Environmental groups appeal gas-fired Hess project permit

Environmental groups have appealed an air permit issued by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) for the 655-MW Hess Newark Energy Center, a natural gas-fired combined-cycle power project.

The appeal was filed Oct. 13 at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Appeals Board by the Ironbound Community Corp. (ICC) and the New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance (NJEJA). It asks the board to review the Sept. 13 proposed issuance of a Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD)/New Source Review (NSR) permit for the Hess Newark Energy Center (Hess NEC). New Jersey elected to integrate its NSR preconstruction permits with the operating permit instead of issuing separate permits, the appeal noted.

Petitioners have standing to petition for review of the permit decision because each group participated in the public comment period on the draft permit, the appeal said. The issues raised by petitioners were raised with NJDEP during the public comment period and are directly related to NJDEP’s response to public comments.

Hess applied for a PSD/NSR preconstruction permit for the Hess Newark Energy Center in October 2011. The proposed permit was issued on Sept. 13 and would become effective on Oct. 13 if no appeal were sought.

The board must remand the permit because NJDEP failed to require the applicant to submit an analysis of alternative sites, production processes, and environmental control techniques that demonstrates that the benefits of the proposed project outweigh its environmental and social costs, the appeal said.

The project site is in Newark in Essex County. Essex County and adjacent Hudson County are both currently in non-attainment of the Clean Air Act’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone and PM 2.5, the appeal said. Because the Hess project will emit precursor pollutants in this non-attainment area, both the CAA and New Jersey’s State Implementation Plan (SIP) regulations require Hess to submit an analysis of alternatives to the project analysis that demonstrates that the benefits of the proposed project significantly outweigh its environmental and social costs, the appeal said.

Said the project website: “The proposed Newark Energy Center (NEC) is an environmentally advanced, 655-megawatt gas-fired electricity generating facility at an industrial site in Newark, New Jersey. Over the next several months, the NEC will undergo a rigorous and open regulatory process that will be completed before construction begins. In May 2012, the Newark Energy Center cleared PJM Interconnection’s base residual auction and will provide capacity to meet demand in the June 1, 2015 to May 31, 2016 delivery year.”

The project development company is controlled by Hess Corp. (NYSE: HES), a Fortune 100 company with regional headquarters in Woodbridge, N.J., that is engaged in the exploration, production, purchase, transportation and sale of crude oil and natural gas, as well as the production and sale of refined petroleum products, natural gas and electricity.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.