New Jersey Sues EPA Over NSR Air Pollution Reporting Cutbacks

February 27, 2008

New Jersey filed a lawsuit Feb. 19, 2008, challenging the US-EPA's December 2007 rule that utilities could decide for themselves whether their air pollution increases are significant enough to require detailed record-keeping.

The rule applies not just to coal-fired electric power plants, but also to other major pollution sources. The state said the emissions records are necessary to determine whether a plant has to meet "New Source Review" (NSR) requirements of the Clean Air Act.

The Clean Air Act and the CAA amendments of 1977 allowed old plants to be exempt from requirements for installing pollution-control equipment on the assumption that they would become obsolete eventually and be replaced by cleaner modern equipment. Plants were only considered "New Sources" subject to pollution control when their emissions increased. In practice, utilities found it more profitable to keep rebuilding old plants with gradual upgrades to avoid pollution requirements.

But without good information about whether a plant's emissions are increasing, EPA may be blinded to whether changes to a plant trigger NSR pollution-control requirements.