With 2014 drawing to a close, it is worth looking ahead towards 2015 and the potential emissions-based rules that may affect many of the industries we work in.
We recently looked at OSHA’s proposed combustible dust standard and its call for ideas on reducing exposure to hazardous materials. However, there are some other OSHA and EPA proposals related to emission controls worth keeping an eye on over the next year.
Crystalline Silica Standard
OSHA is looking to cut in half the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for crystalline silica. It contends that around 2.2 million workers are exposed to respirable crystalline silica while doing their jobs. These workers are mainly in the construction industry, but they also work in brick, concrete and pottery manufacturing, as well as operations using sand products, such as foundry work and oil and gas fracking.
OSHA wants to see the acceptable exposures reduced from around 100 micrograms of respirable crystalline silica per cubic meter of air (μg/m3), averaged over an eight-hour day, to a new PEL of 50 μg/m3. The same new PEL would apply to all industries it covers.
Read more about OSHA’s proposed rule.
Meanwhile, the EPA has also proposed new regulations worth tracking, including the power plant rule, ozone legislation and the proposed waters of the U.S.
The Clean Power Plan for Carbon Emission Controls
The Clean Power Plan would require power plants to reduce carbon emissions 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. And it gives states until 2018 to file their plans for achieving that target. Those plans can include employing renewable energy technology or initiating state or regional cap and trade agreements. Reports suggest the EPA would like to finalize this rule by June 2015.
Read more about the Clean Power Plan.
The EPA has also recommended that the national air standards for ozone be reduced to 60-70 parts per billion (ppb) from the current 75-ppb standard, which was set in 2008. The agency claims the new standard will improve public health protection, especially for children, the elderly, and people who suffer from such lung diseases as asthma.
Read more about the proposed ozone standards.
Waters of the U.S. Rule
Finally, the EPA has proposed a new rule to redefine the term “waters of the United States” and to assert its jurisdiction over the waters it can regulate under the Clean Water Act.
Specifically, the EPA wants it stated that the Clean Water Act protects:
- most seasonal and rain-dependent streams,
- wetlands near rivers and streams, and
- other types of waters that have more uncertain connections with downstream water on a case specific analysis.
The EPA seeks to be able to protect waters in some geographic areas, and add new categories to the types of waters that are under its guardianship, without any case specific analysis.
Read more about the Waters of the U.S. rule.
Headlines and talk shows may be dominated by political dysfunction, but there is a lot going on related to emission controls that could significantly impact industry.
Let us know in the comments below what you think of these proposed rules and how they may impact your business.