The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently released a proposal that puts emissions limits on some big sources of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). These pollutants combine in the atmosphere to create ground-level ozone, a pollutant that burns eyes, triggers asthma attacks, and is even linked to premature death from cardiovascular disease. Ground-level ozone is not a good thing, simply put, and the Pittsburgh region already struggles to meet the federal, health-based standards for ozone levels in the ambient air.
So new regulations are good, right? Not yet. In this instance, the DEP proposal will allow much more air pollution to be discharged than is currently being emitted. The proposal sets limits that seem to ignore modern air pollution control technology. Selective Catalytic Reduction units (SCRs) are already installed in many coal-fired power plants in Pennsylvania and all around us. They are reasonably available, technologically feasible, and economically feasible, which are the criteria that DEP must evaluate when making these limits. So why isn’t the DEP setting air pollution limits that consider the best technology?
If you’d like to tell the DEP to set tougher limits, please do so by emailing them your comments. After agreeing to their terms, click “Additional RACT Requirement for Major Sources of NOx and VOCs” from the dropdown menu asking which rulemaking you’d like to comment on. Comments will be taken until June 30. Link here: http://www.ahs.dep.pa.gov/RegComments/Agreement.aspx
Please let us know if you’d like an explanation of any part of the rulemaking, and we’d love if you shared your comments with us. GASP delivered our own comments in person during a public hearing on 5/27. You can read our comments here.