On November 10, 2010, EPA issued its long-awaited Best Available Control Technology (”BACT”) guidance for the new greenhouse gas (”GHG”) permitting requirements scheduled to take effect on January 2, 2011, less than two months from now.  The information applies to two permitting programs— the “PSD” program, under which new and modified sources having the potential to emit air pollutants above a certain amount must obtain a preconstruction air quality permit, and the Title V program, under which sources having the potential to emit air pollutants above a certain amount must obtain an operating permit. 

The package released by EPA is intended to guide both state and federal permitting authorities in issuing permits covering GHG emissions and businesses that will be required to obtain such permits.  It includes a lengthy BACT guidance document, “GHG Control White Papers” for seven sectors of the economy including electric generating units, a GHG Mitigation Strategies Database with specific performance and cost data on current and developing GHG control measures, and enhancements to the RACT/BACT/LAER Clearinghouse, which sets forth information and decisions about GHG control measures required in emission permits issued by other permitting agencies.  EPA had originally stated in May that it would begin releasing this guidance starting in June.

The BACT guidance does not establish specific standards for BACT for GHG emissions for any particular source or categories of sources.  Thus, it remains unclear exactly what GHG BACT requirements will be for the various sectors of the economy that will be subject to GHG regulation.  EPA, however, says that in many cases the most appropriate BACT requirement for GHG emissions is likely to be energy efficiency.