EPA moves to reject CT complaint over Brunner Island plant emissions
- The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday proposed to deny a complaint from Connecticut that argued cross-state pollution from a Pennsylvania coal plant was making the state non-compliant with federal standards on ground-level ozone.
- EPA said that Connecticut had not proved that emissions from the Brunner Island coal plant would "significantly contribute" to the state's ability to meet ozone standards, set at 75 parts per billion in 2008. Owner Talen Energy plans to stop burning coal at the plant during the summer in 2023.
- The decision comes the week after the D.C. Circuit Court threw out parts of the ozone regulations, saying EPA allowed non-compliant areas to escape deadlines under earlier pollution standards when it updated the ozone regulation in 2015.
In 2016, Connecticut filed a complaint with EPA saying that emissions from Brunner Island, a 1,411 MW coal plant in York County, Pa., were violating the "good neighbor" standards of the Clean Air Act by flowing across state lines and making Connecticut not compliant with EPA ozone standards.
EPA set the standard at 75 ppb in 2008, tightening it to 70 ppb in 2015. But those later standards are still being implemented, so Connecticut's challenge rested on the older, less stringent rule.
EPA on Wednesday moved to deny that petition, writing in a notice that the plant "does not currently emit nor is it expected to emit pollution in violation of the good neighbor provision."
Talen Energy, the independent power producer that owns Brunner Island, struck a deal with the Sierra Club this month to reduce ozone-causing emissions during summer, when sunlight and high temperatures help the ground-level smog to from. Starting in 2023, Brunner will burn only natural gas between May and September, and the plant will halt all coal burn in 2028.
"We appreciate the EPA’s independent review and agree with the agency’s decision to deny the petition," Talen spokesperson Todd Martin said via email. "Additionally, we believe the recently announced settlement with Sierra Club further supports EPA’s decision."
The D.C. Circuit's decision last week could complicate that task. The court found that the EPA violated the Clean Air Act when it finalized the 2015 regulation by allowing regions not compliant with earlier standards, set in 1997, escape deadlines for enforcement under those rules. That could mean that EPA will have to leave the 2008 regulations in place for noncompliant areas until they reach the standard, E&E News reports.
EPA will hold a public hearing on the Connecticut decision Friday at its D.C. headquarters.
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