Special Topics in Environmental Management

The Clean Air Act, CMS, and Major Source Compliance Evaluations

The EPA’s Clean Air Act Stationary Source Compliance Monitoring Strategy (CMS) describes the Agency’s approach for EPA regional offices, states, Indian tribes, and localities to assess and document compliance with permits and regulations at major stationary and synthetic minor sources.
Emissions, Clean Air Act
Compliance monitoring is a dynamic process, evolving along with technology and the experience and feedback of environmental staff. Accordingly, the CMS must also be dynamic, and the EPA has been fairly consistent in updating the document, with the most recent revisions issued in 2014 and 2016. The 2016 update included elements of the Agency’s Next Generation approach, which incorporates new and emerging monitoring and information technologies as well as increased transparency.

Compliance monitoring activities encompass all the means used to make a facility-specific compliance determination. These activities can include both on-site compliance evaluations and off-site record reviews. The activities can be initiated based on the priorities of the state/local/tribe/territory, citizen tips and complaints, or for cause.

Full and Partial Evaluations and Investigations

The CMS describes the following three types of compliance evaluations.

  • Full Compliance Evaluations (FCEs). FCEs are directed at all regulated pollutants and all regulated emissions units in a facility. Both current compliance and the ability of the facility to maintain compliance for each regulated emissions unit are addressed. The evaluation includes the following activities, although some occur only when needed:
    • A review of all required reports or other documents and the underlying records. This includes all monitored data reported to the regulatory agency (e.g., continuous emissions monitoring system (CEM) and continuous parameter monitoring reports, malfunction reports, excess emissions reports). It also includes a review of Title V self-certifications, semiannual monitoring and periodic monitoring reports, and any other reports required by permit.
    • An assessment of control device and process operating conditions. An on-site visit to make this assessment may not be necessary based upon factors such as the availability of continuous emissions and periodic monitoring data, compliance certifications, and deviation reports.
    • A visible emissions observation.
    • A review of facility records and operating logs.
    • An assessment of process parameters such as feed rates, raw material compositions, and process rates.
    • An assessment of control equipment performance parameters (e.g., water flow rates, pressure drop).
    • A stack test where there is no other means for determining compliance with emissions limits.
    • Utilization of advanced monitoring technologies to detect and document emissions and record ambient conditions.
  • Partial Compliance Evaluations (PCEs). A PCE focuses on a subset of processes, regulated pollutants, regulatory requirements, or emissions units at a given facility. Examples of specific activities include:
    • Conduct source performance tests, sampling, and monitoring.
    • Visible emissions observations.
    • Case development evaluation, including evaluation of responses to formal information requests.
    • Consent decree follow-up.
    • Continuous Monitoring System Quality Assurance (QA) Audit.
    • Review of facility reports or documents such as Quarterly Excess Emission Reports.
    • Review of facility records and operating logs, testing/sampling plans, and monitoring data.
    • Review of relevant process, emissions, and inventory information.
    • Review of facility-specific fence line and ambient monitoring.
    • Ambient environmental screening using advanced monitoring technologies for a group of facilities or geographic area of interest for use in subsequent compliance evaluations.
  • Investigations. An investigation is distinguished from an FCE or PCE in that it is limited to a portion of a facility, is more resource-intensive, and involves a more in-depth assessment of a particular issue. It usually is based on information discovered during an FCE or as the result of a targeted industry, regulatory, or statutory initiative. It is best used when addressing issues that are difficult to evaluate during a routine FCE because of time constraints, the type of preliminary field work required, and/or the level of technical expertise needed to determine compliance.

For example, this type of compliance evaluation was used during in-depth New Source Review/Prevention of Significant Deterioration (NSR/PSD) and New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) reviews the EPA conducted at pulp, utility, and petroleum refining facilities. These investigations were initiated following growth within the industries and a comparison of this information to data maintained by the regulatory agencies on the number of NSR/PSD permits issued during the same time frame. The analyses indicated that many facilities failed to obtain the necessary permits.

CAA Programs Addressed

The CMS policy encompasses air pollution problems for the following Clean Air Act (CAA) programs:

  • New Source Performance Standards,
  • National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP),
  • Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT),
  • NSR/PSD,
  • State implementation plans (SIPs),
  • Title V Operating Permits, and
  • Stratospheric Ozone Protection.

CAA programs not covered by the CMS policy are Standards of Performance for New Residential Wood Heaters; Asbestos NESHAP; Area Sources; Prevention of Accidental Releases; Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule; and Acid Deposition Control.