Tag Archives: Clean Air Act

Sequoia smog harming pines, redwoods

More evidence of the harm to our natural heritage caused by human activities. So what is more important? That a polluting factory or gunk-emitting tanker truck be allowed to keep on moving? Or the native flora and fauna of North America? Well?

Our smoggiest national parks

This is both an old and a new storyline. I recall reading years ago about the pervasiveness of smog at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. But the problem is not confined to that National Park System unit alone.

Oops; N.J. refinery to spend $45M on pollution controls; pay penalty

Hess Corporation to Install $45 Million In Pollution Controls and Pay $850,000 Penalty to Resolve Clean Air Act Violations at New Jersey Refinery

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice announced that Hess Corporation has agreed to pay an $850,000 civil penalty and spend more than $45 million in new pollution controls to resolve Clean Air Act violations at its Port Reading, N.J., refinery. Once fully implemented, the controls required by the settlement are estimated to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) by 181 tons per year and result in additional reductions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). High concentrations of NOx and VOCs, key pollutants emitted from refineries, can have adverse impacts on human health, including contributing to childhood asthma, and are significant contributors to smog.

“EPA is committed to protecting communities by reducing air pollution from the largest sources,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “This settlement will reduce harmful emissions that impact air quality, protecting the residents of Port Reading and New Jersey.”

“This settlement is the 31st such agreement with petroleum refineries across the nation. Hess joins a growing list of corporations who have entered into comprehensive and innovative agreements with the United States that will result in cleaner, healthier air for communities across the nation,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice. “For example, this agreement will improve air quality for New Jersey residents by requiring Hess to install advanced pollution control and monitoring technology and adopt more stringent emissions limits.”   

The settlement requires new and upgraded pollution controls, more stringent emission limits, and aggressive monitoring, leak-detection and repair practices to reduce emissions from refinery equipment and processing units.

The government’s complaint, filed on April 19, 2012, alleged that the company made modifications to its refinery that increased emissions without first obtaining pre-construction permits and installing required pollution control equipment. The Clean Air Act requires major sources of air pollution to obtain such permits before making changes that would result in a significant emissions increase of any pollutant.

The state of New Jersey actively participated in the settlement with Hess and will receive half of the civil penalty.

The settlement with Hess is the 31st under an EPA initiative to improve compliance among petroleum refiners and to reduce significant amounts of air pollution from refineries nationwide through comprehensive, company-wide enforcement settlements. The first of these settlements was reached in 2000. With today’s settlement, 108 refineries operating in 32 states and territories – more than 90 percent of the total refining capacity in the United States – are under judicially enforceable agreements to significantly reduce emissions of pollutants. As a result of the settlement agreements, refiners have agreed to invest more than $6 billion in new pollution controls designed to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and other pollutants by over 360,000 tons per year.

EPA sets carbon standard for new coal-fired power plants

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 27, 2012

EPA Proposes First Carbon Pollution Standard for Future Power Plants

Achievable standard is in line with investments already being made and will inform the building of new plants moving forward

WASHINGTON – Following a 2007 Supreme Court ruling, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today proposed the first Clean Air Act standard for carbon pollution from new power plants. EPA’s proposed standard reflects the ongoing trend in the power sector to build cleaner plants that take advantage of American-made technologies, including new, clean-burning, efficient natural gas generation, which is already the technology of choice for new and planned power plants. At the same time, the rule creates a path forward for new technologies to be deployed at future facilities that will allow companies to burn coal, while emitting less carbon pollution. The rulemaking proposed today only concerns new generating units that will be built in the future, and does not apply to existing units already operating or units that will start construction over the next 12 months.

“Today we’re taking a common-sense step to reduce pollution in our air, protect the planet for our children, and move us into a new era of American energy,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Right now there are no limits to the amount of carbon pollution that future power plants will be able to put into our skies – and the health and economic threats of a changing climate continue to grow. We’re putting in place a standard that relies on the use of clean, American made technology to tackle a challenge that we can’t leave to our kids and grandkids.”

Currently, there is no uniform national limit on the amount of carbon pollution new power plants can emit. As a direct result of the Supreme Court’s 2007 ruling, EPA in 2009 determined that greenhouse gas pollution threatens Americans’ health and welfare by leading to long lasting changes in our climate that can have a range of negative effects on human health and the environment.

The proposed standard, which only applies to power plants built in the future, is flexible and would help minimize carbon pollution through the deployment of the same types of modern technologies and steps that power companies are already taking to build the next generation of power plants. EPA’s proposal is in line with these investments and will ensure that this progress toward a cleaner, safer and more modern power sector continues. The proposed standards can be met by a range of power facilities burning different fossil fuels, including natural gas technologies that are already widespread, as well as coal with technologies to reduce carbon emissions. Even without today’s action, the power plants that are currently projected to be built going forward would already comply with the standard. As a result, EPA does not project additional cost for industry to comply with this standard.

Prior to developing this standard, EPA engaged in an extensive and open public process to gather the latest information to aid in developing a carbon pollution standard for new power plants. The agency is seeking additional comment and information, including public hearings, and will take that input fully into account as it completes the rulemaking process. EPA’s comment period will be open for 60 days following publication in the Federal Register.

More information: http://epa.gov/carbonpollutionstandard/
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U.S. Senate bats aside GOPers’ pro-pollution add-ons to trans bill

Springtime for toxics

Toxics; as in mercury emitted by coal-fired power plants. The EPA has taken action to finally stop the pollution, but the pro-pollution Republicans are pissed off now, as NY Times columnist Paul Krugman explains. People who care – and I mean really care – about the future have got to ensure that one of these polluter-friendly Republicans is NOT elected (or is “selected?”) president in 2012.

Toward healthier air

That’s the headline the NY Times gave this article about the Obama administration’s (finally!) action to approve new emissions standards for mercury and others from coal-fired power plants and such. Of course, the best thing for Americans and the world-at-large would be to shut down all coal-burners.