Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Senators Urge EPA to Squash the "Dirty Bug" Loophole

Six U.S. senators have written to the US EPA, urging it to reconsider a dirty-air move to give big loopholes to dirty diesel back-up generators. (See letter below. For background on this "Dirty Bug" issue, see )

Let us hope, for breathers' sakes, that EPA heeds this timely warning

November 27, 2012

The Honorable Lisa P. Jackson
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Ariel Rios Building
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue , N .W. Washington, DC 20460
Dear Administrator  Jackson:
We urge you to reconsider a proposed rule that could put public health at risk by increasing air pollut ion from backup diesel generators.  This rule would amend the national emissions standards for hazardous air pollutants for stationary reciprocating internal combustion engines (RICE NESHAP) under section 112 ofthe Clean Air Act, as well as the corresponding revisions to the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS).  We are concerned that the current proposal would significantly expand the number of hours that these backup generators would be allowed to operate without any emissions control technology , even in non-emergency conditions. We urge you to finalize a rule that ensures Americans are not breathing dirtier air.
On June 7, 2012, EPA issued a proposed rule as part of a settlement agreement to amend the existing RICE NESHAP . Under the current standards, EPA allows emergency backup  engines to operate without meeting emissions limits for as long as necessary during actual emergencies , such as the recent power loss and devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. The current standards also allow emergency backup generators to operate up to 15 hours per year as part of a demand response program, without installing emission controls . EPA's proposed revisions to the existing standards would dramatically expand this exemption for non-emergency operation. Specifically, the proposed rule would allow emergency backup engines to operate for up to 100 hours per year as part of an emergency demand response program, and-until April 16, 20 17-up to 50 hours per year for peak shaving and non-emergency demand response .
It is troubling that these backup generators would be permitted to operate for significant periods of time in non-emergency situations without any emissions controls . Demand response programs are intended to reduce energy costs and air pollution by encouraging energy efficiency and smart grid management. Operating an uncontrolled diesel generator instead of drawing power from the electricity grid is simply shifting energy demand from the grid to a more polluting on-site generator. If emergency generators wish to participate in electricity markets , they should be required to compete on a level playing field by meeting emissions limits that protect public health.
Allowing these diesel generators to significantly increase operation in non-emergency situations would increase the potential for emissions from these sources.  However, the proposed rule fails to account fully for these increased emissions because the Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) relied on insufficient data and did not include a robust air quality analysis.  Therefore, we urge EPA to ensure that any final rule includes the necessary data collection to fully assess the impact of these backup generators, and requires appropriate emission controls as mandated by the Clean Air Act.

 During your tenure as Administrator, the EPA has made tremendous progress cleaning up our air and protecting public health.    We look forward to your continued leadership and encourage EPA to revise its proposal and refrain from issuing a final rule until a full analysis of the public health and air quality impacts of the proposed amendments for backup generators can be completed.



 Frank Lautenberg
Joseph Lieberman
Kirsten Gillibrand
Sheldon Whitehouse
Benjamin Cardin
Robert Menendez

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