The EPA Needs To Reject Louisiana’s Regional Haze Plan Until It Complies With The Clean Air Act

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Environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and the National Parks Conservation Association want the Environmental Protection Agency to reject Louisiana’s regional haze plan because it doesn’t meet compliance with the Clean Air Act. Regional haze is a type of air pollution caused by coal-burning power plants that don’t have any modern pollution controls.

The Louisiana Illuminator noted that the groups called for the EPA to reject the state’s draft proposal to meet federally-mandated pollution reductions and to enforce its own federal plan instead. Louisiana’s plan ignores key sources of pollution that burden majority-Black communities as well as national parks.

In a press release, the Sierra Club stated:

“The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must reject Louisiana’s Regional Haze plan if it is not fundamentally changed to comply with the Clean Air Act. The plan is insufficient in many ways, including a failure to review environmental justice impacts for communities disproportionately impacted by air pollution.”

The Sierra Club noted that the Louisiana regional haze program is enforced under the Clean Air Act and has a goal of reducing pollution to achieve natural visibility conditions in many of the nation’s most iconic national parks. The Breton National Wilderness Area and Caney Creek are two in the state.

“There are cost-effective, achievable pollution reductions possible at Entergy’s Nelson coal plant and Cleco’s Brame Energy Center and Big Cajun II coal plants. Reduced emissions would improve air quality for fence-line communities near these facilities and in national parks and wilderness areas in Louisiana and Arkansas.”

The Sierra Club also stated that the EPA’s guidance makes it clear that if a state doesn’t impose cost-effective controls based on anticipated coal plant shutdowns, which is what Louisiana is proposing, the retirements must be made enforceable. The state’s proposed plan drafted by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) doesn’t have enforceable shutdown dates.

Stephanie Kodish, Senior Director and Counsel, Clean Air and Climate Programs said:

“Louisiana is responsible for doing its part to protect our public lands and communities from air pollution in the state. Disappointingly, Louisiana’s regional haze plan, which ignores key sources of air pollution and does not sufficiently curb emissions, will not get the job done.

“Under the Clean Air Act, the state is mandated to do better for its national parks and its people, including disproportionately impacted communities near sources of pollution. President Biden has made it clear that clearing the air, and doing so equitably, is a top priority, and Louisiana must rise to the occasion and improve its plan.”

David Stets, Chair of the Sierra Club Delta Chapter said:

“A strong regional haze plan is the most practical way Governor Edwards will reach the interim greenhouse gas reduction goals he announced earlier this year while reducing the pollution burden for majority Black communities.

“It’s the Governor’s job to ensure LDEQ is enforcing the Clean Air Act, and as it stands, the EPA could create and enforce its own federal plan if Louisiana’s final plan is ultimately found to be insufficient. We are asking Louisiana to reduce harmful air pollution in compliance with federal laws that are meant to protect human health and public land. Doing anything less is a disservice to our state and our people.”

When asked by the Louisiana Illuminator for a comment, LDEQ spokesman Gregory Langley declined. The two environmental groups sent their request and a summary review of the plan in a letter to the EPA and the LDEQ in which the two organizations detailed their concerns regarding the LDEQ’a proposed regional haze plan. Along with the errors that they identified, the flows that the LDEQ need to correct are as follows:

  • LDEQ did not conduct reasonable progress analyses or consider emissions reductions for key sources contributing to visibility impairment. Instead, LDEQ simply attaches four-factor analyses conducted by the regulated facilities, which are woefully inadequate and fundamentally inconsistent with the Clean Air Act and the Regional Haze Rule
  • LDEQ’s proposed State Implementation Plan (SIP)  fails to include any independent, critical review of the utilities’ analyses. Given LDEQ’s lack of analysis and its failure to include specific emission limits (and sufficient information to support those limits), EPA cannot approve the SIP revision.
  • LDEQ erroneously relied on unenforceable and unverifiable emission reductions.
  • LDEQ improperly defers making any four-factor determinations based on purported emission reductions from existing Clean Air Act programs
  • The SIP fails to properly establish reasonable progress goals and fails to evaluate whether additional emission reductions from non-BART sources are necessary to ensure reasonable progress toward the Clean Air Act’s visibility goal.
  • As explained below and in the attached Stamper and Gebhart Reports, LDEQ must reevaluate cost-effective and achievable emission reductions for several of Louisiana’s largest sources, including R.S. Nelson, Big Cajun II, Brame Energy Center, and Ninemile Point.
  • LDEQ’s interstate consultation is inconsistent with the requirements of the Regional Haze Rule, in several respects. • LDEQ’s consultation with the Federal Land Managers is similarly flawed and incomplete.
  • The SIP fails to evaluate environmental justice impacts, resulting in a proposed SIP that does not reduce emissions and minimize harm to disproportionately impacted communities.

The letter details each of the above flaws and you can read those here.

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Johnna Crider

Johnna owns less than one share of $TSLA currently and supports Tesla's mission. She also gardens, collects interesting minerals and can be found on TikTok

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