- The Environmental Protection Agency has eliminated the complicated matrix by which it evaluates facilities that commit high priority violations (HPVs) of polluted air, water and soil. A new policy will require at least seven days of continuous or recurring illegal air pollution for an HPV, make it easier for regulators to remove HPV status, and eliminate a deadline of 270 days to 300 days to resolve or address an HPV.
- EPA also eliminated tracking of alleged chronic violators of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, if regulators exceed the deadline for enforcement action.
- Utilities whose plants were on the chronic violators list, including NRG Energy and Dayton Power and Light, approved EPA’s action, saying NRG’s Pekin and Joliet plants and DPL’s Stuart and Hutchings stations were on the list only due to EPA error.
The more than 2,000 U.S. facilities guilty of HPVs are the source of air pollution most likely to be significant for human health and the environment, according to the EPA. Coal plants, natural gas compressor stations, oil refineries and manufacturing facilities are the most common offenders.
Former state and federal environmental regulators expressed multiple concerns about the revisions, saying the changes may be designed merely for “bureaucratic convenience.”
Under the new rules, regulators may overlook coal plants that get tens of thousands of short-term violations, the critics said. EPA responded that such repeated short-term violations will qualify for scrutiny under other provisions.
The former regulators were more favorable about ending the chronic violators watch list.
Except for DPL’s Stuart station, the NRG and Dayton Power and Light facilities are still listed as having ongoing HPVs of the Clean Air Act.