Home > Uncategorized > NJ DEP Submits Clean Air Act Ozone Plan To EPA For Review And Approval – Who Knew?

NJ DEP Submits Clean Air Act Ozone Plan To EPA For Review And Approval – Who Knew?

Ground Level Ozone Is The Primary Air Pollution And Health Concern, Especially For Urban NJ

Environmental Justice and Climate Activists Playing Inside Baseball 

Polluters and DEP Get A Pass (Again)


There’s always a lot of talk about the severe adverse public health impacts of ground level ozone, particularly on children and the elderly who live in New Jersey’s designated  overburdened “environmental justice” communities.

Ground level ozone is responsible for serious health effects, from asthma attacks to heart attacks and dramatic increases in respiratory distress and emergency room visits, especially on “bad air” days.

According to EPA:

People most at risk from breathing air containing ozone include people with asthma, children, older adults, and people who are active outdoors, especially outdoor workers. […]

Children are at greatest risk from exposure to ozone because their lungs are still developing and they are more likely to be active outdoors when ozone levels are high, which increases their exposure.  Children are also more likely than adults to have asthma.

The current health and air pollution problems will only grow much worse with global warming (note that this post cites DEP extreme heat and extreme injustice warnings issued back in 2004!).

Yet, NJ DEP just prepared and submitted to US EPA a proposed plan of compliance for meeting the ground level ozone standards and – despite this talk, which failed to mention DEP regulatory power – no one seems to even know about it or to care.

DEP cancelled the public hearing because no public hearing was requested. All talk, no action?

No environmental justice community press releases. No public hearings. No news coverage. Nada. A complete collapse of the advocacy community, despite the talk.

The polluters and DEP regulators are given a pass.

(see all the documents for DEP’s  State Implementation Plan (SIP) Revision: 2008 75 ppb 8-Hour Ozone Attainment Demonstration, 2008 75 ppb and 2015 70 ppb Reasonably Available Control Technology (RACT) Determinations and Nonattainment New Source Review (NNSR) Program Compliance Certifications, and 2017 Periodic Emissions Inventory

Back in the day, Tom Johnson at the Star Ledger would write 6 stories on the DEP Ozone SIP: 1) health effects of ozone and whether EPA standards were strict enough; 2) ozone monitoring data, map of monitoring station locations, # days out of compliance with standard, basic meteorology of ozone (hint: the air is cleaner in Chester and better monitored than the air in Paterson); 3) what it meant for big polluters: refineries, Big Pharma, and the chemical industry; 4) what it meant to small polluters (gas stations, dry cleaners, etc), consumer products (volatile organics in many consumer products), and mobile sources (cars/trucks – no way EV’s make a dent in reducing mobile source pollution, etc.); 5) what the politics were, what EPA would do, how NJ DEP would respond, regional transport states, etc; and 6) cover the Trenton press conference held by environmental groups. All the other big papers would follow suit with their own regional stories: Bergen Record, Philadelphia Inquirer, Trenton Times, Asbury Parks Press, AC Press, even The NY Times had a Trenton Office and would write a story and the AP would put out a wire story.

Today, we get crickets. (But we have Twitter, and Facebook and Google! Yaaay! – And DEP’s “Data Miner”)

That DEP Ozone SIP plan targets all the polluters, and importantly includes (DEP transmittal letter to EPA):

The New Jersey 2017 periodic emissions inventory, which will be used as the base year inventory for Reasonable Further Progress (RFP) for the 2015 70 ppb 8-hour Ozone NAAQS.

These documents have loads of important information on sources of air pollution, including the name of the corporation, how much pollution they emit, and where they are located. There are relationships between ground level Ozone levels, DEP permitted emissions of ozone precursors, and DEP’s climate regulations on CO2 emissions.

The Ozone SIP also shows how far DEP will have to go and the specific regulatory actions they must take to ratchet down on polluters to meet the stricter 70 ppb 2015 ozone standards.

From a greenhouse gas emissions perspective, it would be interesting, for example, to review Appendix 4-5 (see link above) which identifies air pollution emission projections from specific Electric Generating Units (point sources) and other industrial point source polluters. DEP’s climate regulation applies to some of the EGU but a smaller percentage of the industrial polluters. So comparisons would expose the narrow scope of the DEP climate regulatory proposal.

It also would be interesting to compare those emissions with DEP’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Emissions pollution cap; DEP’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory; and DEP’s recently proposed climate PACT GHG emissions. I strongly suspect that RGGI program locks in lower emissions than the DEP rule proposal.

I’m fairly certain that such comparisons would reveal exactly how weak the DEP’s proposed GHG proposal is, in terms of actual reducing GHG emissions.

That information would also enable targeting of the location and names of corporate polluters in NJ’s environmental justice communities.

I realize this is extremely complex material and not readily accessible to the public or the depleted media. In fact, my computer for some reason is unable to even download the documents, so I haven’t even read the DEP SIP (this could be due to a slow connection out here in the desert or lack of software. Regardless, I am unable to open and read the DEP documents).

But environmental groups – who all talk the talk about environmental justice and urban air quality and global warming – have resources to hire professionals and experts to review the documents and prepare accessible public reports to hold polluters and DEP accountable.

But instead of working on NJ specific issues and focusing on the behavior of NJ DEP, they fob off national Reports written by well paid beltway consultants. And then use them to support their current campaigns, like for EV’s (have they read the DEP mobile source emissions inventory?)

How could Environment NJ issue a national Report – at the time that NJ DEP was proposing NJ’s ozone SIP for public comment – and not even mention the DEP SIP? How could an Op-Ed ignore the DEP SIP? These folks are out of touch and totally ineffective.

The DEP’s Environmental Justice Advisory Council is staffed with Joanne Held, the former head of DEP’s Hazardous Air pollution program. Surely, she knows where the skeletons are buried. Is she talking? Or is she still loyal to DEP? (For exactly what Ms. Held knows, see:

Why would a federal Judge, in a legal opinion, be a harsher critic of DEP that the EJAC, environmental groups, and so called climate and EJ activists?

But the EJAC did issue a Statement on the Death Of George Floyd – but I couldn’t find any public statements on the DEP’s ozone SIP. Millions can’t breathe clean air.

I also could find no specific policy or clear set of technical demands by the EJAC for critical current DEP regulatory clean air issues, including:

But from their most recently posted September 2021 meeting minutes, I noticed that Joanne Held is leading the EJAC efforts on the upcoming “Environmental Justice” rule (under an Orwellian “Ad Hoc Rules” banner, and behind schedule):

Ad Hoc Rules Committee (Joann Held)

The committee is preparing some recommendations regarding concerns with the methodology of the rule and how stressors are weighed. The concept of the combined stressor totals is not clear to the committee. IT demo coming soon to explain overburdened communities map, the stressors within each community and accompanying methodology. Focus on compelling public interest, cumulative impacts, odors & impervious surfaces. Expectation that EJ rule will be proposed in the NJ Register this fall with a public comment period of 60 days and then adoption one year later.

It sure looks like the EJ folks are playing all inside baseball with the DEP technocrats and political games with Gov. Murphy – and that is a losing game.

The American Lung Association and NJ Environmental groups used to issue Reports and hold press conferences to explain this important information to the public.

I read that the new head of the Sierra Club NJ Chapter is an expert on air pollution.

And any one could have simply requested that DEP hold a public hearing, which could provide a venue to present this information to the public, to hold DEP accountable and for the community to ask questions and pressure polluters.

But none of that happened (unless I and NJ media just missed it). 

It wasn’t always like this.

What went wrong? What explains the total collapse?

Why is no one working on these issues?

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