allow sources to safely restart after a malfunction without violating the law,” Bowser stated. “It is also premature to issue this finding as there is currently pending litigation on this issue. There have been different interpretations from the EPA on SIPs and SSM events due to the change in administration over the last few years. Historically, however, there has always been an acknowledgement and acceptance between the EPA and the states that excess emissions that are produced during SSM events are generally not avoidable because the non-steady state conditions that occur during those periods of time are not always susceptible to control in the same way as during normal steady state operations. The EPA also has issued guidance in the past stating it is ‘unreasonable to expect that careful planning can eliminate emissions’ during SSM events. If the EPA is going to prohibit states from having the ability to issue variances during SSM events, then facilities will need increased emission limits to take into account the higher emissions that occur during non-typical, non-steady state operations.”
The EPA is proposing to restore a ban on state exemptions from air regulations for periods of facility startup, shutdown, and malfunction (SSM) in Texas, Iowa and North Carolina, and the Agency is also planning to strip newly identified exemptions from five other states’ air quality plans, including Louisiana. In the February 24th proposal from the Federal Register, the EPA stated it will reverse the Trump administration’s decision to exclude certain states from the SSM waiver and will implement more restrictions on additional states.
There is litigation pending in the D.C. Circuit, where judges held oral argument last year in Environmental Committee of the Florida Electric Power Coordinating Group, Inc. v. EPA. Issues raised at trial include whether the 2015 SSM SIP Call was sufficiently supported, whether emissions “limitations” in SIPs must be continuous, whether such limitations must be “enforceable,” and whether the court’s precedent allows for affirmative defenses in SIPs. An adverse ruling could block EPA’s implementation of the SIP Call and could require the agency to scrap its February 24th proposal with regard to states impacted by the SIP Call, including Louisiana.
About the Louisiana Chemical Association
The Louisiana Chemical Association (LCA) was formed in 1959 to promote a positive business climate for chemical manufacturing that ensures long-term economic growth for its 64 member companies that operate more than 100 sites throughout Louisiana.
LCA, Louisiana Chemical Industry Alliance and related organizations work to protect and expand Louisiana’s petrochemical manufacturing base. It is critical for the industry to have a unified voice in state governmental activities because legislative and regulatory actions can affect capital investment and job retention and growth.
LCA is governed by a Board of Directors that consists of 17 member company representatives, primarily plant managers and divisional vice presidents. LCA has an experienced staff with expertise in the chemical industry, environmental, health, safety, security, governmental affairs, communications, and association management.