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Contact: Amy Cradic

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 OTC.

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 this summer.

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.



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