On November 19, EPA finalized a rule which would allow a facility subject to a national emission standard for hazardous air pollutants (NESHAP) standard (such as the plywood and composite wood panel NESHAP) to move from being classified as a “major” source to being an “area” source. Major sources are those that have more than 10 tons of emissions of a single hazardous air pollutant (HAP) or more than 25 tons of a combination of HAPs, on an annual basis. Area sources are those that fall below these thresholds and are subject to substantially less stringent regulatory requirements then those for major sources.
Previously, once a facility was classified as a major source, it could not revert to area source status. This policy change has been in the works for a while. To achieve area source status, a major source facility would have to cap its “potential to emit” hazardous air pollutants to less than 10 tons of a single HAP or less than 25 tons of a collection of HAPs, annually. If
so achieved, the facility would be re-classified as an area source, provided it could continue to document this lower emitting threshold. While not all facilities will be able limit their emissions, those that are presently close to the emission thresholds could benefit. See EPA.