Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Clean Air Plan presents challenges, opportunities for Wisconsin businesses

The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed alterations to the Clean Air Act, which would strengthen the ground-level National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), stand to strongly impact Wisconsin businesses, Godfrey & Kahn Associates said on Monday.

The new rule, which was initially introduced in November and will be finalized by Oct. 1 this year, seeks to lower the current primary and secondary ozone standards from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to something between 65 and 70 ppb, though the EPA is seeking comments on levels as low as 60 ppb.

Even the smallest proposed changes will impact Wisconsin businesses that emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) compounds, which range from breweries and distilleries to iron and steel foundries and industrial laundries, according to Godfrey & Kahn's Environment & Energy Strategies team.

Businesses that are considered major sources of these compounds, meaning those emitting between 25 and 100 tons, will be subject to more stringent emissions controls. Businesses that will increase their emissions will be required to purchase offsets at varying ratios, potentially as high as 1 to 1.5.

A Wisconsin-based law firm, Godfrey & Kahn  said the challenges also represent a potential opportunity, as businesses that undertake facility improvements and reduce their emission rates will be able to sell those reductions as offsets to businesses that cannot reduce their rates, potentially at significant rates.