Connecticut politicians urge EPA action on Brunner Island plant NOx emissions

Several Connecticut politicians in Congress, including Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, sent a Sept. 20 letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency urging it to take action on emissions from Talen Energy‘s coal-fired Brunner Island power plant that drift downwind into their state.

They told EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy that the Brunner Island coal plant is the largest facility in the Northeast U.S. that lacks effective pollution controls for NOx. The lawmakers wrote in support of the state of Connecticut’s recent petition to limit emissions from Brunner Island.

Said the letter: “On behalf of our constituents, we write to you in support of the State of Connecticut’s petition, pursuant to Section 126 of the Clean Air Act, to reduce dangerous pollution from the Brunner Island coal plant that degrades air quality in our state. We urge you and your capable team to take decisive action to respond to the petition within the statutory deadline and mitigate the damage being done to the health of our constituents and throughout the region by this large and uncontrolled facility. 

“As outlined in the request from Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner [Robert] Klee, the Brunner Island coal plant is the largest facility in the Northeast that lacks effective pollution controls for nitrogen oxides and greatly contributes to smog pollution in the region. This pollution triggers asthma, heart attacks, and even premature death from heart and lung disease. Certain populations are particularly vulnerable to these effects, including children, seniors, and those with existing respiratory diseases.

“Brunner Island is a significant contributor to the inability of parts of Connecticut to achieve and maintain safe air quality that protects public health. Despite expending significant resources to reduce pollution and improve air quality, our state has been unable to meet those health-based standards, primarily due to pollution coming from beyond our borders. The Brunner Island coal plant is a textbook case for the foresight our Congressional predecessors had when crafting Section 126 of the Clean Air Act.

Also pending before the Agency is Pennsylvania’s statewide nitrogen oxide pollution proposal; however, this proposal effectively exempts Brunner Island from any meaningful pollution reductions. This threatens the health of my constituents, and for the same reasons that EPA should grant the Connecticut petition, EPA should reject the ‘Brunner Island loophole’ in the Pennsylvania nitrogen oxide plan.”

The June 1 petition from Klee to EPA notes that while the 1,500-MW Brunner Island plant is currently undergoing construction to add gas co-firing capability, it still will be able to fire coal. The letter said the plant has no current post-combustion controls for NOx and that Pennsylvania’s recent NOx RACT Rule would require no such controls and no limits on coal combustion.

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.