Division of Air Quality reviewing state’s air toxics rules

Written by on September 17, 2012 in Environment, Outside Sources, Region, Top News
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Press release from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, shared Sept. 7:

RALEIGH – People are encouraged to review and comment on North Carolina’s rules for controlling toxic air pollutants at a public meeting scheduled for Sept. 25 in Raleigh.

The General Assembly mandated the review of the state air toxics rules in legislation adopted during its 2012 session (Session Law 2012-91). The law requires the state Division of Air Quality, or DAQ, to review the state air toxics rules and determine whether changes could be made to reduce unnecessary regulatory burden and increase efficient use of DAQ resources while maintaining protection of public health.

DAQ has scheduled the meeting for Tuesday, Sept. 25, from 1:30-4 p.m. in the Nature Resource Center, William G. Ross Jr. Environmental Conference Center, 121 West Jones St., Raleigh, NC 27601. Directions and parking information can be found online at http://naturalsciences.org/visitor-info/directions-parking. The purpose of the meeting is to gather ideas from all interested parties on changes that are consistent with the conditions of the law.

DAQ will accept written comments on the review through Oct. 9, 2012. Specifically, DAQ requests written comments on changes that could be made to the existing North Carolina air toxics rules and their implementation, to reduce unnecessary regulatory burden and increase the efficient use of DAQ resources while maintaining protection of public health. Please email written comments to daq.publiccomments@ncdenr.gov.

The law requires DAQ to report the results of the review and provide recommendations, if any, to the legislature’s Environmental Review Commission, or ERC, no later than Dec. 1, 2012. After reporting to the ERC in December and addressing the committee’s comments, DAQ anticipates taking a regulatory concept that includes the recommendations of this process to the Air Quality Committee of the state Environmental Management Commission, or EMC, in early 2013.

DAQ enforces both 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) – if they emit hazardous air pollutants above specified threshold levels.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets federal MACT standards by industry groups, such as chemical plants, pulp and paper mills, and furniture manufacturers. MACTs generally specify 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, or AALs. The complete text of the state rule can be viewed at these pages on the DAQ website: http://www.ncair.org/rules/rules/Sec1100.shtml and http://www.ncair.org/rules/rules/secQ0700.pdf.

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 DAQ director determined that their emissions posed unacceptable health risks. The law also requires DAQ to review all permit applications in which there are toxics emissions increases to ensure protection of public health.

Further information about air quality in North Carolina can be found at the DAQ website: http://www.ncair.org.

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About the Author

Angie Newsome

Angie Newsome is the founder, director and editor of Carolina Public Press. Contact her at (828) 279-0949 or e-mail her at anewsome@carolinapublicpress.org.

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