Home > Uncategorized > Murphy DEP Urged To Ratchet Down on Air Pollution That Impacts Haze In Brigantine Wilderness Area

Murphy DEP Urged To Ratchet Down on Air Pollution That Impacts Haze In Brigantine Wilderness Area

Proposal Fails To Consider Climate Change and Energy Efficiency 

The Murphy DEP just extended the public comment period until October 22 on the DEP proposed  State Implementation Plan (SIP) For Regional Haze for the Brigantine Wilderness Area.

I don’t know why the public comment period was extended, but when DEP does so, it typically means either industry opposition or technical flaws with the original proposal.

[Note: Jeff Tittel of Sierra Club just sent this explanatory note:

We requested an extension and 2 week extension was granted .Taylor from Sierra was only commenter at the hearing we requested. ~~~ end Note]

On a positive note, SIP proposals are complex and typically take several years to develop, which can span administrations. Accordingly, sometimes an extension of a public comment period can provide the DEP Commissioner with the opportunity to reconsider policy in light of new science or different policy objectives than the prior administration that drafted a proposal.

Once again, the Murphy DEP has ignored an opportunity to regulate and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

Firstly, the SIP ignores climate change. Even DEP’s own Global Warming Response Act Report (2009) notes the linkages between climate change and ground level ozone, particulates, and haze:  (@ page 10)

These rising temperatures are expected to have human health impacts, including:[…]

  • increased levels of ground-level ozone, with the number of days failing to meet federal air quality ozone standard projected to quadruple if local vehicle and industrial emissions of ozone-forming pollutants are not reduced;
  • accelerated secondary fine particle formation, which also have negative health impacts, particularly to children and the elderly;

The DEP GWRA Report discusses that science further on page 24:

“GHG Co-Benefits from Implemented and Anticipated Controls to Meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards

The entire State of New Jersey is currently designated by the USEPA as nonattainment for the 1997 8-hour ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS). In addition, thirteen of New Jersey’s 21 counties are designated as nonattainment for the 1997 PM2.5 NAAQS. PM2.5, also known as fine particulate matter, in the atmosphere is composed of a complex mixture of particles: sulfate, nitrate, and ammonium particles; particle-bound water; black carbon (also known as elemental carbon); a great variety of organic compounds (or volatile organic compounds (VOCs)); and crustal material. In response to these designations, the NJDEP has submitted attainment demonstration plans designed to show how New Jersey will attain these standards by 2010. Also, the State has also submitted a Regional Haze Plan to the USEPA which establishes progress goals and control strategies for improving visibility (mainly impeded by fine particles in the atmosphere) in federally protected areas. All of these plans commit the State to implement a number of new control measures.

Control measures implemented to meet the Federal ozone, PM2.5 and Regional Haze requirements are also beneficial in the State’s efforts to reduce GHG emissions. Since ozone and black carbon (soot) have an atmospheric warming effect, all efforts designed to reduce their concentrations in the atmosphere will also reduce their overall impact on climate change. In fact, since the atmospheric lifetime of ozone and black carbon are so much shorter than those of the long-lived GHG gases, days as opposed to years for CO2, methane and halocarbons, reductions in these short-lived species may prove to be of some importance in slowing global warming in the short term. Therefore, the numerous control measures already under consideration or being implemented by the State to address ozone and black carbon, such as diesel idling infrastructure alternatives (e.g., truck stop electrification), requiring ultra low sulfur heating oil and requiring VOC recovery at refineries, will also help the State exceed its shorter term 2020 GHG limit. More long term considerations to address criteria pollutants, such as encouraging more efficient trucks and promoting clean combustion woodburners, will go a long way towards creating a path for the State to attain its 2050 GH limit.”

That DEP Report was written 10 year ago and is based on science even older than that. That science has only become stronger over the last decade.

Secondly, the DEP SIP gives short shrift to the air quality impacts of energy efficiency.

I have very little technical background in this issue, but I decided to do a quick review of the proposal, for key issues I am somewhat aware of. Based on that cursory review, I submitted the below 5 comments. Here’s the story:

The Regional Haze SIP is required by the federal Clean Air Act: (DEP SIP, p.1)

The federal Clean Air Act sets a national goal to restore visibility to its natural conditions in many of the national parks, wilderness areas and memorial parks in the United States of America. New Jersey is home to one of these areas, the Brigantine Wilderness Area in the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, hereafter called the Brigantine Wilderness Area. Section 169A of the Clean Air Act of 1977 sets the following national visibility goal:

“Congress hereby declares as a national goal the prevention of any future, and the remedying of any existing, impairment of visibility in mandatory Class I Federal areas which impairment results from man-made air pollution.” …

New Jersey is proposing a revision to the New Jersey State Implementation Plan (SIP) to establish long-term strategies and to set the 2028 reasonable progress goals for the Brigantine Wilderness Area. The purpose of the emission control strategies and the goals is to address New Jersey’s contribution to visibility impairment at Brigantine Wilderness Area. It is important to note that based on the analysis conducted by New Jersey and MANE-VU, New Jersey has determined that it does not significantly contribute to any Class I areas in any other state other than the Brigantine Wilderness Area in New Jersey.

This document outlines New Jersey’s long-term strategy (2018 to 2028) for dealing with visibility-impairing air pollution within its borders and from out-of-state sources that transport pollution to the Brigantine Wilderness Area.

I urge those more familiar with this issue to ask DEP why they extended the public comment period and whether the proposal can be strengthened, (as it was likely developed during the Christie DEP anti-regulatory days).

With that in mind and based on a cursory review, I submitted the following comments.There could be many additional issues, including implications for the Pinelands.

Greetings – I submit the below comments on the DEP’s proposed regional haze SIP:

1. Climate change

The proposal fails to address emissions of greenhouse gases which cause and contribute to global warming, ground level ozone, and regional haze.

Based on consensus atmospheric and climate science, one of the known impacts of global warming is an increase in ground level ozone and an increase in atmospheric moisture.

Based on consensus atmospheric and climate science, increases in ground level ozone, fine particulates, and atmospheric moisture are precursors to regional haze and reduce visibility.

Therefore, the proposal is deficient and must be withdrawn until the Department considers emissions of greenhouse gases and imposes control strategies to reduce those emissions (also see above excerpts of GWRA Report).

2. Energy Efficiency

The SIP states:

“This MANE-VU Ask requires that States consider and report in their SIPs on measures or programs to decrease energy demand using energy efficiency and increase the use within their state of Combined Heat and Power (CHP) and other clean Distributed Generation technologies including fuel cells, wind, and solar.” (p. 28, emphasis added)

The proposal failed to evaluate fuel cells, wind, and solar.

Additionally, today, NJ Spotlight reported on a study:

https://www.njspotlight.com/2019/10/nj-makes-small-gains-in-energy-efficiency-but-is-no-longer-a-leader-among-states/

“New Jersey, once a leader in energy efficiency, inched forward, ranking 17th in the State Energy Efficiency Scorecard by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, rising one place in the rankings.”

The SIP proposal is flawed because it did not address and report on the energy efficiency programs and haze control strategies documented in the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy Report.

Despite these deficiencies, the proposal concludes that NJ is compliant with energy efficiency requirements.

“New Jersey has met the requirements for this Ask.” (page 29)

The DEP must analyze the air quality implications of distributed energy technologies and comprehensive energy efficiency and impose stricter regulation of those programs.

3. Prescribed Burns

The proposal states:

“Therefore, the MANE-VU Class I area states need additional help from the Environmental Protection Agency and Federal Land Managers in pursuing important reasonable emission control measures.30 These include, but are not limited to:

1. Federal Land Managers to consult with MANE-VU Class I area states when scheduling prescribed burns and ensure that these burns do not impact nearby IMPROVE visibility measurements and do not impact potential 20 percent most and least visibility impaired days;

The proposal is deficient in addressing prescribed burn impacts.

Accordingly the DEP should impose a moratorium on prescribed burns until impacts are assessed and regulatory control strategies in place.

4. Agricultural Burns

The proposal states:

New Jersey is required to consider smoke management techniques for the purposes of agricultural and forestry management in developing reasonable progress goals in accordance with 40 C.F.R. § 51.308(f)(2)(iv)(D). New Jersey addresses smoke management through its Open Burning rules, as follows:”

The DEP open burning rules are deficient because they do not assess or control agricultural burns.

The proposal does not adequately assess or impose control requirements for agricultural burns.

Accordingly the DEP should impose a moratorium on prescribed burns until impacts are assessed and regulatory control strategies in place.

5. Residential Wood Burning

The SIP proposal states:

“Fine particulate matter from wood smoke contributes to regional haze. Residential wood burning from woodstoves and fireplaces is one of the largest sources of direct fine particulate matter, PM2.5, emissions in New Jersey (emphasis added, p. 36)

Yet despite this finding, the DEP does not regulate residential wood burning and relies exclusively on public eduction:

New Jersey does not regulate wood stoves and fireplaces” (p. 36)

The proposal is deficient in this regard. It fails to adequately assess or impose control requirements on credential wood burning.

Accordingly the DEP should impose a moratorium on residential wood burning until impacts are assessed and regulatory control strategies in place – or equivalent emissions reductions can be achieved and demonstrated via regulation of other emission sources.

Sincerely,

Bill Wolfe

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