DATE: January 24, 2002
TRUST HAILS POLLUTION CLEAN-UP PACT
BETWEEN EPA, PSEG POWER
Shows Need to Keep Strong New Source Review Program
The nonprofit Clean Air Trust hailed today's $300 million air pollution clean-up settlement between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the state of New Jersey, and the Newark-based PSEG Power.
PSEG agreed to cut pollution from its New Jersey plants to settle government allegations of noncompliance with "new source review," the Clean Air Act program designed to make sure industries don't increase pollution significantly when they make major modifications to existing power plants, refineries or other industrial facilities.
Under the agreement, PSEG said it would install state-of-the-art pollution controls at several coal-fired electric power plants during the next decade to reduce up to 90 percent of sulfur dioxide, particle soot and smog-causing nitrogen oxides. The company said it also set a goal of reducing 90% of mercury emissions, and also agreed to a voluntary 15% reduction in the carbon dioxide emissions rate.
The Clean Air Trust praised the agreement as a demonstration that enforcement of the Clean Air Act can lead to significant pollution reductions.
"This agreement sets the bar for future new source review cleanup settlements," said , the Clean Air Trust's executive director.
"It shows why we need to keep and enforce a strong new source review program to promote strict pollution controls at individual plants," O'Donnell added.
O'Donnell noted that EPA, under pressure from the Department of Energy and some power companies and other industries, is moving to weaken new source review requirements. Yesterday, state and local air pollution regulators warned EPA that weakening new source review could let many polluters off the hook, "resulting in unchecked emission increases that will degrade our air quality and endanger public health."
EPA Administrator Christie Whitman has even discussed eliminating new source review entirely in favor of a "cap and trade" alleged cleanup approach. O'Donnell noted that Enron and an affiliated lobbying group had pushed for elimination of new source review in favor of "cap and trade."
"It would be both sad and ironic if the government moved to weaken or eliminate a pollution cleanup program that is working - as demonstrated by today's settlement - in favor of a smoke-and-mirrors approach sought by Enron," O'Donnell said.
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