DEP Urges EPA to Dismiss Petition from Clean Air Council

HARRISBURG – Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Mike Krancer urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to dismiss a petition that the Clean Air Council filed with EPA in November 2011. The petition claimed that Pennsylvania is failing to implement requirements in its State Implementation Plan and asked EPA to impose sanctions on Pennsylvania.

“This petition lacks merit and based on longstanding and documented facts in this matter, the EPA should promptly dismiss this,” Krancer said in letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. “As the EPA and Clean Air Council are well aware, Pennsylvania is implementing and acting in full compliance with our latest state regulation of 2008.

“The latest State Implementation Plan (SIP) submittal of 2009, embodying that 2008 regulation, was submitted to EPA for its approval in April 2009, but has not yet been approved by EPA. This petition takes the bizarre position that Pennsylvania is guilty of not acting in conformance with a prior 1996 regulation that is no longer even on the books in Pennsylvania.”

In 2007, the state’s Environmental Quality Board proposed changes to expedite permitting of what are considered to be minor air emissions sources. To aid in crafting the final rulemaking, there were several public hearings held around the state, as well as a public comment period that included correspondence with Clean Air Council and consultation with the Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee. That committee is made up of representatives from government, environmental organizations and industry.

In April 2009, DEP submitted the final rulemaking as a revision to its SIP and because of EPA’s failure to respond, it was deemed administratively complete in October 2009. To date, EPA has not responded and was recently sued by several environmental groups for lack of action on Pennsylvania’s and other states’ plans.

“As EPA should be painfully aware, EPA has been sued over this situation and shoulders the blame for what Clean Air Council is complaining about,” the letter notes.

“DEP and EPA should not be unnecessarily distracted by this contrived and irrational petition from the important and serious work our agencies perform,” Krancer said. “Perhaps Clean Air Council’s time would have been better served by suing EPA for … failing to perform one of its basic functions in a timely manner, rather than submitting this frivolous petition against Pennsylvania.

Krancer noted that DEP has expanded the public participation process to include public meetings and public hearings when appropriate, and that Clean Air Council has been present at such hearings. The council has also complimented DEP on this effort.

Krancer sent Administrator Jackson a recent letter from CAC that praises DEP for holding one of several public hearings on plan approvals for compressor stations at natural gas operations. In addition to such hearings and public comment periods on major sources, notices of permit applications for minor sources are made public and comments are considered in DEP’s decisions.

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