DEP URGES EPA TO ENFORCE CLEAN AIR STRATEGIES
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Shinn
today formally petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
to compel midwestern and mid-Atlantic states to adhere to EPA-mandated
timeframes for reducing air emissions from coal power plants that contribute
to unhealthy smog conditions in New Jersey and the Northeast.
In a letter to EPA Administrator Carol Browner, Shinn noted that a comprehensive
study conducted by the 37-state Ozone Transport Assessment Group conclusively
demonstrated that emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) from upwind states
to the south and west are a major cause of New Jersey's summertime ozone
air pollution. The OTAG report is the basis for EPA's action last fall
that established NOx emission caps for 22 states, including New Jersey.
New Jersey has already adopted rules that will reduce NOx emissions within
the required timeframe.
In light of litigation brought by coal-dependent electric power producers
that could delay implementation of emission reduction plans in some upwind
states, New Jersey is petitioning EPA under Section 126 of the Clean Air
Act to ensure that emissions from major out-of-state sources of NOx are
controlled so that New Jersey can continue its progress toward meeting
federal clean air health standards.
"We have serious concerns that either the timeframes established by EPA
last fall will not be met at all in some states, or the pollution reductions
required in some states will be insufficient," Shinn told the New
Jersey Clean Air Council during its meeting today. "Therefore,
we're calling on EPA to set compliance schedules to show rates of progress
at each major source of NOx emissions. Without those emission reductions
from out-of-state sources, we will be very hard pressed to continue our
10-year trend of reducing summertime ozone air pollution."
Section 126 of the Clean Air Act requires the EPA Administrator to make
a finding either granting or denying the petition within 60 days. Eight
other northeastern states - Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire,
New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont - have similar Section
126 petitions pending before EPA.
"We look forward to working with EPA over the next 60 days to assist
in determining a course of action that will improve air quality throughout
the entire region as expeditiously as possible," said Shinn.
New Jersey has played a leadership role in developing regional consensus
on smog reduction initiatives through Shinn's participation in the Ozone
Transport Commission, the Ozone
Transport Assessment Group, and the Environmental
Council of the States. By achieving consensus on the extent
and causes of smog in the eastern United States, these multi-state groups
laid the foundation for EPA to mandated emission reductions in 22 eastern
states last October.