Steamboat Springs The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued a ruling related to the Hayden Station power plant’s permit, partly backing a petition from a group that objects to the state-issued permit.
The ruling states that the
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which issued the permit April 1, 2009, must revise it to improve monitoring of emissions at the Hayden Station plant.
WildEarth Guardians filed the petition March 10 requesting that the EPA object to Xcel Energy’s permit to operate the Hayden Station coal-fired power plant. The issues raised relate to Title V provisions of the Clean Air Act, which deals with monitoring of emissions. The EPA released its order Wednesday, signed by Administrator Lisa Jackson.
The order backs some of the claims relating to emissions while denying others.
WildEarth Guardians called the order a victory.
“This is good news for clean air and public health,” Jeremy Nichols, climate and energy program director for WildEarth, said in a news release.
According to the group’s Web site, it “protects and restores wildlife, wild rivers, and wild places in the American West.”
The EPA ruling states that there are concerns with monitoring of particulate matter released by the Hayden Station. Particulate matter, according to the EPA’s Web site, is “a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets. Particle pollution is made up of a number of components, including acids (such as nitrates and sulfates), organic chemicals, metals, and soil or dust particles.”
In reference to particulate matter, the ruling grants the petition “on the issue that the permit does not contain sufficient monitoring for assuring compliance with the PM limit.”
The order further identifies problems not raised by WildEarth Guardians. Part of the permit states that periods of startup, shutdown and malfunction can be excluded from some emissions monitoring. That’s not OK, the EPA order states. Data collection is required at all times for the Hayden Station’s two coal-fired boilers.
“I grant the petition on the issue that the permit does not include monitoring requirements sufficient to assure compliance with the particulate matter limit for boilers No. 1 and No. 2 and order CDPHE to fix the deficiencies in the permit, the permit record, and the (Compliance Assurance Monitoring) plan as described in this order,” the EPA ruling states.
WildEarth Guardians was pleased with that response.
“This ruling ensures that dangerous particulate matter will be kept in check at the Hayden plant as required by law,” Nichols said in the release. “This is a critical step forward in cleaning up Colorado’s skies.”
Another of the claims from WildEarth states that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment “inappropriately rejected particulate matter continuous emission monitors as a means of ensuring compliance with particulate limits.”
The EPA denied the petition on that front, stating, “Petitioner fails to identify any applicable requirement that requires the use of (particulate matter continuous emission monitors) for monitoring compliance with the (particulate matter) limit. In fact, Petitioner acknowledges that the underlying applicable requirement … does not specify such monitoring.”
The petition from WildEarth Guardians also states that the Title V permit “fails to ensure compliance with Prevention of Significant Deterioration requirements in regards to CO2 emissions.”
According to the EPA ruling, the petitioner alleges that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment “failed to assess whether CO2 is subject to regulation” in accordance with the Prevention of Significant Deterioration rules and, therefore, fails to ensure compliance under the Clean Air Act.
The EPA response denied this claim because the petitioner didn’t raise its objections during the public comment period for the permit. “Petitioner failed to demonstrate that it was impracticable to raise this issue during the public comment period.”
Plant operator Xcel Energy offered a statement Saturday through spokesman Tom Henley.
“We’re pleased that the EPA has held the substantive terms of the permit, and we will work cooperatively with the CDPHE as it works to address EPA’s remaining concerns,” Henley said.
The state has 90 days to fix the permit or face revocation, according to the release from WildEarth Guardians.
The local Yampa Valley Electric Association buys power from the Hayden Station, YVEA spokesman Jim Chappell said. He wasn’t sure how many people the station served.
Calls and e-mails seeking comment from the EPA and CDPHE were not returned Saturday.