Skip to main content
Environmental Management Assistance Program
877-ask-emap

Author: Jeremy

EPA Issues Final Reconsideration of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter (PM)

On February 7, 2024, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) introduced a final rule that tightens the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for fine particle pollution, also known as PM2.5 or soot.

EPA is setting a new benchmark for the annual PM2.5 standard at 9.0 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3) based on the latest scientific findings regarding the health effects associated with particle pollution.

In simple terms, fine particles (PM2.5), measuring 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter, can come from various sources such as vehicles, smokestacks, fires, and reactions in the atmosphere from power plants and engines. Additionally, there are larger particles (PM10), with diameters ranging from 2.5 to 10 micrometers, originating from road dust, construction, industrial processes, and more.

EPA’s analysis of particle pollution involves research on air pollution controls, considering the cost, emissions changes, and other impacts. However, it’s important to note that the EPA recognizes certain limitations and uncertainties in their findings.

For instance, EPA faces challenges in accounting for regional or local variations in capital and annual cost components like energy, labor, or materials. Control efficiency estimates assume perfect installation and maintenance, not accounting for potential discrepancies in individual applications. The use of a uniform value for each control may lead to operational disparities, and reflecting the scale of control application variability for small area sources of emissions proves difficult.

As air quality standards evolve, there may be changes that impact your small operations. We recommend staying tuned for updates and, if needed, consider reaching out to the Environmental Management Assistance Program (EMAP) for guidance on navigating these changes.

At EMAP, we are committed to supporting small businesses in Pennsylvania through changes in environmental regulations and air quality issues. Please feel free to contact EMAP if you have any questions or need assistance in adapting to these evolving standards.

EPA’s Final Rule for Oil and Natural Gas Operations: Webinar Training for Small Business & Industry

On December 2, 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a final rule that will sharply reduce methane and other harmful air pollutants from the oil and natural gas industry, including from hundreds of thousands of existing sources nationwide. EPA is hosting several webinars on different aspects of the final rule.

All webinars are free and open to the public; however, they will be focused providing information for specific audiences including communities/environmental justice stakeholders, Tribes, and small businesses. These events will be held using Zoom, and a toll-free call-in number will be available.

To learn more about this rule and the training, please visit this link:  https://www.epa.gov/controlling-air-pollution-oil-and-natural-gas-operations/epas-final-rule-oil-and-natural-gas.

Overview Training Webinars – February 27-29, 2024

These webinars will provide overviews of the final rule. Note: all times are listed in Eastern time. Please adjust for your time zone as needed. Registration is required.:
  • Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024: 2:30 to 5 p.m. for small business and industryRegister here 
  • Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024: 2:30 to 5 p.m. for Tribes and Tribal environmental professionals. Register here
  • Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024: 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. for communities. Register here

DEP Suspends Enforcement of Initial Annual Reports for Oil and Gas Operators in PA

In a recent announcement in the Pennsylvania Bulletin posted on January 27, 2024, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) declared the suspension of enforcement for the initial annual reports under 25 Pa. Code §§ 129.130(k)(1) and 129.140(k)(1), which pertain to recordkeeping and reporting for conventional and unconventional oil and natural gas sources.

The initial annual report submissions for owners and operators of conventional oil and natural gas sources, due on December 2, 2023, covered the time period from December 2, 2022, through December 31, 2022. Similarly, for owners and operators of unconventional oil and natural gas sources, the deadline was December 10, 2023, addressing the time period from December 10, 2022, through December 31, 2022.

DEP has decided to suspend enforcement of the initial annual report submissions until June 1, 2024, the deadline for the second report, which will encompass the entire 2023 calendar year.

It is crucial for oil and gas operators in Pennsylvania to note that while the Department is exercising enforcement discretion, this does not exempt them from the potential of legal challenges by third parties under 25 Pa. Code §§ 129.130(k)(1) and 129.140(k)(1). DEP aims to provide flexibility to operators during this period, but compliance with regulations remains important.

This notice is intended to be a helpful outreach to small oil and gas operators in Pennsylvania, facilitating awareness and understanding of the adjusted reporting timelines. Operators are encouraged to stay informed and prepared for the upcoming reporting obligations and are advised to check DEP’s official resources or EMAP’s Oil & Gas page for any further updates or changes.

Important Reminders for Pennsylvania Small Businesses: March 1st, 2024 Deadline for Environmental Compliance Reports

As we embark on the new year, small businesses in Pennsylvania are faced with a myriad of tasks to ensure smooth operations and growth. Amidst these responsibilities, it’s crucial not to overlook certain administrative duties, especially if your business is subject to environmental regulations. With the March 1st, 2024 deadline approaching, this news post serves as a friendly reminder for small businesses to submit their Air Emission Reports, State-Only Operating Permit annual reports, and Hazardous Waste Biennial Reports.  Let’s dive into why these reports matter and find ways to make the process easier with some helpful assistance.

Air Emission Statement (AES) Reports

Small businesses that are considered synthetic minors of air pollutant emissions must submit annual Air Emission Statement Reports, a requirement that helps regulatory agencies monitor and manage air quality standards. Timely submission by March 1st is vital for compliance and good operating practices. For assistance in navigating this process, consider reaching out to the Environmental Management Assistance Program (EMAP).

State-Only Operating Permit Annual Reports

If your business holds a State-Only Operating Permit issued by the Pennsylvania DEP Bureau of Air Quality, annual reports are due by March 1st, 2024. These reports detail your facility’s compliance with permit conditions and are instrumental in demonstrating environmental compliance. To make this process more manageable, don’t hesitate to contact EMAP for guidance and support.

Hazardous Waste Biennial Reports

Small businesses who generate hazardous waste over certain thresholds must submit the Hazardous Waste Biennial Reports every two years. These reports provide a comprehensive overview of waste generation and management practices. Submitting by March 1st, 2024 not only fulfills regulatory requirements but also helps maintain good operating practices and ensures environmental compliance. For additional assistance, EMAP is available to answer your queries.

Avoiding Costs of Noncompliance: A Small Business Imperative

Timely submission of these reports is not just about compliance; it’s about avoiding the costs associated with noncompliance. Penalties, fines, and legal repercussions can be significant deterrents to a business’s growth. By prioritizing compliance, small businesses can safeguard their financial interests and reputation.

EMAP Assistance: Navigating the Regulatory Landscape

Small businesses can benefit from the expertise and guidance provided by the Environmental Management Assistance Program (EMAP). This free and confidential technical assistance program offers valuable assistance in understanding and fulfilling environmental reporting obligations. By reaching out to EMAP, small businesses can enhance their compliance efforts and navigate the regulatory landscape with confidence.

Proactive Measures for Pennsylvania Small Businesses

As March 1st, 2024 approaches, Pennsylvania small businesses are encouraged to prioritize the submission of Air Emission Reports, State-Only Operating Permit annual reports, and Hazardous Waste Biennial Reports. By emphasizing good operating practices and seeking assistance from EMAP, small businesses not only meet regulatory obligations but also mitigate the risks and costs associated with noncompliance. Stay proactive, engage with available resources, and demonstrate your commitment to responsible and compliant business practices.

EPA Issues Final Rule on Oil and Gas Operations to Reduce Methane Emissions

On December 2nd, EPA issued a final rule to reduce methane emissions from oil and natural gas operations nationwide. This action includes New Source Performance Standards for new, modified, & reconstructed sources and includes Emission Guidelines for states to develop plans to limit methane from existing sources.

Rule Features Worth Noting

The rule allows for third-parties, who will be certified by EPA, to report “super emitter” events, or methane release events. Once the reports are received, EPA will perform QA/QC on the data.

In addition, the rule recognizes and encourages innovation in methane detection technologies including satellite monitoring, aerial surveys, and continuous monitors to find leaks. EPA noted that many of these technologies are often developed and deployed by small businesses.

This rule give states, including the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, two years to develop and submit plans to reduce methane from existing sources. The final emission guidelines will give existing sources 3 years to come into compliance.

Rule Benefits

The final rule targets methane, considered a climate “super pollutant”, and will reportedly avoid an estimated 58 million tons of methane emissions from 2024 to 2038 which will yield an estimated financial benefit of $97 to $98 billion dollars during the same time frame. These financial estimates will result from net climate and ozone health benefits due to costs of compliance and savings from recovered natural gas. Many oil and gas operations are located near high population communities.

Additional Information

EPA did a Regulatory Impact Analysis of this final rule which identifies the estimated number of small entities, or small businesses, that may be affected by the rule requirements and bear some costs to come into environmental compliance.

For more information on this final rule, please see the “Key Things to Know” fact sheet and the “Overview” fact sheet”.

2024 Dry Cleaner Compliance Calendar Now Available

The 2024 Dry Cleaner Compliance Calendar is now available for Pennsylvania dry cleaners. You can access a digital copy here or by visiting EMAP’s page for dry cleaners.

Hard copy versions are now available – simply contact EMAP for a print version of the calendar.

These environmental compliance calendars contain important record-keeping elements designed to assist Pennsylvania dry cleaners comply with state and federal regulations. It is important for dry cleaners to understand that the calendar, once properly filled out and completed, is an annual record of compliance and should be kept for a period of five (5) years.

In June 2023, EPA proposed to ban most uses of perc. Included in this ban, EPA plans to establish a 10-year phaseout for the use of perc in dry cleaning.  EMAP previously covered this proposed ban and the implications for small businesses.

EPA Proposes Ban on TCE: How it May Affect Small Businesses

In a significant move aimed at safeguarding public health and the environment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a ban on the use of trichloroethylene (TCE), a chemical solvent with known serious health risks, under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). While this proposal has wide-reaching implications, it particularly resonates with the small business community, given the various industries that use TCE in their operations.

Where TCE is Often Used:

Small businesses may use TCE in cleaning and degreasing (including spot cleaning, vapor degreasing, cold cleaning, and aerosol degreasing) substances, and if they manufacture refrigerants or use refrigerants. TCE is also used in paint and coat manufacturing, plastics material manufacturing, wood window and door manufacturing, pharmaceutical preparation, and printing machinery. Additionally, TCE is also found in consumer products such as typewriter correction fluids, paint removers, paint strippers, adhesives, spot removers, cleaning fluids for rugs, and metal cleaners.

The proposed ban on trichloroethylene (TCE), while primarily aimed at protecting public health and the environment, will have several potential effects on small businesses.

Transition to Safer Alternatives:

Small businesses that currently use TCE in their products or processes will need to transition to safer alternatives. While this transition may involve some initial costs, it is likely to lead to long-term benefits, as safer alternatives are generally associated with lower health and environmental risks. Small businesses should consider exploring these alternatives and assess their feasibility in their operations.

Compliance Costs:

Small businesses will need to ensure compliance with the proposed rule, which may require changes in their manufacturing processes, product formulations, or supply chains. These adjustments may come with associated costs, including investing in new equipment or materials, revising safety protocols, and retraining employees.

Worker Protections:

The proposed rule includes stringent worker protections for limited remaining commercial and industrial uses of TCE. Small businesses will need to invest in safety measures to protect their employees from potential TCE exposure. This may involve additional training, personal protective equipment, and equipment upgrades.

Phased Transition for Some Uses:

The proposal acknowledges that for certain limited uses of TCE, there will be a longer transition period. Thus, small businesses may have more time to adapt to alternative chemicals or processes. However, they will still need to comply with the worker protections outlined in the proposal.

Reduced Legal and Financial Risks:

By proactively adopting the ban and transitioning to safer alternatives, small businesses can reduce the risk of legal and financial liabilities associated with TCE exposure. This can protect them from potential lawsuits, fines, and reputational damage.

Environmental and Health Benefits:

The proposed ban aims to reduce the adverse health effects and environmental contamination caused by TCE. Small businesses located in areas with historical TCE contamination can benefit from a cleaner and healthier environment, potentially improving the quality of life for their employees and the surrounding community.

Awareness of Health Risks:

The proposed ban raises awareness about the health risks associated with TCE, which can benefit small businesses by encouraging them to prioritize the safety of their employees and customers. Implementing safer practices can enhance the reputation of a business and improve relationships with stakeholders and the local community.

Public Comments and Engagement:

Small businesses have the opportunity to provide feedback during the public comment period, enabling them to express concerns or suggest adjustments to the proposed rule. This engagement can help shape the final regulations and ensure that the unique challenges faced by small businesses are considered.

Topics of interest to small businesses, in which EPA is requesting comments on as noted in the federal register notice, are the following:

  • EPA requests public comment on reasonable compliance timeframes for small businesses, specifically on whether and how to provide longer compliance timeframes for transitioning to alternatives for uses requiring reformulation and cleaning processes for cleaning parts for national defense or cleaning medical devices.
  • EPA requests public comment on differing compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that account for the resources available to small entities.
  • EPA requests public comment on the feasibility of use of alternatives to TCE and their availability for conditions of use that drive the unreasonable risk.
  • EPA requests public comment on how the rulemaking should consider TCE alternatives in light of ongoing regulatory scrutiny.
For those small businesses interested in voicing their opinions on this proposal, the EPA will accept public comments on or before November 30, 2023.

Pennsylvania Unveils PAyback.pa.gov

Pennsylvania has launched PAyback.pa.gov, a digital platform designed to provide clarity and transparency on permit, license, or certification application fees. This tool allows small businesses to assess their eligibility for refunds and, if qualified, submit formal refund requests.

PAyback.pa.gov distinguishes itself by presenting detailed processing times for each application, offering Pennsylvania workers and businesses a benchmark for expectations. In cases where applications exceed the stipulated processing time-frame, businesses automatically qualify to initiate a serious request for a refund, reinforcing the commitment to accountability.

For small businesses in Pennsylvania, this digital system aims to minimize challenges associated with permit applications. The ability to monitor processing times provides businesses with control and predictability, while the streamlined refund process acts as a financial safeguard, alleviating unnecessary expenses in instances of delayed processing.

To leverage PAyback.pa.gov, businesses can navigate to the website, assess eligibility based on processing time standards, and, if eligible, submit a formal refund request through the purposeful user interface. This initiative reflects Pennsylvania’s commitment to fostering a business environment characterized by transparency and accountability.

Small businesses are encouraged to explore the benefits of this platform, utilizing it as a resource for a more controlled and accountable application process.

EMAP Newsletter – Fall 2023 Edition

The Fall 2023 edition of the EMAP Newsletter, the First Stop, is now available for print, download, and sharing.  Included is information on funding programs, opportunities for public comment, a small business success story, and a Q&A guide to submitting electronic RFDs.
   

How EPA’s MM2A Proposed Rule Could Impact Small Businesses

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is constantly working to safeguard public health and promote transparency and accountability in environmental regulations. In a recent proposed rule, the EPA aims to amend Clean Air Act rules, a change that may significantly affect small businesses across the nation.

Proposed Rule Overview

On September 27, 2023, the EPA introduced a proposed rule, known as the Reclassification of Major Sources as Area Sources Under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act (MM2A). The primary goal of this proposal is to enhance public health protections by setting new requirements for major sources of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) that choose to reclassify themselves as area sources under the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) program.

Major sources are those that emit or have the potential to emit 10 tons per year (tpy) or more of a single HAP or 25 tpy or more of a combination of HAP. In contrast, area sources emit HAP below these specified thresholds.

Key Provisions of the Proposed Rule

  1. Federally Enforceable Permit Conditions: One of the central provisions of the proposed rule is that it would require sources reclassifying from major to area sources to establish federally enforceable permit conditions. These conditions would serve as safeguards to prevent emission increases above the levels allowed by the major source NESHAP that the source was subject to before reclassification.
  2. Applicability: The proposed rule would apply to all sources choosing to reclassify, including those that have reclassified since January 25, 2018.
  3. Effective Date: Reclassification would only become effective after a permit containing the federally enforceable conditions has been issued and the EPA has been notified. Additionally, the proposed rule clarifies reporting requirements and updates information regarding the submission of confidential business information.

Background and Context

To better understand the significance of this proposed rule, it’s important to consider its background and context:
  • Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs): These are pollutants known or suspected to cause serious health effects, including cancer and reproductive issues. The EPA, in collaboration with state, local, and tribal governments, seeks to reduce emissions of 188 identified toxic air pollutants.
  • Clean Air Act (CAA): Section 112 of the Clean Air Act establishes the regulatory framework for controlling HAP emissions. Major sources are generally subject to stringent NESHAP regulations, while area sources may have less stringent standards.
  • Once in Always In Policy: Historically, a policy known as “Once in Always In” required facilities that were major sources of HAP on the first significant compliance date of a major source NESHAP to comply permanently with that standard. This created disincentives for major sources to reduce emissions.
  • Policy Changes: In response to Executive Orders and public feedback, the EPA withdrew the “Once in Always In” Policy and issued guidance on reclassification of major sources as area sources in January 2018.

Impact on Small Businesses

So, how does this proposed rule affect small businesses? Here are some potential implications:
  1. Compliance Costs: Small businesses that choose to reclassify may face additional costs associated with establishing federally enforceable permit conditions. These compliance costs could potentially strain the resources of smaller enterprises.
  2. Environmental Benefits: On the positive side, the proposed rule may encourage major sources, including some small businesses, to evaluate their operations and consider changes to reduce HAP emissions. This could lead to improved environmental outcomes.
  3. Regulatory Clarity: The proposed rule aims to clarify regulatory requirements, which could benefit small businesses by providing clearer guidelines and reducing regulatory uncertainty.

Conclusion

The EPA’s proposed rule for reclassifying major sources as area sources under the Clean Air Act has the potential to impact small businesses in various ways. While it introduces new compliance requirements, it also encourages emission reduction efforts, which can contribute to a cleaner environment. Small businesses should closely monitor this proposal and provide feedback during the public comment period to ensure their concerns and perspectives are considered as the rule moves forward.

Comments must be received on or before November 13, 2023.

Pennsylvania Agriculture Energy Efficiency Rebate Program Now Accepting Applications

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is now accepting applications for the Agriculture Energy Efficiency Rebate Program, which provides funding to agricultural producers to help them purchase energy-efficient equipment.

The program offers rebates for the purchase of LED lighting systems, efficient ventilation equipment, and efficient milk pumping and cooling equipment. Rebates are also available for installation costs.

The maximum rebate is $7,500 per technology category, up to 50% of the equipment purchase costs.

To be eligible for the program, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a Pennsylvania agricultural producer
  • Own or lease a farm in Pennsylvania
  • Install the eligible equipment on a Pennsylvania farm

Applications are being accepted on a first-come, first-served basis until December 31, 2023. Approved applicants will be issued a voucher, which they can then use to purchase the eligible equipment. Once the equipment is installed, the applicant can submit a payment request form with required documentation to the DEP to receive the rebate moneys.

For more information, visit the Pennsylvania Agriculture Energy Efficiency Rebate Program website.

Metaltech Success Story: Two for One Permitting Assistance

Tony Zaffuto founded Metaltech in 1989 to make parts for the automotive industry. The small business out of DuBois, PA, takes powdered metal and through the magic of manufacturing, turn it into high quality gears, spacers, structural parts, and more. Recently, Metaltech, Inc. became involved with a start-up battery company for the renewable energy sector, jointly developing several components for prototype testing. To produce the components, Metaltech, Inc. needed to purchase and install a new oven.

Being an experienced small business owner, with a long-standing air permit, Tony knew he needed approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) before purchasing and installing a new oven. Working with his local DEP office, he was provided an explanation of what forms DEP needed to approve for installation of the new oven. Unfortunately, the terminology and abbreviations used within the forms were confusing and Tony knew he needed additional help.

Seeking Air Quality Assistance

Metaltech is a small company with 38 employees and none of them are full-time environmental professionals. The length of the required application was intimidating, and Tony did not want to answer the questions incorrectly. The DEP staff recommended he reach out to the Small Business Development Center’s Environmental Management Assistance Program (EMAP) for free and confidential air quality assistance.

Charles (Chuck) Haney, an EMAP consultant out of the Shippensburg University SBDC, began working with Metaltech was able to phrase the application questions in a way that made sense to someone outside the environmental field. Tony knows his business inside and out and as soon as Tony understood what was being asked, the answers came immediately. In no time the application was submitted and Metaltech received the DEP’s permission to install a new oven.

Air Quality Permit Renewal

Metaltech’s environmental needs didn’t end there. While they were asking for permission to install the new oven, their air permit became due for renewal. Tony and Chuck from EMAP were able to immediately start on the renewal application. Once again, Tony had all the information and was able to provide the information needed with some guidance from EMAP. The renewal was submitted to the DEP and is pending approval.

The information needed to get the DEP’s approval for the new oven and air permit renewal was at Tony’s fingertips. However, he admits that he “would have struggled with the application. There was a half-dozen or so points we would have missed.” A guiding hand from the Chuck and EMAP helped everything go very smoothly.

DEP Interim Final Environmental Justice Policy

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced an Interim Final Environmental Justice Policy to enhance permit application reviews and outreach in environmental justice areas across the Commonwealth. In addition, DEP introduced the advanced PennEnviroScreen mapping tool. This tool redefines environmental justice areas using 32 indicators related to environment, health, and socioeconomic factors.

Key highlights include the classification of projects into two categories: Public Participation Trigger Projects and Public Participation Opt-In Projects.

Covered Projects

Permit applications requiring enhanced public participation include NPDES industrial wastewater facilities, new major sources of air pollutants, waste permits for disposal facilities, mining permits, individual land application permits, and certain Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.

Projects that may qualify for enhanced Opt-In status include plan approvals for significant air pollution sources, resource recovery facilities, sludge processing sites, large sewage treatment plants, transfer stations, recycling facilities, scrap metal facilities, landfills, medical waste incinerators, underground injection wells tied to Oil and Gas development, and other projects as determined by the community.

Starting September 16, the PennEnviroScreen tool becomes essential for permit applications. Small businesses and communities will be empowered to make informed decisions about environmental considerations.

Opportunity for Public Comment

DEP has stated that the Interim Final EJ Policy will come into effect as soon as it’s published in the PA Bulletin on September 16. This publication will kickstart a formal public comment period that runs until October 29.

Public comments can be made through DEP’s eComment portal once available.

The policy also empowers community members and DEP staff to request Enhanced Public Participation for projects not covered under Public Participation Trigger Projects. The PennEnviroScreen will guide these determinations, taking into account community concerns and environmental impacts.

Compliance & Enforcement

Furthermore, the policy outlines an Enforcement and Compliance Team to prioritize inspections and compliance actions in environmental justice areas. This initiative aims to ensure timely responses to violations, effective collaboration, and responsible enforcement.

Small businesses can learn more about environmental justice here.

Implications of the AERR Proposed Rule for Small Businesses

Running a small business comes with its own set of challenges and responsibilities, particularly when it comes to regulatory compliance. One such regulation that could potentially impact small businesses is the Air Emissions Reporting Requirements (AERR) proposed rule by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). While it might sound like a distant concern, it’s important for small business owners to grasp the potential complexities and implications of this rule.

The AERR Proposed Rule: What You Need to Know

The AERR proposed rule aims to tighten reporting requirements for businesses concerning their emissions of Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs). While the rule might seem complex, its essence can be understood quite simply. The EPA is looking to mandate that businesses, with a few possible exceptions, report each individual HAP emission that surpasses a specific threshold unique to that particular HAP. To illustrate this, let’s consider a couple of examples. For a substance like styrene, businesses would need to report any emissions exceeding 10 tons per year. On the other hand, substances like Chromium (VI) and Chromium Trioxide have a much lower reporting threshold – only emissions surpassing 0.24 lbs per year would need to be reported.

Varied Reporting Thresholds and Impacts

For common HAPs like toluene, the reporting threshold might align closely with that of styrene – meaning that emissions need to be substantial before reporting is required. However, this is not the case across the board. The disparity between reporting levels for substances like styrene and chromium highlights a significant aspect of the rule – certain businesses might now need to report emissions at extremely low levels. This represents a major shift for some small businesses that have never encountered such stringent requirements.

Challenges for Small Businesses

The implications for small businesses could be considerable. Many small businesses may find themselves in the position of having to report emissions for the first time. This could be due to the fact that their emission levels, which were previously considered negligible, now require reporting. This shift poses potential challenges, as some of these businesses might not have the necessary recordkeeping systems in place to facilitate the reporting process. It’s important to note that, in many cases, permits for these businesses might already require a certain level of recordkeeping, especially if they are subject to National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP). However, the enhanced reporting requirements of the AERR rule could demand a higher level of precision and documentation than what these businesses are accustomed to.

Navigating the Way Forward

Thankfully, the EPA is aware of the complexities these changes might introduce, especially for small businesses. In response, they are offering support through a series of webinars designed to provide businesses with a clear understanding of the AERR proposal and its potential impacts. These webinars could prove invaluable for small business owners seeking clarity on the new reporting requirements and how best to adapt to them.

In Summary

The AERR proposed rule might appear complex and distant, but its potential impact on small businesses should not be underestimated. As reporting thresholds for Hazardous Air Pollutant emissions tighten, businesses – both large and small – need to be prepared for the changes ahead. The EPA’s efforts to provide resources through webinars is a step in the right direction, offering businesses the guidance they need to navigate the shifting regulatory landscape. Small businesses should take advantage of these resources to ensure that they can adapt effectively to the new reporting requirements and continue to thrive in a compliant manner. To find out more about the AERR proposal and the upcoming webinars, visit the official EPA website: https://www.epa.gov/air-emissions-inventories/air-emissions-reporting-requirements-aerr. Comments on this proposed rule must be received on or before November 17, 2023.

EPA Proposes Rule to Lead-Based Paint Standards

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has put forward a proposal to enhance requirements for dealing with lead-based paint hazards in buildings constructed before 1978 and child-care facilities. This proposed rule aims to safeguard children and communities from the harmful effects of lead paint dust exposure.

Approximately 39,000 small businesses, including landlords, owners and operators of child-occupied facilities, residential remodelers, abatement firms, real estate agents, and brokers, would be directly affected by this rule.

The proposed rule seeks to strengthen EPA regulations under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) by revising two key standards:

  1. Dust-Lead Hazard Standards (DLHS): These standards identify hazardous lead levels in dust found on floors and windowsills.
      • The proposal intends to lower the DLHS from the current 10 micrograms per square foot (µg/ft2) for floors and 100 µg/ft2 for windowsills to any reportable level greater than zero. This change acknowledges that no level of lead in dust has been deemed safe for children.
  2. Dust-Lead Clearance Levels (DLCL): These levels indicate the maximum amount of lead allowed in dust on floors, window sills, and window troughs after lead removal activities.
    • The proposal aims to reduce the DLCL from 10 µg/ft2 to 3 µg/ft2 for floors, from 100 µg/ft2 to 20 µg/ft2 for windowsills, and from 400 µg/ft2 to 25 µg/ft2 for window troughs. These are considered the lowest dust-lead levels that the EPA believes can be reliably and effectively achieved after abatement activities.

To comply with this proposed rule, property owners, lead-based paint professionals, and government agencies will use DLHS to identify dust-lead hazards in residential and childcare facilities built before 1978. If any lead-based paint activities, like abatement, are carried out, individuals and firms must be certified and follow specific work practices set by EPA’s Lead-Based Paint Activities Program. After abatement, testing is required to ensure dust lead levels are below the DLCL before considering the abatement complete.

The EPA is inviting public comments on this proposal for 60 days via docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2023-0231 at www.regulations.gov.

Upcoming Lead-Based Paint Virtual Workshop

In October, the EPA and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) plan to conduct a virtual public workshop to gather stakeholder perspectives on specific topics related to low levels of lead in existing paint. This includes potential health effects, the relationship between lead-based paint and dust-lead, possible exposure pathways, and technologies for detecting, measuring, and characterizing low levels of lead in paint.

The EPA and HUD are also interested in any available information on lead-based paint characteristics and medical evidence related to low levels of lead in paint. The insights shared during the workshop will help inform their joint effort to revisit the federal definition of lead-based paint and revise it if needed.

For more information, check for updates on the Lead-Based Paint Virtual Workshop.

Comfy Cozy Cows: D&S Shavings Success Story

D&S Shavings, a Pennsylvania-based animal bedding company, faced environmental challenges related to air quality emissions. With assistance from EMAP and the SBDC, owner Dave Hicks successfully obtained the necessary permits and approvals for expanding his operations, ensuring compliance and sustainability for the business.

Animal Bedding Solutions

Established in 2006 and located in Mifflintown, PA, Juniata County, D&S Shavings produces quality animal bedding solutions for horses, livestock, and outdoor pets. Owner and operator, Dave Hicks, was referred to the Environmental Management Assistance Program (EMAP) and the Bucknell University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in 2016 by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) due to air quality emissions as a result of the small business operation.

Expansion Plans

Dave was looking to install a second log shaving and dryer process line to his already existing process line. Based on equipment size, it was determined that D&S Shavings needed to submit a Plan Approval application for the existing and new process line, as well as an environmental air quality application for a State Only Operating Permit (SOOP), once the equipment was fully operational. Thus, EMAP conducted an onsite assessment and assisted Dave with the preparation, completion, and submission of the Plan Approval which also included emission calculations and a review into Best Available Technology (BAT).

Permission Granted

The Plan Approval was submitted to DEP in March 2016 and approved in July 2016. The Plan Approval allowed a 180-day shakedown period. Since D&S Shavings needed more time to get the new process line installed and operational, EMAP assisted with preparing a Plan Approval extension application. Once both process lines were fully operational, EMAP assisted Dave with preparing and submitting a natural minor State Only Operating Permit application package to DEP in August 2017. Dave received the final SOOP on October 24, 2017. The permit was issued for a five (5) year period expiring October 31, 2022. In 2022, EMAP assisted in preparing the operating permit renewal application. The renewal was submitted to DEP March 16, 2022. The new SOOP was issued to D & S Shavings on September 19, 2022 for another five-year period.

Reflecting Back

“I certainly could not have done the permit applications without EMAP’s assistance. I am eternally grateful to both Lee Ann and Carrie of EMAP. You have been professional, timely, and very knowledgeable!” – Dave Hicks, D&S Shavings

Funding Opportunity for Small Businesses: Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant (AFIG) Program

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), through its Energy Programs Office, has announced an exciting funding opportunity for small businesses in Pennsylvania. The Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant (AFIG) Program aims to improve air quality, reduce reliance on imported oil, and promote the use of homegrown alternative fuels. This program not only benefits the economy but also aligns with the greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals outlined in the 2021 Pennsylvania Climate Action Plan.

Funding Categories:

Approximately $3 million in grants will be available through the AFIG Program to support various initiatives related to alternative fuel transportation. Small businesses, as well as school districts, municipal authorities, political subdivisions, nonprofit entities, and corporations registered in Pennsylvania, are eligible to apply for funding under the following categories:
  1. Retrofitting Vehicles: Grants will cover incremental costs associated with retrofitting vehicles to operate on alternative fuels, promoting cleaner transportation options.
  2. Purchasing Alternative Fuel Vehicles: Funding can be utilized to offset incremental costs for purchasing new alternative fuel vehicles, encouraging the adoption of advanced vehicle technologies.
  3. Refueling Equipment: Grants will cover the cost of purchasing and installing refueling equipment that services alternative fuel vehicles, facilitating the growth of refueling infrastructure.
  4. Research and Development: Funding is available for research, training, development, and demonstration projects focused on new applications or next-phase technology related to alternative fuel vehicles, promoting innovation in the sector.

Priority Areas for 2023:

The AFIG Program gives priority to specific projects and entities for the 2023 funding cycle. The following areas will receive special attention:
  • Zero Emission Vehicle Projects: Initiatives that promote the use of zero-emission vehicles, such as electric vehicles, will be prioritized.
  • Renewable Natural Gas Vehicle and Infrastructure Projects: Funding will support projects related to renewable natural gas vehicle adoption and the development of associated infrastructure.
  • Medium-Duty and Light-Duty Fleet Refueling Infrastructure Projects: Emphasis will be placed on projects that focus on refueling infrastructure for medium-duty fleets (class 3-6 vehicles) and light-duty fleets (class 1-2 vehicles).
  • Environmental Justice Areas: Projects located in or predominantly serving environmental justice areas will receive priority attention. Environmental justice areas are communities disproportionately affected by environmental challenges.
  • Minority, Veteran, or Woman-Owned Businesses: Applications from minority-owned, veteran-owned, or woman-owned businesses will be given special consideration.

Application Process and Timeline:

Small businesses interested in applying for the AFIG Program can access the program guidelines and application instructions on the Department’s AFIG website. Applications must be submitted online through the Commonwealth’s eGrants system. The application period opens on June 30, 2023, and the Department will collect and review applications received by specific deadlines:
  • First Deadline: 11:59 p.m. on Friday, August 25, 2023.
  • Second Deadline: 4 p.m. on Friday, December 15, 2023.
Please note that hard copy applications will not be accepted.

Opportunities for Small Businesses:

The Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant (AFIG) Program presents a significant opportunity for small businesses in Pennsylvania to access funding for projects related to alternative fuel transportation. By incentivizing the use of alternative fuels, this program supports the state’s goals of improving air quality, reducing reliance on imported oil, and advancing the Pennsylvania Climate Action Plan. Small businesses can explore the available funding categories and align their initiatives with the priority areas for 2023. By participating in the AFIG Program, small businesses can contribute to a cleaner environment while enjoying the benefits of innovation and financial support.

EPA Proposes Ban on Perchloroethylene: Implications for Small Businesses

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced a significant action under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) with a proposed ban on perchloroethylene. The proposed ban on most uses of perchloroethylene (PCE), a chemical known to pose serious health risks, aims to protect individuals from neurotoxicity and cancer. While consumer uses of PCE would be banned, many industrial and commercial uses would continue under stringent workplace controls. In this post, we will explore the implications of this proposed ban for small businesses, particularly those in the dry cleaning industry.

Protecting Public Health:

The EPA’s proposal reflects the recognition of the dangers associated with PCE exposure. By banning consumer uses and implementing strict workplace controls, the EPA aims to minimize the health risks posed by this chemical. The proposed ban considers the health and safety of workers, occupational non-users, consumers, and communities near facilities utilizing PCE.

Impact on Small Businesses:

The proposed ban on PCE usage will have a significant impact on small businesses, particularly those operating in the dry cleaning industry. Dry cleaners, many of which are small businesses, have traditionally relied on PCE as a solvent in their operations. However, the 10-year phaseout period provided in the proposal allows these businesses some time to consider a transition to alternative processes.

Economic Analysis

EPA estimates that 6,000 dry cleaners still use PCE, a majority of which are small businesses. It is still unclear as to the impact of a prohibition of PCE for dry cleaning through a gradual phaseout. EPA has not been able to reliably estimate the number of dry cleaning facility closures that may be associated with this phaseout. However, after the results of an economic analysis, EPA expects some closures because EPA estimates that only about 60 PCE machines are expected to be in use at the end of the proposed phaseout period given the age of the machines and the declining trend of use.

EPA believes that almost no new PCE machines have been brought into service in recent years and therefore most existing dry cleaning machines using PCE are old and will no longer be in service by the proposed phaseout date. 

EPA requests comment on these estimated impacts to the dry cleaning industry, including regarding expected closures. In addition to dry cleaners, additional users of PCE (such as in vapor degreasing) could be strongly impacted because they may have no economical alternative to the use of PCE.

Transitioning to TSCA Compliant Practices:

Small businesses, including dry cleaners, may face economic challenges during the transition away from PCE. To mitigate these impacts, President Biden’s Fiscal Year 2024 budget request includes funding for pollution prevention grants. These grants aim to support small businesses in adopting TSCA compliant practices and facilitate the shift away from PCE usage. Dry cleaners can explore these grant opportunities to aid in their transition and ensure compliance with the proposed regulations.

Feasibility and Efficacy of Worker Protections:

The EPA encourages stakeholders to provide input on the proposed rule, especially regarding the feasibility and efficacy of the worker protection requirements. Small businesses and other entities affected by the proposed workplace chemical protection program can contribute their perspectives on the implementation process and the timeline for phasing out PCE usage in dry cleaning operations. The EPA will host a public webinar in the coming weeks, providing an opportunity for employers, workers, and interested parties to learn more about the proposed regulations and engage in discussions.

Providing Comments on the Proposal

EPA will accept public comments on the proposed rule for PCE for 60 days, or until August 15th, which can be done in the Federal Register via docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2020-072.  Pennsylvania small businesses can also speak with a member of the EMAP team if so desired.

How to Check Local Air Quality Conditions in Pennsylvania

Residents and small businesses of Pennsylvania have likely heard about air quality action days where the Air Quality Index (AQI) gets into unhealthy ranges. When this happens, groups that are sensitive to air pollution should reduce exposure by reducing prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors.

Did you know that you can check your local air quality conditions at AirNow.gov?  Operated by EPA with input from Pennsylvania DEP’s Air Quality Monitoring Division, AirNow relies on air quality sensors that are located in Pennsylvania to deliver real-time data for ozone and PM2.5.

Small businesses can use a tool such as AirNow as a way to manage their operations so that staff and employees are protected from potentially unsafe air quality conditions. During air quality action days, small businesses can do their part in reducing the production of fine particulate matter by limiting burning & incineration operations and minimizing the use of gasoline or diesel power vehicles and equipment.

EMAP participates in Small Business Resource Fair in Darlington Township, PA

On May 17th, a Small Business Resource Fair was held in Darlington Township, Beaver County, Pennsylvania, organized by the Shapiro Administration. The purpose of the event was to provide small businesses, farmers, and residents with information and resources to aid in the community’s recovery from the Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. During the event, Lee Ann Briggs, an EMAP Environmental Consultant, highlighted the free and confidential small business environmental consulting services offered by EMAP. Attendees were also informed about the services provided by the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs). Prominent individuals present at the Small Business Resource Fair included Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro, Acting Secretary Richard Negrin from the Pennsylvania DEP, Russell Redding from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Angel Marschik (Deputy District Director) from the SBA Pittsburgh District Office, and Samantha Harmon (Pennsylvania DEP Small Business Ombudsman).  
Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shaprio greets attendees at the Small Business Resource Fair.
Angel Marschik, Deputy District Director at SBA Pittsburgh District Office (left) with Lee Ann Briggs, EMAP Environmental Consultant (right)
Acting Secretary Richard Negrin, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (left) and Samantha Harmon, Pennsylvania DEP Small Business Ombudsman (right)

Success Story: Aspen Hill Pet Cemetery and Crematory

Aspen Hill Pet Cemetery and Crematory in Hermitage, PA, was founded in 2017 to provide affordable pet cremation and burial services. Kacy Garlock, the owner, sought assistance from the Duquesne University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in 2016 to start her business.

Kacy recognized the need for affordable pet cremation services in her community, especially for elderly individuals facing financial hardships. After witnessing clients struggle to pay cremation bills, she decided to establish Aspen Hill Pet Cemetery and Crematory in 2017.

In May 2020, Kacy was referred to the Environmental Management Assistance Program (EMAP) by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to install a small incinerator for pet cremation. DEP advised her to submit a Request for Determination (RFD) application to determine if an operating permit would be required. EMAP assisted Kacy with preparing the RFD and emission calculations.

DEP determined that a Plan Approval Application and a minor source State Only Operating Permit were necessary to operate the incinerator. EMAP helped Kacy prepare and submit the Plan Approval and Operating permit applications, along with other required documents.

The Plan Approval application was submitted to DEP in August 2020 and approved in January 2021. Kacy and EMAP then submitted the minor source State Only Operating Permit application package to DEP. Aspen Hill was allowed to operate under the DEP’s “permit-shield” provision until the final Operating Permit was issued. Kacy received her final Operating Permit on February 23, 2022, valid for five years.

Kacy expressed her gratitude for EMAP’s assistance stating “EMAP and Lee Ann were invaluable when it came time for me to navigate the minefield of paperwork, regulations, documentations, and leg work of acquiring a permit. Unfortunately, there is no “how to” manual for owning and running a small business, but with amazing resources like EMAP and the SBDC there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

 

Public Comment Period for Ethylene Oxide Emission Standards

EPA is proposing amendments to the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for the Ethylene Oxide (EtO) Commercial Sterilization Facilities source category.  EPA’s proposed rule would regulate parts of a commercial sterilizer facility that have not been regulated previously. This includes more stringent controls for sources of EtO emissions that currently regulated and would require facilities to continuously monitor air pollution control equipment and conduct performance testing.

Commercial sterilization facilities play a vital role in maintaining an adequate supply of medical devices.  EPA has identified 86 facilities that are in current operation with 20 of these facilities being recognized as a small business.

Comments must be received on or before June 27, 2023.  In addition, EPA will hold virtual public hearings on May 2 and May 3, 2023.

GPS Metals Selected for 2023 Small Business Environmental Stewardship Award

GPS Metals, a small wholesale processor and broker of non-ferrous scrap metals from McKeesport, Pennsylvania, received the 2023 Small Business Environmental Stewardship Award.  This award showcases the accomplishments of a small business in the areas of improving environmental performance, pollution prevention, sustainability, and mentoring.

“With EMAP’s help we were able to preserve 7 full-time, good paying jobs with benefits, and continue to contribute to the community by recycling metal products in a responsible manner.”

GPS Metals worked with EMAP to obtain the necessary air quality permits from the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD), eliminate fugitive emissions from their wire chopping operation, then made modifications to eliminate and prevent stormwater runoff, and improved indoor air quality for their employees.  In addition, GPS Metals reclaims over 2,400 tons of metallic material annually which diverts this waste from going to a landfill.

Keith Schultz of GPS Metals had this to say about the award:

“Lee Ann Briggs from the University of Pittsburgh, SBDC, made an overwhelmingly complicated process reasonably simple to complete with her help.  She helped us navigate the permitting process with the ACHD, and made recommended best practices to be in, and maintain compliance with, DEP and ACHD regulations.  She made multiple site visits to monitor our progress and amend applications as necessary.  Without her help we would have had to expend much more time and effort to understand and navigate the process as we upgraded our dust control systems.  Invaluable asset to the process.  The fact that she nominated us for an award for our shared efforts was just a bonus validation for the steps we took.”

GPS Metals with their 2023 SBEAP Award. Pictured are Tim Nickerson (left), Keith Schultz (middle), and Kyle Schultz (right).

Extension for Medium and Heavy Duty Zero-Emission Vehicles Grant Program

The deadline for grant applications in the Driving PA Forward Initiative’s Medium and Heavy-Duty Zero-Emission Vehicle Fleet Pilot Grant Program has been extended by DEP. Instead of March 1, the new deadline is March 31, 2023.

The main goal of the program is to swap out old diesel vehicles with new zero-emission vehicles. This initiative aims to reduce air pollution and enhance air quality in Pennsylvania. Local freight trucks in the Class 4-8 range, manufactured between 1992 and 2009, and primarily operating within Pennsylvania, are eligible for replacement. The replacement vehicles must be new zero-emission trucks that belong to the same class and serve a similar purpose.

To learn more, visit the Driving PA Forward MHD-ZEV Fleet webpage.

Agriculture Energy Efficiency Rebate Program Deadline Extension

DEP announced the extension of the Agriculture Energy Efficiency Rebate Program which provides funding to eligible agricultural producers for agricultural energy efficiency projects in Pennsylvania. The program provides rebates to assist agricultural producers with the purchase of light emitting diode (LED) lighting systems, efficient ventilation equipment and efficient milk pumping and cooling equipment. The application deadline is being extended from March 31, 2023, to June 30, 2023.

Revised General Permit for Small Combustion Units

Pennsylvania DEP revised the General Plan Approval and/or General Operating Permit, commonly known as the GPA/GP-1, for Natural Gas and and No. 2 Oil Fired Small Combustion Units. The issuance of the new permit took effect upon publication of the January 28, 2023 version of the Pennsylvania Bulletin. The primary change of the GPA/GP-1 was to increase the size or rated capacity of the combustion units covered by the general permit from 50 million Btu per hour to 100 million Btu per hour.  This new rated capacity of 100 million Btu/hr widens the size range of small combustion units allowed for GPA/GP-1 applications and helps modernize the emissions acceptable under the permitting process. Small business can find copies of the new GP-1 general permit applications, instructions, and additional information here.

EPA Issues Final Risk Evaluation for TCE

EPA has found that trichloroethylene (TCE) poses and unreasonable risk to human health and the environment. The next step is for EPA to develop a risk management rulemaking to identify and require an implementation of measures to manage these risks.

Next steps on TCE

EPA plans to soon take public comments on risk management actions as they may propose regulations which could prohibit or limit the manufacturing, processing, distribution, use in commercial operations, and disposal of TCE as applicable. Stay tuned for more information.  Small businesses can review EPA’s Final Risk Evaluation for TCE or signup to get email alerts via EPA’s Toxic Substances Control Act page.  

Air Emission Inventory Reports due March 1, 2023

Small business facilities that are required to submit annual air emissions inventory reports, often referred to as AIMS, need to do so by March 1, 2023.  Those small business facilities that asked to report are often classified as Synthetic Minor facilities of air emissions.

How to Report

Paper reporting for Air Emission Statement (AES) reports has been discontinued.  Thus, reporting is done through AES Online which one needs to have an account with DEP’s GreenPort to access. Facilities in Allegheny County no longer report their annual emissions using GreenPort as these facilities should now use Allegheny County Health Department’s (ACHD) Regulated Entities Portal (REP).

Reporting Assistance

Pennsylvania DEP has created a booklet of Instructions for Submitting the Air Quality Emission Inventory Reports.  In addition, DEP has available an Introductory/Presentation and a Training/FAQ page to help answer questions. Small businesses in Pennsylvania can also contact EMAP for technical assistance.

Residual Waste Biennial Report due March 1, 2023

Any Pennsylvania small businesses that generated more than 13 tons of residual waste in calendar year 2022 is required to submit the residual waste biennial report by March 1, 2023.

What is “residual waste”?

In Pennsylvania, residual waste is considered any type of waste that is not otherwise considered hazardous or municipal waste.  Examples of residual waste include contaminated soil, rubber, glass, industrial equipment, filters, excess grindings and shavings, etc.  To help address further questions please see EMAP’s Residual Waste Brochure.

How to submit the Residual Waste Biennial Report

This year, it is being highly encouraged for those who need to submit the report to do so electronically through GreenPort. Small businesses who need to file the residual waste biennial report can access paper copies of the Generator’s Residual Waste Biennial Report for 2022 along with the Instructions Packet by visiting Pennsylvania DEP’s site for the Residual Waste Biennial Report.

Compliance Checklist for Radiation-Producing Machines

EMAP has created a Radiation-Producing Machines Compliance Checklist intended for small offices and small business owners in Pennsylvania who possess, provide services, or needs to register a radiation-producing machine.  The checklist is intended to help these small businesses to comply with registration requirements in the Pennsylvania Code Chapter 216.

Level 2 Electric Vehicle Charging Rebates Available

Availability of Funding

Under the Driving PA Forward program, for-profit small businesses may be eligible for rebates that install Level 2 electric vehicle charging equipment.  The application period is currently open until funding runs out.

Eligibility

Eligible applicants include businesses that are legally incorporated in or registered to do business in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Eligible locations include publicly accessible non-government owned property and workplace property where the charging stations can serve either employee and/or light duty fleet vehicles.

Program Overview and How to Apply

The following video is offered by Pennsylvania DEP and provides an overview of the Level 2 Electric Vehicle Charging Rebate Program and a walk-through of the electronic application process.  

EPA Seeking Public Comment on the Inflation Reduction Act

EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation is seeking public comment on a set of non-regulatory dockets on various programs and grants related to the implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act.  The public, including small businesses, may comment on these dockets through January 18, 2023. More information on this Request for Information can be found here. Topics of the non-regulatory dockets include the following the areas:
  • Climate Pollution Reduction Grants
  • Funding to Address Air Pollution
  • Methane Emissions Reduction Program
  • Funding for Implementation of American Innovation and Manufacturing Act
  • Low Emissions Electricity Program & Greenhouse Gas Corporate Reporting

Emergency Air Quality Regulation for Existing Conventional Oil & Gas Sources Adopted

The Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board (EQB) adopted an emergency rule limiting volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions and methane emissions from existing conventional oil and gas sources earlier today. The emergency rulemaking establishes the VOC emission limitations for existing conventional oil and gas sources based on Reasonably Available Control Technology (RACT) requirements consistent with EPA’s recommendations. These sources include natural gas-driven continuous bleed pneumatic controllers, natural gas-driven diaphragm pumps, reciprocating compressors, centrifugal compressors, fugitive emissions components and storage vessels installed at conventional well sites, gathering and boosting stations and natural gas processing plants, as well as storage vessels in the natural gas transmission and storage segment. The rulemaking is final and effective as of December 2, 2022.

Applications for Medium & Heavy-Duty Zero Emission Vehicle Fleet Grants now open

The Department of Environmental Protection is now accepting applications for grants through the Driving PA Forward Initiative’s Medium and Heavy-Duty (MHD) Zero-Emission Vehicle Fleet Pilot Grant Program.  The deadline for applications is March 1. The intent of the program is to replace aging diesel vehicles with new zero-emission vehicles to reduce air emissions and improve air quality in Pennsylvania.  Model year 1992–2009 Class 4–8 local freight trucks that operate predominantly in Pennsylvania are eligible for replacement. Eligible project vehicles must be replaced with new zero-emission trucks of similar class and vocation. For more information, visit the Driving PA Forward MHD-ZEV Fleet webpage.

2023 Dry Cleaner Compliance Calendar Available

The 2023 Dry Cleaner Compliance Calendar is now available for Pennsylvania dry cleaners.  You can access a digital copy here or by visiting EMAP’s page for dry cleaners.  Hard copy versions are now available – simply contact EMAP for a print version of the calendar. These environmental compliance calendars contain important record-keeping elements designed to assist Pennsylvania dry cleaners comply with state and federal regulations. It is important for dry cleaners to understand that the calendar, once properly filled out and completed, is an annual record of compliance and should be kept for a period of five (5) years.

Pennsylvania DEP Small Business Advantage Grant Now Open

Pennsylvania DEP officially opened the Small Business Advantage Grant Program on October 8, 2022.
This grant assists small businesses who are looking to make pollution prevention, energy efficiency, or natural resource conservation projects. Here are some important details on the grant:
    • The grant program operates on a first-come, first-served basis and provides matching grants which range from a maximum of 50% or $5,000 up to 80% or $8,000. The variation in grant funding amount is determined by whether the project is located in an environmental justice area, it results in significant environmental savings, or both.
    • Eligible projects must save the small businesses with a minimum of $500 per year and at least 20% in annual energy consumption or pollution-related expenses.
 

Update on Control of VOC Emissions from Gasoline Dispensing Facilities (Stage I & Stage II)

UPDATE: Effective on August 20, 2022, Pennsylvania DEP is suspending the enforcement of a specific monitoring requirement – the inspection of the gasoline storage tank automatic tank gauge (ATG) cap.  The reason for the suspension is that after a review of the rule’s requirements it was determined that the likelihood of the ATG being compromised is very low and the verification of the ATG status after every gasoline truck delivery can be problematic and difficult to access.  Please note that the suspension of this specific monitoring requirement does not affect owners or operators of gasoline dispensing facilities relief from other Stage I & Stage II requirements.  Additional information can found in the August 20, 2022 issue of the Pennsylvania Bulletin which can be found here.

About the Stage I & Stage II Rulemaking

The Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board finalized a final-form rulemaking that amends air quality regulations related to the control of VOC emissions at gasoline dispensing facilities. The rulemaking went into effect on March 26th, 2022 and targets Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions during the following situations:
  • Loading of underground gasoline storage tanks (or Stage I vapor recovery)
  • Filling of motor vehicles at the pump (or Stage II vapor recovery)
  • During and after decommissioning of Stage II vapor recovery equipment from gasoline dispensing pumps.
The final-form rulemaking also adds and amends definitions related to Stage I and Stage II vapor recovery systems. A copy of the final preamble and regulation can be accessed here.

What is Stage I Vapor Recovery Systems?

“Stage I” refers to a vapor recovery system that controls the emission of gasoline vapors into the atmosphere during the transfer of gas from a gasoline tank truck to a gasoline storage tank at a Gasoline Dispensing Facility (GDF). A properly operating Stage I vapor recovery system returns vapors to the gasoline tank truck.  The equipment and controls of a Stage I system also control the emission of gasoline vapors during the storage of gasoline vapors at a GDF.

What is Stage II Vapor Recovery Systems?

“Stage II” refers to the vapor recovery system that controls the emission of vapors during the transfer of gasoline from a gasoline storage tank at a GDF to a motor vehicle fuel tank.  A Stage II vapor recovery system also controls emissions into the the atmosphere of vapors during the storage of gasoline at a GDF. Stage II vapor recovery technology uses special refueling nozzles, dispensing hoses and a system that draws refueling vapors in the Underground Storage Tank (UST).  A properly operating Stage II system moves the gasoline vapors from the motor vehicle fuel tank druing the refueling of the vehicle into the UST at the GDF.

Who is Affected by This Rulemaking?

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has finalized regulatory requirements for GDF owners and operators to decommission their Stage II vapor recovery system in 12 counties in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh areas.  The compliance date for the decommissioning of Stage II systems is December 31, 2022.
  • The 12 Pennsylvania counties include: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bucks, Butler, Chester, Delaware, Fayette, Montgomery, Philadelphia, Washington, and Westmoreland.
  • Owners and operators are those with gasoline throughputs that exceed at anytime >10,000 gallons per month (or 120,000 gallons per year) and independent small business marketers of gasoline that have a monthly throughput >50,000 gallons per month (or 600,000 gallons per year) in the above mentioned 12 Pennsylvania counties.
  • Persons performing decommissioning procedures, leak testing, and repairs at gasoline dispensing facilities.

What Happens After Decommissioning Takes Place?

For those entities that need to decommission their Stage II vapor recovery system by December 31, 2022, a notification form needs to be completed and submitted to the appropriate DEP regional office, Allegheny County Health Department, or Philadelphia Air Management Services.

Where Can I Learn More about this Rulemaking?

Pennsylvania DEP has put together a Frequently Asked Questions on their website for Decommissioning Stage II Vapor Recovery Systems at Gasoline Dispensing Facilities. In addition, Pennsylvania small businesses can always contact EMAP for further information and assistance if this rulemaking may affect your small business operation.  Simply call EMAP’s toll-free environmental hotline at (877) ASK-EMAP or email us at questions@askemap.org.

EPA Amends NESHAP for RICE and NSPS for ICE

On August 10, 2022, EPA published a final rule amending the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R) to reflect a 2015 court decision regarding the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for Stationary Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engines (RICE) and the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for Stationary Internal Combustion Engines (ICE). The court vacated provisions in the regulations specifying that emergency engines could operate for emergency demand response or during periods where there is a deviation of voltage or frequency. To learn more, see EPA’s Fact Sheet or the Final Rule.

Inflation Reduction Act and Small Businesses

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 is set to address climate change and other environmental issues that could benefit small businesses. $369 billion in incentives is dedicated to target areas of renewable energy, energy efficient products, and electric vehicles over the next ten years. While the bill is still waiting final approval, you can find summaries of the legislation as well as a summary of investments in climate and equity.

EPA Taking Comments on SNAP Program

On July 28, 2022, pursuant to the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program, EPA proposed to list certain substances as acceptable subject to use conditions in the refrigeration and air conditioning sector for chillers – comfort cooling, residential dehumidifiers, non-residential dehumidifiers, residential and light commercial air conditioning, and heat pumps, and a substance as acceptable subject to use conditions and narrowed use limits in very low temperature refrigeration. Through this action, EPA proposes to establish requirements for electrical air conditioners, heat pumps, and dehumidifiers, laboratory equipment containing refrigerant, safe use of flammable refrigerants, and safe design, construction, installation, and operation of refrigeration systems. In addition, EPA proposes to list certain substances as acceptable subject to use conditions in the fire suppression sector for certain streaming and total flooding uses. EPA requests advance comment on potential approaches to SNAP listing decisions for very short-lived substances that have ozone depletion potentials similar to those of ozone-depleting substances scheduled to be phased out. Comments are due September 12, 2022Learn more.

EPA seeks small business input on proposed TSCA rule

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is looking for small businesses to participate on a panel that will focus on the development of a proposed rule that will focus on potential risks from existing chemicals.  This rule will collect data in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) risk evaluation and risk management process. To learn more about this opportunity please see this recently published press release by EPA. Small business self-nominations may be submitted through this link and must be received by July 20, 2022.

Abilene Boot selected for the 2022 Small Business Environmental Stewardship Award

The National Steering Committee (NSC) of the Small Business Environmental Assistance Programs (SBEAPs) & Small Business Ombudsmen (SBO) have recognized Abilene Boot Company with the 2022 Small Business Environmental Stewardship Award.

This small boot manufacturer and EMAP client, Abilene Boot Company, based in Somerset, Pennsylvania, received this prestigious award for its accomplishments in the areas of improving environmental performance, pollution prevention, and sustainability.   Abilene Boot was recognized for working with EMAP in evaluating the company’s air quality compliance for its operations.  This includied reviewing their natural minor operating permit, looking at coating and adhesives usage, calculating their air quality emissions, and quantifying VOCs and HAPs for the small manufacturing operation. Read More    

Control of VOC Emissions from Gasoline Dispensing Facilities (Stage I & Stage II)

The Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board finalized a final-form rulemaking that amends air quality regulations related to the control of VOC emissions at gasoline dispensing facilities. The rulemaking went into effect on March 26th, 2022 and targets Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions during the following situations:
  • Loading of underground gasoline storage tanks (or Stage I vapor recovery)
  • Filling of motor vehicles at the pump (or Stage II vapor recovery)
  • During and after decommissioning of Stage II vapor recovery equipment from gasoline dispensing pumps.
The final-form rulemaking also adds and amends definitions related to Stage I and Stage II vapor recovery systems. A copy of the final preamble and regulation can be accessed here.

What is Stage I Vapor Recovery Systems?

“Stage I” refers to a vapor recovery system that controls the emission of gasoline vapors into the atmosphere during the transfer of gas from a gasoline tank truck to a gasoline storage tank at a Gasoline Dispensing Facility (GDF). A properly operating Stage I vapor recovery system returns vapors to the gasoline tank truck.  The equipment and controls of a Stage I system also control the emission of gasoline vapors during the storage of gasoline vapors at a GDF.

What is Stage II Vapor Recovery Systems?

“Stage II” refers to the vapor recovery system that controls the emission of vapors during the transfer of gasoline from a gasoline storage tank at a GDF to a motor vehicle fuel tank.  A Stage II vapor recovery system also controls emissions into the the atmosphere of vapors during the storage of gasoline at a GDF. Stage II vapor recovery technology uses special refueling nozzles, dispensing hoses and a system that draws refueling vapors in the Underground Storage Tank (UST).  A properly operating Stage II system moves the gasoline vapors from the motor vehicle fuel tank druing the refueling of the vehicle into the UST at the GDF.

Who is Affected by This Rulemaking?

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has finalized regulatory requirements for GDF owners and operators to decommission their Stage II vapor recovery system in 12 counties in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh areas.  The compliance date for the decommissioning of Stage II systems is December 31, 2022.
  • The 12 Pennsylvania counties include: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bucks, Butler, Chester, Delaware, Fayette, Montgomery, Philadelphia, Washington, and Westmoreland.
  • Owners and operators are those with gasoline throughputs that exceed at anytime >10,000 gallons per month (or 120,000 gallons per year) and independent small business marketers of gasoline that have a monthly throughput >50,000 gallons per month (or 600,000 gallons per year) in the above mentioned 12 Pennsylvania counties.
  • Persons performing decommissioning procedures, leak testing, and repairs at gasoline dispensing facilities.

What Happens After Decommissioning Takes Place?

For those entities that need to decommission their Stage II vapor recovery system by December 31, 2022, a notification form needs to be completed and submitted to the appropriate DEP regional office, Allegheny County Health Department, or Philadelphia Air Management Services.

Where Can I Learn More about this Rulemaking?

Pennsylvania DEP has put together a Frequently Asked Questions on their website for Decommissioning Stage II Vapor Recovery Systems at Gasoline Dispensing Facilities. In addition, Pennsylvania small businesses can always contact EMAP for further information and assistance if this rulemaking may affect your small business operation.  Simply call EMAP’s toll-free environmental hotline at (877) ASK-EMAP or email us at questions@askemap.org.

Dent Design Hardware selected for 2021 Small Business Environmental Stewardship Award

The National Steering Committee (NSC) of Small Business Environmental Assistance Programs (SBEAPs) & Small Business Ombudsmen (SBO) have recognized Dent Design Hardware with the 2021 Small Business Environmental Stewardship Award.

The company, Dent Design Hardware, based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, was recognized for its accomplishments in the areas of improving environmental performance, pollution prevention, and sustainability. EMAP Program Manager Jeremy Hancher commented with the following:
“Dent Design Hardware has been a good role model for very small businesses, especially in the manufacturing sector, challenged with environmental and economic challenges.  Tim Dodge and Dent Design Hardware have worked tirelessly at achieving environmental compliance, reducing waste, and working with Pennsylvania DEP. It is certainly not easy for a small business owner to suddenly become a storm chaser collecting stormwater samples, so we are extremely happy to see Dent Design Hardware be recognized for their positive environmental actions.”
Mr. Tim Dodge, owner of Dent Design, described his environmental philosophy by adding: “DENT uses geo-thermal heating and cooling for the manufacturing location, works only with food-grade materials in our Walk In Hardware line, and strives to be good stewards of the 2.6 acre property which is more than 50% natural growth riparian buffer to ensure that stormwater is absorbed into the ground as much as possible and avoid runoff.”  
Jeremy Hancher is the EMAP Program Manager located at the Widener University SBDC.  He holds over 15 years of experience in environmental compliance, environmental policy, and program management.  He is proud to be the team lead of the award-winning EMAP program which provides free and confidential environmental assistance to the Pennsylvania small business community in fulfillment of the requirements of the Pennsylvania Air Pollution Control Act and Section 507 of the federal Clean Air Act.
In 2015, Jeremy was part of the team effort when EMAP was recognized by US EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy for Outstanding Accomplishments by a State Small Business Environmental Assistance Provider in Providing Technical Environmental Assistance to the Small Business Community. Jeremy holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh, a Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and a certificate from the Wharton School.