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In re Sierra Pacific Industries

Case Number:PSD Appeal Nos. 13-01, 13-02, 13-03, & 13-04
ELR Citation:43 ELR 41365

Ms. Celeste Draisner, Mr. Rob Simpson, Ms. Heidi Strand, and Mr. Ed W. Coleman (“Petitioners”) each petition the Environmental Appeals Board (“Board”) to review a Clean Air Act prevention of significant deterioration (“PSD”) permit, PSD Permit No. SAC 12-01, that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA” or “Agency”) Region 9 (“Region”) issued to Sierra Pacific Industries (“Sierra Pacific”) on February 22, 2013. The permit authorizes Sierra Pacific to construct and operate a new biomass and natural gas boiler in the City of Anderson in Shasta County, California. Both the Region and Sierra Pacific filed responses to the Petitions, and the parties subsequently submitted supplemental briefs in response to a Board order.

All of the Petitioners challenge the Region’s decision not to hold a public hearing on the draft permit under 40 C.F.R. § 124.12(a). Collectively, Petitioners also assert that the Region made several other procedural and substantive errors in approving the permit, including: exempting the proposed facility from carbon dioxide limits; improperly paraphrasing submitted comments in the Region’s response to comments document; failing to consider comments submitted directly to the permit writer instead of to the address indicated in the Region’s public notice; treating Sierra Pacific’s proposed new boiler as a modification to its current PSD permit instead of a new PSD source; improperly evaluating the air quality impacts of fine particulate matter emissions; relying on outdated air models; and failing to consider solar energy and variations of the new boiler’s fuel mix when determining the best available control technology (“BACT”).

Held: The Board grants review of the petitions in part and orders the Region to hold a public hearing. The Board denies review of the various other procedural and substantive challenges that Petitioners raised.