Colorado allows a power plant in the Eastern Plains to emit toxic sulfur dioxide emissions well above safe levels, groups claim – Colorado Springs, Colorado


A coal-fired pony power plant near Fort Morgan in Xcel Energy is putting local health at risk by violating EPA’s sulfur dioxide emission standards for hundreds of hours a year, the state’s Conservation Union said in order to pollute crops. He said on Friday he was calling for a significant reduction in permits.

The coalition is using EPA pollution monitoring data to cause pony to emit up to four times the hourly limit of SO2, causing asthma and other acute breathing problems in people who live near power plants. I supported the claim that this could be the cause. The union also ran Pony’s own modeling to claim the facility could violate deadlines thousands of times each year if actual EPA emissions data were used.

Conservation groups have set a monthly average of pony SO2 limits, which the state air pollution control agency, which issues emissions permits for companies like Xcel, violates EPA standards and was never approved by the EPA. To have made allegations. This allows the pony to release short-term pollutants that far exceed the safety limits while still reaching the monthly averages when the energy demand is high or the pollutant filters are not working.

According to a letter from the state, if the state does not properly model the pollution or take into account actual historical emissions data, “the health of the Colorado population is at risk and the EPA rules of the Clean Air Act are like“ violating intent ” threatened. Union. This group includes the Colorado Sierra Club, Green Latino, Wild Earth Guardians, Biodiversity Centers, and environmental stewardship officials.

The EPA’s system of monitoring actual emissions data from large polluters violates the government’s allowable emission rates of SO2 in 149 hours in 2019 and 200 hours in 2020. The coalition said it has shown that it is. However, the state allowed Pony to average emissions over a long period of time, resulting in spikes with no “results and action by CDPHE to correct the situation,” he told the state. In the coalition letter it says.

The coalition said air pollution authorities ‘inaction to monitor permits in Pony is part of a pattern that includes: Allegations by state whistleblowers earlier this year Regulators claim they support industry needs rather than residents’ health.

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Ramesh Bhatt, chairman of the Conservation Commission of the Colorado Sierra Club, is the third major source of pollution paid for their own emissions modeling, which the coalition believes follows EPA regulations much more carefully than state modeling does: rebuilding the Interstate 70 through North Denver will generate more particulate contamination than the state’s health and transportation sectors have announced. More recently, the group has modeled pollution at the Suncor refinery and claimed to exceed both government projections and EPA limits.

“These things come to the fore. People understand that we are unnecessarily polluted, ”said Bhatt. “We want the EPA to address each of these issues clearly, but we also see them as a kind of holistic approach.”

Xcel has updated its SO2 reductions at Pawnee and has stated that the company will comply with the permit.

“I do not agree with the conclusions of the Conservation Group’s report based on the analysis of emissions data and other information on plant operations,” Xcel spokeswoman Michel Aguayo said in a statement. .. “I don’t think the Pawnees are creating, or causing, a national excess air quality in the factory. Of course, Colorado and the EPA have air quality issues and other issues in the area. We work closely with you in the assessment. “

State air pollution agencies said in a statement that they had not seen any new Union modeling data, but said, “In assessing the modeling submitted to these facilities, we have strict EPA guidelines for each facility. According to modeling protocols. When the EPA updates its guidelines, the protocols will be updated. The sulfur dioxide emissions from these plants are steadily declining due to measures taken at the state and local levels. ”

Xcel announced earlier this year that by 202 we plan to switch the Pony to a cleaner natural gas fuel.

In the meantime, the 505 MW pony facility emits more pollutants and greenhouse gases from SO2-containing coal.

The EPA has “inaccessible areas” of pollutants in many states, including nine counties on the front line of ozone pollution. In this area, companies and local governments that control the use of motor vehicles are subject to additional regulations aimed at reducing emissions. Morgan County, where the Pawnee factory is located, is not an inaccessible area of ​​Colorado.

Colorado’s SO2 has no EPA unreached designated areas or additional regular shifts to accompany it. There are such areas in states where power plants and other large SO2 emitters are more concentrated. The Nature Maintenance Coalition wants the Pawnees and other power plants to be shown as inaccessible SO2 areas. If this is not possible, they will accurately reflect the amount of Pawnee contamination in the state’s annual SO2 report and then change the Pawnee permit to Xcel to avoid dangerous short-term toxic gas spikes. Say that is what you want.

The group also argued that Colorado is not allowed to independently interpret the rules and toxicity limits of the Clean Air Act or select the most important time period before completing future permits. In addition, the state air pollution control agency wants the EPA to approve modeling and calculations. .. You cite the Wisconsin case, where the state regards power plants as underestimated SO2 emissions and has received explicit EPA approval for alternative models with more stringent standards.

Xcel has alternatives to significantly reduce pony SO2 and other emissions, said Robert Ukeiley, a Colorado attorney at the Center for Biodiversity. There may be a switch to natural gas or cleaner coal earlier than announced. Xcel can add backup scrubbers to prevent SO2 or other contaminants from being emitted when a kit is taken offline. State regulators in the licensing process have the authority to design and modify the plant operation and to request cleaner equipment.

Or Ukeiley said: That would be the best choice. “

Until then, the state must act, said members of the coalition. “Your job is to follow science and give people the protection they need. It’s always clean air, not just sometimes, ”said Ukeiley.

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Colorado allows an Eastern Plains power plant to emit toxic sulfur dioxide emissions well above safe levels, the groups claim Colorado allows an Eastern Plains power plant to emit toxic sulfur dioxide emissions well above safe levels, the groups claim


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