Friday, September 2, 2011

New Mexico Environment Department New Haul Road Policy

Companies seeking to permit emission sources in New Mexico should be aware of the New Mexico Environment Department’s (“Department”) new haul road policy posted on the Department’s website on July 12, 2011.  This new policy requires all haul road emission calculations to be based on unpaved haul road emission factors.  The Department presents this policy under its Frequently Asked Questions page (see Permit and NOI processing).  Specifically:
                The Department considers the reduction of emissions through the proposed use of paved roads to be a control measure because both the installation and the maintenance of the paved road is not enforceable by the Department pursuant to the Air Quality Control Act or the Federal Act.  Since NPR or NOI emissions must be based on the Potential Emission Rate (PER) as defined in § NMAC, the paved road control measure cannot be applied to PER calculations.  Thus, road emission calculations must be based on unpaved road emission factors.
The policy is apparently based on an Order issued by the Environmental Improvement Board on December 29, 2010, upholding the Department’s denial of Helena Chemical Company’s Notice of Intent (“NOI”) application.   One issue in the Helena case was emissions from the haul roads.  The Helena facility has two haul roads.  These roads were paved in mid-2005.  According to the Order, “the haul roads accumulate dust, debris and fertilizer, and must be swept frequently, including at the end of each shift.”  The Department provided five reasons for denial of the NOI including the Department’s inability to impose conditions on the haul road if the NOI was issued.  This is explained by the Department as follows,
Helena’s reliance on AP-42 Section 13.2.1 Paved Roads did not have sufficient justification in light of the potential for debris to collect on the roads and the fact that there would be no condition to sweep or otherwise maintain the roads if an NOI were issued.
Under this new policy, unless the haul road is very short, it is unlikely that any facility with an emission source will fall below the threshold to trigger the requirement for a permit in New Mexico. 

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