Coatings manufacturers are racing the clock to fend off tighter emissions rules impending in Southern California and at the federal level.
In Washington, coatings makers are taking on the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to adopt a lower ozone standard, coming in July. Meanwhile, in California, the race is on to rein in the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s Rule 1107 on Coating of Metal Parts and Products before the measure is adopted in September.
Both battles are being waged by the American Coatings Association on behalf of their coatings manufacturer members.
EPA’s Ozone Measure Challenged
In a letter June 23 to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, ACA reiterated its concern over EPA’s voluntary reconsideration of the 2008 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone. After months of delays, EPA is set to issue a new primary ozone standard on July 29.
Environmental Defense Fund
|Delayed several times, a new ozone standard is expected to be released July 29.|
Like other manufacturers, coatings makers call the move premature and unnecessary, noting that the last review was just three years ago and saying that the decision departs from the Clean Air Act’s five-year NAAQS review process.
Tightening the standard now “would have a negative impact on states, municipalities and industries that are already striving to meet the existing ozone standard,” ACA contended in a statement.
Coatings Makers Hit Hard
The change will hit paint and coatings manufacturers especially hard, ACA says.
More than 300 counties nationwide are in violation of the current standard—a number that will double if the standard is lowered, ACA says.
For the paint and coatings industry, “being located in a non-attainment area often results in increased operating costs, added recordkeeping and other regulatory burdens, permitting delays, and restrictions on expansion, which could have a devastating effect on industry, especially in these uncertain economic times,” the association says.
Moreover, ACA says, EPA is basing its decision on three-year old information that “fails to consider the ongoing emissions reductions being achieved by many industries, especially the paints and coatings industry.”
Paint and coatings makers “have drastically reduced their volatile organic compound emissions as a result of increased regulation, market preferences, and voluntary measures,” leading to “significant improvements in the nation’s air quality in the last few years,” ACA says.
Metal Coating Rule Looms
ACA has also taken strong exception to SCAQMD’s proposed Rule 1107, which is designed to reduce volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from the coating of metal parts and products.
The rule would apply to anyone who uses metal coatings or performs metal stripping operations, and to all manufacturers, distributors and suppliers of metal coatings.
|SCAQMD is set to approve its new version of Rule 1107 on Sept. 8.|
Coatings for aerospace assembly, magnet wire, marine craft, motor vehicle, metal container, and coil coating operations would be exempted. Nor would the rule apply to architectural components coated at the structure site or at a temporary, unimproved location designated exclusively for that purpose.
Although the rule would apply only to Southern California, SCAQMD is highly influential and its rules are considered a bellwether for environmental policies nationwide.
The revised rule is on a fast track for adoption Sept. 8. This would be 1107’s 18th amendment since it was adopted in 1979, and its fifth in 13 years. However, in those same 13 years, there has only been one coating limit reduction, and none since 2005, SCAQMD notes.
SCAQMD argues in its staff report on the Rule that improvements in coatings technology over the last 13 years have made it possible to further reduce VOC emissions. The new rule would:
• Amend VOC limits for certain metal coating categories;
• Establish new coating categories and VOC content limits;
• Expand to include certain metal stripping operations;
• Expand and clarify the definition and requirements for Extreme Performance coatings;
• Consider limited exemptions for coatings containing tertiary-butyl acetate (TBAc) and dimethyl carbonate (DMC);
• Prohibit sales of metal coatings that exceed applicable VOC content limits;
• Prohibit the use of Group II Exempt Solvents in metal coatings or strippers;
• Remove and limit existing exemptions;
• Streamline recordkeeping options for so-called Super Compliant coatings; and
• Clarify rule language and remove obsolete provisions.
SCAQMD says the changes would reduce emissions by 1.26 tons per day with an estimated annual cost of $4 million.
Numerous Objections Raised
The rule was the topic of a public workshop June 15, and the coatings industry was on hand to raise numerous objections.
Representatives from three local metal surface coating shops “expressed concern that this rule is expensive, includes unachievable limits, and will force jobs out of the SCAQMD and California,” according to ACA, which says it has “major issues with the rule.”
ACA’s Industrial Coatings Air Regulatory Workgroup is also developing comments on the proposed rule for the July 5 submission deadline.
The ACA’s objections, outlined in a statement by the organization, note that like the newly approved Architectural and Industrial Maintenance (AIM) Rule 1113, Rule 1107 would allow SCAQMD inspectors “to pursue paint manufacturers, stores, and distributors if coatings intended for use on metal do not meet” the applicable VOC limit, according to ACA.
Noting SCAQMD’s influence, ACA added: “What’s more, if this provision is adopted, it is very likely this provision will spread to other SCAQMD rules and across the United States.”
Regarding the proposed 100 g/l limit for General, High Gloss, Primer, and Prefabricated Architectural Categories, ACA says: “SCAQMD is assuming that Industrial Maintenance and Architectural and Industrial Maintenance primers can be effectively used on shop-applied metal parts and products.”
“Again, if these limits are adopted, they will likely propagate to similar rules across the United States.”