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EPA Asked To Conduct Enforcement Review of BL England Plant and Christie DEP Permit Renewal

The DEP held a public hearing last Tuesday on the BL England power plant and the written public comment expires tomorrow, so I submitted the following comments and request to EPA.

While I am not an expert, at a minimum, it is not sound public policy to permit a major new source of greenhouse gas emissions prior to consideration of EPA’s Clean Power Plan and NJ’s Global Warming Response Act goals.

Dear US EPA Administrator Enck and NJ DEP Commissioner Martin:

This letter serves the following purposes:

1) request for EPA to conduct a compliance review of the BL England power plant in Upper Township, NJ (BLE)

2) request that EPA review the draft air pollution control operating permit issued by NJ DEP to BL England, see:


3) submit comments on the draft NJ DEP air pollution control permit issued to BL England for EPA and DEP consideration

4) request that EPA and/or NJ DEP extend the public comment period by at least 60 days to provide time for adequate and meaningful public review.

1. EPA compliance review

It is my understanding that the initial 2006 Administrative Consent Order (ACO) between the NJ DEP and then BLE owner (Atlantic City Electric) resolved a joint US EPA and NJ DEP federal Clean Air Act “New Source Review” violation and enforcement action.

The compliance dates in the ACO have been extended by the NJ DEP several times. The proposed design and emissions of the proposed re-powering of the facility have changed as well. There have been mechanical and operational changes at the plant.

I request that EPA consider these compliance deadline extensions and the current plant operations to determine if BLE is in full compliance with Clean Air Act and all other requirements and to take appropriate enforcement action, including plant shutdown, if there are violations of law or EPA regulations or permits.

2. Request for EPA review of NJ DEP draft permit to BLE

The BLE plant is a major emission source subject to EPA jurisdiction under the Clean Air Act.

I request that EPA review the draft renewal of the operating permit for the facility currently undergoing public comment period.

3. Comments of the NJ DEP draft operating permit

I suggest the following flaws in the draft permit.

a) permit could serve as an enforcement shield

The draft permit does not include a mandatory implementation schedule for the plant shutdown and re-powering or reflect the compliance obligations of the ACO.

I am concerned about what would happen in the event that the owner of BLE (RC Cape May) does not secure construction financing, or all necessary approvals to proceed, or experiences delays in construction and/or commencement of operations at the facility.

Could the current plant continue to operate under the prior permit and ACO? When will current operations cease?

In addition, the fuel source for the BLE plant is the proposed South Jersey Gas pipeline. The alleged approval of that pipeline by the Pinelands Commission and the NJ Board of Public Utilities is currently subject to litigation. The BLE plant would lack a fuel source should these lawsuits succeed.

How would the draft permit address these scenarios?

b) failure to adequately consider climate change and greenhouse gas emissions

Greenhouse gases are regulated as “air contaminants” under the NJ Air Pollution Control Act and DEP regulations.

The draft permit did not conduct a cumulative impact analysis of the lifecycle emissions of greenhouse gases, including emissions from pipelines, compressor stations, and fracking wells.

The draft permit did not adequately address the implications of compliance with EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan regulations. Those EPA rules have been stayed pending judicial review. It is not appropriate to issue a final permit to a major facility pending adoption of the EPA CPP regulations.

NJ DEP officials have publicly stated that they are not preparing a State Implementation Plan (SIP) amendment to comply with the EPA Clean Power Plan regulations. It is not appropriate to issue a final permit to a major facility in the absence of an adopted and EPA approved SIP to implement the Clean Power Plan and control greenhouse gas emissions.

The proposed BLE re-powering would extend the operating life of the BLE plant for perhaps an additional 30 – 40 years.

The NJ Global Warming Response Act requires deep reductions in statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, and 2050.

The draft permit failed to consider if and how the additional GHG missions from BLE would comply with the emissions reductions mandated by the GWRA.

c) permit does not reflect “advances in the art of pollution control”

The NJ Air Pollution Control Act requires that permits reflect “advances in the art of pollution control” (also called SOTA).

Pollution control technology is generally understood and defined by EPA as:

“the term “control technology” is defined broadly to be consistent with section 112(d)(2) of the Clean Air Act to include measures, processes, methods, systems or techniques which reduce the volume of, or eliminate emissions of, HAP through process changes, substitution of materials or other modifications; enclose systems or processes to eliminate emissions; collect, capture or treat HAP when released from a process, stack, storage or fugitive emissions point; are design, equipment, work practice, or operational standards; or a combination of the above.


The draft permit does not demonstrate or reflect SOTA for all pollutants.

For example,  regulated greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced or eliminated by energy efficiency, reductions in energy demand, demand management, and/or renewable energy. None of these “pollution control” methods were considered.

d) permit did not adequately address Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAP’s) and conduct ecological and human health risk assessments

The BLE plant is a major source of HAP’s.  Under NJ Air Pollution Control regulations, major HAP source must conduct air quality modeling and a human health risk assessment. The draft permit failed to adequately consider human health impacts and conduct the required risk assessment.

The draft permit would allow emissions of 129,000 pounds of lead per year. The draft permit did not consider the impacts of these emissions on children’s blood lead levels.

In addition, the draft permit would allow emissions of many pollutants that have adverse impacts on fish and wildlife. The Cape May peninsula and Great Egg Bay are extreme ecologically significant. The draft permit failed to consider the ecological impacts of pollutants from BLE.

e) permit inconsistent with air quality analysis submitted to Pinelands Commission

The NJ DEP submitted and presented an air quality analysis of the BLE plant during the review of the plant’s fuel source, the South Jersey Gas pipeline, by the Pinelands Commission. This analysis was required to demonstrate compliance with the federally approved  Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP).

Since then, the proposed design and operation of the BLE plant have changed considerably. Accordingly, so have the alleged benefits of the plant asserted to comply with the CMP. This renders the proposed permit inconsistent with the CMP.

The EPA and NJ DEP should not be approving permits that are inconsistent with the CMP and not fully approved by vote, after public hearing, the Pinlands Commission.

4. Request for extension of the public comment period

The NJ DEP held a public hearing on the draft permit on May 17, 2016 in Upper Township, NJ. The hearing room was packed by well over 100 people, standing room only. Approximately 30 – 40 people presented oral testimony which was limited to just 3 minutes by the DEP hearing officer.

There is significant public interest in this controversial air permit, which would have significant impacts and statewide implications for the people of NJ.

The draft permit is complex, legally and technically. I am not an expert on the Clean Air Act. In order to understand and meaningfully participate in review and comment on the draft permit, the public needs the technical assistance of expert consultants. In order to secure that kind of support, the public needs additional time.

Therefore, I request that EPA and/or NJ DEP extend the public comment period for 90 days.

I appreciate your timely and favorable consideration.

Bill Wolfe

Bordentown, NJ


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