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Zack Hutchins
Director of Communications

August 17, 2004

DEC moves to reimpose stringent, costly regulations on industrial emissions

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has adopted “emergency" regulations to restore limits on industrial emissions that were overturned by a state Supreme Court in May.

DEC’s own estimates showed that these stringent emission rules, which will require additional reductions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen emissions at power plants, will raise statewide wholesale power rates by 5 percent, according Ken Pokalsky, director of environmental and economic development programs for The Council.

And, based on DEC's own projections of how increases in electricity costs affect job growth, the new regs can be expected to cost the state between 4,070 to 5,920 jobs, he added.

The move to re-impose the regulations had been expected, Pokalsky noted.

In addition to implementing the emergency regulations, DEC is appealing the Court’s decision, the DEC said in a release. It is also moving forward with a regular rulemaking as required by the state's Administrative Procedures Act.

The regulations require certain electric generators in New York to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOX). Specifically, the generators are required to reduce SO2 emissions to 50 percent below Phase 2 levels of the federal acid rain program. The SO2 reductions will be phased in beginning January 1, 2005 through January 1, 2008.

In addition, current ozone season reductions in NOx emissions will be extended year-round beginning October 1, 2004, DEC’s release said.

DEC said the strict regulations are needed to avoid harm to public health, the environment, and the state’s “general welfare.”

Its news release included laudatory quotes from five different environmental groups.

A group of industrial consumers, power utilities and unions had challenged the rules, citing inconsistencies with the state's 1984 acid rain control law and procedural mistakes in the state's initial rulemaking process.

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 adhere to proper timeframes in proposing and adopting the rule.

DEC's release is available from www.eisinc.com/release/summaries/TuesdayAugust17.html.