The Environmental Protection Agency released a proposal July 9 to amend the standards of performance for grain elevators as required under the Clean Air Act which update the provisions that affect grain handling, receiving and load-out operations.
The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) has begun an extensive review of the proposal.
Specifically, the NGFA is pleased that the proposed rule references EPA's decision to rescind a Nov. 21, 2007, letter of interpretation under which it had equated temporary storage structures with permanent storage facilities when it came to determining whether elevators were subject to costly permitting requirements under the Clean Air Act. EPA in its proposed rule notes that it is rescinding that interpretation since it is "now aware that (temporary storage facilities) typically handle the grain less time throughout the year than other types of permanent storage facilities, and may require different treatment."
Since 2009, NGFA has been collaborating closely with other national grain handling and processing organizations to urge EPA to rescind the temporary storage letter of interpretation, and NGFA said it was pleased those collaborative efforts and engagement with EPA have been successful on this aspect of this issue. During that engagement with EPA, NGFA has been aware of the agency's plan to eventually issue a proposed rule reexamining and updating its air-emission standards for grain elevators.
There are a number of significant issues in the EPA proposal that NGFA and its colleagues in other organizations will be evaluating very closely and developing joint comments, NGFA said. These issues include a new percentage-based formula proposed by EPA under which about one-third of the capacity of temporary storage space would be included when calculating whether an air permit is required.
EPA also is proposing to clarify definitions and provisions in its existing requirements, as well as add a new section to the rule that would apply to grain elevators where construction, modification or reconstruction begins after the July 9 date when this proposal was published in the Federal Register. The new section includes new emissions limits for certain elevators, as well as additional testing, monitoring, recordkeeping and reporting requirements. Each of these, as well as other, aspects of the proposed rule will warrant meticulous review by the industry.
“We look forward to future engagement with our industry partners and with EPA in an effort to make sure any changes to the new source performance standards for grain-handling, receiving and loading activities are based on technically accurate information and sound science, and preserve our industry's ability to efficiently and cost-effectively serve farmers as well as domestic and export markets,” NGFA said in a statement.
The last comprehensive review by EPA of its new source performance standards (NSPS) for grain elevators was conducted in 1984, at a time when temporary storage structures were not in use in the industry. Temporary storage structures have a concrete/asphalt floor, aeration and a tarp cover, and also have a permanent aeration tower and a conveyer system to move the grain to the permanent storage system.
In addition, under NSPS for grain elevators, any commercial grain elevator constructed after 1978 that has a permanent storage capacity exceeding 2.5 million bushels is required to comply with stricter air-permitting and emission standards. The requirement also applies to any facility that has been modified since 1978 to expand its permanent storage capacity to more than 2.5 million bushels. Also subject to the NSPS are grain storage elevators with a permanent storage capacity exceeding 1 million bushels that are located at wheat flour mills, wet or dry corn mills (manufacturing products for human consumption), rice mills or soybean oil extraction plants. Grain-handling facilities located at feed mills, pet food manufacturing plants, cereal manufacturers, breweries and livestock feedlots are not covered by the current NSPS.