By Agri-Pulse Staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, March 14 – Aiming for a “science-based, reasonable approach to biomass,” the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a three-year delay in Clean Air Act permitting requirements for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from bioenergy and other biogenic sources. EPA's Monday announcement said the delay will give the agency time to conduct a detailed examination of the science involved.

Last July, EPA called for public comment. Now EPA asks for further advice from “federal partners, states, a diverse group of expert scientists including industry and other stakeholders, and an independent scientific panel” in order to “help to determine how these emissions should be treated under the EPA’s air permitting program.”

EPA is also providing new guidance to help permitting authorities conclude that using biomass as a fuel can be considered the “best available control technology” for CO2 emissions from the large sources needing permits. EPA says this guidance can be used until EPA takes final action on the deferral.

Sources covered by this proposal would include facilities that emit CO2 from burning forest or agricultural products for energy, wastewater treatment, waste management (landfills), and fermentation processes for ethanol production. Facilities meeting the requirements under the agency’s greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting program will still need to report their CO2 emissions.

Beginning on January 2, 2011, the Clean Air Act has required large plants and factories planning to make major modifications or build new facilities to obtain pre-construction permits addressing their GHG emissions. Emissions from small sources, such as farms and restaurants, are not covered by these permitting requirements.

EPA will accept comments on the proposed deferral for 45 days following publication in the Federal Register. For more information on EPA's New Source Review (NSR) permitting program, click HERE.

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