Stricter Emission Requirements Set for
New Jersey Facilities to Reduce Smog:
"Ozone Season" Begins
(03/71) TRENTON To protect
against and decrease health-threatening ozone levels in
New Jersey, the state Department of Environmental Protection
(DEP) today announced stricter air emission regulations
that will further reduce smog-causing nitrogen oxides (NOx)
under a new phase of a regional emissions cap and trade
program, and lessen volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted
from gas stations, auto refinishing operations and manufacturers
using cleaning solvents.
"These stricter standards are part
of a regional effort to protect public health by reducing
the pollution that causes smog and impacts the health of
New Jersey's citizens," said DEP Commissioner Bradley
M. Campbell. "Air pollution is not confined by state
borders and our cooperative work with neighboring and upwind
states is essential to protect our air quality."
New Jersey is participating in the Ozone
Transport Commission's (OTC) multi-state cap and trade initiative
called the NOx Budget Program, which sets a regional budget
or cap on NOx emissions from power plants and other large
combustion sources during the "ozone season."
The regulated ozone season is May through September. The
first phase of the NOx control program was initiated in
1995, the second phase was initiated in 1999 and the current,
third phase began May 1, 2003.
The targeted goal of the newly launched
Phase III of the NOx Budget Program is to reduce ozone-causing
emissions throughout the northeast corridor (from Washington,
D.C. to southern New Hampshire) by approximately 70 percent
from the 1990 regional levels. In 2002, OTC states collectively
reduced ozone by 280,000 tons - approximately 60 percent
below the 1990 baseline levels. In 2002, New Jersey facilities
covered under the program emitted approximately 17,082 tons
of NOx, compared with 47,000 tons in 1990. Under the stricter,
third phase of OTC rules, New Jersey's 2003 NOx emissions
cap is 8,200 tons.
"The OTC budget program provides facilities
a cost-effective option to trade emissions and achieve much
greater pollution reductions than could be achieved through
conventional approaches," added Commissioner Campbell,
who also serves as the newly elected Vice Chairman of the
In addition to using add-on pollution controls
to meet the emissions budget, facilities can participate
in a viable NOx trading market. The OTC program requires
that each state allocate specific emission allowances to
facilities in accordance with their portion of the regional
budget. Unused allowances can be sold or saved for use in
subsequent ozone seasons. The NOx Budget Program applies
to more than 1,000 large combustion facilities (budget sources)
in OTC states, including more than 900 electric generating
units and over 100 industrial units, such as steam boilers
and process heaters. There are currently 184 New Jersey
NOx emission sources participating in the OTC program. All
NOx sources are closely monitored under the OTC program
and each individual facility can not violate other regulated
air emission limits.
While the OTC budget and trading program
has successfully reduced emissions, NOx emissions as a whole
continue to be a problem from increased motor vehicle use
and the ongoing transport of pollutants into the region
from states upwind of OTC states. Further emission reduction
efforts both within and upwind of the OTC region - including
the launch of Phase III of the NOx Budget Program - are
necessary to achieve the ozone standard.
The OTC's Phase III reductions have been
merged into a broader regional cap and trade program under
the federal Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) "NOx
State Implementation Plan (SIP) Call," which impacts
21 eastern states and the District of Columbia (including
all OTC states except New Hampshire).
Unlike the EPA's Clear Skies cap and trade
program, the OTC NOx budget caps are phased in through an
aggressive timeline, requiring power plants to use more
effective pollution control technologies and actively driving
significant emission reductions thro ughout the region.
The Clear Skies emission caps are too loose and are phased
in too slowly to help states attain federal standards for
fine particulates and ozone by required dates. Under the
Clear Skies program alone, new power plants built in New
Jersey would actually be required to meet less strict emission
requirements than those already required and in effect.
Also, in contrast to the Open Market Emission Trading (OMET)
program that the DEP abandoned at the start of the McGreevey
Administration, the OTC trading program includes safeguards
to ensure that pollution goals are met.
In addition to participating in OTC's NOx
budget program, the DEP has adopted two OTC model rules
to reduce volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from
auto refinishing operations and manufacturers that use vapor
cleaning machines on their products. Approximately 3,500
automobile repair and maintenance facilities, industrial
maintenance shops and the electronics industry will be regulated
under the law's "solvent cleaning operations"
provision. A second adopted provision - "mobile equipment
repair and refinishing" - will require less polluting
paint spray guns at 1,600 facilities that apply VOC-releasing
materials to cars and other mobile equipment for profit,
such as automobile repair and maintenance facilities.
The DEP also is adopting new rules that
affect the dispensing of gasoline. Under the "enhanced
vapor recovery" provision, new VOC rules will require
operators of approximately 3,800 gas dispensing facilities
including gas stations and car rental agencies to install
emission controls for all new equipment and conduct yearly
compliance testing. The new VOC regulations become effective
OTC consists of representatives from the
Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, including Connecticut,
Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts,
New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode
Island, Vermont and Virginia.
Ground-level ozone (or smog) is formed
when nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compound (VOC)
gases react with sunlight, particularly in the warm summer
months. The regulated ozone season begins in May and closes
at the end of September. Ozone impacts the respiratory system,
aggravating asthma, increasing susceptibility to respiratory
illnesses like pneumonia and bronchitis, and contributing
to permanent lung damage. It can also damage forests, reduce
the productivity of agricultural crops, and lead to the
decay of buildings and monuments.
In 2002, New Jersey exceeded the new eight-hour
health standard for safe levels of ozone on 44 days, and
exceeded the existing one-hour ozone standard on 16 days.