Public Comment Form

Commenting open: October 25, 2023 12:00AM PT - November 29, 2023 11:59PM PT.

Partial Withdrawal of 2019 State Implementation Plan Revision

Ecology is seeking public comments about an action we intend to take with respect to startup, shutdown, and malfunction (SSM) regulations in the Washington State Implementation Plan (SIP). On June 15, 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to approve a 2019 SIP revision that Ecology submitted to address the EPA’s 2015 “SIP call” for exemptions to SSM-related emission exceedances (hereinafter the “2019 SSM SIP Revision”). As of October 25, 2023, the EPA has not taken final action on Ecology’s 2019 SSM SIP Revision.

Ecology is proposing to withdraw WAC 173-400-040 and three corollaries thereto from the 2019 SSM SIP Revision based on comments that EPA received about reporting requirements for Alternative Emission Limitations (AELs). The AELs in WAC 173-400-040 apply to visible emissions from lime kilns during refractory curing and hog fuel and wood-fired boilers during soot blowing, grate cleaning, and planned startups and shutdowns. Ecology needs additional time to work with EPA to ensure that AELs submitted for approval in the SIP are practically enforceable and otherwise consistent with reporting requirements of the federal Clean Air Act (CAA). Because the same AELs in WAC 173-400-040 are cited in three other subsections of the 2019 SSM SIP Revision, we are also proposing to withdraw WAC 173-405-040(6)(b), WAC 173-410-040(3)(b), and WAC 173-415-030(3)(b), which apply to kraft pulping mills, sulfite pulping mills, and primary aluminum plants, respectively.

Withdrawing WAC 173-400-040 and its corollaries from the 2019 SSM SIP Revision will not directly affect existing state or local regulations, nor will it change any other provision in the 2019 SSM SIP Revision. The main effect of withdrawing WAC 173-400-040 and its corollaries from the 2019 SSM SIP Revision is that the AELs in WAC 173-400-040 will not be federally enforceable, even if those AELs are valid at the state and local level. The relevant provisions of WAC 173-400-040 that are currently in the SIP, which EPA approved on October 6, 2016, will remain in effect under the SIP until EPA approves changes related to WAC 173-400-040 in a later SIP action. Ecology intends to work expeditiously with EPA and affected stakeholders to resolve emerging concerns about reporting requirements and ensure the SIP reflects up-to-date state and local air quality rules.

The SIP is a collection of state and local regulations that shows how the state will attain, maintain, and enforce National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) and other requirements of the CAA. To update state and local regulations in the SIP, Ecology submits SIP revisions to EPA for approval. EPA approval of SIP revisions outlines which regulations are enforceable in federal court under the Citizen Suit provision of the CAA. 

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