Connecticut Files Petition Against Pennsylvania Pollution

Environmental officials are asking the federal government to force air pollution reductions from a coal-fired power plant in Pennsylvania.

by Gregory B. Hladky, The Hartford Courant / June 7, 2016

(TNS) — Connecticut environmental officials are asking the federal government to force air pollution reductions from a coal-fired power plant in Pennsylvania and from big diesel trucks rolling through the state, arguing both are hurting air quality in Connecticut.

One petition to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is targeting emissions from the Brunner Island Steam Electric Station in York County, Pa., arguing that pollution from the plant is drifting over Connecticut on the prevailing winds.

"Our petition is yet another salvo that sends a clear message to upwind states that Connecticut is no longer going to accept being the tailpipe of America," said Robert Klee, commissioner of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).

According to Connecticut's petition, the three coal-fired generating units at Brunner Island produced about 11,000 tons of nitrogen oxide pollution in 2014. Those emissions "significantly contribute" to Connecticut ozone problems that already exceed national air quality standards, DEEP officials said.

"Connecticut has the highest ozone levels in the northeast, which adversely impacts the health of our citizens and the quality of life in our state," Klee said.

Connecticut's petition against the Pennsylvania plant is being filed under the federal Clean Air Act and seeks "meaningful reductions" in pollution in at least three years. The Brunner Island plant is located on the Susquehanna River just southeast of Harrisburg, Penn.

A similar petition filed in 2013 by Connecticut and eight other northeastern states asked the EPA to limit air pollution drifting into the region from generating plants in states in the Midwest and to our south. That petition is still pending.

The air pollution request to cut diesel truck nitrogen oxide emissions is being made jointly by Connecticut and 10 other state and local environmental agencies. The petition asks the EPA to require emission standards that are 90 percent tougher than the current federal standards.

According to the petition, truck engine emissions can be reduced by 90 percent through existing technology that costs between $500 and $1,000 per vehicle. A new tractor trailer cab alone can cost $130,000 to $260,000, and state officials argue that the emissions control upgrades wouldn't be a major cost factor.

Connecticut officials say about 12.5 percent of the state's nitrogen oxide pollution is caused by big highway trucks, one of the largest single sources of nitrogen oxide pollution in the state.

"Air pollution transported into Connecticut from upwind sources and emissions from diesel-powered trucks [is] beyond our jurisdiction and these petitions are part of our ongoing effort to have the EPA address these sources," Klee said.

DEEP spokesman Dennis Schain said the two petitions are being filed as part of the Connecticut agency's ongoing efforts to curtail pollution from outside the state's borders. Schain said state experts have now "pulled together the data needed to make a case on these two issues."

©2016 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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