Governor Carney: EPA can’t let other states pollute Delaware’s air

Op-ed by Governor John Carney

Watching a Blue Rocks game. Sitting by the pool. Walking along the Rehoboth boardwalk.

For most of us, that’s what summertime means. It’s a time of fun and relaxation.

But for the majority of Delawareans with asthma or other breathing problems, summer can be a nightmare.

That’s because Delaware’s air quality ranks among the worst in the country. The real kicker, though, is that 90 percent of that pollution comes from other states.

90 percent of Delaware's air pollution comes from other states

Delaware has made great strides over the past 30 years in reducing our own emissions.

We’ve enacted stricter controls on power plants, refineries, and manufacturing sites.

From 2000-2017, Delaware’s coal-fired electric generation has been reduced by approximately 90 percent. We’ve reduced coal-fired power generation to one well-controlled unit in the entire state.

To comply with federal and state air regulations, Delaware electric generators and operators such as Calpine and NRG have spent millions of dollars to control emissions that cause ozone pollution.

But, without help from the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, we can’t move the needle on our air quality. So, we asked the EPA to intervene in the states that are “upwind” from Delaware – where all our air pollution is coming from.

Most of the power plants in these states have pollution control technology. But sometimes, the plants don’t turn the technology on.

Delaware asked the EPA to require these power plants to run their pollution control equipment any time the plants are in operation, and especially during the summer months, when ozone levels are the highest.

EPA has the authority to do this under the Clean Air Act. We’re asking them to use it. Delawareans Deserve Clean Air

Unfortunately, though, the EPA recently proposed to deny our request. So, for the time being, Delawareans will continue to suffer as we enter this hot summer season.

Working with Attorney General Matt Denn, we’re looking at ways to force the EPA to enforce the Clean Air Act, and protect Delaware’s air quality.

We can have a debate about the role of government, or climate change, or the decisions coming out of Washington. But there’s no disputing that power plant emissions cause air pollution, air pollution makes it harder to breathe, and Delaware’s air pollution is coming almost entirely from other states.

Delaware’s companies have spent the money and cleaned up their emissions. Other states have not.

If we do nothing else as a government, it seems to me that ensuring our citizens have clean air to breathe should be the minimum standard.

Delaware will continue to employ state-of-the-art emission control technology for our industrial sites. We will continue doing what we can to keep our citizens safe. But we need the federal government to step up and do its job, as well, so all Delawareans can breathe easy.



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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 Applauds EPA Effort to Cut Power Plant Emissions

Delaware pollution reductions have proven this approach can be successful

 Wilmington, DE – Governor Jack Markell released a statement today supporting the Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement of a proposed regulation to combat climate change by reducing power plant carbon pollution by 30 percent by 2030.

“The impact of climate change is clear, from rising sea levels to more powerful and frequent extreme weather events that put Delaware families and businesses at risk. We have an obligation to address the root cause of these changes and that means limiting carbon pollution from our power plants.

“I applaud the President for taking bold action with an approach that achieves significant emissions reductions while maximizing flexibility for states and power companies to make the changes that work best for them. I know this approach can work because we’ve seen its environmental and economic benefits in Delaware. By shutting down or fuel-switching our dirtiest power plants, we achieved faster emissions reductions than any other state while reducing energy bills through efficiency, and creating opportunities for research, manufacturing, and construction jobs. Importantly, the EPA encourages more partnerships like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in which Delaware and eight other states have joined to reduce carbon pollution from power plants by more than 40 percent since 2005.

“This effort can provide the catalyst to make the dramatic changes necessary to protect our communities and transition to a clean energy economy. We cannot afford to wait.”

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.”