NJ Puts New Rule in Place to Limit Air Pollution from Soot

Plants and businesses that spew soot will be required to comply with new regulation when they apply for new permits

The state yesterday adopted a rule that aims to keep New Jersey in compliance with an important federal air-quality standard designed to limit pollution from a contaminant linked to many respiratory ailments.

The state Department of Environmental Protection adopted the rule with only minor changes, intending to reduce emissions of fine particulate matter, or soot, a pollutant believed to cause tens of thousands of premature deaths a year.

The rule is meant to tighten control on emissions from thousands of facilities by requiring them to use the best-available pollution control technologies when seeking new permits for their plants or businesses.

For many years, New Jersey failed to achieve the health standard for the pollutant, coming into compliance with the standard four years ago.

The pollutant is made up of microscopic particles released from manufacturing smokestacks and other sources to produce a haze that lessens visibility and can penetrate deep into the lungs, causing a range of respiratory illnesses.

It also is spewed out of diesel engines, but mobile sources are not covered by the new rule, which only applies to so-called stationary sources of pollution. The department argued it is acting to limit pollution from mobile sources with a program to require cleaner-running vehicles in the state, as well as a mandatory retrofitting program involving more than 10,000 heavy-duty diesel trucks.

In comments on the proposed rule, Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, argued the proposed regulation failed to go far enough in limiting particulate pollution, particularly given that five new natural-gas plants have come on line in the state in recent years.

In its response, the agency argued the new plants, while emitting particulates, will not push the state out of compliance with the health-quality standard for the pollutant.

The department also said new pipelines that have been approved in New Jersey would not increase pollution enough to cause the state to be noncompliant.