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RACT II Equals RACT III for 58 Major Sources of Air Pollution in PA

We recently blogged about the much-delayed implementation of the second round of Reasonably Available Control Technology (RACT II) determinations for three power plants in our region.  

If you read the blog post, you will recall that RACT II determinations are made to implement the 2008 revision to the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone by limiting emissions of the pollutants that form it, namely, oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).  

To hammer home the point of just how delayed those determinations are, we’re blogging today about a notice published Feb. 24 in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, in which the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced its preliminary RACT III determinations for 58 major sources of NOx and VOCs in Pennsylvania.  

Those RACT III determinations are to implement the 2015 revisions to the NAAQS for NOx.

“That means - here in 2024 - that DEP is implementing a standard set in 2015 to protect the public health and welfare from high levels of ozone pollution before it has fully implemented the standard set in 2008,” GASP Senior Attorney John Baillie said.

In an interesting twist, the 58 RACT III determinations that DEP noticed this week are all for sources for which DEP found that by complying with emission limits set for RACT II, the sources also satisfy RACT III.  

For many of these sources, DEP’s RACT II determinations took so long to make that the operating measures and technologies for controlling ozone-forming pollution did not change before it made its RACT III determinations.  

There are eight sources in Allegheny County among the 58 listed in DEP’s Feb. 24 notice:  

  • ATI Flat Rolled Products in Brackenridge

  • the North Shore Energy Center in Pittsburgh

  • Neville Chemical Company on Neville Island

  • Pittsburgh Allegheny County Thermal in Pittsburgh

  • Synthomer Resins (formerly Eastman Chemical) in Jefferson Hills

  • U.S. Steel Clairton Works

  • U.S. Steel Edgar Thomson Works in Braddock and

  • U.S. Steel Irvin Works in West Mifflin

It is likely that for those sources, no changes to emission limits will be made as a result of RACT III.

DEP’s work on RACT will continue in the coming months; there are still many sources for which RACT III determinations have not been made.  

We will keep you posted on new developments as they occur.

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