Wednesday, December 9, 2020

EPA Clean Air Cost-Benefit Rule Threatens To Limit Crucial Chesapeake Bay Cleanup, Health Protection

On December 9, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
finalized a new rule that threatens to undermine air pollution limits essential to restoring the Chesapeake Bay and its waterways and puts the health of the watershed’s most vulnerable residents at the greatest risk, according to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

The rule allows the agency to discount the indirect health benefits (also called “co-benefits”) of many air pollution protections when preparing cost-benefit analyses of clean air standards. 

Compliance costs to regulated industries will invariably be given greater weight. Yet EPA has provided no evidence to show this rule responds to any real problem.

This change could weaken air protections EPA is relying on to meet its nitrogen-reduction commitment under the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. 

Dirty air from power plants and transportation contributes roughly one-third of the nitrogen pollution in the Bay and its rivers and streams. Curbing nitrogen emissions is vital to the success of the Blueprint’s plan to clean up the Chesapeake Bay and the local rivers and streams that feed into it.

CBF said EPA also neglected to consider how this rule might harm at-risk populations such as children, low-income communities, and communities of color. 

As a result, people whose health may already be compromised, and young children will be hit hardest by breathing problems and neurological damage when lax air quality standards expose them to higher emissions of air pollutants such as small particles and mercury.

Alison Prost, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Vice President for Environmental Protection and Restoration, issued this statement about the rule:

“Minimizing the co-benefits of air pollution regulations could weaken the very programs required to achieve the commitments of the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, our last, best chance to save the Bay.

“What’s worse, EPA is unnecessarily putting corporate polluters’ bottom line ahead of the health of children, low-income communities, and people of color across the Bay watershed.

“The Chesapeake Bay Foundation looks forward to working with President-Elect Joe Biden and his administration to ensure EPA fully values co-benefits when developing air pollution programs to protect human health and the environment.”

For more on Chesapeake Bay-related issues in Pennsylvania, visit the Chesapeake Bay Foundation-PA webpage.  Click Here to sign up for Pennsylvania updates (bottom of left column).  Click Here to support their work.

Also visit the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership to learn how you can help clean water grow on trees.

CBF has over 275,000 members in Bay Watershed.

Other Reaction

PA Chamber of Business and Industry President Gene Barr issued this statement about EPA’s actions--  “The PA Chamber applauds EPA’s leadership and staff for these final rules, which will protect public health and the environment and afford the regulated community more certainty as we work together to recover from this pandemic. 

“Regarding the air quality standards, as we noted in our letter of support for retaining the current rules, industry has worked in concert with regulators to achieve a 31 percent reductions in emissions of particulate matter, and the state is measuring attainment with the current standard in all but one monitoring point. 

“The practical effect means that the public health and environment are being protected, and Pennsylvania has greater flexibility to expand existing operations and attract new investment.

“With respect to costs and benefits, for too long the agency has been inconsistent in how benefits were calculated when new, sweeping rules were being developed. We raised this issue in Congressional testimony and throughout the comment process. 

“The regulated community and the public are not served if they are unable to examine the underlying science used in carrying out one of the nation’s bedrock environmental statutes, the Clean Air Act. 

“With Pennsylvania’s economy relying on the success of its manufacturing, logistics and energy sectors – all of which have significant compliance obligations under the Act and all of which have worked tremendously hard to reduce emissions and increase sustainability – these rules help move our economy forward while protecting the environment.”

[PA Chesapeake Bay Plan

[For more information on how Pennsylvania plans to meet its Chesapeake Bay cleanup obligations, visit DEP’s PA’s Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plan webpage.

[Click Here for a summary of the steps the Plan recommends.

[How Clean Is Your Stream?

[DEP’s Interactive Report Viewer allows you to zoom in on your own stream or watershed to find out how clean your stream is or if it has impaired water quality using the latest information in the draft 2020 Water Quality Report.].

Resource Link:

EPA: New Benefit-Cost Analysis Procedures To Increase Consistency, Honest Accounting In Future Clean Air Act Rulemakings

Related Articles - Water:

-- National Fish & Wildlife Foundation Now Accepting Proposals For 2021 Chesapeake Bay Innovative Nutrient & Sediment Reduction Grants

-- 2 Chester County Townships Join Brandywine-Christina Watershed Pay-For-Success Water Quality Cleanup Initiative By i2 Capital, The Nature Conservancy

-- Bay Journal: Wet Weather Overwhelms Some Potomac River Progress -- The Potomac Starts In PA

-- Chesapeake Bay Stormwater Network Accepting Nominations For Best Urban Best Management Practices 

-- Pike County Conservation District Produces Homeowner's Checklist For A Watershed Friendly Home

-- Allegheny County Conservation District, Partners Host Drinking Water, Wastewater Webinars Thru December

-- Keep PA Beautiful: Darby Creek Valley Assn. Cleans Up Darby Creek Watershed In 4 Southeast Counties

-- Woods And Water Conservation: Monroe County Man Makes Gift To The Future

-- Westminster College Announces Student Symposium On The Environment Winners

-- Chesapeake Bay Foundation Applauds U.S. House Passage Of Ecosystem Restoration Bill 

-- Delaware River Basin Commission Approves Terminal On Delaware River In NJ To Export PA Natural Gas

[Posted: December 9, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

No comments :

Post a Comment

Subscribe To Receive Updates:

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner