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NESHAP: The End Game

World Cement,

Rick Bohan and Andy O’Hare, Portland Cement Association, USA, discuss the amendments made to the standard’s rules for compliance over the last year. This is an abridged version of the full article, which appeared in the January 2013 issue of World Cement. Subscribers can view the full article by logging in.

A very long and winding road

In deference to the Beatles, the long and winding road of NESHAP is nearly at an end. Back in 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enacted two rules that set emission standards for Portland cement manufacturing facilities. One rule was enacted under NESHAP (National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants) while another was enacted under NSPS (New Source Performance Standards). The NESHAP rule set emission standards for both new and existing sources. Those standards included: particulate matter (PM), mercury, hydrochloric acid (HCl), and hydrocarbons. The NSPS rule set emission standards for nitrogen oxide (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SOx) and particulate matter. This was the first time that NSPS addressed NOx and SOx emissions for the cement industry.


Unfortunately, both rules were fraught with a variety of technical and legal flaws. PCA formally asked EPA to administratively reconsider a number of issues arising in both rules. EPA ultimately agreed to reconsider a few issues including, for example, open clinker storage piles and the PM limit set under NSPS. PCA also asked EPA to stay both standards (NESHAP and NSPS) during the reconsideration period, but EPA declined. Those actions set the stage for PCA’s legal challenge of the rule, which was delivered in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in October 2011.


A day in court

One of the many issues involved in the NESHAP case was that EPA was also developing a definition of its commercial and industrial solid waste incinerator (CISWI) rule at the very same time that the NESHAP rule making was taking place. The CISWI rule would have had a substantial impact on NESHAP because EPA could have potentially reclassified nearly a third of US cement kilns from NESHAP to CISWI. The trouble was that EPA used data for NESHAP facilities to set CISWI standards, and vice versa.


The Court decided early in December 2011 that EPA must reconsider the NESHAP rule but not the NSPS rule. The Court also allowed EPA to leave the standards in place during the reconsideration phase with the exception of the standard related to clinker storage piles.


The settlement

In May 2012, the notice of a proposed settlement between EPA and PCA was published in the Federal Register. Under the proposed settlement agreement, EPA agreed to propose changes to NESHAP by 15 June 2012 to address the issues EPA agreed to reconsider and take final action on that proposal by 20 December 2012. That reconsideration would include industry comments regarding the proposed emissions limit.



Setting emissions standards is fine, but those standards are meaningless for producers and regulators alike if they cannot find a way to demonstrate compliance with each of the standards 100% of the time. In the new proposal, EPA proposed to drop a continuous emission monitoring (CEM) requirement for PM and instead use the CEMs as parametric monitoring devices. In comments on the proposal, PCA suggested some ways to further clarify this requirement. EPA also proposed changes to the averaging time, level and compliance demonstration for its standards.


The pause

In the settlement agreement, the industry agreed not to pursue further appeal of the rule in court. In turn, EPA agreed to preset the compliance date for existing sources to September 2015. In effect, the industry could gain two additional years towards compliance. Those two years will be critical for an industry still struggling with the effects of the recession and a sluggish recovery.


The end of the road?

The NESHAP rule was finalised in December 2012, with compliance for existing plants required by 9 September 2015. Is this really the end? For those emissions governed by NESHAP, it probably is the end of this rule-making episode. However, further rule making is on the horizon. The regulation of carbon dioxide may be just around the corner.

Written by Rick Bohan and Andy O’Hare, Portland Cement Association, USA. This is an abridged version of the full article, which appeared in the January 2013 issue of World Cement. Subscribers can view the full article by logging in.

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