Getting Pennsylvania on board EPA’s plan to reduce Power Plant Carbon Emissions

EPA recently held public hearings on reducing the nation’s carbon emission from power plants by 30% by 2030. The Clean Air Board is sponsoring a forum to discuss the issues raised the EPA plan. Professor Michael Heiman (Dickinson College) will discuss the merits of the plan, followed by a panel discussion and questions and answers.

The talk will cover: How to Balance Effectiveness, Efficiency, and Equity. Why the Obama Administration Choose Direct Regulation to Address Carbon Emissions. What are Pennsylvania’s Options for Meeting the EPA’s Mandate? Professor Heiman will address the historic and current challenge in reducing carbon emissions to combat climate change. A panel of local experts will address the options Pennsylvania has to meet EPA’s targets.

Sept. 4, 7 pm. Dickinson College – Stafford Auditorium (Rector Science Complex), 301 W. Louther Street, Carlisle, PA
The community is invited. Parking is available across Louther Street by the Library.

CAB Comment on DEP’s smog plan

Comments on DEP smog plan to the Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board by Thomas Y. Au, President of the Clean Air Board, May 29, 2014

Summer will soon be here and that can mean high levels of pollutants in our air, specifically ozone and small particles, commonly known as smog. Meteorologists declare “Air Quality Action” days when they project that weather conditions are conducive for unhealthy air pollution. In 2012, an extremely hot year, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) called eleven “action days” for the Susquehanna Valley due to high concentrations of ozone. In 2013, DEP called four action days in the Susquehanna Valley due to ozone.

We should heed those warnings. Recent scientific studies conclude that short-term exposure to unhealthy air pollution can have significant adverse effects on pregnant women, children, the elderly, and even the general population–especially those with pre-existing conditions such as asthma. There is increasing scientific evidence that exposure to ozone can lead to neurological disorders. Short term symptoms resulting from breathing high levels of ozone and fine particulate include chest pain, coughing, nausea, throat irritation, and congestion. These pollutants also aggravate 
bronchitis, heart disease, emphysema, and asthma—and can increase risks of stroke. Children, senior citizens, and those with asthma or other respiratory problems are urged to limit outdoor activities during action days.

Air Quality Action days are often declared when there is little wind and when the amount of ozone or particles in stagnant air are projected to exceed federal health standards. Smog is caused when chemicals including nitrogen oxides react in sunlight, forming ground-level ozone. Coal fired power plants are the single largest source of smog-causing pollutants in Pennsylvania. While nearly all of the state’s largest coal plants have the technology to reduce nitrogen oxides, many do not use the available technology. The Clean Air Act requires that existing sources of emissions which contribute to the ozone problem install reasonably available control technology. Reasonably available control technology (RACT) is defined as the lowest emission limitation that a particular source is capable of meeting by the application of control technology that is reasonably available considering technological and economic feasibility. Accordingly, RACT determinations must set limits as rigorous as could be met through use of feasible control technology.

The proposed regulation does not set reasonably available control technology for Pennsylvania coal plants anywhere close to the what can be achieved through control technology. Most of Pennsylvania coal plants have highly effective NOx emission controls installed, such as Selective Catalytic Reduction (“SCR”) and low NOx burners. However, in the emission limits proposed, the RACT NOx emission limit for a coal-fired boiler would be an extremely permissive range of between 0.45 lbs/MMBtu and 0.20 lbs/MMBtu. See Proposed 25 Pa. Code § 121.97(g)(1)(v)-(vi). These limits are far higher than recent emissions history and higher than RACT limits set in nearby states. The Sierra Club has submitted detailed information to the Department to document this point. (Sierra Club letter, Jan. 17, 2014)

This proposed limit is not only based on technology inferior to that already in place at nearly all coal-fired power plants in Pennsylvania, but is also significantly more permissive than what those facilities are capable of achieving. In fact, under the averaging rule proposed the coal plants would not need to achieve these limits during ozone action days. See Proposed 25 Pa. Code § 129.98(a). This is like bypassing your catalytic converter in your car to save a few pennies.

The most serious health risks from ozone are associated with high energy demand days when the non-SCR units are almost certain to be operating. Therefore it is imperative that these units be capable of curtailing their NOx emissions on these days so that they comply with emission limits consistent with the installation and operation of reasonably available emission technology found elsewhere in this region.

We continue to suffer from high ozone days during the summer. Air quality in Pennsylvania continues to violate national ambient air quality standards. To achieve compliance with the 2008 8-hour ozone NAAQS, reductions from all major sectors — in-state stationary sources, in-state mobile sources, and out-of-state stationary sources — are essential. This proposed regulation needs to be revised to achieve real reductions in smog causing pollutants.

Your comments on this proposal can be submitted directly to the Environmental Quality Board by June 30, 2014.

Online Comments

Comments, including the one page summary, may be submitted to the EQB by accessing the EQB’s Online Public Comment System at:

http://www.ahs.dep.pa.gov/RegComments

Note regarding the online system: If an acknowledgement of comments submitted online is not received by the sender within two business days, the comments should be re-sent to the EQB to ensure receipt.

Written Comments

Written comments and summaries can also be mailed to Environmental Quality Board, P.O. Box 8477, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8477.

All comments must be received by the EQB on or before the close of the public comment period.

Support clean burning wood-heaters

Less wood smoke means healthier air

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed new limits on harmful air pollution from new wood-burning devices. These devices, such as boilers, furnaces, and stoves, can subject a neighborhood to dangerous air pollution. Wood smoke, which contains soot, carbon monoxide, and other toxic air pollutants, can trigger asthma attacks, cause cancer, and even cut short lives.

Wood smoke can pollute a neighborhood and can travel miles away. That means people who live nearby and far away can suffer from inhaling wood smoke. Strong standards will help ensure that new wood burning devices are much cleaner and do not further pollute our air. EPA needs to adopt these long-overdue standards to protect our health and our neighborhoods from harmful wood smoke-related air pollutants.

To send a comment to EPA, click on the American Lung Association link: http://bit.ly/Rowbtg

Smog alert ahead

http://cumberlink.com/news/opinion/columnists/guest/guest-editorial-smog-alert-ahead/article_83047dce-ae8f-11e2-bd59-001a4bcf887a.html

Summer will soon be here and that can mean high levels of air pollutants in our air, specifically ozone and small particles, commonly known as smog.

Meteorologists declare “Air Quality Action” days when they project that weather conditions are conducive for unhealthy air pollution. In 2012, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) called 12 “action days” for the Susquehanna Valley.

We should heed those warnings. Recent scientific studies conclude that short-term exposure to unhealthy air pollution can have significant adverse effects on pregnant women, children, the elderly and even the general population — especially those with pre-existing conditions such as asthma.

Short-term symptoms resulting from breathing high levels of ozone and fine particulate are chest pain, coughing, nausea, throat irritation, and congestion. These pollutants also aggravate bronchitis, heart disease, emphysema, and asthma — and can increase risks of stroke.

Children, senior citizens, and those with asthma or other respiratory problems are urged to limit outdoor activities when an action day is predicted.

The quality of the air we breathe is a fundamental component of our overall health. The physiological effect of short-term ozone exposure is being unable to inhale to total lung capacity. Small particles, or PM 2.5, can be especially dangerous because they can travel deep into human tissue. Scientific studies over the last two decades have shown that exposure to high levels of PM 2.5 can raise the incidence of heart and pulmonary disease, cancer, infant mortality, low birth-weight babies, and even impaired cognitive function.

Air Quality Action days are often declared when there is little wind, and when the amount of ozone or particles in stagnant air could exceed federal health standards.

The DEP monitors local and regional air quality. Local television and radio stations alert the public to an Air Quality Action day prediction. Check your newspaper’s websites as well. The Clean Air Board of Central Pennsylvania also monitors pollution levels at its website, and posts notices when DEP declares an Air Quality Action day. Go to: cleanairboard.wordpress.com

On Air Quality Action days, the public can take simple, voluntary actions to help reduce the chances of creating even more health-impairing pollution. The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends 10 steps:

1. Instead of driving, share a ride, take public transportation, walk or bike.

2. If you must drive, avoid excessive idling or jack-rabbit starts, and try to consolidate errands.

3. Don’t refuel your car, or only do so after 7 pm.

4. Avoid using outboard motors, off-road vehicles, or other gasoline powered recreational vehicles.

5. Wait to mow your lawn until late evening or the next day. Also, avoid using gasoline-powered garden equipment.

6. Use latex paints instead of oil-based paints, solvents, or varnishes that produce fumes.

7. If you are barbecuing, use an electric starter instead of charcoal lighter fluid.

8. Limit or postpone your household chores that will involve the use of consumer products.

9. Conserve energy to reduce energy needs.

10. Keep your car well maintained to limit excess emissions.

As more scientists and public health officials have studied air quality, more links have discovered between pollution and illness. Our local monitoring and notification systems work like other public information systems that warn of danger and possible threats to our health. They work to protect us, and it is, therefore, wise to pay attention to them.

submitted to Sentinel by Thomas Au

Clean Air Board Community Meeting, March 7, 2013, 7 pm

“Looking Forward to Clean Air”

CAB will look at new developments under the federal Clean Air Act and under state regulations.  Arleen Shulman, former air resources planning chief at the state Department of Environmental Protection will speak to the board.

This meeting will be held at the Second Presbyterian Church, 528 Garland Drive, Carlisle, PA 17013, on March 7,  at 7 pm.   Join us for a discussion of this important topic.

EPA Proposes Clean Air Standards for Harmful Particle Pollution on June 15

WASHINGTON – In response to a court order, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today proposed updates to its national air quality standards for harmful fine particle pollution, including soot (known as PM2.5). These microscopic particles can penetrate deep into the lungs and have been linked to a wide range of serious health effects, including premature death, heart attacks, and strokes, as well as acute bronchitis and aggravated asthma among children. A federal court ruling required EPA to update the standard based on best available science. Today’s proposal, which meets that requirement, builds on smart steps already taken by the EPA to slash dangerous pollution in communities across the country. Thanks to these steps, 99 percent of U.S. counties are projected to meet the proposed standard without any additional action. 

 

EPA’s proposal would strengthen the annual health standard for harmful fine particle pollution (PM2.5) to a level within a range of 13 micrograms per cubic meter to 12 micrograms per cubic meter. The current annual standard is 15 micrograms per cubic meter. The proposed changes, which are consistent with the advice from the agency’s independent science advisors, are based on an extensive body of scientific evidence that includes thousands of studies – including many large studies which show negative health impacts at lower levels than previously understood. By proposing a range, the agency will collect input from the public as well as a number of stakeholders, including industry and public health groups, to help determine the most appropriate final standard to protect public health. It is important to note that the proposal has zero effect on the existing daily standard for fine particles or the existing daily standard for coarse particles (PM10), both of which would remain unchanged.

For full news release: http://go.usa.gov/vYH

The Job-Creating Mercury Rule

New York Times – Published: February 22, 2012

After 20 years of delay and litigation by polluters, the Obama administration approved in December one of the most important rules in the history of the Clean Air Act. It will require power plants to reduce emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants by more than 90 percent in the next five years and is expected to prevent as many as 11,000 premature deaths annually from asthma, other respiratory diseases and heart attacks.  More …

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/23/opinion/the-job-creating-mercury-rule.html?_r=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

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