Home > Uncategorized > Murphy DEP Submits Revised Clean Air Plan for Fine Particulate Pollution (PM 2.5) To EPA – Plan Does Not Consider Smoke From Wildfires In Emissions Inventory

Murphy DEP Submits Revised Clean Air Plan for Fine Particulate Pollution (PM 2.5) To EPA – Plan Does Not Consider Smoke From Wildfires In Emissions Inventory

DEP Plan Based On Outdated EPA Federal Standards That Do Not Protect Public Health

Wildland fire, which encompass both wildfire and prescribed fire, accounts for over 30% of emissions of primary PM2.5emissions (U.S. EPA, 2021). ~~~ cited by Wolfenotes 2/10/23

Just as the wildfire smoke clears, the Murphy DEP just submitted a revised Clean Air Act State Implementation Plan (SIP) for fine particulate pollution – known as PM 2.5 – to EPA and that SIP does not include smoke from wildfires or DEP “prescribed burns”: (DEP SIP @ page 27):

Area source emissions from wildfire and prescribed fires are not included in the main inventory tables or trend graphs, as these events are inconsistent from year to year.

Yes they are “inconsistent from year to year” – and consistently getting worse!

The air pollution emissions inventories provide the basis for compliance determinations, planning and projections, and regulatory emissions controls on polluters. So, failure to include wildfire smoke is a huge distortion of air quality and public health risks and it avoids additional stricter controls on polluters.

[Following a pattern, the substance of DEP regulation contradicts Gov. Murphy’s rhetoric. Murphy statement:

“My team is in close coordination with the State Department of Environmental Protection as we vigilantly monitor the effects of the Canadian wildfires on air quality in our state. … Make no mistake, from the wildfires in Canada to those cropping up with increasing frequency and severity in our own backyard, these extreme weather events are tangible – and devastating – evidence of the intensifying climate crisis. As the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Forest Fire Service works tirelessly to protect our residents and properties across the state, we will continue to do our own part by pursuing the bold action our climate reality demands.”

The DEP Forest Fire Service CREATES lots of smoke and PM 2.5 by conducting prescribed burns”. The DEP PM 2.5 SIP does not consider those emissions in the inventory.]

The Murphy DEP PM 2.5 SIP also relies on outdated federal EPA PM 2.5 standards that do not protect public health.

EPA acknowledged that, based on current science, the current federal standards do not adequately protect public health and recently proposed to significant reduce the federal air quality standards for PM 2.5:

Rule Summary 

On January 6, 2023, after carefully reviewing the most recent available scientific evidence and technical information, and consulting with the Agency’s independent scientific advisors, EPA announced its proposed decision to revise the primary (health-based) annual PM2.5 standard from its current level of 12.0 µg/m3 to within the range of 9.0 to 10.0 µg/m3.  EPA also proposed not to change the current:

  • secondary (welfare-based) annual PM2.5 standard,
  • primary and secondary 24-hour PM2.5 standards, and
  • primary and secondary PM10 standards.

The DEP proposed the PM 2.5 SIP in January, 2023. I wrote about that proposal, flagged significant flaws, and requested that DEP hold a public hearing.

I submitted comments to DEP and requested that DEP consider smoke and revoke the plan and update it to reflect current science and EPA’s proposed lower standards for PM 2.5, see:

The DEP revised the original plan, but it is unclear what the revisions were, because the revised plan does not summarize them or include any response to public comments. DEP masked all that by merely writing – in an email – the following:

The State of New Jersey has revised its State Implementation Plan (SIP) for the Maintenance of the 2006 Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5) National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) pursuant to Section 175A of the Clean Air Act (CAA).  This SIP revision is the second PM2.5 maintenance plan for the 2006 24-hour PM2.5 standard of 35 µg/m3 for both of New Jersey’s multi-state areas (the Northern New Jersey, New York and Connecticut area, and the Southern New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware area) in accordance with the requirements of CAA Section 175A.  This SIP revision demonstrates New Jersey’s continued compliance with the 2006 PM2.5 24-hour 35 µg/m3 NAAQS.  ….

A copy of the Department’s final SIP revision is available on the Department’s website at NJDEP| Air Planning | State Implementation Plan (SIP) Dashboard

In order to find out what the revisions are, I would have to do a detailed side by side, page by page comparison of the January and July versions. That would be a lot of work, so, to avoid all that, I sent the following request to DEP informally via email to Commissioner LaTourette and formal via OPRA request for the following public documents:

I request the following public documents regarding the January 2023 proposed SIP and the July 2023 revised version:

1) a list of revisions made in the July 2023 version compared to the January 2023 version.

2) public comments and DEP’s response to public comments on the January 2023 version.

3) EPA review comments and correspondence, including letters and emails, regarding the January 2023 version and the July 2023 revised version.

Perhaps I’ll reach out to US EPA Region 2 air people too.

We’ll report back when we hear back from DEP and/or EPA and figure out what went on.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
You must be logged in to post a comment.