As a result of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Phase II Greenhouse Gas tailoring rule, which went into effect in July, minor sources of pollution — including gas processing plants, fractionating plants, compressor stations and other midstream energy assets — are now considered major source pollutants and thus are subject to more stringent regulation, said a partner with a major Washington, DC-based law firm.

“Before the greenhouse gas {GHG] thresholds came into place, all of these sources were allowed to emit up to 250 tons per day of all the different pollutants,” said Richard Alonso, a partner with Bracewell & Giuliani LLP.

“And with the advanced pollution controls that people have today, that was very doable,” he said.

“But…if you trigger greenhouse gases [under the new EPA rule], now you need to reduce your emissions of all the other pollutants not to 250 tons, but let’s say for NOx [nitrogen oxide]…you have to reduce it down to 40 tons per day…Even with the advanced pollution control technology that is out there, it may be impossible to get below that 40 tons per year.”

The controversial EPA rule, along with several other rules, is being challenged in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The case is not expected to be resolved until the summer of 2012, Alonso said.

Until then Texas and Florida will have to obtain their GHG permits from the EPA, while a majority of the other states will seek their permits from state agencies, he noted.

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