The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) final rule
on clarifying the definition of routine maintenance under its New Source Review (NSR) process
exempts industrial facilities from undergoing NSR if they are replacing safety, reliability, and
efficiency rated components with new, functionally equivalent equipment and if the cost of the
replacement components is under 20%25 of the replacement value of the process unit. Essentially,
the rule permits owners of existing units to maintain and operate their units at their original design
specifications without having to undergo NSR, a process that could require a source to meet
potentially expensive pollution control requirements. The rule is controversial and being litigated.
In December 2003, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked implementation
of the rule until it can make a final determination about the case. Legislation being considered in the
109th Congress would permit the rule to go into effect. This paper will be updated as events warrant.