EPA plans to streamline air pollution permitting

EPA plans to streamline air pollution permitting
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Wednesday said it would reassess the way it issues Clean Air Act pollution permits for new facilities, as a way to reduce regulatory burdens for businesses.

As part of a review President Trump mandated earlier this year, the EPA said it would undertake four new initiatives to re-evaluate how it regulates pollution.

The most notable of those is the creation of a new task force to reconsider the permitting process for new sources of air pollution under the Clean Air Act, called the New Source Review (NSR).

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“The potential costs, complexity and delays that may arise from the NSR permitting process can slow the construction of domestic energy exploration, production, or transmission facilities that must undergo review,” the EPA wrote in a 15-page report on its regulations.

“In some circumstances, the NSR process discourages the construction of new facilities or modifications of existing ones that could result in greater environmental improvements. Such reactions to the NSR process slows the growth of domestic energy resources and raise energy.”

The EPA issues three types of permits for newly built or modified facilities such as power plants, which set site-specific pollution requirements.

But commenters told the EPA the review process is lengthy, complex and costly, and suggested a handful of ways to improve the process.

Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Watchdog investigating EPA enforcement numbers | EPA's Wheeler faces Senate grilling | Interior's offshore drilling staff returning to work during shutdown EPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks Watchdog files ethics complaint against EPA head MORE will convene an “NSR Reform Task Force” to assess the issue, the agency said.

The new initiative comes after President Trump ordered agencies to consider ways to cut regulations and help the American energy sector. The Energy Department also released its regulatory review on Wednesday.

Besides the new source considerations, the EPA said it would work to speed up its approval process for state plans aimed at reducing pollutants governed by the agency’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards, like ozone.

It will also begin conducting an evaluation of the costs and employment impact of its regulations and designate a team of employees as points of contact to help industries navigate agency rulemaking. Both measures are likely to win praise within the business and energy communities.