Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Environmental Hearing Board Rules Renovo Energy Natural Gas-Fired Power Plant Limits On Sulfur Dioxide, VOC Emissions Set Too High

On August 29, the
Environmental Hearing Board ruled in favor of three environmental groups in their appeal of the air pollution permit for the proposed Renovo Energy Center natural gas-fired power plant in Clinton County, finding the Department of Environmental Protection set limits for sulfur dioxide and volatile organic compounds too high. 

The ruling comes in the middle of a legal challenge which continues toward trial on other claims. 

The Board granted partial summary judgment on the issues of the sulfur dioxide and volatile organic compounds limits in the permits. 

That means that the environmental groups proved, without needing a trial, DEP broke the law when it allowed the power plant to emit such high levels of pollution. 

High levels of sulfur dioxide can cause health problems including hurting lung function, causing wheezing and shortness of breath. Volatile organic compound pollution may irritate people’s eyes, nose, and throat, increase cancer risk, and damage the central nervous system.

In 2021, Clean Air Council, PennFuture, and Center for Biological Diversity filed their appeal of the permit for the Renovo Energy Center which is proposed to build the plant just feet away from the homes and businesses of the environmental justice community of Renovo, in north-central Pennsylvania.

The groups objected to the permit because it allows illegal levels of air pollution, the DEP ignored environmental justice concerns and the costs to society in issuing the permit, and based on several other deficiencies spelled out in the Notice of Appeal

“This ruling is vindication for the community,” said Joseph Otis Minott, Executive Director and Chief Counsel of Clean Air Council. “DEP must set pollution limits to protect the public based on science and law, not on the whims of the polluter.”

“DEP had simply not done what the law requires to protect the community from these types of emissions,” said Jessica O’Neill, senior attorney at PennFuture. “The Board recognized this clear violation, and we will continue to press the rest of our claims against this flawed permit.”

“Trying to build a new methane-gas burning power plant at this point is just absurd,” said Robert Ukeiley, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We need to be shifting to clean, cheap energy like solar and wind rather than dirty, expensive power plants which burn methane gas.”

The environmental groups’ claims on other matters, including DEP’s failure to follow its own Environmental Justice policy, still remain before the court.

Click Here for the EHB rulingClick Here for the Notice of Appeal.

For more information, visit DEP’s Renovo Energy Center webpage.

Related Articles:

-- Environmental Groups Appeal DEP Air Quality Permit For Proposed Natural Gas Power Plant In Clinton County [PaEN]

-- Clean Air Council Celebrates Joseph Minott's 40 Year Commitment To Leading The Council, And To The Environment  [PaEN]

[Posted: August 30, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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