Enviro groups appeal haze ruling for Danskammer coal plant

Earthjustice said Nov. 9 that that conservation groups have appealed what they see as weak air pollution requirements recently approved for the state of New York by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The groups are challenging EPA’s decision to approve a federal implementation plan for regional haze covering the Danskammer coal-fired power plant. The proposed limits for SO2 and NOx do not meet the level of stringency required by the Clean Air Act, the groups said.

Earthjustice filed the appeal, on behalf of the Sierra Club and the National Parks Conservation Association with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Danskammer is the last large coal plant in New York without modern pollution safeguards, the groups said. The lawsuit seeks to remedy this deficiency and reduce the plant’s haze-forming SO2 and NOx emissions by requiring that the plant install the best available controls for SO2 and NOx.

“Danskammer needs significant upgrades to meet air pollution requirements, and EPA’s plan simply does not do the job,” said Charles McPhedran, an Earthjustice attorney. “It is unacceptable to allow coal plants like Danskammer to continue to dirty the air when better technology is readily available.”

Bankrupt Dynegy Northeast Generation recently turned its leased coal-fired capacity at Danskammer over to affiliates of Public Service Enterprise Group (NYSE: PEG) that own that capacity. That capacity is now up for sale.

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is taking public comment until Nov. 30 on an air permit change that would sharply lower the allowed NOx, SO2 and particulate matter (PM) emissions rates at Unit 4 of the Danskammer plant. Dynegy Northeast is seeking a change under the Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART) regional haze rules for Unit 4.

  • For NOx, the change would lower the existing emission limit from 0.42 lb/mmBtu to 0.12 lb/mmBtu (24-hr average during ozone season, 30-day average during non-ozone season) to meet NOx RACT/BART, effective July 1, 2014.
  • For SO2, it would lower the existing emission limit from 1.1 lb/mmBtu to 0.5 lb/mmBtu (24-hr average), effective July 1, 2014.
  • For PM, it would lower existing limit from 0.1 lb/mmBtu to 0.06 lb/mmBtu (1-hour average), also effective July 1, 2014.

Danskammer consists of four tangentially-fired steam generating boilers (Units 1-2) rated at 65 MW each (capable of firing No. 6 fuel oil and natural gas); a 135-MW Unit 3 capable of firing No. 6 oil, natural gas and coal; and a unit rated at 235 MW, Unit 4, also capable of combusting oil, natural gas and coal. Units 1-2 began commercial operation in 1951 and 1954 respectively; Unit 3 began operation in 1959; and Unit 4 began operation in 1967. Unit 4 began commercial operation on coal, but was converted to residual oil firing in 1970, with a reconversion to coal in 1987. The unit retains the capability to burn all three fuels, the DEC noted.

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.