Thursday, January 10, 2019

Clean Air Council Wins Appeal, Air Quality Permit For Natural Gas Liquids Project At Marcus Hook Refinery Called Unlawful

On January 9, the Environmental Hearing Board issued a decision rejecting one of the air quality permits for the natural gas liquids project at the Sunoco Partners Marketing & Terminals, L.P. facility in Delaware County in a case brought by the Clean Air Council.
The natural gas liquids would come from the Mariner East Pipelines.
The EHB ruled the natural gas liquids project was unlawfully broken up into individual pieces for air quality permitting purposes which avoided more stringent Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) air emission reduction requirements.
The Board said separate construction activities at the Marcus Hook facility were really all part of the same project, the emissions from the entire project must be aggregated to determine if more stringent PSD requirements are triggered.
The Board sent the air permit back to DEP to  re-evaluate how the project should be permitted.
“The Environmental Hearing Board’s decision is not only a victory for Clean Air Council, it is a victory for public health and the neighboring communities,” said Joseph Otis Minott, Executive Director and Chief Counsel for Clean Air Council.  “Too often, big industry players have avoided pollution controls by creating loopholes that jeopardize air quality protections. Sunoco/ETP has been one of the worst offenders in this regard, time and again circumventing the rules and putting the public at risk. The Board decision has finally closed this loophole.”
In the case, Sunoco identified at least 24 different elements to the natural gas liquids project at the facility.  This ruling deals with at least 7 different emission sources, but more could be covered upon review by DEP.
The Board’s decision enhances existing law by providing detailed guidance on when multiple related projects should be considered one project in a review of an air permit application.
The Board said, "Allowing a facility to subdivide a project in any way it sees fit, based on its business plan or otherwise, would render the regulatory thresholds meaningless. Without constraints, any project could be divided up in such a way that each divided part falls below the applicability [of PSD] thresholds.
“There is some evidence of record to show that Sunoco had a plan to develop its facility in such a way as to deliberately avoid triggering PSD/NSR requirements.
“... [I]t is the combination of factors here that convinces us that Project E should have been aggregated with the earlier projects. Geographic and temporal proximity, operational interdependence, and the common plan are all compelling evidence of a single project. Sunoco and the Department offer little, and nothing persuasive, to convince us otherwise.”
Avoiding the Prevention of Significant Deterioration requirements means Sunoco would avoid installing additional air pollution control measures based on air quality modeling showing whether the facility would contribution to the deterioration of air quality in the local area.
A Department of Environmental Protection spokesperson said they were still reviewing the ruling to determine if they would appeal.  Sunoco could also appeal the decision.
Click Here to review the decision.
(Photo: 24 elements of the natural gas liquids project Sunoco identified at Marcus Hook Facility.)

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