Thursday, March 08, 2012

AAEA Presents Testimony at DEC EJ Hearing

AAEA presented a statement on Tuesday before the New York Department of Environmental Conservation at a hearing at the New York Department of Public Service addressing the proposed Article 10 environmental justice regulations.



Norris McDonald (ALJ Daniel O'Connell)
We commend the New York State Legislature for passing a new Article 10 law. We thank Governor Andrew Cuomo for signing the legislation into law.  We commend the New York State Department of Public Service for promulgating Article 10 regulations.  We commend the  New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Office of Environmental Justice (EJ) for promulgating the Article 10 environmental justice regulations.

AAEA recommends that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)  should replace the one-half mile radius designated in the proposed regulation as the Impact Study Area to be two (2) miles.  Section 487.4: Defining the Impact Study Area, should be modified to state that: (a) At a minimum, the Impact Study Area must be the geographic area that is encompassed within a two mile radius around the proposed location of the facility.  We believe the one-half mile area is too small and will limit the effectiveness of the environmental justice analysis. The expanded impact area designation is needed in order to include more facilities in the assessment of whether an area suffers from disproportionate environmental impacts.  Although the applicant is given the option of increasing the Impact Study Area based on site-specific factors, we believe the regulation should specifically refer to the two mile radius.  We also recommend the two mile designation for the alternate locations.

The Article 10 law allows for, 'A cumulative impact analysis of air quality within a half-mile of the facility, or other radius as determined by standards established by Department of Environmental Conservation regulations..." 

We are concerned that ozone is not included as part of the cumulative air impact analysis. Although the other five criteria pollutants are included, ozone is probably the most important pollutant in terms of health impacts as related to environmental justice.  The proposed regulation states that, "The procedures identified in 6 NYCRR Part 231 for assessing ozone precursor emissions will satisfy the requirement of this section for the cumulative impact analysis."  We disagree.  We understand that the procedure is fine within the context of evaluation under the federal New Source Review Program, but it does not include a framework for considering environmental justice.  Thus, by separating out this important pollutant, it could undermine the effectiveness of the cumulative impact analysis. Because ozone is excluded in the Article 10 law, we would suggest that the applicant utilize the ozone precursors of volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen to assess equivalent effects. 

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