WASHINGTON - The South Coast Air Quality Management District's re-adoption of stringent VOC-content limits on a number of architectural and industrial maintenance coatings categories was quickly met with a new court challenge from the NPCA.

The limits had originally been enacted in 1999 as part of the SCAQMD's revisions to its Rule 1113 on architectural and industrial-maintenance coatings, but those revisions were voided following a previous court challenge mounted by the NPCA and coatings manufacturers. The district in December re-adopted VOC limits that are nearly identical to the 1999 limits.

The NPCA filed the latest suit challenging the limits in Orange County Superior Court. The suit says the SCAQMD exceeded its authority in re-enacting the VOC limits, and alleges that the district violated provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act by failing to adequately consider potential adverse environmental effects of the rule changes. In addition, the suit says the district failed to adequately conduct a socio-economic impact analysis prior to re-enacting the limits.

The suit seeks a court order forcing the district to set aside the revisions to Rule 1113 and consider the adoption of revisions to the rule only after conducting a new and "legally adequate" socio-economic impact analysis and complying with other requirements of the state's Environmental Quality Act.

With the re-adoption of the amendments, VOC limits will drop to as low as 50 g/L for some coatings categories by 2006. In addition, lower VOC limits originally scheduled to go into effect in mid-2002 were scheduled to become effective on Jan. 1, as a result of the district's action.

The coatings categories and VOC limits scheduled for Jan. 1 include nonflat coatings (150 g/L); primers, sealers and undercoaters (200 g/L); floor coatings (100 g/L); high-temperature industrial maintenance (IM) coatings (420 g/L); zinc-rich IM primers (340 g/L); quick-dry enamels (250 g/L); and quick-dry primers, sealers and undercoaters (200 g/L). Lower VOC limits are also scheduled for several other specialized coatings categories.

A VOC limit of 250 g/L for other industrial maintenance coatings is scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2004, and the limit for all IM coatings is scheduled to go to 100 g/L on July 1, 2006. Also in 2006, under the re-adopted amendments to the regulation, VOC limits are scheduled to go to 50 g/L for nonflat coatings, 50 g/L for floor coatings; 100 g/L for primers, sealers and undercoaters; 50 g/L for quick-dry enamels; 100 g/L for quick-dry primers, sealers and undercoaters; 100 g/L for rust-preventative coatings; and 100 g/L for specialty primers.

More information on the SCAQMD's Rule 1113 can be obtained from www.aqmd.gov/rules/rules.html.