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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a MACT standard? Why is EPA developing standards?
Under the Clean Air Act, as amended in 1990, EPA is required to regulate sources of listed hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) that are known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious health effects. On July 16, 1992, EPA published a list of industry groups (known as source categories) that emit one or more of these air toxics; several industrial surface categories were on this list. For listed categories of "major" sources (those that emit or have the potential to emit 10 tons/year or more of a listed pollutant or 25 tons/year or more of a combination of pollutants), the Clean Air Act directs EPA to develop National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPs) that require the application of stringent air pollution reduction measures known as maximum achievable control technology (MACT). The law requires that MACT must not be less stringent than:

  • emission control that is achieved in practice by the best controlled similar source, for new sources; and
  • the average emission limitation achieved by the best performing 12 percent of the existing sources.
The Clean Air Act requires that EPA promulgate most of the industrial surface coating MACT standards by the year 2000. As noted above, the categories listed for regulation are major sources. During the development of these regulations, EPA will evaluate whether non-major or "area" sources of the same type should also be regulated in accordance with the law.

What does section 183(e) of the Clean Air Act require? How is EPA implementing these requirements?
Section 183(e) of the Clean Air Act requires EPA to regulate volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from consumer and commercial products. VOC emissions contribute significantly to the formation of ground-level ozone (smog) which is associated with a wide variety of human health effects, agricultural crop loss, and damage to forests and ecosystems.

Section 183(e) requires EPA to study VOC emissions, to report to Congress the results of the study (See Study of VOC Emissions from Consumer and Commercial Products, EPA-453/R-94-066-A, March 1995), and to list for regulation products accounting for at least 80 percent of VOC emissions, on a reactivity-adjusted basis, resulting from use of such products in areas of the country that do not meet the national ambient air quality standard for ozone, known as nonattainment areas (see 60 FR 15264, March 23, 19 95). (Many of the product categories listed for regulation are the same as or similar to those source categories listed under Section 112.)

Regulations developed under section 183(e) must be based on "best available controls" (BAC). In the statute, BAC is defined as "The degree of emission reduction that the Administrator determines, on the basis of technological and economic feasibility, health, environmental, and energy impacts, is achievable through the application of the most effective equipment, measures, processes, methods, systems, or techniques, including chemical reformulation, product or feedstock substitution, repackaging, and directions for use, consumption, storage and disposal."

EPA also has discretion to issue a control techniques guideline (CTG) in lieu of a regulation if EPA determines that a CTG would be substantially as effective as a regulation in reducing VOC emissions which contribute to ozone levels in ozone nonattainment areas. Although not specifically defined in the Clean Air Act, a CTG is an EPA guidance document which triggers a responsibility under section 182(b)(2) for States to submit reasonably available control technology (RACT) rules for stationary sources of VOC as part of their State Implementation Plans (SIP's).

EPA plans to coordinate with many stakeholders (industry, state and local agencies, and environmental groups) to assure a common sense approach in conducting the comparison of the two regulatory options with regard to emission reduction potential and regulatory efficiency.

What are the advantages of an integrated rule making effort?
Integrating the effort to develop HAP and VOC requirements provides the following advantages:

  • These two sections of the Clean Air Act affect many of the same industrial processes and involve a similar set of stakeholders, so it is cost-effective for both industry and for the taxpayers to develop the two actions in parallel.
  • The two programs are on similar schedules. Many section 183(e) actions are due in 2001 and 2003, and it makes good sense to coordinate them with the MACT rulemaking to ensure an appropriate harmonization of requirements. A single regulatory development process will help EPA to take advantage of opportunities to streamline requirements.
  • Many of the chemical substances regulated as VOCs are also listed as HAPs.
What is a presumptive MACT? What are the benefits of developing this guidance?
Presumptive MACT or PMACT is EPA's term for the "rough draft" of MACT based on limited data gathered in the initial phase of the regulatory development process. In the initial phase, EPA collects readily available information about the industry with the help of representatives from the regulated industry, State and local air pollution control agencies, and environmental groups (where available). This process also helps EPA to learn as much as possible about the industry in a short time frame and engage stakeholders in identification of issues and gaps in data needed for regulatory development. Another advantage is that for sources and States faced with making case-by-case determinations of MACT for new and reconstructed major sources [due to the requirements of Section 112(g)], PMACTs can serve as useful starting points. For which coating categories are standards currently being developed?

Click HERE to view the status of these standards.

What are the major project milestones?

  • Coating Stakeholder Workshop - April 1997
  • Presumptive MACT Process Complete - Spring 1998
  • Data Gathering - ongoing
  • Data Analysis - early 1999
  • Proposal - November 1999
  • Promulgation - November 2000
Compliance Deadlines - Each NESHAP rule specifies the date by which the owner or operator must comply with the requirements. In general, the maximum amount of time allowed by statute for MACT standards is 3 years after the promulgation of the final rule for existing sources and upon start up for new sources.

For which coating categories are standards already developed?

  • Aerospace NESHAP
  • Magnetic Tape NESHAP
  • Printing and Publishing NESHAP
  • Shipbuilding NESHAP
  • Wood Furniture NESHAP

Click HERE for additional details on standards.

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