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Air Quality Program

Updating General Air Quality Rules in Washington’s State Implementation Plan

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Benton Clean Air Agency (BCAA) general air quality rules

Ecology is proposing to update the Washington’s State Implementation Plan (SIP) to include Benton Clean Air Agency (BCAA) general air quality rules. Ecology is seeking public comments on whether or not these recently adopted local rules would continue to maintain — or strengthen the SIP and whether or not they should be incorporated into it.
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Benton Clean Air Agency revised its general air quality rules after a public comment period and hearing. The rules were approved by the agency’s local Board of Directors in December 2014. Including these revised, locally-approved rules into the state’s plan is required by the Clean Air Act, will continue to meet and maintain federal air quality, and will provide the public, industry, and EPA with a consistent set of rules that apply in BCAA’s jurisdiction.

After this comment period, Ecology will submit Benton’s rules to EPA to approve and include in the SIP. EPA will then hold an additional comment period. Learn more about your opportunity to provide input on state implementation plans.

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General Air Quality Rules - Chapter 173-400 WAC

Washington’s general air quality rules (Chapter 173-400 Washington Administrative Code) include, but aren’t limited to permitting programs, emissions standards and limits, visibility protection and administrative provisions. They apply statewide, except where EFSEC or a local agency has adopted and implemented its own rules.

Ecology is the state air quality agency and so we developed and implement Washington’s general air quality rule (Chapter 173-400 Washington Administrative Code). We regulate air pollution sources where there is no local air quality agency and all major sources of air pollution that are required to have a permit (Prevention of Significant Deterioration permits).

There are seven Washington Clean Air Agencies. These local agencies regulate air pollution sources in their jurisdictions only. In addition, the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) regulates major energy facilities in Washington.

Updating the General Air Quality Rules into the SIP

State and local rules are a major part of Washington's program to meet federal air quality standards. They are reflected in the State Implementation Plan (SIP). Periodically, state and local air quality agencies revise their rules. Revisions may be in response to changes in state law or changes in federal rules.

If Ecology, the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC), or a local agency revises its rules, Ecology must submit the rule revisions to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) so they can be updated in Washington’s SIP. This ensures that the SIP is current. If we weren’t to revise the SIP to reflect these new rules, parts of the SIP would be outdated and not consistent with the rules. Once the EPA approves the revisions they become part of the SIP — consistent with local, state, and federal laws — and federally enforceable.

In addition to opportunities to comment during agency rule-making, Ecology also provides opportunities for public comment when these rules need to be submitted to the EPA as revisions to the SIP.

Over the next few years, local air agencies and EFSEC will be updating their general air quality rules and submitting them to Ecology as revisions to the SIP. BCAA is the first agency to submit these rules for inclusion into the SIP.

See below for more information on submitting comments and requesting public hearings.

General steps in the process

  • EFSEC and each local air quality agency develop revisions to their rules. EPA and Ecology staff work with each agency to ensure the draft language is appropriate for the State Implementation Plan.
  • Local air agencies adopt rules according to its process - which includes an opportunity for the public to comment - and the state Administrative Procedures Act.
  • Each agency develops a SIP submittal package that includes the portions of their rules to be included in the state plan, along with supporting documentation.
  • Ecology holds a public comment period and offers a public hearing to include individual agency rules in the state plan. If possible, Ecology holds a revision hearing the same day the local agency adopts its rules. Otherwise, Ecology will schedule a hearing at another time. If time allows, Ecology may schedule one hearing to include several agencies' rules into the state plan.
  • Ecology submits rules to EPA in groups as local agencies complete their rule adoption and hearing processes.
  • EPA reviews the submittals and publishes a proposed action in the Federal Register. A 30 - 60 day public review and comment period begins when this notice is published. If a state fails to submit an approvable plan or if EPA disapproves a plan, EPA is required to develop a federal implementation plan (FIP).

Ecology’s most recent general air quality rules update to the SIP

Ecology revised the state’s general air quality rules (Chapter 173-400 WAC) several times since it was last approved into the State Implementation Plan in the 1990s. In 2014, Ecology asked EPA to review and approve most of its updated SIP regulations adopted in November 2012. Only the parts used to protect and maintain federal air quality standards were included in the SIP. See the Rules table on the Infrastructure, Rules and Program SIP page for more information on Ecology’s most recent general air quality rules SIP submittal.

Submitting comments and requesting public hearings

Commenting on local rule revisions

Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) and local clean air agencies must offer a public comment period and hearing when they revise their rules. You can comment in person at public hearings, or in writing to the appropriate agency at any time during the comment period. Each agency responds to comments after the comment period closes. Contact the local clean air agencies or EFSEC directly to learn about their rule-making activities.

Commenting on SIP revision submittal packages

After EFSEC and local agencies adopt their rules; they will prepare SIP revision submittal packages and send to Ecology. Ecology will hold a public comment period and offer a public hearing. During this comment period, Ecology will be asking whether or not these recently adopted local rules would continue to maintain — or strengthen the SIP and whether or not they should be incorporated into it.

SIP revision submittal package public hearings

A SIP revision submittal package hearing may be held at the same time as the rules adoption hearing, but most often they are held at a later date. Ecology will announce all SIP revision submittal public hearings on our SIP webpage and the public involvement calendar. Ecology will respond to comments received on the SIP revisions before sending the submittal package to the EPA for their approval.

EPA public comment period

EPA reviews the submittals and publishes a proposed action in the Federal Register. A 30 - 60 day public review and comment period begins when this notice is published so the public has an additional opportunity to comment on EPA's proposed action. EPA also considers public input before taking final action on a state's implementation plan.

How can I learn more?

If you would like to receive e-mail notifications about General Air Quality Rule State Implementation Plan updates, please subscribe here. For more information, contact Joanna Ekrem at (360) 407-6826

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