Tag Archives: Air Pollution

12/8/2011 Associated Press: EPA head says ruling on Ariz. coal plant complex

12/8/2011 Associated Press: EPA head says ruling on Ariz. coal plant complex By FELICIA FONSECA: FLAGSTAFF, Ariz.—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency expects to make a decision on whether to mandate pollution controls for a coal-fired power plant on the Navajo reservation next spring.But with so many competing interests, regional administrator Jared Blumenfeld in the EPA’s San Francisco office admits the agency won’t satisfy them all, and the differences likely will have to be ironed out in court. “To say it’s complex would be an understatement,” he told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday.

The Navajo Generating Station near Page ensures water and power demands are met in major metropolitan areas and contributes significantly to the economies of the Navajo and Hopi tribes. Conservationists see it as a health and environmental hazard.

Blumenfeld said the EPA ultimately must decide what technology would best protect the air around the Grand Canyon and other pristine areas as part of its regional haze rule. Whether that means low nitrogen oxide burners already installed at the plant, more expensive scrubbers or something else won’t be disclosed until next year. The plant’s owners would have five years to comply once a final rule is issued.

“It is likely we will be scrutinized, so we are sticklers for following the rules,” he said.

The Navajo Generating Station is just one of three coal-fired power plants in the region that directly or indirectly affects the Navajo Nation. The EPA already has proposed pollution controls for the Four Corners Power Plant and the San Juan Generating Station in northwestern New Mexico, which are in clear view of one another. The latter is overseen by another EPA region.

The Department of Interior is conducting a study with a draft due out this month on the 2,250-megawatt Navajo Generating Station that will show just how vast the interests are in the plant that began producing electricity in 1974. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is the majority owner of the plant. It is run by the Salt River Project and fed by coal from Peabody Energy’s Kayenta Mine.

The regional haze rule allows the EPA to look at factors other than air quality and cost effectiveness in determining regulations for power plants. Navajo Generating Station provides energy to deliver water from the Colorado River to Tucson and Phoenix through a series of canals and fulfills water rights settlements reached with American Indian tribes.

Blumenfeld said the agency needs specific information on what tribes, like the Gila River Indian Community, would expect to pay for water if that power no longer was available, or the figures from the Navajo and Hopi tribes on revenue losses should the power plant cease operation. SRP has said it could be forced to shutter the plant if it doesn’t secure lease agreements or it cannot afford more the expensive pollution controls.

“Until we have the detailed information about what those impacts are, we can’t do very much with that,” Blumenfeld said.

His office also has been criticized by some Republican members of Congress for what they say are unnecessary regulations that are hurting local economies. Blumenfeld said while critics believe states can take over the EPA’s duties, his agency ensures consistency across the board.

“Ultimately it’s an example of common-sense standards of helping the American public have a healthy life,” he said. “We recognize that we also need energy, but I think they are not in conflict.”

Andy Bessler

Southwest Organizing Representative
Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal to Clean Energy & Community Partnerships
www.sierraclub.org/ej/partnerships/tribal
www.sierraclub.org/coal
andy.bessler@sierrraclub.org
P.O. Box 38 Flagstaff, AZ 86002
928-774-6103 voice
928-774-6138 fax
928-380-7808 cell

11/11/2011 The Phoenix Sun: Congressmen Call for Hearing on the True Costs of Coal

11/11/2011 The Phoenix Sun: Congressmen Call for Hearing on the True Costs of Coal Written by Osha Gray Davidson: Democratic Congressmen Henry Waxman (CA) and Bobby Rush (IL) today called on Republican committee chairs to hold hearings on the full economic costs of coal-fired power plants. The key word here is, of course, full. Big Coal and its supporters in Congress often use the club of “expensive energy” to beat up on renewable sources such as solar power and wind. But, as Waxman and Rush state in their request letter to Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), a new study “finds that the economic costs of air pollution from coal-fired … power plants outweigh the economic value these sources add to the economy.” The letter was also addressed to the chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy and Power, Ed Whitfield (R-KY).

The study, Environmental Accounting for Pollution in the United States Economy, determined that economic damages caused by coal-fired power plants outweighed benefits by up to 5.6 times.

Coal-fired electrical generation only seems cheap because most of the costs don’t appear on the power bill. Instead, the full cost of coal is paid by ordinary Americans in increased health care and shortened life spans, by businesses in lost work days due to respiratory and heart-related illnesses, and by the agriculture industry in lower crop yields due to climate change.

The new study appears in the latest issue of the American Economic Review, and was co-authored by economists at Middlebury College and Yale University.

For more on the healthcare costs of coal-fired power plants, see the excellent 2010 study, The Toll From Coal, published by the Clean Air Task Force.

The True Cost of Coal

Please Support Earthjustice: President Obama keeps weak ozone standards

Just last week, President Obama delayed establishing critical new national ozone standards. President Obama is putting our lives on the line to satisfy corporate polluters. And Earthjustice is fighting back in court. The President’s reckless move undermines years of work by Earthjustice to clean up deadly smog in our air. Our air quality, thousands of lives and tens of thousands of cases of asthma are at stake. We won’t take “not now” for an answer.

Earthjustice is not standing by while our air and lives are destroyed to satisfy corporate polluters. Our legal experts are working tirelessly in the courts to stop this delay, but we need your help to support these emergency efforts. Donate now to help us fight back.

In 2008, deficient national standards for ozone, or smog, which the Environmental Protection Agency’s own scientists said weren’t adequate to protect public health, were adopted by the Bush administration. Earthjustice stepped in and sued, but before the court ruled on our challenge, the incoming Obama administration promised to revisit the standards and our litigation was put on hold.

When the revised standard still wasn’t issued by the administration two years later, we went back to court last month and asked for an order compelling the EPA to issue new, lawful standards immediately.

Now that the White House has squashed the move to stronger standards, we’re going to redouble our efforts to get relief from the courts.

The President’s decision last week to delay critical new ozone standards demonstrates why court action is absolutely critical to make meaningful progress for the environment. And with your emergency support we will continue to fight for strong air and environmental protections in court.

Please make an emergency donation today to support our critical efforts
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With your support, we won’t take “not now” for an answer.

Sincerely,

Trip Van Noppen
President, Earthjustice

P.S. President Obama is putting our lives on the line to satisfy corporate polluters. Donate now to help us fight back in court and on Capitol Hill before more lives are lost to deadly smog.

US EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson: Statement on the Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards

9/2/2011 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: US EPA Press Office (News Media Only) 202-564-4355: Statement by EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson on the Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards: Since day one, under President Obama’s leadership, EPA has worked to ensure health protections for the American people, and has made tremendous progress to ensure that Clean Air Act standards protect all Americans by reducing our exposures to harmful air pollution like mercury, arsenic and carbon dioxide.

This Administration has put in place some of the most important standards and safeguards for clean air in U.S. history: the most significant reduction of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide air pollution across state borders; a long-overdue proposal to finally cut mercury pollution from power plants; and the first-ever carbon pollution standards for cars and trucks. We will revisit the ozone standard, in compliance with the Clean Air Act.

8/5/2011 NPCA Applauds EPA's Decision to Limit Air Pollution at San Juan Generating Station to Protect National Parks and People

8/5/2011 PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Contact: Stephanie Kodish, Clean Air Counsel, National Parks Conservation Association, W: 865-329-2424, C: 865-964-1774, skodish@npca.org and Jeff Billington, Senior Media Relations Manager, National Parks Conservation Association, (202) 419-3717, jbillington@npca.org : NPCA Applauds EPA’s Decision to Limit Air Pollution at San Juan Generating Station to Protect National Parks and People: Federal Agency Responsible for Protecting Air Holds Major Polluter Accountable by Setting Adequate Limits on Damaging Emissions “Despite facing extreme pressure to allow weaker standards, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Region 6 today released adequate requirements for the San Juan Generating Station, which finally bring it in line with the standards dictated by the Clean Air Act’s regional haze rule. This decision by the EPA is a prime example of the type of requirements that are needed to protect the health and future of our national parks and the people who live near and visit them.

“The clean-up plan requires one of the nation’s dirtiest coal plants to install modern pollution controls; controls that are routinely used at other coal plants nationwide. We strongly support the EPA in applying similar standards to other antiquated power plants currently belching pollution into national parks across the country.

“Because of the EPA and this plan, the people of and visitors drawn to this region will be able to breathe easier and to see clearer the incredible splendor of places like Mesa Verde and the Grand Canyon. We look forward to the EPA’s work in future months to require similar pollution limits, which truly take the intent of the Clean Air Act to heart, to additional power plants nationwide.”

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8/5/2011 Clean Air Plan for San Juan Generating Station Finalized: New Mexico on Track for Significant Public Health and Environmental Protection Contact: Jeremy Nichols (303) 573-4898 x 1303 Download the EPA’s Proposal: San Juan County, NM—A milestone plan to limit haze and smog forming pollution by more than 80% from the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station in New Mexico was finalized today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The plan marks the first EPA plan in the nation to clean up aging coal-fired power plants, setting a high bar for the protection of public health and the environment.

“This is a huge step forward for clean air and clean energy in New Mexico,” said Jeremy Nichols, Climate and Energy Program Director for WildEarth Guardians. “This plan puts public health and the environment first using the most up-to-date cost-effective pollution controls are used. This is a win-win plan.”

The EPA is finally taking action to clean up the San Juan Generating Station in response to a lawsuit filed by WildEarth Guardians. Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA has been required to ensure the oldest and dirtiest sources of air pollution curb their emissions to reduce haze in National Parks and wilderness areas.

Modeling prepared by Public Service Company of New Mexico, or PNM, shows the San Juan Generating Station contributes to 80% of all visibility degradation in Mesa Verde National Park, 70% in the San Pedro Parks Wilderness, and 45% in Bandelier National Monument. Called “Best Available Retrofit Technology,” the EPA’s plan would reduce visibility impairment by more than 40%.

Under the EPA’s plan, which was proposed in early January of this year, PNM will be required to meet updated limits on haze forming nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide pollution. The San Juan Generating Station would have to meet a nitrogen oxide emission rate of 0.05 lb/mmbtu through the use of selective catalytic reduction, the most up-to-date, cost-effective control technology, reducing emissions by more than 80%. The company will have to meet these limits within five years.

The same pollutants that form haze are the same that form smog and particulates. In 2010, the American Lung Association gave San Juan County’s air quality an “F” for because of smog pollution. It is estimated that every year, haze, smog, and particulates from the San Juan Generating Station cause 33 premature deaths, 50 heart attacks, 600 asthma attacks, 21 cases of chronic bronchitis, and 31 asthma-related emergency room visits every year at a cost of more than $250 million.

Still, WildEarth Guardians has called on PNM to instead spend its money to fully retire the San Juan Generating Station and offset the electricity it generates with renewable energy. New Mexico already has a 20% renewable energy standard and reports show that a combination of rooftop solar and wind energy could meet New Mexico’s power needs by more than seventy-fold. Utilities in Colorado and other states are beginning to retire coal-fired power plants, opting against investing millions in the face of mounting environmental liability.

“Clean air and clean energy go hand in hand,” said Nichols. “There is no such thing as clean coal and we hope PNM uses this opportunity to transition toward cleaner energy. If not, we are at least heartened that we have the strongest safeguards in place to protect our communities from the San Juan Generating Station.”

Although the State of New Mexico was originally required to adopt a clean up plan for the San Juan Generating Station, because of delay and the inability of the state to develop a plan that complied with the Clean Air Act, the EPA developed its own proposal. Under the Clean Air Act, where states fail to protect clean air, the EPA is legally obligated to develop federal plans. The EPA’s plan still allows the State of New Mexico to develop its own plan, so long as it is at least as strong.
Operated and primarily owned by Public Service Company of New Mexico, or PNM, the San Juan Generation Station is an 1,800 megawatt power plant that every year releases thousands of tons of toxic air pollution from its smokestacks.

Located 15 miles west of Farmington, the plant consists of four boilers and releases more than 18,000 tons of smog forming nitrogen oxide gases, 51 pounds of mercury, and more than 13,000,000 tons of carbon dioxide—as much as is released by more than 2.3 million passenger vehicles.

7/7/2011 EPA Reduces Smokestack Pollution, Protecting Americans’ Health: Clean Air Act protections will cut dangerous pollution

EPA Reduces Smokestack Pollution, Protecting Americans’ Health from Soot and Smog: Clean Air Act protections will cut dangerous pollution in communities that are home to 240 million Americans CONTACT: Enesta Jones, jones.enesta@epa.gov, 202-564-7873, 202-564-4355: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 7, 2011: WASHINGTON – Building on the Obama Administration’s strong record of protecting the public’s health through common-sense clean air standards – including proposed standards to reduce emissions of mercury and other air toxics, as well as air quality standards for sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide – the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today finalized additional Clean Air Act protections that will slash hundreds of thousands of tons of smokestack emissions that travel long distances through the air leading to soot and smog, threatening the health of hundreds of millions of Americans living downwind.

The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule will protect communities that are home to 240 million Americans from smog and soot pollution, preventing up to 34,000 premature deaths, 15,000 nonfatal heart attacks, 19,000 cases of acute bronchitis, 400,000 cases of aggravated asthma, and 1.8 million sick days a year beginning in 2014 – achieving up to $280 billion in annual health benefits. Twenty seven states in the eastern half of the country will work with power plants to cut air pollution under the rule, which leverages widely available, proven and cost-effective control technologies. Ensuring flexibility, EPA will work with states to help develop the most appropriate path forward to deliver significant reductions in harmful emissions while minimizing costs for utilities and consumers.

“No community should have to bear the burden of another community’s polluters, or be powerless to prevent air pollution that leads to asthma, heart attacks and other harmful illnesses. These Clean Air Act safeguards will help protect the health of millions of Americans and save lives by preventing smog and soot pollution from traveling hundreds of miles and contaminating the air they breathe,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “By maximizing flexibility and leveraging existing technology, the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule will help ensure that American families aren’t suffering the consequences of pollution generated far from home, while allowing states to decide how best to decrease dangerous air pollution in the most cost effective way.”

Carried long distances across the country by wind and weather, power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) continually travel across state lines. As the pollution is transported, it reacts in the atmosphere and contributes to harmful levels of smog (ground-level ozone) and soot (fine particles), which are scientifically linked to widespread illnesses and premature deaths and prevent many cities and communities from enjoying healthy air quality.

The rule will improve air quality by cutting SO2 and NOx emissions that contribute to pollution problems in other states. By 2014, the rule and other state and EPA actions will reduce SO2 emissions by 73 percent from 2005 levels. NOx emissions will drop by 54 percent. Following the Clean Air Act’s “Good Neighbor” mandate to limit interstate air pollution, the rule will help states that are struggling to protect air quality from pollution emitted outside their borders, and it uses an approach that can be applied in the future to help areas continue to meet and maintain air quality health standards.

The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule replaces and strengthens the 2005 Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR), which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ordered EPA to revise in 2008. The court allowed CAIR to remain in place temporarily while EPA worked to finalize today’s replacement rule.

The rule will protect over 240 million Americans living in the eastern half of the country, resulting in up to $280 billion in annual benefits. The benefits far outweigh the $800 million projected to be spent annually on this rule in 2014 and the roughly $1.6 billion per year in capital investments already underway as a result of CAIR. EPA expects pollution reductions to occur quickly without large expenditures by the power industry. Many power plants covered by the rule have already made substantial investments in clean air technologies to reduce SO2 and NOx emissions. The rule will level the playing field for power plants that are already controlling these emissions by requiring more facilities to do the same. In the states where investments in control technology are required, health and environmental benefits will be substantial.

The rule will also help improve visibility in state and national parks while better protecting sensitive ecosystems, including Appalachian streams, Adirondack lakes, estuaries, coastal waters, and forests. In a supplemental rulemaking based on further review and analysis of air quality information, EPA is also proposing to require sources in Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin to reduce NOX emissions during the summertime ozone season. The proposal would increase the total number of states covered by the rule from 27 to 28. Five of these six states are covered for other pollutants under the rule. The proposal is open for public review and comment for 45 days after publication in the Federal Register.

More information: http://www.epa.gov/crossstaterule/

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6/15/2011 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: US EPA Administrator Testimony Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 6/15/2011 US EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Testimony Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works CONTACT: EPA Press Office press@epa.gov 202-564-6794 Madam Chairman, thank you for inviting me to testify about EPA’s ongoing efforts to protect our health by reducing the air pollution that affects millions of Americans. I know this subject very personally because my son is one of the more than 25 million Americans battling asthma. Let me begin my testimony with a matter of fact: pollution, such as mercury and particulate matter, shortens and reduces the quality of Americans’ lives and puts at risk the health and development of future generations. We know mercury is a toxin that causes neurological damage to adults, children and developing fetuses. We know mercury causes neurological damage, including lost IQ point in children. And we know particulate matter can lead to respiratory disease, decreased lung function and even pre-mature death. These pollutants – and others including arsenic, chromium and acid gases –come from power plants. These are simple facts that should not be up for debate.

However, Madam Chairman, while Americans across the country suffer from this pollution, special interests who are trying to gut long-standing public health protections are now going so far as to claim that these pollutants aren’t even harmful. These myths are being perpetrated by some of the same lobbyists who have in the past testified before Congress about the importance of reducing mercury and particulate matter. Now on behalf of their clients, they’re saying the exact opposite.

The good news is that to address this pollution problem, in 1970 Congress passed the Clean Air Act – which was signed into law by a Republican President, and then strengthened in 1990 under another Republican Administration.

Last year alone, the Clean Air Act is estimated to have saved 160,000 lives and prevented more than 100,000 hospital visits. Simply put, protecting public health and the environment should not be – and historically has not been – a partisan issue.

Despite all the distractions, let me assure you that EPA will continue to base all of our public health protections on two key principles: the law and the best science. Allow me to focus on two current activities.

On March 16, after 20 years in the making, EPA proposed the first ever national standards for mercury and other toxic air pollution from power plants. While many power plants already comply, the standards will level the playing field by requiring additional power plants to install widely-available, proven pollution control technologies.

Deployment of these technologies will prevent an estimated:

17,000 premature deaths
11,000 heart attacks
120,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms
11,000 cases of acute bronchitis among children
12,000 emergency room visits and hospital admissions
850,000 days of work missed due to illness

This proposed rule, which is going through a public comment process, is the product of significant outreach to industry and other stakeholders.

As we work at EPA to cut down on mercury and other toxins from power plants, we’re also trying to reduce sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide through the “Clean Air Transport Rule” we proposed last year.

This rule requires 31 states and the District of Columbia to reduce their emissions of these two pollutants – which contribute to ozone and fine particle pollution across state lines – thereby significantly improving air quality in cities across the U.S. Utilities can achieve these reductions by investing in widely-available technology.

Once finalized, this rule will result in more than $120 billion in health benefits each year. EPA estimates this rule will protect public health by avoiding:

14,000 to 36,000 premature death

· 21,000 cases of acute bronchitis

· 23,000 nonfatal heart attacks

240,000 cases of aggravated asthma
440,000 cases of upper and lower respiratory symptoms
26,000 hospital and emergency room visits

· 1.9 million days of work or school missed due to illness

These numbers represent a major improvement in the quality of life for literally millions of people throughout the country – especially working families, children and older Americans.

While some argue that public health protections are too costly, history has repeatedly shown that we can clean up pollution, create jobs and grow our economy all at the same time.

Over the 40 years since the Clean Air Act was passed, the U.S. Gross Domestic Product grew more than 200 percent. In fact, some economic analysis suggests that the economy is billions of dollars larger today than it would have been without the Act.

Simply put, the Clean Air Act saves lives and strengthens the American workforce. As a result, the economic value of clean air far exceeds the costs. Expressed in dollar terms, the benefits of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 alone are projected to reach approximately $2 trillion in 2020, with an estimated cost of $65 billion in that same year – a benefit to cost ratio of more than 30 to 1.

With legislation pending in Congress to weaken and gut this proven public health protection law, I urge this committee to stand up for the hundreds of millions of Americans who are directly or indirectly affected by air pollution.

I look forward to your questions.

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