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Supreme Court GHG Ruling: What It Could Mean for Small Manufacturers

On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that the Clean Air Act does not compel or permit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to require a source to obtain a Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) or Title V permit on the sole basis of its potential greenhouse gas emissions.   

The new Supreme Court Ruling further stated that:

  • The Clean Air Act does not compel EPA's interpretation that the definition of "air pollutant" include greenhouse gases in the PSD and Title V permitting provisions.
  • Agencies em­powered to resolve statutory ambiguities must operate "within the bounds of reasonable interpretation." The PSD and Title V programs are designed to apply to, and "cannot rationally be extended beyond," a relative handful of large sources.
  • The EPA lacks authority to "tailor" the Clean Air Act's unambiguous numerical thresholds of 100 or 250 tons per year to accommodate its "greenhouse-gas-inclusive"interpretation of what triggers permitting. 

How does this affect my facility?
The impact of the ruling will vary by facility and state. In Massachusetts, for example, the Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) was in the process of requiring the Commonwealth's electronics manufacturers to either apply for an Operating Permit or a Restricted Emission Status (RES) solely on the basis of their potential greenhouse gas emissions.

Manufacturers were required to declare their preference by June 30 and file applications by August 16, 2014. Based on the Ruling,MassDEP is reportedly reevaluating this requirement in consultation with EPA. 

ESS will keep you updated on this Ruling and whether MassDEP decides to reverse or delay its requirement for facilities to obtain an Operating Permit or an RES.  If you have immediate questions or would like to speak to a compliance specialist, contact:

Mike Feinblatt                                                   Eric Pearson, PE
Phone: 781.419.7749                                         Phone: 401.330.1228
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it                         Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

More Info
To view the Ruling visit: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/12-1146_4g18.pdf.


About ESS Group, Inc.
ESS Group, Inc. is a multi-disciplinary environmental consulting and engineering firm with offices in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Virginia. Our team is comprised of scientists, engineers, and environmental specialists who provide full life-cycle engineering and consulting services. For more information, contact us at    This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or subscribe to receive ESS News and Regulatory Updates via email.