WASHINGTON (CN) – Ethanol plants get a “pass” on air pollution rules.
The Environmental Protection Agency will not reconsider last year’s rule to exclude ethanol production facilities from classification as “chemical process plants” under the “major pollution emitting facility definition” if the facility produces ethanol by natural fermentation.
The EPA’s findings on the environmental consequences of the ethanol exception were slipped into the rule at the last minute and are “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion” and “unlawful”, writes John Walke of the Natural Resources Defense Council in July’s request for reconsideration.
“Despite taking no position on the environmental effects of the rule at the proposal stage,” the petition states, “the Agency makes an environmental finding in the preamble to the Final Rule and devotes several pages in the Federal Register publication to justify this finding” all without the opportunity for public comment essential to the normal rulemaking procedure.
The EPA’s exempting ethanol plants from controlling emissions and its finding that the rule is “not likely to result in significant net environmental harm” is based on the EPA’s “prediction” that the rule will allow the industry to build larger, more efficient plants in the future that will discharge fewer emissions per gallon of ethanol produced, the request continues.
The EPA’s response to the petition states that its finding regarding lack of environmental harm was a natural outgrowth of issues brought up at the proposal and public comment stages of the rule, and that the NRDC has “not established” that the EPA’s “evaluation and characterization of the environmental effects was of central relevance to the outcome of the rule or that any objection to the rule based on its environmental impacts could not have been raised during the comment period.”