EPA Eliminates “Once-in-Always-In” Clean Air Act Policy

Posted on 2/1/2018 by Roger Marks

air-pollution.jpgUS EPA last week released guidance to reverse a long-held Clean Air Act policy that enabled the Agency to regulate sources of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) as “major sources” even if the facility no longer had the potential to emit pollutants above the major source threshold. 

The Clean Air Act statute recognizes two categories of air pollution sources: “major sources” and “area sources.” A major source is a facility that has the potential to emit 25 tons or more per year of hazardous air pollutants (or 10 tons per year of one single pollutant).

Area sources, on the other hand, have the potential to emit less than that.

Because they emit more pollution, major sources face stringent requirements for installation and maintenance of pollution control technology—called Maximum Achievable Control Technology, or MACT, Standards under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act. 

Read more about MACT Standards and other Clean Air Act rules in Question of the Week: Hazardous Air Pollutants , Part 61 vs. Part 63.

What Was EPA’s Once-In-Always-In Policy?

Established by a 1995 EPA memo, “the once-in-always-in” policy held that once a facility was deemed a major source, it remained a major source regardless of whether the facility’s potential to emit changed over time.

shutterstock_259974233.jpgThis meant that once a facility met the definition of a “major source,” EPA would continue to regulate it as such, even if the facility’s potential to emit was lowered below the 25 ton or 10 ton per year threshold. In other words, facilities that arguably should have faced less regulation by the letter-of-the-law were in practice subjected to more stringent standards.

Why Did EPA Eliminate the Once-In-Always-In Policy

EPA now argues that the statutory language of the Clean Air Act plainly lays out the distinction between “major sources” and “area sources.” Nowhere in the law is EPA granted authority to regulate a source of hazardous air pollutants as a major source unless the facility has potential to emit a “major” volume of pollutants.

With the once-in-always-in policy gone, facilities will have more incentive to reduce the amount of air pollution they emit, as industry has argued. A major source that reduces air pollution below the 10 ton or 25 ton per year threshold can now expect to have its regulatory burden reduced accordingly.

Master Your Clean Air Act Responsibilities 

EPA recently increased fines for Clean Air Act violations to $97,229 per day, per violation—the greatest civil penalty amount under current EPA rules.

Get up to speed with the latest changes to the Clean Air Act and build the skills to identify and carry out your compliance responsibilities with the new Clean Air Act Regulations. 

Interactive and available 24/7, the new online course covers the critical elements of EPA’s many Clean Air Act planning, monitoring, and reporting programs. Keep your facility in compliance, protect your personnel, avoid emergency releases, and control pollution. 

Tags: Act, Air, Clean, EPA, MACT, new rules

Find a Post

Compliance Archives

Lion - Quotes

Best instructor ever! I was going to take my DOT training w/a different provider, but based on this presentation, I will also be doing my DOT training w/Lion!

Donna Moot

Hazardous Waste Professional

The instructor was probably the best I ever had! He made the class enjoyable, was humorous at times, and very knowledgeable.

Mary Sue Michon

Environmental Administrator

Lion's course was superior to others I have taken in the past. Very clear in the presentation and the examples helped to explain the content presented.

George Bersik

Hazardous Waste Professional

One of the best trainings I have ever received!

Brandon Morfin

EH&S Manager

I have been to other training companies, but Lion’s material is much better and easier to understand.

Mark Abell

Regional Manager

Our instructor was very dynamic and kept everyone's interest. Hazmat shipping can be a dry, complicated topic but I was engaged the entire time.

Kimberly Arnao

Senior Director of EH&S

The instructor clearly enjoys his job and transmits that enthusiasm. He made a dry subject very interesting and fun.

Teresa Arellanes

EHS Manager

This is the best RCRA training I've experienced! I will be visiting Lion training again.

Cynthia L. Logsdon

Principal Environmental Engineer

I like Lion's workshops the best because they really dig into the information you need to have when you leave the workshop.

Tom Bush, Jr.

EHS Manager

Much better than my previous class with another company. The Lion instructor made sense, kept me awake and made me laugh!

Marti Severs

Enterprise Safety Manager

Download Our Latest Whitepaper

Some limited quantity reliefs are reserved for specific modes of transport. Use this guide to identify which reliefs you can capitalize on, and which do not apply to your operations.

Latest Whitepaper

By submitting your phone number, you agree to receive recurring marketing and training text messages. Consent to receive text messages is not required for any purchases. Text STOP at any time to cancel. Message and data rates may apply. View our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.