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Text of a letter from John Kassel ( VT Agency of Natural Resources) to Robert Perciasepe (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) following up a prior conversation between Kassel and Perciasepe about EPA inaction on Vermont's request for a waiver on permitted NOx emissions. It would appear that Vermont is vigorously pursuing regulatory incentives conducive to locating large (natural gas) power plants in Vermont.

Letter

State of Vermont
Agency of Natural Resources

November 16, 1999

Mr. Robert Perciasepe
Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
401 M. Street SW
Washington, DC 20460

Dear Mr. Perciasepe:

At the recent ECOS meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, I reminded you that Vermont had a submittal under consideration for a NOx waiver under Section 182 of the Clean Air Act (CAA) from the offset provisions under New Source Review. This submittal was made to the regional office over three years ago. It is my understanding, from discussions with Dick Valentinetti of my staff, that the submittal has passed muster with the technical staff at both the regional and North Carolina air offices. However, despite assurances from EPA indicating a waiver would be forthcoming, EPA has repeatedly declined to issue a positive response to our request due to timing issues.

Our Attorney General's office filed a notice of intent to sue on January 30, 1999. Although the State was legally entitled to commence suit 60 days thereafter, we chose to hold off given the circumstances. At that time EPA was preoccupied with the lawsuits involving the NOx Sip Call and the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).

While I realize that this waiver request does not appear to be a national issue, it is extremely important to the State of Vermont as we implement our air and anti-sprawl programs. The Governor is firmly committed to seeking regional solutions to regional problems and enthusiastically supports the Ozone Transport Commission (OTC). However, membership in the OTC carries certain responsibilities and statutory obligations. If Vermont is unable to obtain relief in the form of this waiver, it will not be able to fulfill its obligations as a member of the OTC.

It defies common sense to not issue a waiver when Vermont is doing its share to meet the objectives of the CAA and qualifies for a waiver. In a state like Vermont, where we are in attainment, and where we are paying some of the highest electric utility rates in the Northeast, it would seem unfair to make Vermonters pay for emission reductions in New York City and add to the burden of electric generation rates in Vermont. The Air staff feels it has made an adequate demonstration that up to 1000 tons of additional NOx emissions per year would not cause or contribute to a violation of the NAAQS. Furthermore, the State has committed to require the best possible control technology on these new sources. Finally, it is our intention to develop state regulations on the distribution of these NOx offset emissions in a way that is favorable for anti-sprawl considerations.

I appreciated your time in Wyoming. I do hope to hear from you in the near future so that we may avoid a request that the Attorney General follow through on our suit.

Sincerely,

John B. Kassel
Secretary

Cpm

Cc: William Sorrell, Esq.
John DeVillars

Copyright © 2000 by Vermonters for a Clean Environment
Updated: January 17, 2000