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June 8, 2004

State Supreme Court rules stringent new emissions regulations invalid

A set of stringent environmental emissions rules adopted by the Department of Environmental Conservation last year were deemed invalid by a State Supreme Court Judge last Tuesday for violating a 1984 environmental statute.

The emission rules, designed to curb acid rain by requiring additional reductions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen emissions at power plants, would have raised statewide wholesale power rates by 5 percent, according DEC estimates.

A group of industrial consumers, power utilities and unions challenged the new rules citing a 1984 statute that required any emission regulations adopted by the state to be adjusted to reflect the proximity of the source to sensitive receptor areas.

Sensitive areas include the Adirondacks, which are subject to more damage from acid rain because of winds from the west and north.

State Supreme Court Justice Leslie Stein agreed that the new regulations violated the 1984 statutes on the grounds bought by NRG and others. In addition, Justice Stein ruled that the DEC failed to provide public notice of the proposed regulations within the proper timeframe.

The new rules were set to be implemented this fall. The DEC may adjust the regulations to comply with Justice Stein’s ruling or appeal the decision.