The EPA has proposed to approve a revision to Ohio’s Clean Air Act State Implementation Plan (“SIP”) to loosen restrictions on fuel additives refiners may use during summer months.
Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA requires summertime fuels to have a Reid Vapor Pressure (“RVP”) below 9.0 pounds per square inch (“psi”) in ozone attainment areas and below 7.8 psi in ozone nonattainment areas. RVP is a measure of the rate at which a fuel evaporates. The rule is intended to prevent generation of ground-level ozone (which peaks during summer months) by limiting volatile organic compound (“VOC”) emissions.
In 2004, the EPA designated the Cincinnati and Dayton areas as nonattainment for ozone — meaning these areas did not meet EPA standards for ground level ozone. In response, Ohio implemented a 7.8 psi RVP standard in the Cincinnati and Dayton areas to help those areas meet ozone standards. In December 2016, however, the Ohio EPA submitted a SIP revision to increase the allowable RVP standard to 9.0 psi for the Cincinnati and Dayton areas.
To obtain the EPA’s approval, the Ohio EPA had to demonstrate that the SIP revision would not interfere with any progress aimed at reaching ozone attainment for these areas. To make this showing, the Ohio EPA plans to substitute the increase in VOC emissions from the change in the RVP standard with decreases in emissions from large stationary sources. The closing of two stationary sources in the Dayton area will offset some of the increase in VOC emissions. The rest of the VOC emissions increase will be offset by a reduction in nitrogen oxides (“NOx”) emissions, also an ozone contributor, resulting from the conversion from coal to gas in boilers at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. In the Cincinnati area, all of the increased VOC emissions will be offset by NOx emissions reductions from a facility shutdown and conversion from coal to gas in boilers at the MillerCoors facility.
Comments on the EPA’s proposed approval of the SIP revision were due on March 17, 2017. For more information, you can access the Federal Register notice here.