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RELEASE: 6/18/98
CONTACT: Amy Collings or Loretta O'Donnell
609-984-1795 OR 609-292-2994


WASHINGTON D.C. - New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bob Shinn today approved a rule that requires coal power plants and other large burners to reduce by up to 90 percent emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx), a key pollutant in the formation of summer smog.

The rule also creates an emissions trading program that caps the state's total NOx emissions far below 1990 levels, and favors electric power production at New Jersey's cleanest plants. The rule implements a memorandum of understanding with other northeastern states in the Ozone Transport Commission (OTC) region to reduce smog and protect public health.

Shinn signed the rule while releasing a study that found reliable NOx control technologies are readily available for all types of utility boilers.

"The facts are clear," stated Shinn. "Deep reductions in NOx emissions are both technically feasible and affordable. The case studies presented in this report show reliable pollution control technologies are in use today and are effective and economical. This report helps provide the foundation for wise environmental management. We can achieve our goals. There are no significant economic or technical obstacles."

The report was compiled by the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM), a group of government air quality regulators from 12 mid-Atlantic and northeastern states, and by the Mid Atlantic Regional Air Management Association (MARAMA). Based in part on case studies at 14 power plants, it found that emission control costs are lower than originally expected. The study, "Status Report on NOx: Control Technologies and Cost Effectiveness," found that NOx reductions seldom cost more than $1,000 per ton and frequently cost less than $500 per ton. The primary reason for the lower control costs is that catalysts are more durable than anticipated. Each year that a catalyst remains in service beyond its anticipated useful life reduces costs by $150 to $200 per ton of NOx, according to the report.

Pollution controls at PSE&G's electrical generating facility in Mercer County, Atlantic Electric's B.L.England power plant in Beesley's Point, and U.S. Generating's plants in Carney's Point and Swedesboro were among the 14 sites examined in the analysis of actual costs and operational effectiveness.

Although the report focuses mainly on power plants in the 12 northeastern states of the OTC region, Shinn said the report is applicable to power plants nationwide. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has directed 22 states in the eastern half of the nation to revise their pollution control plans to reduce by up to 85 percent NOx emissions from coal power plants. The EPA called for the pollution reductions based on extensive research by the Ozone Transport Assessment Group (OTAG) that revealed NOx emissions from power plants travel hundreds of miles on prevailing winds.

The New Jersey DEP estimates about one-third of the state's summertime air pollution originates in other states, with large coal power plants being the largest sources.

"Air pollution isn't only a New Jersey problem or a Northeast problem, it's a national problem," said Shinn. "These new regulations will reduce emissions in New Jersey, fulfilling our commitment to meet federally mandated reductions in summer smog levels. New Jersey is doing its part, and this report shows others states can too."

The new DEP rule will reduce New Jersey's stationary source NOx emissions by more than 80 percent from the 1990 levels by the year 2003, and establish an emissions trading program to minimize costs. The rule has undergone extensive review by regulated industries and environmentalists. The DEP conducted many workgroup meetings to develop the proposal and related guidance documents. When implemented, the regulations will ultimately reduce NOx emission levels to about 8,200 tons a year, down from more than 45,000 tons in 1990.

Shinn was instrumental in developing the OTAG memorandum of agreement, which recognizes that pollutants from the Midwest travel on wind currents and contribute to air quality problems in the Northeast. Ozone is a health threat to children, the elderly and those with respiratory problems.

The comprehensive report released today was prepared by professional consultants overseen by NESCAUM and MARAMA.


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