Tag Archives: Clean Air Act

10/27/2011 EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson: Keystone conversation is 'awesome'

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson still offers some hope for a clean future. This from the Hill “Politico”. 10/27/2011 EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson: Keystone conversation is ‘awesome’ By Erica Martinson: EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson on Thursday took an artful dodge when asked by a student activist about the Keystone XL pipeline, praising civic engagement and promising that the EPA will “do its job.” “People ask me all the time, ‘What about this whole issue?’ To me, it’s awesome; it’s awesome that we’re having this conversation in this country. This should be a moment where we’re having a big conversation,” she said.

But, Jackson added a cautionary note: “This is a pipeline that cuts our country literally in half.” Jackson addressed a Sierra Club meeting of national campus activists, most of whom are focused on shutting down coal-fired power plants on their campuses and on other similar issues.

One student, Jarymar Arana from Texas — who plans to bring up the pipeline again this afternoon when the students visit the White House — thanked the administrator for its previous “robust review” of the pipeline and asked “if you will continue to stand up for the communities affected by Keystone XL.”

“Yes, that’s our job,” Jackson said, speaking of EPA’s obligation under the National Environmental Policy Act to review environmental impact statements.

But, she noted, “Everyone, I think, knows here that the actual decision-makers are the State Department.”

Jackson said the EPA is almost finished with its final comments on the pipeline, but declined to tell reporters when they would be completed.

She noted President Barack Obama’s brief mention Wednesday of the controversy, telling the activists that “he’s certainly heard your voices and is very much aware of the concerns you have raised.”

Arana told POLITICO that Sierra Club and its student activists feel that EPA’s last comments filed on the Keystone XL pipeline essentially rejected the project, and they want to “build on that momentum and ask that they do it again.”

Arana is particularly concerned about family in Brownsville, Texas, near the Gulf Coast, where there may be increased demand for refineries once the pipeline is built, and said she and other activists are concerned about the disproportionate impact on the Hispanic community that could come from the pipeline.

Most of the students at the Sierra Club event at Howard University this morning were focused on coal.

Students at the event said that 17 student groups thus far have won campaigns to retire coal-fired power plants on campus and that last month students held more than 100 events nationwide asking for a transition off of coal at their schools.

Jackson used the event to warn students about congressional assaults on a slew of rules and defend the agency’s recent decisions. “We’re not going to use the current economic crisis to roll back the health and safety people have come to rely on for a decade. … It would be tragic if we took one step forward, and we end up taking four or five steps back, “she said.

About environmental laws, she added: “None of them are safe right now.”

“We will … continue to face vote after vote to knock these rules down,” Jackson said. “They’re threatening more votes … against the Clean Air Act. Against the Clean Water Act … of course now we hear that the EPA is the enemy.”

She called out an unnamed lawmaker in her speech, noting, “I read a really interesting headline today … an elected official, I won’t say which one, said he needs to protect coal ash from regulation. I thought — ‘I thought the job was to protect us from coal ash!’ One of the reason that we have regulations and standards was to protect we the people.”

It appears Jackson was referring to Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), and a story in The Hill.

Jackson specifically defended the agency’s agreement with automakers to up standards to 55 miles per gallon by 2025, though she warned students, “There will be an effort to reverse it. … And it will probably be led by someone from California.” (Rep. Darrell Issa has been a leading critic of the deal.)

Jackson also spoke voraciously of the agency’s upcoming mercury and air toxics standards, due out Dec. 16 after environmental litigants recently granted a one-month extension.

One of the reasons it’s so important to meet the standards, Jackson told the students, is that there are many coal plants that are 40, 50, 60 years old. “We actually have one, I think, approaching 70 years old. And in their entire history … they’ve never found the time, or the reason, to clean up their act.”

10/23/2011 Albuquerque Journal: Battle Over San Juan

The 1,798-megawatt coal-fired San Juan Generating Station near Farmington has been ordered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to install more pollution controls to cut emissions that cause haze. The mine that supplies the plant’s coal, operated by the San Juan Coal Company, can be seen in the background. Photo Credit – Richard Pipes/Journal 10/23/2011 Albuquerque Journal: Battle Over San Juan By Michael Hartranft / Journal Staff Writer: It’s called selective catalytic reduction — a million-dollar term for pollution control if ever there was one. Make that hundreds of millions of dollars in the case of the giant, coal-fired San Juan Generating Station near Farmington, its owners and the consumers who use the electricity it generates.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 6 office says SCR is the most cost-effective way — the agency estimates the cost at $345 million — to retrofit San Juan to cut pollutants that reduce visibility in national parks and wilderness areas and contribute to regional haze, as required by the Clean Air Act. It has given PNM and the other owners of the plant five years to complete the installation.

PNM argues that the federal agency’s prescription for San Juan would cost a lot more than the EPA claims it would — hitting New Mexico customers in the pocketbook — and says it can get satisfactory results for a lot less money.

The electric utility says the price tag for the EPA plan will approach $750 million, or more, causing up to an initial $85-a-year hit on the average residential customer’s bill to pay for PNM’s share of the project. It owns about 46 percent of San Juan, and the electricity generated there serves about 500,000 PNM customers.

Regardless of who is right on the cost estimate, this much is clear: The utility’s customers will pick up the tab, because the cost would be factored into rates.

Less costly plan

PNM says a less costly retrofit would achieve satisfactory results — nearly indistinguishable to the human eye. The cost of an EPA-required SCR system would be in addition to a $320 million environmental upgrade completed at the plant two years ago.

The EPA issued its ruling in August, and, on Sept. 16, PNM appealed to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. It also asked the EPA to stay the new rule until the court makes a decision.

“EPA’s aggressive, five-year compliance time frame means that without a stay, we will be forced to begin spending enormous sums of money without knowing if EPA’s decision will stand,” said Pat Themig, PNM vice president for generation.

The company claims that if it takes a year for a court ruling, it will already have spent $43.6 million on early design and construction.

The EPA, which stepped in with a plan when the state didn’t meet the deadline to submit its own, contends that SCR would cut one of the main haze-causing emissions, nitrogen oxide, by more than 80 percent — reducing visibility impacts by 50 percent in 16 Class 1 park and wilderness areas in four states affected by San Juan. The agency says it will also result in healthier air.

Environmental groups across the region hailed the EPA ruling.

“The EPA took a bold and necessary stand to protect people and businesses from coal’s toxic pollution,” said Bill Corcoran of the Sierra Club.

About coal itself

In some respects, the fight is over the use of coal itself. The Obama administration and some environmental groups have made no secret of their dislike for coal-fired generation of electricity, which tends to be much cheaper than “green” alternatives.

Gov. Susana Martinez said she supports developing alternative energy technology and making it a bigger part of the state’s overall energy portfolio. But the EPA decision is “detrimental” to New Mexico, she told the Journal in an email last week.

“In recent months, even President Obama has conceded that onerous environmental regulations can place a tremendous financial burden on states, businesses and families — and yet the EPA continues to try to impose these new, stifling regulations,” she said.

PNM says federal regulators combined the requirements of two separate rules — regional haze and cross-state pollution — into one to meet an Aug. 5 deadline set in a consent decree signed with WildEarth Guardians that applied only to cross-state pollution.

In doing so, it argues, the EPA did not give proper deference to a state plan for regional haze adopted in June by the Martinez-appointed Environmental Improvement Board, which proposed an alternative technology.

It contends the differences in visibility improvements between that technology — selective noncatalytic reduction — and SCR would barely be perceptible to the human eye.

The price tag for SNCR would be much lower, however — an estimated $77 million and about a $12-a-year impact on ratepayers.

San Juan employs about 400 people, with the adjacent San Juan Coal Mine that supplies the fuel providing jobs for another 500. The first two generating units were built about 40 years ago, and the company expects to keep the plant going for at least another 40.

It’s about visibility

“Our emissions are within the national ambient air quality standards for human health,” said Maureen Gannon, executive director of environmental services for PNM. “This is about visibility, about what the human eye can see. We believe the EPA has gone far over what the regulation was intended to do.”

The EPA is standing by its decision but says it will review the state’s plan and change its analysis if new information warrants.

However, it says an evaluation of the state-proposed SNCR technology showed it would achieve far less reduction in pollution and less visibility improvement.

The regional haze rule stems from a Clean Air Act provision that requires states to improve visibility in 159 Class 1 national parks and wilderness areas, such as the Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde National Park, Bandelier National Monument and 13 other sites in the New Mexico region.

The goal is to restore visibility by 2064 to what it would have been without human impact.

The rule required states to adopt implementation plans addressing the main pollutants that cause haze and to establish reasonable progress goals.

States were also required to evaluate best available retrofit technologies for older, large stationary sources that might be affecting Class 1 sites.

In 2006, the New Mexico Environment Department requested a best available retrofit analysis at San Juan to determine whether additional controls might be needed to comply.

PNM contended that existing controls at the plant — which was undergoing a $320 million upgrade under a 2005 consent decree to settle emissions violations between 2001 and 2003 — would meet the requirements.

Last year, though it was supposed to have submitted a plan to EPA by January 2009, the New Mexico Environment Department under then-Gov. Bill Richardson proposed SCR as the best available technology to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions at San Juan. It later withdrew the plan, in part because of cost concerns raised by PNM.

EPA steps in

The EPA, which had set a January 2011 deadline to issue a plan if the state didn’t meet the 2009 deadline, stepped in with its own proposal in December, starting the hearing and public review process that culminated with the rule in August. New Mexico became the first state to have a federal plan imposed on it for haze.

Calling San Juan one of the nation’s largest sources of nitrogen oxide — 18,400 tons a year, according to the EPA — the federal agency says its plan would cut those emissions by more than 80 percent.

PNM contends the recent upgrade cut nitrogen oxide emissions by 44 percent — from 27,500 tons to 15,300 tons a year — and that its proposed fix would cut it by an additional 30 percent a year. The company says sulfur dioxide, particulate matter and mercury were also significantly reduced in the upgrade.

The EPA said it was bound by the haze rule to evaluate additional technologies and it found SCR the most cost effective. The evaluation also included selective noncatalytic reduction.

The nitrogen oxide limit set at San Juan was based on an assessment of the best-performing coal plants with SCR, Region 6 regional haze coordinator Joe Kordzi said.

“We found there were units that were consistently able to meet this emission limit that were similar to the ones PNM is operating at the San Juan station,” he said.

Kordzi said that, in terms of visibility, the SCR technology would improve it noticeably, while “SNCR hardly made any difference at all.” PNM disagrees and says improvements with SCR might not be visible to the naked eye.

The agency made some key changes based on PNM’s comments during the review process, Kordzi said, including giving owners five years, instead of three, to comply. It agreed to up its original cost estimate from $229 million to $345 million, largely due to issues raised by PNM, although that’s still nowhere near the $750 million PNM says the cost will be.

The EPA contends PNM and its consultant, Black & Veatch, overestimated numerous cost items.

The agency, among other things, said PNM failed to follow the EPA’s cost control manual, consistently used assumptions “at the upper end of the range” for key components, and included unnecessary equipment.

PNM’s cost position

PNM, however, says the EPA omitted critical elements, including $71 million in annual operating expense, as well as major capital costs. Those costs, it says, include $73 million-plus for added auxiliary power equipment, $78 million in lost generation due to extended outages, $126 million for an SCR bypass to protect the equipment during startup, and $78 million in interest during construction.

Black & Veatch’s original estimate was based on a best available retrofit analysis in 2007. Gannon concedes it wasn’t a “detailed engineering estimate,” but said the company is an architect/engineering firm that designs and builds SCRs and is familiar with construction complexities at San Juan — which include installing equipment 200 feet above the plant floor in already congested space.

“And we had some concern, maybe there is some truth to this concern about overestimation,” Gannon said. “So now we’ve had another company (Sargent & Lundy) go out — and they’re at $741 million.”

N.M.’s counteroffer

Not long after Gov. Martinez took office, the state Environment Department under her new secretary, F. David Martin, proposed a PNM-backed plan calling for SNCR, which it said would cost an estimated $77 million to install and would achieve a nitrogen oxide limit it believed would comply with the rule.

Gannon said EPA guidelines for making best available retrofit determinations require agencies to take into account cost, environmental impacts, existing pollution controls, remaining life of the source and degree of improvement that might result.

“When you use that five-factor path, the state plan meets that in terms of additional controls, costs and it does result in some visibility improvements, although you may not be able to see it,” Gannon said. “But you probably won’t be able to see SCR either.”

PNM’s modeling showed that the EPA’s proposed SCR technology would make noticeable visibility improvements at only one of the 16 areas, Mesa Verde.

The company contends the EPA used an antiquated version of the same model it used, in showing visible improvement in nine areas.

Visible differences

“There are some chemistry assumptions we don’t agree with,” Gannon said. “We actually brought in the developer of the model to do some additional modeling, and he, in essence, concurred with the result we were getting.”

She said that SNCR represents reasonable progress toward the Clean Air Act’s goal and that the state could come back in five years and require the plant to install SCR if it deems it necessary.

“For EPA to ask us to do this enormous project in such a short period of time does not make sense from a regulatory perspective,” she said.

Both PNM and the EPA are getting sideline support.

Carla Sonntag, executive director of the New Mexico Utility Shareholders Alliance, a group that represents 12,000 shareholders of gas and electric utilities, is chiefly concerned about the rule’s impact on ratepayers, particularly those with lower incomes.

“If there was a significant difference between the state plan and the EPA, that would be one thing to consider, but there’s really not. It’s negligible,” she said. “But the cost is exorbitant, and that’s going to go back into rates. We feel it’s just unjustified.”

The Sierra Club’s David Van Winkle, though, contends that PNM’s cost estimate is a scare tactic and that the rule should be a trigger point for PNM to rethink its continued investments in coal-fired power, still its major energy source.

“Just from a risk standpoint, you’d think you’d want to diversify … so that you’re not so heavily dependent on that one resource in an area that is heavily regulated,” Van Winkle said.

He allowed that the rule is a visibility regulation.

“But, it’s true that nitrogen oxide is a health problem, so why are we splitting hairs?” he asked.
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal

10/25/2011 Durango Herald: EPA chief keeps up the pressure – Jackson touts approach to replace coal with natural-gas generators

10/25/2011 Durango Herald: EPA chief keeps up the pressure – Jackson touts approach to replace coal with natural-gas generators By Joe Hanel Herald Staff Writer: DENVER – Regulators will continue to push for cleanups at coal power plants in the Four Corners despite a rough economy, the Obama administration’s top environmental official said Monday. Lisa Jackson, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, visited Denver to tout the state’s approach to retiring coal plants and replacing them with natural gas-powered generators. Jackson’s agency in 2009 blocked a permit for the proposed Desert Rock coal power plant in Northwest New Mexico, and it is requiring better pollution-control equipment on existing power plants.

“The problem with many plants that we’re facing today is that they have not in good economic times invested in pollution control technologies. And now they are sort of gasping on the very end of life support to keep running. But the people who are paying the price are these children and our elderly people who have respiratory diseases,” Jackson said when asked about the New Mexico plants.

Jackson noted that President Barack Obama has pledged that his administration will not reduce environmental rules because the economy is dragging.

The EPA will finalize by Dec. 16 a rule limiting mercury pollution from power plants, Jackson said.

Jackson was in town to participate in a panel discussion on Colorado’s “Clean Air Clean Jobs” Act, a 2010 bill that calls for replacing Denver-area coal plants with natural-gas plants.

Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, was one of the act’s prime sponsors, along with former Sen. Bruce Whitehead, D-Hesperus, who Roberts beat in the 2010 election.

Former Gov. Bill Ritter, the law’s biggest champion, moderated the discussion in front of a friendly crowd at National Jewish Health, a respiratory hospital.

The act brought together a new coalition of natural-gas companies and environmentalists, but it caused divisions in traditional alliances. Local environmentalists opposed expanded gas drilling, and Republicans split between a faction supporting coal companies and one backing gas drillers.

Tisha Schuller, president of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, said the political splinters posed a challenge.

“Another challenge was the aggression and persistence of the opposition, and that continues to this day. We have been surprised at the continuous spread of misinformation about the Clean Air Clean Jobs Act and also about the natural-gas industry,” Schuller said.

Jackson applauded the act and said the same kind of alliance could be forged on a national level.

jhanel@durangoherald.com

10/26/2011 Environmental Groups Support Haze Reduction

10/26/2011 Indian Country Today: Environmental Groups Support Haze Reduction By Carol Berry: The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has approved a motion by several environmental groups to intervene in a lawsuit involving mandated pollution controls at the 2,040-megawatt San Juan Generating Station. The New Mexico plant is believed to be the first facility required to adhere to a regional haze program, according to an environmental spokesman. The 1999 regional haze program under the Clean Air Act is designed to protect areas of “great scenic importance”—certain national parks, wilderness areas, national memorials and international parks—from manmade air pollution.

“Visibility impairment by air pollution occurs virtually all the time at most national park and wilderness area monitoring stations,” according to the Federal Register, which also notes that the visibility problem “is caused primarily by emission into the atmosphere of (sulfur dioxide), oxides of nitrogen, and particulate matter, especially fine particulate matter, from inadequately controlled sources.”

“Under the Clean Air Act, the idea was that older, antiquated, coal plants were going to be decommissioned,” but that did not happen at the station, said Mike Eisenfeld, energy coordinator for the San Juan Citizens Alliance. Instead, PNM, New Mexico’s largest electricity provider, filed for an extension of the station’s present lifespan until 2053, he added.

Besides the Alliance, groups seeking to intervene include Dine’ Citizens against Ruining Our Environment (Dine’ CARE), Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association and New Energy Economy.

Sixteen National Parks or other protected historic and scenic areas are within the area affected by haze from the station and other area power plants, with particular concern for air quality at Mesa Verde National Park, only 35 or 40 miles to the north, Eisenfeld said.

Some concerns of area residents center on health effects as well as haze reduction in National Parks and other areas.

“The Navajo people living in the area of San Juan County and the Four Corners area are deeply impacted by the pollution, the haze—we’ve lived there on our ancestral lands forever, and we’ll always be there, said Anna M. Frazier, a spokesperson for Dine’ CARE. “But pollution has a great impact on our health and has a terrible impact on the vegetation—the herbs for healing,” she said, explaining that people now have to go to the mountains to gather plants that once were closer at hand.

“There used to be concern only for older people being affected, but now younger people and children have asthma and hospital records show that,” she said of the station, which is operated by the New Mexico Environment Department to meet EPA mandates, whose antipollution plan for the station is the issue in litigation.

Aesthetic and health concerns aside, PNM “is trying to portray it (upgrade cost) as unfair, like Four Corners Power Plant and Navajo Generating Station and other 50-year-old facility costs to upgrade, which they’re saying is $1 billion. They say they should be able to have a less-effective technical ‘fix,’” Eisenfeld said, “and we’re saying that’s not good enough.”

Although catalytic emission controls on the station are estimated to cost $750 million to $1 billion, controls already installed remove some of the pollutants before they are released from the stack, according to EPA, so that costs would be reduced.

The station, which “continues to be one of the highest emitters of nitrous oxide” is one of the “huge, polluting facilities (that) deter economic development,” Eisenfeld said.

Although the station employs some 400 workers, he said he believes that if it completed the emission control fix, “it would create more jobs.”

Eisenfeld said the increase in employment would be from workers hired to clean up the plant and to install the system that would cut pollution through selective catalytic reduction. He didn’t have estimates for the increase in workers.

http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2011/10/environmental-groups-support-haze-reduction/

10/14/2011 Let's Unplug Dirty, Old Coal Plants – Political weakness keeps them polluting 30+ years too long

10/14/2011 EarthJustice Blog: Let’s Unplug Dirty, Old Coal Plants – Political weakness keeps them polluting 30+ years too long: Across the nation, old coal-fired power plants are gasping for their last breath, having survived long past their prime because of political favors and weak government regulations. They would have died decades ago if not for a fateful policy compromise in the late 1970s that exempted existing power plants from new air quality standards in the Clean Air Act.

The compromise was based on a prediction that the plants would be retired soon, but instead it gave them a whole new lease on life, with a free pass to pollute for another 30 plus years. And until recently, there was no end in sight.

These plants continue to cough up toxic pollutants like mercury, lead and arsenic into the air. They are by far the biggest producers of the power sector’s pollution, forcing millions of Americans to seek their own life support – in the form of respirators and inhalers – just to get through each day without an asthma attack.

Earthjustice litigation is taking steps to close the loopholes and retire dozens of the old plants, while cleaning up those that continue to operate. We are employing a multi-prong strategy to compel the Environmental Protection Agency to strengthen pollution standards based on the best available science and technology.

National environmental laws like the Clean Air and Clean Water acts are meant to be updated regularly to reflect the current science. Thanks to our litigation, the EPA has recently begun to deliver on the promise of our nation’s environmental laws by taking long overdue action on limiting mercury from coal, cleaning up the air in our national parks that is obscured by power plant haze, and setting national standards on water pollution. In addition, the EPA is currently on the hook for enforcing greenhouse gas emission standards, updating national standards for smog and soot.

Our goal is to end what amounts to government subsidizing of the coal power industry, and to invigorate the clean energy economy. That’s good for the climate, for our health—and for jobs. Early this year, a report by Ceres showed that the EPA’s two new air quality rules would create nearly 1.5 million jobs over the next five years because of pollution control equipment and jobs from clean energy development.

As EPA does its job and these new regulations are adopted, dirty coal plants are being forced to decide whether to pay the price of significant pollution upgrades – or shut down and replace that power with cleaner choices.

Of course, coal plant owners and their allies don’t want to have to make that choice. Even now, instead of focusing on ways to fix the economy, the coal industry is waging an all-out defensive attack on environmental protections that are good for the nation but threaten their industry’s bottom line.

Some coal plant operators have seen the writing on the wall. Since many plants are already past their prime, some are choosing to retire—a hard decision made all the easier by our litigation. For example, this spring the owner of the Trans Alta coal plant, Washington state’s largest source single source of air pollution, agreed to shut down the plant by 2025 after coming to the realization that installing the air pollution controls necessary to comply with air and water pollution standards was not a profitable venture. Currently we’re also stepping up efforts to shut down dirty, outdated coal plants in New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, Montana, Nevada, Texas, Tennessee, and the Midwest.

We’re also working to encourage clean energy alternatives. Our clean energy program includes preventing construction of transmission lines that favor coal over renewable energy sources and encouraging smart grid developments that rely on clean energy sources like wind and solar, strengthening efficiency standards for appliances and buildings, and pushing full implementation of state-level climate and renewable energy policies.

The nation is at an energy crossroads. One path cuts old ties and moves on to a clean energy future powered by a mix of next generation power sources. The other path prolongs our dependence on an energy source that is cooking the planet and making us sick. The choice is clear. Thank you for joining with us as we help build the clean energy path.

9/22/2011 US EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Testimony Before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

9/22/2011 US EPA: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CONTACT: EPA Press Office, press@epa.gov, 202-564-6794: Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Testimony Before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations: As prepared for delivery: Chairman Stearns, Ranking Member DeGette and Members of the Subcommittee, I appreciate the opportunity to be here today to testify on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulatory process. It is a priority of the EPA and of this Administration, to ensure that our regulatory system is guided by science and that it protects human health and the environment in a pragmatic and cost effective manner.

One means by which this Administration has made this priority clear is through Executive Order 13563, which includes a directive for federal agencies to develop a regulatory retrospective plan for periodic review of existing significant regulations. Under that directive, EPA has developed a plan which includes 35 priority regulatory reviews. Recent reforms, already finalized or formally proposed, are estimated to save up to $1.5 billion over the next 5 years.

But let me be clear: the core mission of the EPA is protection of public health and the environment. That mission was established in recognition of a fundamental fact of American life – regulations can and do improve the lives of people. We need these rules to hold polluters accountable and keep us safe. For more than 40 years, the Agency has carried out its mission and established a proven track record that a healthy environment and economic growth are not mutually exclusive.

The Clean Air Act is one of the most successful environmental laws in American history and provides an illustrative example of this point.

For 40 years, the nation’s Clean Air Act has made steady progress in reducing the threats posed by pollution and allowing us to breathe easier. In the last year alone, programs implemented pursuant to the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 are estimated to have saved over 160,000 lives; spared Americans more than 100,000 hospital visits; and prevented millions of cases of respiratory problems, including bronchitis and asthma.

Few of the regulations that gave us these huge gains in public health were uncontroversial at the time they were developed. Most major rules have been adopted amidst claims that they would be bad for the economy and bad for employment.

In contrast to doomsday predictions, history has shown, again and again, that we can clean up pollution, create jobs, and grow our economy all at the same time. Over the same 40 years since the Clean Air Act was passed, the Gross Domestic Product of the United States grew by more than 200 percent.

Some would have us believe that “job killing” describes EPA’s regulations. It is misleading to say that enforcement of our nation’s environmental laws is bad for the economy and employment. It isn’t.

Families should never have to choose between a job and a healthy environment. They are entitled to both.

We must regulate sensibly – in a manner that does not create undue burdens and that carefully considers both the benefits and the costs. However, in doing so, we must not lose sight of the reasons for implementation of environmental regulations: These regulations are necessary to ensure that Americans have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. Americans are no less entitled to a safe, clean environment during difficult economic times than they are in a more prosperous economy.

As President Obama recently stated in his Joint Address to Congress, “…what we can’t do…is let this economic crisis be used as an excuse to wipe out the basic protections that Americans have counted on for decades…We shouldn’t be in a race to the bottom where we try to offer the…worst pollution standards.”

Thank you for the opportunity to testify. I look forward to your questions.

8/6/2011 EPA requires cleanup at NM coal-powered plant

8/6/2011 Summit County Citizens Voice: EPA requires cleanup at NM coal-powered plant New pollution controls at coal-fired plant near the Four Corners will benefit public health and reduce regional haze; Utility company says it will appeal the federal decision By Summit Voice: SUMMIT COUNTY — Residents of the Four Corners region and tourists in the famed national parks in the area will be able to breathe a bit easier after the EPA this week issued a final rule that will help cut harmful nitrogen oxide emissions from the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station in New Mexico by 80 percent. The coal plant also emits more than 5,500 tons of sulfur dioxide per year.

The EPA’s decision is part of a larger effort to implement Clean Air Act provisions that have long been ignored by state and and federal regulators. The rules require a reduction in regional haze that clouds views in more than 150 national parks and wilderness areas.

According to a Clean Air Task Force report, San Juan Generating Station is responsible for more than 80 percent of the air pollution at Mesa Verde National Park, just across the border in Colorado. It also contributes to air pollution at the Grand Canyon and many other nationally protected landscapes. Parks in the region support thousands of jobs and the millions of people who visit them each year contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to local economies.

The plant’s operator, Public Service Company of New Mexico, said it will appeal the ruling and warned in a prepared statement that the cost of retrofitting the plany with up-to-date pollution controls will increase energy prices for consumers.

The usual cast of characters, including business groups and some elected officials, lobbied against the new EPA rules, saying that a less aggressive state plan would cost less and also reduce air pollution, but the EPA’s exhaustive environmental study of the plant shows the state plan would not meet air quality standards.

The power company estimates it could cost up to $750 million to retrofit the plant, while according to the EPA’s economic analysis, the cost should be closer to $230 million.

Either way, the power company doesn’t take into account the indirect costs of the air pollution. By some estimates, premature deaths, asthma attacks, heart attacks, chronic bronchitis, and hospital visits from San Juan Generating Station’s pollution have cost an estimated $255 million a year.

The EPA decision to limit nitrogen oxide emissions from all four boilers at the San Juan plant will likely require the operators to retrofit the plant with selective catalytic reduction pollution controls. It’s the first federal plan in the country that will require adequate pollution controls to limit nitrogen oxide emissions under Clean Air Act provisions to reduce regional haze. There are decades-old plants with major pollution problems in more than 40 other states that will face similar decisions on pollution upgrades in the coming year or two.

Conservation groups see the limits on the San Juan plant as a possible bellwether of what’s to come at other plants. Requiring coal-fired power plants to comply with environmental laws could help speed the pace of transition to cleaner fuels.

At the most fundamental level, reducing the nitrogen oxide pollution is a public health issue. Nitrogen oxide reacts with other compounds to form small particles that penetrate deeply into sensitive parts of the lungs. It is also a raw ingredient in ground-level ozone, which the American Lung Association calls “the most widespread pollutant in the U.S. [and] one of the most dangerous.” Ozone leads to asthma attacks, respiratory problems, lung damage, and even premature death.

“Pollution from this plant has been hurting our communities for generations,” said Donna House with Diné CARE, a volunteer-driven conservation organization on the Navajo Nation in the Four Corners region. “Cutting coal pollution is a must, and moving to a cleaner energy than coal is the real answer.”

San Juan Generating Station currently dumps nearly 16,000 tons of nitrogen oxide into the air each year, making it the ninth worst polluter out of more than 40 coal plants in Western states. Together with the nearby 48-year-old Four Corners Power Plant (worst in the west for nitrogen oxide), the two coal-burning plants’ combined emissions account for at least two-thirds of total nitrogen oxide pollution in San Juan County where they’re located and a quarter of all nitrogen oxide emissions statewide in New Mexico. The American Lung Association has given San Juan County an “F” grade for ozone pollution due to the number of days each year that it surpasses levels of ozone concentrations that the ALA considers unhealthy.

“Over the years, we’ve seen more and more children and adults coming in with asthma and respiratory problems, especially from the areas affected by the coal plant emissions,” said Adella Begaye, a nurse with 20 years of experience on the Navajo Nation. “Big polluters such as the San Juan and Four Corners coal plants have to be held responsible for the health costs they cause.”

The state and San Juan Generating Station owner PNM had lobbied for far less effective pollution controls which would have cut nitrogen oxide emissions by just 20percent.

Other plants in the Southwest that will face pollution-control improvements include the 38-year-old Navajo Generating Station in Arizona (fourth worst among western state coal plants for nitrogen oxide pollution), Four Corners, and the 46-year-old Reid Gardner Station near Las Vegas. Long overdue deadlines are being set now for decisions on pollution-control upgrades at more than 70 aging coal-burning plants around the country.

The EPA stepped in as a result of the absence of an adequate state plan to reduce pollution at San Juan Generating Station. EPA’s decision to require an 80 percent reduction in nitrogen oxide pollution at the plant is broadly supported by other federal agencies, including the National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as public health, environmental, tribal, and other community organizations regionally and nationally. These include San Juan Citizens Alliance, Diné CARE, WildEarth Guardians, National Parks Conservation Association, Earthjustice, Grand Canyon Trust, Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund and others.

Western U.S. experts on energy and the environment praise the decision to reduce the dangerous air pollution from one of America’s oldest and dirtiest coal plants.

“EPA’s action to clean up the San Juan Generating Station will protect public health, and will also help clear the haze at Mesa Verde National Park and our other cherished wilderness areas in the Four Corners region,” said Pamela Campos of Environmental Defense Fund’s Rocky Mountain office. “Today’s decision sets a strong precedent for reducing coal plant pollution, protecting our families’ health, and preserving our parks around the country.”

“We are pleased that EPA has not bowed to corporate pressure and is protecting our air quality and beautiful landscapes and vistas for ourselves and our children”, said Steve Michel, Chief Counsel for Western Resource Advocates’ Energy Program.

“The money that Public Service Company of New Mexico will need to spend to install the industry-standard pollution controls demonstrates how the cost of coal is rapidly increasing throughout the country,” said Bill Corcoran, Western Region Director, Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “Coal is a horribly dirty and dangerous fossil fuel and it takes a tremendous toll on our health and pocketbooks each and every day. Especially as clean energy resources such as solar and wind have become more affordable, it is absurd that utilities would continue throwing their customer’s money at an increasingly expensive fossil fuel like coal,” he concluded.

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 US EPA: Here’s What They’re Saying About the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule

Here’s What They’re Saying About the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule: CONTACT Enesta Jones (News Media Only): jones.enesta@epa.gov, 202-564-7873, 202-564-4355: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 7, 2011: WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized Clean Air Act protections that will slash hundreds of thousands of tons of smokestack emissions that travel long distances through the air and threaten 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.

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware: “Today’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announcement of the cross-state air pollution rule ensures that all states are good neighbors when it comes to air pollution. My state of Delaware has made great strides in the effort to clean up its own air pollution and as we see with this new rule, those efforts have paid off and we now do not contribute to other state’s pollution problems…”

Albert Rizzo, American Lung Association: “Today’s finalization of the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule is a vital component of the EPA’s effort to protect the health of millions of Americans who live downwind of power plants that belch out life-threatening pollution.”

Rick Sullivan, Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs: “Massachusetts congratulates EPA on its issuance of the Cross State Air Pollution Rule. This rule will reduce emissions of harmful air pollutants from large power plants in upwind states, which contribute to unhealthy air in Massachusetts. As a state that has already taken action to significantly reduce power plant pollution, Massachusetts is pleased that EPA is leveling the playing field by requiring power plants in upwind states to follow suit quickly – starting on January 1 2012. Massachusetts residents will breathe easier when that occurs.”

Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, The American Public Health Association: “Too many Americans suffer from life-threatening ozone and air pollution emitted by coal-burning power plants,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), executive director of APHA. “Today’s ruling is an important and long overdue step to protect the health of Americans and clean up our environment. It’s a huge win-win. We praise EPA for its continued efforts to help create stronger, healthier and more productive communities for ourselves and our families.”

Fred Krupp, Environmental Defense Fund: “These clean air standards for power plant pollution will provide some of the greatest human health protections in our nation’s history,” said EDF President Fred Krupp. “Millions of Americans live downwind from this deadly pollution — from the communities that live in the shadows of these smokestacks to those afflicted by the pollution that drifts hundreds of miles downwind. Today’s clean air protections will help eastern states restore healthy air in communities hard hit by air pollution, and will help all of us live longer and healthier lives.”

Gene Karpinski, League of Conservation Voters: “We applaud the EPA for providing a long overdue update to these necessary clean air standards. The benefits of these efforts to curb toxic air pollution have proven time and again to greatly outweigh the costs, and we commend the agency for taking this important step forward. By finalizing this rule, the EPA will help reduce the spread of harmful pollution across state borders, providing millions of Americans with cleaner air and water in their own cities and across the country.”

Mary Anne Hitt, The Sierra Club: “If you have a child with asthma or a loved one at risk of a heart attack, you can breathe easier today, because these new protections will decrease the chances they will end up in the emergency room.”

Adam Garber, Penn Environment: “Today’s announcement is a victory for Pennsylvania communities that have lived in the deadly shadow of power plant pollution for far too long,” said Adam Garber, Field Director with PennEnvironment. “This action will reduce the impact of toxic emissions from other states and give us a chance to breathe easier with cleaner air.”

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

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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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