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EPA Proposes to Grant Clean Air Act Petition to Improve Air Quality in New Jersey; Agency action would cut transport of air pollutants from Pa. power plant

Release Date: 03/31/2011
Contact Information: EPA Region 2 Elias Rodriguez, (212) 637-3664, rodriguez.elias@epa.gov; EPA Region 3 Terri A. White, (215) 814-5523, white.terri-a@epa.gov

(Washington) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today proposed to grant a petition submitted by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to limit sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions from a Pennsylvania power plant that are adversely impacting air quality in four New Jersey counties. The proposed rule, when final, would require the Portland Generating Station in Northampton County, Pa. to reduce its SO2 emissions by 81 percent over a three-year period. Exposure to SO2 can aggravate asthma and cause other respiratory difficulties. People with asthma, children, and the elderly are especially vulnerable to these effects.

Under the Clean Air Act, when a facility impacts air quality in another state, the affected state can petition EPA and request that the facility be required to reduce its impact. In a September 2010 petition, New Jersey asked EPA to find that the Portland power plant is impacting the state’s air quality and to require the facility to reduce its SO2 emissions. These emission reductions can be achieved using proven and widely available pollution control methods.

New Jersey conducted several air quality modeling analyses to evaluate SO2 levels in the state. These analyses show that the level of SO2 in the air is exceeding the agency’s 1-hour national air quality standard and that the Portland plant is the main source of emissions. EPA also conducted its own modeling analyses and found the same results.

Typically a mix of sources from multiple locations is responsible for air quality issues in a specific area. However, in this case, the extensive analysis shows a clear connection between the emissions from the Portland plant alone and the elevated level of SO2 in New Jersey.

EPA will accept comment on this proposal until May 27, 2011. The agency is also holding public hearing on this proposed rule on April 27, 2011 in Oxford, N.J. The hearing will provide stakeholders with the opportunity to submit written or oral comments in person. A written record of the hearing will be compiled and submitted to the docket. Any questions posed at the hearing will be replied to in a response to comment summary issued with EPA’s final response to the petition.

More information on the petition and public hearing: http://www.epa.gov/ttn/oarpg/new.html