UPDATING: DNREC Monitoring and Investigating Excess Pollution Emissions Caused by Delaware City Refinery Outage

An outage early this morning at the Delaware City Refining Company that resulted in excess emissions of pollutants was resolved by midday when the refinery’s carbon monoxide boiler on the fluid coking unit was brought back online, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced this afternoon. The outage resulted in unpermitted emissions of carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide and particulate matter.

The DNREC Division of Air Quality continued to assess and monitor the situation at the refinery after the CO boiler came back online. DNREC’s monitoring station near Delaware City did not show elevated levels of particulate matter resulting from the CO boiler outage, and DNREC does not expect the excess emissions to impact public health and safety.

DNREC is investigating the refinery’s unpermitted release of pollutants and will take appropriate follow-up action, to include enforcement if warranted.

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. The DNREC Division of Air Quality monitors and regulates all emissions to the air. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.


DNREC To Update Vehicle Emission Testing Requirements

Two Inspection and Maintenance Program Virtual Workshops To Be Held
May 25 To Ensure Delaware Compliance With Clean Air Act Requirements

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced today virtual workshops will be held by DNREC’s Division of Air Quality on Wednesday, May 25 to discuss updates to Delaware’s Inspection and Maintenance (I/M) Program for new on-road vehicles. The first workshop on proposed I/M program changes will begin at 10 a.m., with the second workshop starting at 6 p.m. More information about the proposed amendments for the I/M program can be found at dnrec.delaware.gov.

The federal Clean Air Act requires areas of the country that are not in attainment with the ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard – areas, like Delaware, that have had days where ozone exceeds the standard – to implement an I/M program for registered vehicles to ensure vehicle emission systems are operating properly in preventing pollution.

DNREC’s Division of Air Quality is proposing amendments to Delaware’s Vehicle I/M Program to reduce expected emissions from new vehicles and to develop consistent emissions requirements statewide. The proposed changes will amend state regulations, with the regulations going through the state’s regulatory process that includes public review and a comment period. Before the formal regulatory process starts, the I/M workshops will be held by DNREC to preview and discuss the I/M program changes with the public. Once finalized, the changes will be implemented by the Delaware Department of Transportation’s (DelDOT) Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

The I/M program is part of the vehicle inspection process in Delaware when a vehicle is registered or the vehicle registration is renewed. Vehicle emissions negatively impact quality. I/M programs ensure that vehicle emissions meet the manufacturers’ requirements. Current I/M regulations exempt new cars from having to go through an emissions test for a vehicle’s first five years on the road, and the Delaware General Assembly in 2017 passed legislation to extend that exemption from emissions testing to the first seven years of a new vehicle’s life.

Extending the I/M exemption for new vehicles (which already has been implemented) requires changes to emissions testing for other vehicles to ensure air quality is not negatively affected. These program updates are a necessary follow-up to the 2017 legislation, and have been anticipated by DNREC and DelDOT since the legislation was passed.

More information about the proposed changes to Delaware’s Vehicle I/M Program can be found at dnrec.delaware.gov.

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. The DNREC Division of Air Quality monitors and regulates all emissions to the air. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov; Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov

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DNREC’s Electric Vehicle Rebate Program Extended Six Months

Delaware Drivers are Saving Money With Electric Vehicles

Delawareans looking to help fight climate change and reduce their carbon footprint can receive rebates for new electric vehicle and charging station purchases through DNREC’s Clean Transportation Incentive Program, which has been extended through June 30, 2021.

“Transportation is a leading contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Delaware,” said Gov. John Carney. “Vehicle electrification is a leading strategy in reducing those emissions, and by providing rebates to residents and businesses we are improving the air quality for a healthier Delaware.”

Rebates for the purchase or lease of electric vehicles and charging stations include:

  • $2,500 for battery electric vehicles, including vehicles with range extenders, with a purchase price of $60,000 or less;
  • $1,000 for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles with a purchase price of $60,000 or less;
  • Up to 90% of the cost of the charging station with a max amount of $3,500 per port/$7,000 per station.

The program provides cash rebates as part of Delaware’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gases and improving Delaware’s air quality.

“The Clean Transportation Incentive Program has been well-received across Delaware,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin. “Since DNREC started this program, almost 5,000 rebates have been given to Delaware residents and businesses that have adopted cleaner fueled vehicles, like electric vehicles.”

Rebates are also available for natural gas and propane vehicles. Delaware’s Clean Transportation Incentive Program is made possible through Delaware’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). More information can be found at de.gov/cleantransportation.

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. The Division of Climate, Coastal and Energy uses science, education, policy development and incentives to address Delaware’s climate, energy and coastal challenges. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Michael Globetti, Michael.globetti@delaware.gov or Jim Lee, JamesW.Lee@delaware.gov.


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