Clean Air Act

Affordable Clean Energy Rule Hearing Testimony

Testimony of Howard A. Learner,
Executive Director, Environmental Law & Policy Center

On the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Proposed Rule:
Emission Guidelines for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Existing Electric Utility Generating Units; Revisions to Emission Guideline Implementing Regulations; Revisions to New Source Review Program, called Affordable Clean Energy Rule. 83 Fed. Reg. 44,746

The Midwest produces more electricity from coal plants than any other region of the country, and our residents bear the full range of pollution harms to human health, the Great Lakes and our overall environmental quality.

EPA’s proposed new ACE will reverse United States’ efforts to cut carbon pollution and will allow more old coal plants to keep polluting our air and water. The 2015 Clean Power Plan established the first federal standards to reduce carbon pollution from existing coal plants. The Clean Power Plan can help drive the United States’ economy toward modern renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies that improve public health, and boost clean energy jobs in the Midwest and elsewhere. The EPA’s new proposal undermines smart climate change solutions and a growing clean energy economy future.

America’s Heartland is well positioned to lead us forward by delivering climate change solutions powered by wind power and solar energy and maximizing energy efficiency in ways that are good for Midwest jobs and economic growth. Last week, ELPC released our new report: Indiana Wind Power & Solar Energy Supply Chain Businesses: Good for Manufacturing Jobs, Good for Economic Growth and Good for Our Environment. This report highlights 89 Indiana businesses engaged in the clean energy business supply chain at 112 locations across Indiana. Policies drive markets. ELPC’s report explains in detail how Indiana should step up its policy support to compete effectively in the growing clean energy economy. You can download the ELPC report here. This report adds to ELPC’s other Midwest state reports detailing clean energy jobs.

Midwest wind power and solar energy development are good for business growth and the environment together. Renewable energy development creates many thousands of skilled manufacturing and construction jobs, and development, design and professional services jobs.

The EPA’s proposed ACE plan, however, would move our nation backwards and cost American jobs. This morning, I will make three specific points about this flawed proposal:

First, EPA’s proposed ACE is legally flawed. EPA’s proposal is contrary to any reasonable interpretation of “best system of emissions reduction” and does not fulfill the Agency’s responsibilities under the Clean Air Act to reduce harmful air pollution.

EPA’s proposal would replace the Clean Power Plan’s reasonable and achievable goal of reducing carbon pollution from the power sector by 32% with a flawed policy that instead sets no such pollution limits. The Clean Power Plan carries out the Clean Air Act’s requirement to protect public health that is endangered by carbon pollution. It provides states with clear standards and flexible tools to reduce carbon pollution. The ACE plan, however, does not.

EPA’s ACE proposal provides an incomplete menu of technologies that nominally improve the heat rate of coal plants, but provides states the option of requiring nothing at all from power plants. The ACE proposal imposes no deadlines for implementing control measures to the extent that any are required. This proposal is inconsistent with the Clean Air Act, and it abandons EPA’s responsibility to take effective actions to reduce carbon pollution from power plants, which has been found by sound science to endanger public health.

Second, the proposed ACE rule will encourage more investment in old, inefficient coal plants that should be winding down. If states require one or more improvements from the “menu,” which plant owners are not now making, that will lead to greater dispatch of these coal plants and will disrupt the market trends away from old coal plants towards new, clean energy production. EPA should not cause any industry to be more polluting, but its own analysis shows that the proposed ACE rule would do exactly that.

Third, the New Source Review changes proposed in the ACE rule are a giveaway to owners of old coal plants with no acknowledgement of who will pay the bill. EPA provides anecdotes to support its claim that coal plant owners have supposedly decided to not improve plant operating efficiency because they would need to get an air permit and might be required to install modern air pollution controls as many other coal plant owners have already done. This should not justify excusing coal plant owners from new source review requirements. The only time this change matters is when a source is actually going to increase its emissions of air pollution by a significant amount.

EPA’s own analysis shows that this proposal puts the health and safety of families and communities at risk from increased pollution. If the ACE proposal is adopted and finalized, by EPA’s own calculations that could lead to as many as 1,630 early deaths per year in 2030 compared to leaving the Clean Power Plan in place.

ELPC will be submitting additional written comments to the docket. This proposal to replace the Clean Power Plan undermines EPA’s core mission of protecting the public and our environment from harmful air pollution under the Clean Air Act. It should be withdrawn.

It’s time for America to move forward not backwards with clean energy solutions to our climate change problems. Thank you for your consideration.

Ohio Nuclear Plant Decommissioning, Clean Car Standards, Route 53 Tollway Extension in Lake County, IL., & EPA Ozone Non-Attainment Standards

ELPC Breaking News – Actions and Decisions on Multiple Fronts – Ohio Nuclear Plant Decommissioning, Clean Car Standards, Route 53 Tollway Extension in Lake County, IL, and EPA Ozone Non-Attainment Standards

To ELPC Colleagues and Supporters:  There is a lot happening – fast – at ELPC.  Four important actions yesterday on different fronts.  ELPC’s talented staff is drinking out of a firehose and playing to win.

  1. Good News on ELPC petition to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission challenging First Energy Solutions’ nuclear decommissioning shortfalls as the company is in bankruptcy. We just received word that ELPC’s 2.206 citizen petition cleared the first step of the NRC review process. The NRC’s Petition Review Board (PRB) met and decided to accept our petition for review.   Notably, they accepted ELPC’s petition in entirety—no parts of it were rejected.  The next step is for the PRB to substantively review the petition and come up with recommendations for action, which it will send to the Director.  The Director ultimately makes the final decision on what actions, if any, the NRC will take against the licensee.   Kudos to ELPC attorneys Andrene Dabaghi and Margrethe Kearney.

 

  1. Bad News:  The Trump Administration announced its misguided attempt to rollback federal clean cars standards and (probably unconstitutional) attempt to constrain California’s and 12 other states’ “waiver” to adopt strong state standards.  As the transportation sector has passed the energy sector for carbon pollution in the United States, the federal and state fuel efficiency standards are vital to save consumers money at the gas pump, drive technological innovation in vehicle manufacturing to keep American manufacturing competitive, gain manufacturing jobs of the future for American workers, reduce American imports of foreign oil and avoid pollution.  ELPC will be among the lead groups nationally challenging the proposed new weaker DOT/EPA clean car standards in both the court of law (comments to US Dept. of Transportation and, then, likely litigation in the federal courts) and in the court of public opinion.  Please see ELPC press release criticizing this Trump Administration regulatory rollback.  (“Trump Administration Reboot of Fuel Economy and Pollution Standards is a Misguided Step Backwards While Global Competitors Keep Moving Forward”).   ELPC Senior Law Fellow Janet McCabe and ELPC Executive Director Howard Learner will be doing a “breaking news” briefing via conference call for ELPC colleagues, donors and friends today at 10:00 am. (Register to join the briefing if you’d like.)

 

  1. ELPC and ten environmental and civic group partners are fighting back and winning against the Illinois Tollway Authority’s attempt to short-circuit and play “hide the ball” on the NEPA Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process for the economically unsupportable and environmentally destructive Route 53 Tollway Extension in Lake County. As ELPC Board Chair Harry Drucker put it, this “zombie” bad tollway proposal keeps coming back.  While the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning is moving to put on the brakes by downgrading the proposed Route 53 Tollway Extension in Lake County from a priority project to non-priority status, the Illinois Tollway Authority is spending $25 million to accelerate the EIS process.  On Wednesday, ELPC attorneys Howard Learner and Rachel Granneman and partners sent a letter to the Illinois Tollway Authority challenging the legality of the EIS process, and yesterday, the Illinois Tollway Authority backed off, saying that would extend the comment period on the EIS scoping comments to late September.  Please see Greg Hinz’s good article in Crain’s Chicago Business here and pasted below.

 

  1. New ELPC Litigation to Protect Healthier Clean Air in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin:  ELPC and the Respiratory Health Association (RHA) yesterday sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, challenging the EPA’s final ozone air health standard rule, published in June 2018, that excluded certain areas in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin from the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Louis “non-attainment” areas that have smog levels above the 2015 ozone standard.  ELPC’s press release explains:  “EPA has sadly disregarded the plain facts and sound science in making these designations,” said Howard Learner, ELPC’s Executive Director. “EPA has not followed the letter or the spirit of the Clean Air Act and has excluded areas involving unhealthy air quality for millions of Midwesterners.  Cleaner air is essential to public health and a strong economy in our region.”   The Clean Air Act requires EPA to designate non-attainment areas in counties where air quality fails to meet federal health standards for ozone and where local air pollution contribute to unhealthy air quality. The states must then take steps to reduce emissions that cause smog.  In 2015, EPA issued a more protective ozone air health standard, which triggered a process to identify violating areas so that clean air planning could begin.  In the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Louis areas, EPA originally proposed more comprehensive non-attainment areas, but then excluded certain areas in its June 2018 final decision in response to opaque last-minute requests from Governors Rauner and Walker.  ELPC attorneys Scott Strand and Rachel Granneman are litigating this case with policy and technical engagement from Janet McCabe.  Please see Michael Hawthorne’s good article in the Chicago Tribune here.

ELPC is fully engaged both on offense and defense to protect the Midwest’s environment, public health and vital natural resources.  Please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.

Best wishes, Howard

Howard A. Learner

Executive Director

Environmental Law & Policy Center

 

Environmental & Public Health Groups Challenge US EPA’s Decision to Exclude Areas from Ozone Non-attainment List that Would Trigger Clean-up

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Environmental and Public Health Groups Challenge US EPA’s Decision to Exclude Areas from Ozone Non-attainment List that Would Trigger Clean-up

 

Washington, D.C. — On August 2, the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) and Respiratory Health Association (RHA) sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, challenging the EPA’s final rule, published in June 2018, that identified areas that meet and fail to meet the 2015 ozone air quality health standard.

ELPC and RHA are challenging the exclusion of certain areas in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana from the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Louis “non-attainment” areas that have smog levels above the 2015 standard.

“EPA has sadly disregarded the plain facts and sound science in making these designations,” said Howard Learner, ELPC’s Executive Director. “EPA has not followed the letter or the spirit of the Clean Air Act and has excluded areas involving unhealthy air quality for millions of Midwesterners. Cleaner air is essential to public health and a strong economy in our region.”

The Clean Air Act requires EPA to designate non-attainment areas in counties where air quality fails to meet federal health standards for ozone and where local emissions contribute to unhealthy air quality. The states must then take steps to reduce emissions of the air pollution that cause smog.

In 2015, EPA issued a more protective ozone air health standard, which triggered a process to identify violating areas so that clean air planning could begin. In the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Louis areas, EPA originally proposed more comprehensive non-attainment areas, but excluded certain areas in its final decision in June in response to requests from the states.

“We are very concerned that EPA would dial back these decisions,” said Brian Urbaszewski, Director of Environmental Health Programs at Respiratory Health Association in Chicago. “Everyone deserves to breathe clean air, and EPA’s decision puts area residents at risk of more lung infections, asthma attacks, and hospitalizations for respiratory problems.”

Ozone is formed when pollution emitted by power plants, industrial facilities, motor vehicles and other activities reacts with sunlight to form ozone. Ozone, also known as “smog,” is a lung irritant and harms people with asthma or other respiratory diseases, older adults, children and other vulnerable people. It can drive kids and sensitive adults inside on hot sunny summer days  and put outdoor workers at risk.

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Politico: ELPC Hires Janet McCabe, Obama-era Acting EPA Air Chief

Politico 

McCABE LANDS AT CHICAGO-BASED GREEN GROUP

Janet McCabe, the Obama-era acting EPA air chief who helped mastermind the Clean Power Plan and oversaw various other key regulations, will join the Chicago-based Environmental Law & Policy Center as a senior law fellow, she confirmed to ME. In an email to the ELPC staff yesterday, executive director Howard Learner notes McCabe will work part-time from her native Indianapolis starting May 15. Learner added: “These are extraordinary times, and we are adding top-rate talent to keep building ELPC’s ‘top of our game’ team to play both winning offense and defense. The best defense is a good offense. I am excited to be working together with Janet McCabe to play to win in the changed political circumstances.”

READ HERE

E&E News: ELPC Hires Former US EPA Air Chief Janet McCabe

Obama-era Air Chief Lands at Green Group
By Kevin Bogardus

Janet McCabe, who helped craft President Obama’s Clean Power Plan at U.S. EPA, has landed at a prominent environmental group.

McCabe is joining the Environmental Law & Policy Center as a senior law fellow. She starts at the Midwestern green law and policy group May 15 and will be based in Indianapolis.

In an interview with E&E News, McCabe said she was looking forward to working with ELPC.

People: Comings and Goings
“I’m really excited about this opportunity and want to remain active in these discussions about public health and the environment,” McCabe said.

Howard Learner, executive director of ELPC, said the group was thrilled to bring someone with McCabe’s clout on board, considering the challenging political times for the environmental movement.

“Janet is terrific, and she is one of the nation’s leading clean air attorneys,” Learner said.

“Certainly her knowledge, experience and savvy in developing the Clean Air Act standards during the last administration will give us strong insights into what strategic actions we should take going forward in protecting public health and the environment.”

READ MORE

From Peoria Journal Star: ELPC, Allies Win Federal Clean Air Case Against Coal Plant

il-peoria_logo

August 24, 2016

Federal Judge Rules Against Edwards Coal-Fired Energy Plant
By Andy Kravetz

PEORIA — A federal judge on Tuesday ruled against the owner of a coal-fired energy plant in Edwards, saying its owners allowed too much soot to be emitted from the smoke stacks there.
A 50-page order, issued Tuesday by Senior U.S. District Judge Joe B. McDade, states Illinois Power Resources Generating LLC, which owns and operates the E.D. Edwards power plant, must work to clean emissions from the facility.

The Sierra Club, along with the Environmental Law and Policy Center, Natural Resources Defense Council and Respiratory Health Association, filed a lawsuit in 2013 alleging violations of the Clean Air Act. The suit was initially filed against Ameren Illinois, but the plant was acquired later in 2013 by IPRG, which is a subsidiary of Dynegy, an energy company based in Houston.

“We’re thrilled that Judge McDade is holding Dynegy accountable for the many years that it has spewed out harmful soot, failing residents of Peoria County,” said Jennifer Cassel, an attorney for the Environmental Law & Policy Center which represented the Respiratory Health Association. “It’s time for Dynegy to recognize that if it is going to continue to operate the Edwards plant, it must respect the community and the law by installing functional pollution controls.”

Read More

Daily Herald: ELPC’s Learner Warns of Impact of Budget Impasse on Clean Air and Public Health

Could the state’s budget chaos increase air pollution?

It’s not a stretch, environmental experts say, given that drivers aren’t receiving reminders in the mail about vehicle emissions tests and won’t be penalized for skipping checkups starting Tuesday.

And without a stick to force everyone to get their cars tested, lungs breathing air tainted by thousands of vehicles emitting smog could be the next collateral damage from feuding between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic lawmakers.

“There’s a reason for inspections and maintenance requirements — they’re a fundamental building block of the Clean Air Act,” Environmental Law and Policy Center Executive Director Howard Learner said. “Illinois should and must comply with the Clean Air Act because it’s important to protect public health.”

Keep Reading

From Midwest Energy News: Q&A with Howard Learner on Recent EPA Clean Air Cases

Reposted from Midwest Energy News. Original available at http://www.midwestenergynews.com/2013/12/13/qa-reading-the-tea-leaves-as-epa-rules-go-to-court/

Q&A: Reading the tea leaves as EPA rules go to court

Posted on  by 

Howard Learner is the executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center in Chicago.

Howard Learner is the executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center in Chicago.

This week the U.S. Supreme Court heardoral arguments regarding the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), which was struck down by a 2-1 decision by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit last year.

Two judges had ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency overstepped its bounds in ordering states to significantly reduce their air pollution because of the impact on neighboring states – namely the impact of Midwestern coal plant emissions on Eastern states. An evenly split 4-4 Supreme Court ruling on CSAPR – since Justice Samuel Alito recused himself – would mean the appeals court’s decision is upheld.

The CSAPR arguments are pegged to two joined cases filed against a Homer City, Pennsylvania coal plant owned by EME, the same parent company of Chicago’s now-closed coal plants. (See the Supreme Court blog’s coverage of the cases here.)

On the same day, the EPA defended its Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) in front of a three-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The court is expected to look more favorably on the MATS rule than it did upon CSAPR last year, and a decision is expected within several months.

We talked with Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, about the significance of the arguments and his predictions about the outcome (the ELPC is a member of RE-AMP, which also publishes Midwest Energy News).

Midwest Energy News: How did you feel about the oral arguments on CSAPR, and how do you think the Supreme Court will ultimately rule?

Learner: Forecasting Supreme Court decisions based on oral arguments can be hazardous to one’s health, but there are some directional indications here in light of precedents and the overall case before the court. I think the Supreme Court Justices seemed to be impressed with the analogies that the deputy solicitor general was presenting on behalf of the EPA.

When we’re dealing with ozone problems in the eastern states and the physical reality that pollution moves across state lines, it is difficult to determine exactly how much of the pollution, for example, affecting New Jersey’s airshed came from New Jersey sources versus Ohio sources versus Missouri sources. The EPA came up with its reasoned judgment about how to allocate responsibility among the states. Supreme Court precedent has accorded the EPA considerable respect for and deference to its scientific and technical expertise and judgment.

Look for a potential 6-2 decision in which the Justices would uphold the EPA’s CSAPR standards, based on leanings from the Justices’ questions and case law precedents.

What do you think of the industry argument that under CSAPR an upwind state could be forced to reduce its emissions more than the amount it is contributing to downwind states?

The difficulty here is that we’re dealing with a physicality problem – pollution moves in the atmosphere and doesn’t stay strictly within state lines. Air over New Jersey is being affected by pollution from upwind states.

There’s no way to perfectly allocate responsibility for pollution among the states, and there are different reasonable approaches. The question isn’t whether the agency’s approach is perfect, it’s whether among competing approaches, the agency is within the zone of reasonableness.

Some of the Justices seemed to recognize that in order to protect public health, the EPA has to have some room to reasonably interpret broad statutory terms such as “substantial contribution.” There was an indication that at least a majority of the Justices seem to be viewing the agency’s approach to be within the zone of reasonableness.

Do you think cost should be considered in demanding emissions reductions from different states?

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Some parts of the Clean Air Act consider cost and some don’t. The section dealing with non-attainment for ozone transport and “substantial contribution” does include a benefit-cost element. By contrast, sections dealing with mercury and air toxics don’t really require consideration of costs.

The pre-eminent goal of the Clean Air Act is to protect public health and remove endangerments. In the parts of the Act dealing with toxic air emissions that have very serious impacts on public health, cost is not a pre-eminent consideration.

What the EPA is attempting to do is look to those places, such as ozone transport, where it’s most cost-effective to reduce emissions. So for those who are concerned with economics and cost, the EPA’s approach is very effective. Some of the states challenging the ozone transport rules are essentially arguing that cost should not be a pre-eminent part of the decision.

What do you think of the MATS hearing before the appeals court, and do you think the court will uphold that rule?

The MATS case is different than CSAPR. First of all it’s before the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, not the Supreme Court, and it has a cluttered history. The EPA went through an extensive notice and comment rule-making period, issuing a draft rule, getting comments from many groups and, indeed, after moving to finalize the rule, then took it back and tweaked it in early 2013 to adjust for some particular concerns raised by some industry groups.

Keep in mind that industry is divided on this one. Some companies that own coal plants are strongly opposing these standards. There are other energy companies that own coal plants that have already installed mercury pollution reduction equipment and they’d like to see a level playing field of everyone complying so they don’t face a competitive disadvantage. The natural gas and nuclear industry have generally been supportive of the MATS as they see a competitive advantage to be gained.

There comes a time for finality, predictability and consistency for how mercury and other air toxic pollution are to be reduced by coal plants and others by installing modern pollution control technologies. The mercury standards have been battered about for a number of years. The EPA has devoted considerable scientific and technical analysis to these public health rules.

The challenges brought by industry are somewhat arcane. The fact is some of the critics don’t want the rules altogether, while some others want them tweaked or skewed in their favor.

The Supreme Court’s opinion in American Electric Power vs. Connecticut (2009) recognizes the EPA’s scientific and technical expertise to which courts should defer in reasonable cases. Reading the tea leaves here and reading what was said in oral arguments, there seems to be at least some inclination among the judges on the D.C. Circuit that they recognize that this mercury pollution standards case is appropriate for deferring to the agency’s expertise.

If MATS and CSAPR are upheld, what will that mean for coal plants in the Midwest?

If the CSAPR and MATS standards are upheld by the courts, that will clearly force many Midwestern coal plant owners to invest in more modern pollution control equipment and further retrofit their plants in order to achieve cleaner air. That will affect the ongoing economic viability of some of the coal plants in the highly competitive power markets in the Midwest. Some of the owners will choose to invest in modern pollution control equipment and be part of the solution, and some will choose to shut down the plants because of the market economics — they’ll conclude it’s not worth throwing good money after bad.

For many years, these older coal plants have been shifting costs onto the public in terms of their pollution and resulting harmful public health and environmental impacts. The coal plant owners have been externalizing their costs onto the public. The Clean Air Act implementation standards will force polluters to internalize their costs and reduce the shifting of pollution costs to the public.

What does the situation with MATS and CSAPR say about the regulatory and political climate now compared to the Bush years when the predecessor to CSAPR was struck down by the D.C. Circuit federal appeals court because it was too lenient?

There have been attempts in Congress by some to improve the Clean Air Act standards and others to weaken its standards. Since 1990, however, the Act has not been amended in any serious way.

We live in a divided country when it comes to overheated partisan politics. President Obama was elected by a significant margin in 2012, and elections have consequences. During the campaign, some industry opponents blasted President Obama for his so-called “war on coal” – a misnomer – but they lost.

The EPA is now moving forward with long-delayed Clean Air Act standards that were called for by legislation passed by Congress in 1977 and 1990. The courts will, hopefully, now confirm the EPA’s authority to issue these standards.

How would CSAPR and MATS play out in Illinois, given that Illinois has its own rules and agreements with the major power companies mandating stricter reductions in mercury and other pollutants?

While Illinois’ mercury pollution reduction standards have been implemented, in some cases the federal standards might cover specific additional toxics emissions beyond mercury. Illinois was a leader in adopting mercury pollution reductions in 2006 and 2007, these are helping achieve significant public health benefits and cleaner rivers and Great Lakes.

However, Midwest Generation and Ameren (now Dynegy) have been given waivers of part of Illinois clean air interstate standards for sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. The implementation of CSAPR is thus very important.

What will happen if the Supreme Court does not reinstate CSAPR?

Until CSAPR is reinstated in some form, then the Clean Air Interstate Rule (the Bush-era standards) will continue to apply. Presumably if the Supreme Court were to uphold the (appeals court decision shooting down CSAPR), it would do it in a way that provides guidance to the EPA. The Court would say what’s wrong here and needs to be fixed.

How would you feel if that happened?

There really does come a time for predictability and finality.

The Clean Air Act was passed by Congress many years ago, and its implementation has been long delayed while public health harms continue. Sooner or later these public health protections should be moved forward.

This transcript was lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

ELPC Joins Federal Lawsuit Against Ameren for Illinois Coal Plant Pollution

More than 1,000 Clean Air Violations at E.D. Edwards Plant in Bartonville, Ill.

Community Groups Demand Clean Air and Water in Central Illinois after Decades of Pollution from Outdated Coal Plant

Read the complaint

PEORIA, IL – Today, the Sierra Club, Environmental Law and Policy Center, Natural Resources Defense Council and Respiratory Health Association filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Peoria against Ameren Energy Resources Company LLC and its subsidiary. The complaint cites more than 1,000 violations of the federal Clean Air Act from emissions at Ameren’s E.D. Edwards coal-fired power plant in Bartonville, Ill.

“Particle pollution can get deep down into lungs and cause respiratory and pulmonary problems,” said Andrew Armstrong, Attorney at Environmental Law and Policy Center. “Opacity is one way of measuring particle pollution. Ameren has more than 1,000 opacity violations, indicating that they have poured too much of this dangerous pollution into Central Illinois communities.”

The basis for the Clean Air Act violations is data collected by Ameren at its own facilities using electronic continuous opacity monitoring systems. Ameren reports data from its monitoring systems quarterly to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA). In an effort to investigate and protect Illinois’ air, the Sierra Club, Environmental Law and Policy Center, Natural Resources Defense Council and Respiratory Health Association requested the data from IEPA, which revealed egregious violations of the Clean Air Act by exceeding opacity limits allowed in Ameren’s permit on numerous occasions between 2008 and 2013.

“It should not be a surprise to anyone that the Edwards plant is a pollution problem and Ameren is on the hook to fix it,” said Ann Alexander, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council. . “Ameren has dragged their feet on making the necessary improvements for far too long. If they can afford to upgrade their equipment, then they should. If not, they shouldn’t be operating this plant. And nor should anyone else.”

Research by the Clean Air Task Force has shown that Ameren’s Edwards coal plant, mostly constructed in the 1960s, contributes to seven premature deaths, ten heart attacks and more than 100 asthma attacks each year. According to the Respiratory Health Association, hospitalization rates for asthma are highest for those under four years of age and over 65 years of age.

“People with lung disease are among those hardest hit by air pollution and the incidence of those diseases, including asthma and COPD, is still increasing.” said Brian Urbaszewski, Director of Environmental Health Programs for Respiratory Health Association. “Generating electricity shouldn’t be sickening and killing the most vulnerable among us. Illinois’ constitution states that it is the duty of each person to provide and maintain a healthful environment for the benefit of this and future generations. Coal power is not fulfilling that goal; nonpolluting energy efficiency and clean renewable power sources like wind and solar do and that’s what we as a state should prioritize.”

The lawsuit was announced in a press conference today in Peoria by the Central Illinois Healthy Community Alliance, a community group recently formed in the Peoria metro area due to concerns over local air and water pollution caused by the Edwards coal plant. The Central Illinois Healthy Community Alliance is comprised of Peoria Families Against Toxic Waste, Central Illinois Global Warming Solutions, Prairie Rivers Network and the Sierra Club Beyond Coal campaign in Illinois.

“Our community has endured decades of pollution from Ameren’s Edwards coal plant, and we are ready to leave toxic air and water in the past,” said Joyce Blumenshine, Sierra Club Heart of Illinois Group Chair and member of Central Illinois Healthy Community Alliance. “We want a healthy place for our families to grow and thrive. It is time to phase out burning coal at the Edwards coal-fired power plant. We’re ready for clean energy and efficiency to replace dependence on fossil fuels.”

“Our community deserves better than polluted air and toxic waste in our water,” said Tracy Fox, representative of Peoria Families Against Toxic Waste and member of Central Illinois Healthy Community Alliance. “After years of pollution, it is time to either clean up or phase out burning coal in our community. We are calling on all stakeholders – elected officials and regulators, Ameren, Dynegy, the plant’s workers and their unions, health care providers and their patients, environmentalists, neighborhood and community groups, churches and schools – to collaborate on a plan that ensures justice for all.”

— End —

Reuters: EPA sets new emission limits on industrial boilers

EPA sets new emission limits on industrial boilers
WASHINGTON | Fri Dec 21, 2012 2:03pm EST

(Reuters) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized rules to curb pollution from industrial boilers and large incinerators, revising earlier versions to target only the largest polluters and give them more time to comply.

The agency on Friday formalized standards it initially released in March 2011 for reducing toxic air pollution, including mercury and particle pollution, known as soot, from boilers and solid waste incinerators.
Boilers, which are typically fired by coal, oil, natural gas and biomass, are used to power heavy machinery and provide heat for industrial processes.

The new rules target roughly 2,300 boilers, or less than one percent of the 1.5 million units now operating in the United States, requiring them to meet numerical limits on their release of air toxins.

These large-source boilers, found mainly at refineries, chemical plants, and other industrial facilities, will have three years to comply and can be granted a fourth year if needed to install controls, according to the EPA.

The rule also targets 106 industrial solid waste incinerators, which have five years to comply with the EPA standards.

“The adjusted standards require only the largest and highest-emitting units to add pollution controls or take steps to reduce air pollution, making the standards affordable, protective and practical,” according to an EPA factsheet.

Some environmental groups said the EPA’s handling of the long-delayed boiler rules signals that the agency’s upcoming regulation will be more flexible to industry concerns.

“These watered-down rules suggest the Obama administration will collaborate more with industry in the second term,” said Frank O’Donnell of Clean Air Watch.

The EPA first introduced the rule in 2005, but the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit vacated it in 2007.

The rule was re-proposed in June 2010 but industry groups slammed that version, calling its set limits unachievable, prompting the EPA to relax and reintroduce the rule.

“After years of delays, the finalized Boiler MACT standard ends uncertainty and allows businesses to move forward with one standard that applies across the nation, leveling the playing field,” said Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center.

“MACT” is an acronym for Maximum Achievable Control Technology.

Despite relaxing the rules, the EPA said the standards will prevent up to 8,100 premature deaths, 5,100 heart attacks, and 52,000 asthma attacks. The agency estimated that Americans will receive $13 to $29 in health benefits for every dollar spent to meet the final standards and create a small net increase in jobs.

Some industry groups were still wary.

“Several billions of dollars in capital spending will be necessary to comply. This is a significant investment for an industry still recovering from the economic downturn, especially in light of the growing cumulative regulatory burden we face,” the American Forest & Paper Association, the national lobby group of the forest products industry, said on Friday.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), an opponent of EPA regulations, said in November that compliance costs for the agency’s six air pollution rules, including the boiler rule, could total $111.2 billion by EPA estimates and up to $138.2 billion by industry estimates.

The lobby group said the boiler rule would cost covered sources $2.7 billion in annualized costs in 2013 and $14.3 billion in upfront capital spending – higher than EPA estimates of $1.9 billion in annualized costs in 2013 and $5.1 billion in capital spending.

Other groups that have opposed the rules include the Industrial Energy Consumers of America – representing the chemicals, cement, aluminum and other industries.

Bob Bessette, the President of the Council of Industrial Boiler Owners (CIBO), cautiously welcomed the revised rule but said it is still studying its economic impact.

“Hopefully, the changes EPA has made will decrease the economic and jobs impact on the still-struggling manufacturing, commercial, and institutional sectors and national economy,” he said.

(Reporting By Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Nick Zieminski and David Gregorio)

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