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The Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA) recently acknowledged improvements to proposed changes to the chemical manufacturing area sources rule, but said serious concerns remain over the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) failure to completely exempt “synthetic minors” from a key Title V provision in the rule.
The new proposal reportedly addresses several of SOCMA’s concerns, such as fixing the “family of materials” concept in a way that gives chemical companies certainty regarding the reach of the rule. On others, however-especially the Title V provision-SOCMA reports it is concerned about the EPA’s logic and the rule’s cost impact. This rule has been a top environmental priority for SOCMA members over the last few years, leading SOCMA to file a Petition for Reconsideration of the final rule with the EPA in February 2010.
The EPA originally proposed to exempt all chemical manufacturing area sources from the requirement to obtain a costly Title V permit, but reversed course in the final rule. The requirement that synthetic minors get a Title V permit-which is currently stayed-would limit the speed and flexibility with which those units can respond to market opportunities. This is reportedly a major issue for SOCMA members, whose batch and specialty chemical businesses have diverse and rapidly changing product mixes.
SOCMA also expressed disappointment about the EPA’s failure to address other issues raised in the 2010 petition, including the establishment of a de minimis threshold and a fairer R&D exemption. In fact, by not? proposing to reduce the applicability threshold in one area, the EPA will actually increase the number of facilities that will be subject to the rule.
The agency also did not address the urgent need for an extension of the October 2012 compliance deadline, which SOCMA has repeatedly raised with the EPA. Given the uncertainty about what the end result of the reconsideration process would look like-including confusion about how the concept of “family of materials” would affect the scope of the rule-SOCMA members have been hesitant to begin investing significant sums of money to comply with a rule that is still a work in progress in many significant respects. The EPA will be hard-pressed to finalize the revised rule before the compliance date and, in fairness, should postpone the deadline until well after that rule is published.
For more information, visit www.socma.com.