Chesapeake PSR has joined in a lawsuit filed by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to respond to our petition objecting to the air pollution permit issued by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) for the Morgantown coal-fired power plant.
In January, EIP, with Chesapeake PSR, Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) and the Sierra Club, petitioned EPA to object to MDE’s issuance of Morgantown’s air permit because the permit failed to contain an opacity limit applicable to Morgantown under Maryland’s Clean Air Act State Implementation Plan (SIP), failed to include in the federally enforceable sections of the permit an applicable limit for particulate matter (PM or soot), and failed to provide sufficient monitoring to ensure compliance with an applicable PM limit. EIP had previously submitted comments on draft versions of the permit in 2013 and 2015.
Opacity is the degree to which visibility of a background, such as a blue sky, is reduced by particulates (seen as smoke or haze). PM is a complex mixture of extremely small particulates and liquid droplets that, once inhaled, can affect the heart and lungs and cause serious health problems.
Under the Clean Air Act, the public can petition the EPA administrator to object to specific permits when it has provided comments to the permitting authority during the public review period. When EPA did not respond to EIP's petition objecting to the permit within the 60-day time limit required by law, the groups sent EPA a notice of intent to sue, and after another 60 days passed without EPA action on the petition, filed the lawsuit.
"We believe EPA should act swiftly to object to this permit considering the permit's deficiencies. The Morgantown permit, as issued, limits the public ability to ensure that the state is reducing harmful particulate matter pollution from the Morgantown plant," says Tim Whitehouse, executive director of Chesapeake PSR.
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