Delaware files third clean-air petition for coal plant – this time against Homer City

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) said Nov. 10 that it has filed a petition to have the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency find that the coal-fired, 1,884-MW Homer City Generating Station in Pennsylvania is emitting air pollutants in violation of the federal Clean Air Act (CAA).

As with CAA 126(b) petitions filed last summer by DNREC against Talen Energy‘s Brunner Island coal plant in York County, Pa., and FirstEnergy‘s Harrison coal plant near Hayward, W. Va., the department argues that these emissions mean that Delaware is out of compliance with federal air quality standards – and will continue to be as long as these power plants continue emitting pollutants, particularly NOx, without consistent use of modern anti-pollution controls.

In its petitions, DNREC has noted that more than 94% of the ozone levels in Delaware are created by the transport of air pollutants from upwind states – a stark contrast to what occurs within the state’s borders, where DNREC has worked with power producers and manufacturers and the public to sharply reduce Delaware’s own emissions.

“Yet again we are petitioning the EPA to act on the fact that our ability to achieve and maintain health-based air quality standards is severely impacted by sources outside of the state of Delaware,” DNREC Secretary David Small said. “Our position has been corroborated by EPA’s own modeling technology: That Pennsylvania and West Virginia and other states’ emissions significantly impact Delaware.”

As in the aftermath of each CAA 126(b) petition filed by DNREC, Small said that Delaware continues to assess the impact of other generating stations and power plants in the upwind states. The petition points out that the facilities cited for upwind air pollution manage to skirt EPA jurisdiction because some of the states do not have regulatory requirements for the power plants to install highly-effective NOx emissions controls, while still other upwind states do not require the facilities to consistently operate existing NOx controls at high levels of efficiency, and in this case states allow power plants to demonstrate compliance with regulatory requirements using long-term averaging of emissions that do not address the impact of transported pollution on the short term (8-hour) ozone standard.

Section 126(b) of the Clean Air Act requires that within 60 days after the EPA’s receipt of any petition (and after a public hearing), the EPA administrator will make such a finding as requested, requiring the Homer City Generating Station to limit short term NOx emissions to levels that are protective of the 8-hour ozone NAAQS in downwind areas such as Delaware, or will deny the petition.

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.