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DEM’s air pollution permit for Invenergy project uses outdated metrics, says Paul Roselli of the Burrillville Land Trust



The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) issued a draft “major source” air pollution permit for Invenergy‘s proposed $1B fracked gas and diesel oil burning power plant aimed at the pristine forests of northwest Rhode Island. The denial of Invenergy’s application at the EFSB did not stop the DEM’s process in issuing a “major source” permit for the power plant company, and though the Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) ruled against the power plant, they did so on the basis of need, not environmental impacts.

In a letter to DEM Director Janet Coit, and in testimony before DEM’s Office of Air Resources, Paul Roselli, President of the Burrillville Land Trust said that the DEM is using outdated metrics to assess the environmental harm presented by the proposed power plant.

Here’s Roselli’s testimony before the DEM Office of Resources:

“In brief,” said Roselli, “the draft permit is out of date: it uses old AERMIC and AERMOD weather and emissions modeling calculations. The draft permit doesn’t use existing authority OAR already has seeking advice from the EC4/Science and Technical Advisory Board, doesn’t mention smoke stack height in the draft permit, uses outdated Regional Haze Rules and regulations, does not include smoke stack exit temperature and their relationship between temperatures and emissions, uses outdated and outmoded Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) standards based on the years 1997 and 2000; there is no discussion about Unburned Hydrocarbons and fails miserably to recognize the accumulative impacts of deforestation, habitat destruction, construction, operation and maintenance of the nearly 40 other associated projects along with the Invenergy project.”

Roselli is asking the EC4 (Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council) – Science and Technical Advisory Board (STAB) to review the Invenergy application, review the OAR preliminary approval, review standards that could be used in evaluating the application, and offer science and technical advise to the Office of Air Resources on this specific application.

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“I believe the authority to review Invenergy’s Application for a Major Source Permit for [the proposed power plant] is in existing legislation,” said Roselli. “Both the EC4 and the STAB are allowed to offer advice to state agencies as to the latest scientific information to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and offer mitigation strategies that would get Rhode Island to the reduction targets set forth by Public Law Title 42 Chapter 42-6.2 Resilient Rhode Island Act of 2014. All of this is in existing law.

“This is not to suggest that members of the Office of Air Resource don’t know what they are talking about or that they don’t use the latest findings or research on climate change or air quality,” continued Roselli. “But often state agencies are siloed with a reluctance to gather or share information with other state or private agencies. The EC4 and STAB members represent multi-disciplines multi- state and private organizations with lots of expertise in all areas of air emissions and climate change. Both EC4 and STAB are required to offered advice to get Rhode Island to meet the mandated CO2 targets. I’m asking the Office of Air Resources to utilize this group…

“It’s time to look at climate change and emissions targets from a state wide, regional and planet level,” concluded Roselli. “Its what we need to meet our emission targets.”

You can read the letter to DEM Director Coit here.

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Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.