DNREC hosts its first virtual public hearing

DOVER, Del. – To keep operating amid ongoing concern over the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control yesterday held its first virtual public hearing. The topic of the hearing, which was held by DNREC’s Division of Air Quality as scheduled, was proposed revisions to Delaware’s federally required State Implementation Plan regarding air emissions.

“In order to keep our employees and community safe, we must minimize group gatherings and maintain a distance of at least six feet,” said Secretary Shawn Garvin. “This could create a challenge to schedule a hearing, especially those required to be public by law. Our team acted quickly to coordinate with the Department of Technology and Information and with counsel from the Department of Justice to set up this virtual option to keep getting business done during the coronavirus period.”

Facilitated by videoconferencing provider WebEx, virtual attendees were able to see and hear the proceedings and view PowerPoint slides in real time. They were able to review the hearing notice and all exhibits online, and can offer written comments for inclusion into the hearing record through April 9, 2020.

The hearing addressed revisions to the State Implementation Plan in three areas: certification of Delaware’s Emission Statement program, Nonattainment New Source Review (NNSR) program, and state requirements for Reasonably Available Control Technology (RACT). The objectives of the proposed revisions are to certify that Delaware’s programs for emissions statements, NNSR, and RACT, as defined in air quality regulations under the Delaware Code, meet all the requirements of the 2015 National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ground-level ozone.

The proposed revisions may be inspected online with written comments being accepted now through April 9 via the online comment form or via email to DNRECHearingComments@delaware.gov or via email to Lisa Vest, DNREC Office of the Secretary, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE 19901. For more information on the proposed revisions, email mark.prettyman@delaware.gov.

Wednesday’s hearing provided a template that DNREC will use for future public hearings and meetings during the period under the Governor’s order. For notices of DNREC’s upcoming public meetings and hearings, and information on how to join them virtually, visit dnrec.alpha.delaware.gov/public-hearings.

About DNREC

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contact: Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov

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Governor Markell Testifies in Support of EPA Plan to Cut Power Plant Emissions

Says Delaware’s success shows proposal can work nationally

Washington, DC – Speaking at one of four sites of nationwide public hearings on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power plan, Governor Markell emphasized the environmental and economic benefits of the proposal to reduce dirty emissions from the nation’s power plants by 30 percent by 2030. (Text of his prepared remarks is below.)

Governor Markell testified at one of the Environmental Protection Agency's sites in support of its Clean Power Plan.
Governor Markell testified at one of the Environmental Protection Agency’s sites in support of its Clean Power plan.

Markell noted that Delaware cut these emissions faster than any other state by shutting down or fuel-switching the state’s dirtiest power plants while also placing a greater focus on renewable energy sources, promoting energy efficiency, and working in partnership with other states in the region. All of these efforts would be encouraged by EPA’s approach, which provides guidelines, but gives states flexibility to design a program that makes the most sense for their unique situations.

The Governor also alluded to the impact of powerful weather events like Superstorm Sandy that will occur more frequently if climate change continues unabated.

“Governors do not have the luxury of pretending climate change is not causing real damage,” said Markell. “We are on the front lines of hurricanes, wildfires, droughts and other natural disasters. We see the property that is devastated and the cost of addressing the damage after the fact. We live with the consequences of inaction. Our families and businesses can’t afford to wait and see what happens next before we act. I’m thrilled the EPA has issued this new rule and I look forward to its implementation.”

Following his testimony today, Markell joined U.S. Senator Ed Markey (MA) and other supporters outside the hearing room at the William Jefferson Clinton Building to highlight the importance of this initiative to address climate change, clean up the air, create jobs, and reduce asthma attacks in children and other health problems.

Reverend Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus, Cristobal Alex of the Latino Victory Fund, the Green Latinos’ Mark Magaña, and Dr. Cindy Parker, a physician and professor at Johns Hopkins, also participated to outline the health implications of carbon pollution and other impacts of climate change.  The event was organized by a broad coalition of groups including Moms Clean Air Force, Interfaith Power & Light, National Wildlife Federation, the Climate Action Coalition, and Sierra Club.

The Clean Power Plan would be implemented through a state-federal partnership under which states use current or new electricity production and pollution control policies to meet state-specific goals to reduce carbon pollution from power plants, which accounts for roughly one-third of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. States can choose the right mix of: power generation using diverse fuels, including renewables; energy efficiency initiatives; and multi-state plans. The initiative’s emissions reductions would reduce the impact of climate change on communities, improve public health, and create jobs in manufacturing, construction, and research.

Governor Markell Testimony at Public Hearing on EPA’s Clean Power Plan

Remarks as prepared for delivery

I’m Jack Markell, Governor of Delaware, and I’m testifying in support of the Clean Power Plan not because of what we think might be possible with this policy change, but because we know what this plan can do for the nation. The EPA’s proposal to address climate change would mean cleaner air; better health; more research, manufacturing and construction jobs; and more efficient, less costly energy.

We know that because we see all of this happening in Delaware, where, over the past five years, we’ve shifted from one of the dirtiest energy mixes in the nation to one of the cleanest. We have decreased emissions by a greater percentage than any other state, while creating jobs at the same time. And we have done so with the same approach the president proposes for the country. We shut down or fuel-switched nine out of our ten dirtiest power plants, while the remaining unit installed hundreds of millions of dollars in pollution controls. We’ve increased deployment of solar technology 30 times since 2008. And we’ve strengthened building codes and spurred more than $100 million in efficiency upgrades. We’ve also worked with states throughout the region to dramatically cut carbon pollution. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has used a market-based system to help reduce carbon pollution from power plants in our states by more than 40 percent since 2005.

EPA’s plan will stimulate more of all of this activity across the nation. It lets states use solutions that work best for us individually to reduce dirty emissions, recognizing that power plants produce more of those emissions than any other source in the country. As one example of what our strategy has meant for Delaware, I recently visited a site in Dover where hundreds of people are working to build a natural gas power-generating facility for Calpine Energy. Calpine has made it a priority to transition away from the power plants that produce the most emissions. Yes, they do it because they care about the environment. But they also do it because it’s good for their bottom line. In addition, facilities like the one in Dover will produce cost-effective energy that reduces energy bills while making our state more attractive to manufacturers.

In fact, across the country, it’s projected that the Clean Power Plan would shrink electricity bills by about eight percent by increasing efficiency and reducing demand. The economic benefits of this plan go far beyond the impact on individual energy companies or consumers’ bills. A report last month on the economic risks of climate change illustrates the widespread effects – including damage to the agriculture and energy sectors, as well as to coastal communities, public health and our labor productivity. And all of this damage costs us a lot of money.

In Delaware, we have seen how rising sea levels, more powerful and frequent storms, and other extreme weather conditions put families and businesses at risk. Our largest industry – agriculture – faces severe conditions that harm crops. And, as the lowest-lying state in the nation, climate change could literally put much of Delaware under water.

All states face their own challenges. Governors do not have the luxury of pretending climate change is not causing real damage. We are on the front lines of hurricanes, wildfires, droughts and other natural disasters. We see the property that is devastated and the cost of addressing the damage after the fact. We live with the consequences of inaction. Our families and businesses can’t afford to wait and see what happens next before we act. I’m thrilled that the EPA has issued this new rule and I look forward to its implementation. Thank you.

PHOTOS from the event


EPA Highlights Delaware as Model for Reducing Power Plant Pollution

 Governor Markell, EPA Administrator McCarthy make push for Clean Power Plan that would combat effects of climate change

Dover, DE – Visiting a natural gas facility construction site adjacent to a utility-scale solar plant that represents part of Delaware’s effective effort to reduce power industry pollution, Governor Markell, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, and Delaware Secretary of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Collin O’Mara emphasized the environmental, health, and economic benefits of the EPA’s just-fIMG_4986released plan to dramatically cut the nation’s carbon emissions and combat the effects of climate change.

 Markell, McCarthy, and O’Mara joined members of the General Assembly, city and county leaders, and state environmental officials for a tour of the City of Dover’s Garrison Oak Technical Park which hosts Calpine Corporation’s Garrison Energy Center, a 309-megawatt natural gas facility and the 10-megawatt Dover SUN Park that will help the state transition to lower-emission forms of electricity. The projects symbolize one way that the EPA’s Clean Power Plan would help drive states and power companies to work together to reduce carbon pollution from power plants by more than 30 percent nationwide by 2030.

“Our Clean Power Plan is all about flexibility and allowing states, and regions, to determine how to achieve maximum energy efficiency, and that’s exactly what we are seeing here in Delaware with industry and government coming to the table together,” said McCarthy. “We don’t have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment; our action will sharpen America’s competitive edge, spur innovation, and create jobs

Over the past five years, Delaware has shifted from one of the dirtiest energy mixes in the nation to one of the cleanest. The state decreased emissions by a greater percentage than any other state in the nation. Local generators have fuel switched or shut down nine out of 10 coal plants in favor of cleaner generation facilities, while the remaining unit installed $300 million in pollution controls. Meanwhile, the state has spurred investment in low-emission natural gas generation, increased deployment of solar technology 30 times since 2008, and invested more than $100 million in efficiency upgrades to reduce energy consumption.

“Addressing the root causes of climate change, not to mention improving the quality of the air we breathe, means cutting down on carbon pollution,” said Markell. “The EPA’s proposal will help achieve this goal while leading to a future of cleaner air, better health, more research, manufacturing and construction jobs, and more efficient, less costly energy. We know that because we see all of this happening now in Delaware as we’ve worked to clean up our power plants, while prioritizing low-emission and renewable energy technology and efficiency. Importantly, the proposal maximizes flexibility for states and power companies to make the changes that work best for them.”

fIMG_5052The Garrison Energy Center, which will occupy 37 acres within the Garrison Oak Technical Park, will help the state provide cleaner energy and its construction follows the company’s commitment to stop using coal at its Delaware facilities. When generating its maximum electrical output, the energy center will provide enough power for about 250,000 homes, based on average usage. The project is creating about 250 construction jobs for the Delaware building trades and the first phase is slated to begin commercial operations by mid-2015.

“By this time next year the 309-MW Garrison Energy Center will be one of the cleanest, most energy efficient and most reliable electric generating facilities in the Mid-Atlantic,” said Calpine CEO Thad Hill. “The fact that we are able and willing to develop this asset on a purely competitive basis, without the need for long-term contracts or government subsidies, demonstrates that our industry can and will respond to important environmental policy initiatives with market-based solutions.”

The facility is under construction next to the 34,000 solar photovoltaic panels that comprise the Dover SUN Park developed by LS Power and SunPower Corporation. The Dover SUN Park is one of the largest utility scale solar projects in the Mid-Atlantic region and produces electricity to supply 1,500 homes. The State and Delaware Sustainable Energy Utility supported the project’s financing using a portion of auction proceeds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

Setting an example for multi-state partnerships to combat climate change, Delaware has also worked with eight other Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states as part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a market-based system that has helped reduce carbon pollution from power plants in those states by more than 40 percent since 2005. By capping pollution, auctioning pollution allowances, and investing the proceeds in energy efficiency and clean energy, the RGGI states have simultaneously reduced energy bills, supported construction jobs, and cleaned up the air.

“By building the Clean Power Plan upon the best practices of leading states like Delaware and providing states with the flexibility to implement the best local solutions, Administrator McCarthy has ensured that EPA’s common sense Plan will achieve meaningful and cost-effective pollution reductions nationwide in ways that strengthen the economy,” said DNREC Secretary and past RGGI Chair Collin O’Mara. “Delaware is proving that it is possible to secure cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable sources of energy that reduce air emissions, protect the environment, support construction jobs, and improve the health of all Americans.”

Since 2008, Delaware has reduced carbon pollution from power plants by more than 40 percent through the state’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, adoption of strict multi-pollutant air emission limits, and adopting of forward-looking energy legislation and policies, including Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards, updated energy building codes, the Green Energy Fund and auctions of Renewable Energy Credits through Delaware’s Sustainable Energy Utility, and the Energy Efficiency Investment Fund which incentivizes power plants and industrial facilities to switch to cleaner and more efficient sources of energy.

EPA’s Clean Power Plan

The Clean Power Plan would be implemented through a state-federal partnership under which states use current or new electricity production and pollution control policies to meet state-specific goals to reduce carbon pollution from power plants, which accounts for roughly one-third of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The plan provides guidelines, but gives states flexibility to design a program that makes the most sense for their unique situations. States can choose the right mix of: power generation using diverse fuels, including renewables; energy efficiency initiatives; and multi-state plans.

These efforts to cut carbon pollution would:

  • Reduce carbon emission from the power sector by 30 percent nationwide from 2005 levels and cut particle pollution, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide by more than 25 percent;
  • Avoid up to 6,500 premature deaths, and 150,000 asthma attacks in children;
  • Shrink electricity bills roughly 8 percent by increasing energy efficiency and reducing demand in the electricity system; and
  • Create tens of thousands of jobs around the country.


Governor Markell Statement on Supreme Court Ruling on Air Pollution

Wilmington, DE – Governor Markell applauded today’s Supreme Court ruling that upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate cross-state air pollution from coal-fired power plants. The Governor has helped lead an effort by Eastern states to petition the EPA to require that Midwestern states reduce emissions that are blown across state lines.

 “Today’s Supreme Court decision represents another important step to combat the dirty air pollution that enters Delaware from other states, which unfairly harms the health of our people and our economy,” said Markell.

“Through efforts to clean up power plants and work with every industrial facility in Delaware, we have seen huge reductions in air pollution produced by our state, especially over the past five years. However, more than 90% of our dirty pollution comes from out-of-state sources, and the impact often results in air that does not meet healthy standards. Despite this, new facilities in our state are required to meet much more stringent regulatory requirements than facilities in the very states that are causing our air quality violations.

“We continue to be committed to doing everything we can to reduce harmful emissions in our state, but we also demand a level playing field and today’s ruling brings us closer to that goal.”