Proposed State Rules Tighten Restrictions on Sources of Smog, Soot

Tom Johnson | January 5, 2017 | Energy & Environment
New Jersey is hoping to clean up the air by imposing pollution limits on small turbines and engines, solvents used to manufacture fiberglass boats

The DEP's proposed rule would limit emissions from solvents used to manufacture fiberglass boats, among other sources.
The state is proposing a series of new rules to clamp down on pollution from small turbines and stationary engines, as well as commercial products that contribute to the formation of smog.

In a rule published Monday, the state Department of Environmental Protection is hoping to limit emissions from industrial cleaning solvents; film, paper and foil coatings; and materials used in fiberglass boat manufacturing, among other things.

The proposal is designed to curb pollution that leads to the formation of ground-level ozone, or smog, the state’s most ubiquitous air pollutant. In New Jersey last summer, there were 24 days when smog exceeded the national air-quality health standard for ozone.

If adopted, the department said the reductions in pollution could help the state achieve the national standard for smog and maintain the state’s attainment for another pollutant, fine particulate matter. More commonly known as soot, the pollutant causes thousands of premature deaths each year across the nation.

The proposed regulations are highly technical in nature and based largely on guidelines established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for curbing pollution from volatile organic compounds in commercial products and industrial cleaning solvents. The rules also aim to reduce nitrogen oxide pollution from single-cycle turbines and stationary engines, both of which contribute to smog.

In its proposal, the DEP said the new rules will improve public health by reducing air pollution and cutting medical costs. According to the state, the rules could eliminate 40,000 asthma attacks if adopted.

The new regulations would affect dozens of facilities around the state, according to the department, but would have minimal impact in most cases. Lobbyists for the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce and Chemistry Industry Council of New Jersey said they were still studying the proposal and declined to comment.

Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, said the proposal, similar to rules proposed in the past and withdrawn, is long overdue. “It should have been in our SIP (State Implementation Plan) a long time ago,’’ said Tittel, referring to a plan outlining the state’s strategies for complying with federal clean-air standards.

New Jersey has never attained the national health-quality standard for ozone even though it has some of the toughest pollution controls on major sources of smog-forming pollutants — factories, power plants, and motor vehicles. Much of the state’s air pollution problems are blamed by officials on wind-blown pollution from other states with less stringent controls on emissions.

Since the Clean Air Act was enacted in 1980, New Jersey has taken many steps to meet the standard, imposing the first-in-the nation vehicle-emissions testing program and imposing stricter controls on some consumer products, such as gasoline.