Under pressure from coating makers, Southern California regulators have decided—for now—not to demand something that does not yet exist.
The influential South Coast Air Quality Management District has agreed to remove two marine coatings categories from its proposed 2012 Air Quality Management Plan.
|The Marine Coating Operations rule applies to all coating operations of boats, ships, buoys and oil drilling rigs intended for the marine environment.|
The plan had proposed further reductions in volatile organic compound (VOC) content for Marine Coatings Operations (Rule 1106) and Pleasure Craft Coatings Operations (Rule 1106.1).
The Marine Coating rule applies to all coating operations of boats, ships, and their appurtenances, and to buoys and oil drilling rigs intended for the marine environment. The Pleasure Craft rule covers coatings operations for recreational vessels.
Delay Granted ...
In detailed comments submitted Aug. 31, the American Coatings Association told the South Coast District that “further VOC reductions” in marine coating operations “are not technologically feasible."
South Coast then agreed to give those operations a one-year reprieve from further regulation, ACA reports.
Rules by the District are closely watched nationwide, as the agency is frequently a bellwether for national regulations. ACA participates actively in South Coast rulemaking activity.
... But for How Long?
Despite the reprieve on the marine coatings rules, the issue is probably not over. Marine coatings have been a major environmental concern throughout California for years.
Moreover, South Coast has pushed the envelope on its coatings demands before—and successfully so.
In June, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the District could set pollution standards “based on technologies that do not currently exist, but are reasonably anticipated to exist by the compliance deadline.”
That ruling capped a fierce—and ultimately futile—ACA challenge to the District’s 2002 and 2003 amendments to Rule 1113, which imposed the nation’s lowest VOC limits ever on Architectural and Industrial Maintenance (AIM) Coatings.
ACA (then known as the National Paint and Coatings Association) had argued that South Coast had overstepped its statutory authority to promulgate air pollution regulations, because the rule specified limits that manufacturers said were not “available” or “achievable.”
But the court disagreed, saying that South Coast had the right to push polluters to develop "achievable" technology even if it was not currently available.
South Coast’s proposed 2012 Air Quality Management Plan also includes potential future measures for limiting VOC emissions from AIM coatings.
Currently, the District is looking at a 25 g/l regulatory VOC content limit for flats/nonflats and primer, sealer, undercoaters, or an equivalent material VOC content (approximately 12 g/l material VOC limit), ACA reports.
The District is also considering amending or eliminating the small-container exemption for architectural coatings.
The District will present the plan to its Board on Nov. 2, but the agency will not amend the actual regulations for a few years, according to ACA.
Coating Makers’ Concerns
ACA has submitted several rounds of comments on the draft plan and has also met with district staff to discuss further emission reductions from architectural coatings (Rule 1113). Most recently, ACA asked South Coast to remove several proposed VOC reduction control measures for coatings and solvents.
The coating makers say that general emissions from AIM coatings “have leveled off at around 12 tons per day, even though volumes are starting to increase.”
ACA says it wants to “assure that appropriate inventory credit is given for the significant reductions already achieved in mass and reactivity of VOC emissions from architectural coatings, and additional reductions to come from requirements for colorants, VOC limit reductions, and thinning/cleaning solvents.”
ACA also contends that reducing VOC emissions “will have no appreciable impact on ozone formation since the SCAQMD region is nitrogen oxide (NOx) limited.”