WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Bob Casey (D-PA) and Representative Charlie Dent (PA-15) sent a letter to Lisa Jackson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, urging the administration to work with GenOn in reaching an agreement regarding the Portland Generating Station that does not threaten the company’s existence and the jobs of its many employees.
The EPA is threatening to impose new pollution controls on GenOn’s Portland Generating Station in Northampton County due to recent concerns about the plant’s emissions raised by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. These new controls would require the company to reduce its emissions by 81 percent by the end of a three-year compliance window. The Portland Generating Station, which employs 70 people, has warned that it may be forced to shut down if the EPA sets unrealistic interim benchmarks.
The EPA’s proposal would require GenOn to submit a compliance plan 90 days after the final rule is released. GenOn is actively evaluating alternative options for achieving the most effective pollution control, but the EPA’s proposal would set emission requirements before the completion of GenOn’s tests.
In their letter, Sens. Toomey and Casey and Rep. Dent urge the EPA to work with the Portland plant to achieve a proposal that controls pollutants without sacrificing the economic needs of the plant and the Lehigh Valley region. In particular, they encourage the EPA to provide GenOn flexibility in submitting its compliance plan and to defer finalization of emission limits until after GenOn completes its tests.
A copy of the letter is below:
June 6, 2011
Dear Administrator Jackson:
On March 31, 2011, EPA granted the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s petition under Clean Air Act Section 126 relating to air emissions from the GenOn REMA LLC’s Portland Generating Facility located in Upper Mount Bethel Township, Pennsylvania. The proposed rule includes a compliance schedule with interim and final emissions limits to be met by the facility within three years after the issuance of a final ruling.
As required by EPA’s implementation guidance for the June 2010 revised SO2 National Ambient Air Quality Standard, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is developing plans that will result in compliance for all Pennsylvania sources. We are concerned that acting on the New Jersey petition prior to implementation of Pennsylvania’s State Implementation Plan deviates from this process and rushes compliance with the new standard solely for the Portland facility.
The proposal requires GenOn to submit a compliance plan 90 days after the final rule. We understand that GenOn is actively evaluating alternatives to arrive at the most effective control solutions. We have been informed that the timeline will set the interim emission requirements prior to the completion of GenOn’s alternative test burn analysis, which should demonstrate an appropriate interim level. We understand that evaluating methods and alternatives for reducing emissions for generation facilities, such as the Portland plant, are not simple processes and require significant engineering, testing and analysis in order to develop a specific plan to most efficiently meet compliance goals. In addition, GenOn will need to make investment and operational decisions with subsequent emission standards that EPA is currently developing.
We are concerned that prematurely binding GenOn’s decisions on how to comply with identified requirements will not result in the best solution and may come at a cost of lost jobs, reduced reliability and higher electric costs. Accordingly, we encourage EPA to provide GenOn with flexibility in the timing of the submission of the compliance plan to meet required emission limits. We also encourage EPA to defer finalization of interim emission limits to allow the completion of GenOn’s tests later this year.
Senator Pat Toomey
Senator Bob Casey
Representative Charlie Dent