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Comments for consideration in the Department’s efforts to revise the NOx RACT emissions standards

February 17, 2010

Mr. Robert J. Stanton, P.E.
Department of Environmental Conservation
Division of Air Resources
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-3254

Re: NOx RACT

Dear Mr. Stanton:

The Business Council submits these comments for consideration in the Department’s efforts to revise the NOx RACT emissions standards. It is essential that New York’s rule be fair and not put in-state industry at a competitive disadvantage.

Specifically, we recommend that the Department recognize that other clean air programs such as the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) and the New York Acid Deposition Reduction Program (ADRP) are already reducing NOx, lessening the need for additional expensive control technology. Many of the affected parties to this proposed rule have already installed control equipment to reduce ozone and NOx.

We recommend that the Department exclude boilers with heat capacities as low as 25 million Btu per hour from the definition of a “mid size boiler.” Lowering the threshold will subject these smaller boilers to costly modifications without any significant environmental benefit.
We recommend that the Department not codify specific dates for the submission of NOx analyses and the installation of approved control equipment. Any required NOx analysis should be submitted to the Department in a reasonable time-frame following adoption of a final NOx rule and any approved emissions reduction methods should be installed as “expeditiously as possible” after approval of the State Implementation Plan (SIP).

  1. Most facilities are already making significant NOx reductions

    We believe that there will be significant local reductions in NOx and the reductions the Department seeks will ultimately be accomplished under the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) and the New York Acid Deposition Reduction Program (ADRP) which have significantly reduced ozone levels.

    We believe that CAIR will reduce daily emission rates enough to impact ozone concentrations limiting the necessity for changed NOx RACT limits. New York electric generating units and other facilities affected by CAIR have made significant reductions. Because there also was a New York only EGU program, allowance compliance options were not available over a large region and New York sources developed control strategies and installed control equipment that did result in significant local emission reductions that will help attain the ozone standards. For example, NRG Dunkirk and Huntley have reduced the NOx emission rates by fuel use changes and refined LNB technology to comply with the existing programs such that the 2009 annual NOx rate was 0.16 lb NOx per mm Btu.

    The Ozone Season NOx emission trends show that the ADRP and CAIR have significantly reduced NOx emissions. The average emissions in the three years before the ADRP were 35,190 tons with a rate of 0.188 lb NOx/mm Btu. The three-year average (2006-2008) emissions were 24,051 tons with a rate of 0.144 lb NOx/mm Btu after the ADRP was instituted. 2009 represents both CAIR and the ADRP and the emissions were only 14,664 tons with a rate of 0.122 lb NOx/mm Btu.

    Furthermore, the average of the maximum daily NOx emissions during the Ozone Season dropped 65 tons, the 99th percentile dropped 63 tons, the 95th percentile dropped 99 tons, and the average of every day dropped 57 tons.   The maximum daily NOX emissions during the Ozone Season dropped 269 tons, the 99th percentile dropped 245 tons, the 95th percentile dropped 234 tons, and the average of every day dropped 138 tons. These are significant emission reductions and New York State should evaluate the effect of these reductions on ozone levels before lowering the NOx RACT limits.

    Therefore we recommend that the Department allow some time for current emissions reduction programs to progress before mandating further regulations requiring facilities to install additional control equipment.

  2. New York should classify all boilers with heat input capacity of less than 100 million Btu per hour as a “small boiler.”

    We believe that lowering the threshold for a ‘midsize boiler” from the current range of 50 to 100 million Btu per hour to the proposed 25 to 100 Btu per hour is not the right approach. NOx emissions from both small and mid-size natural gas fired boilers are very low and the environmental benefit derived from lowering the boiler size threshold will be minimal.

    Under the federal standard, boilers from 10 million Btu per hour heat input to 100 million Btu per hour heat input are more often categorized as “small boilers” [40 CFR Subpart Dc]. These small boilers are classified as such because they usually burn significantly lower NOx emitting fuels, like natural gas and propane and operate only to provide space heating or seasonal heating. These units operate very little during the warmer months and have very low actual annual NOx emissions. There is no reason to place new emissions standards designed for larger boilers on these low NOx emitting boilers.
    We urge the Department to conform its classification sizes to the federal regulations whereby all New York based units with a heat input capacity less than 100 million Btu per hour will be deemed “small” and thus exempt from emissions reduction requirements outlined in this rule.

  3. The Department should not codify specific dates for the submission of NOx RACT analyses and the installation of approved control equipment

    Sources which are required to meet these new emissions controls be will be required to submit to the Department by January 1, 2011 a Title V permit application which includes any new requirements needed to meet the new rules and submit an analysis of how the facility will comply. Control equipment or other emission reduction methods approved by the Department as must be installed and operating no later than July 1, 2012. We have concerns about this schedule.

    The establishment of January 1, 2011 as the submission date for NOx RACT analyses to be completed is unreasonable. The preparation of multi-element NOx RACT analyses is a time consuming and costly endeavor. Most owners would have only a few months at most to complete engineering design and specification, permitting, equipment procurement and delivery, construction, and performance testing.

    Many boilers will have to have LNB installed in order to achieve the NOx reductions required by this proposed rule. Given the fact that these rules have not been finalized it will be nearly impossible to have enough time to install the needed controls by July 2012.

    Therefore, we recommend that any NOx RACT analysis must be submitted to the Department within a reasonable time frame following the completion of a final rule and specify a date for installation and operation of control equipment no less than three years after EPA approval of the New York NOx RACT rule.

For the reasons discussed herein, we appeal to the Department to allow some time for other clean air programs to work and for facilities that are already making efforts to reduce their NOx emissions the ability to do so without further regulatory requirements. We ask that the Department classify all boilers with a heat capacity under 100 million Btu hour as “small.”  Finally, we ask that the Department not codify specific dates for the submission of NOx RACT analyses and the installation of approved control equipment.

The Business Council thanks you for the opportunity to submit these comments. We would also like to offer a hand in working with the Department more closely in the future as air rules such as this are being considered and drafted. The Business Council is the state's largest statewide employer advocate, representing more than 3,000 private sector employers across New York. Our membership includes more than 1,100 manufacturers and numerous electric generating facilities all of whose business operations directly are impacted by the state’s air permitting programs.

We encourage the Department to use the Business Council and its members as a resource for developing sound regulatory policy.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss these issues further. We look forward to working with you and your staff as the Department finalizes its NOx RACT rulemaking.

Sincerely,