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INGAA Protests EPA's Tightening of NOx Limits

INGAA Protests EPA's Tightening of NOx Limits

A major pipeline group fired off an angry letter Friday asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reconsider a "policy decision" that would force pipelines to shell out at least $280 million - money that would have to be diverted from expansion projects - for "unproven" technology to meet a 90%-reduction target for nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions.

"...[I]t was with a sense of disbelief that we read your agency's recent technical clarifications to the final rule on nitrogen oxides and ozone control," which would require pipelines and other companies to invest in costly selective catalytic reduction technology (SCR) to meet a 90%-reduction target for NOx emissions, Jerald V. Halvorsen, president of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA), wrote in a letter to EPA Administrator Carol A. Browner. The agency's action runs counter to the Clinton administration's objectives to increase natural gas use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, he added.

The effect of EPA's new interpretation of the ozone rule will deprive pipeline companies of about $280 million that has been earmarked for expansion plans over the next five years, causing them instead to invest it in technology that is not cost-effective, Halvorsen said. "That will curtail the pipeline industry's ability to serve the new and emerging natural gas markets and hamper its ability to contribute to solutions to the climate-change problem. And it has the potential to raise the cost of natural gas to a point that it will impede the development of market-based options for electric utilities to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions."

The agency's clarifications "effectively pushed aside" the results of numerous studies that have concluded that a 90%-reduction target for emissions "cannot be economically achieved on the majority of natural gas reciprocating compressors."

INGAA requested that EPA "reopen your rulemaking, reevaluate your analysis on the technical merits of SCR as a cost-effective technology to reduce NOx emissions for all internal combustion engines and adjust the state budgets to reflect a feasible technology." It asked that the agency act quickly in light of the tight time frames it has given the states to prepare their own NOx-reduction plans.

The pipeline group also sent letters to top committee chairmen in the Senate and House - Sen. John H. Chafee (R-RI), Sen. Christopher S. Bond (R-MO), Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) and Thomas J. Bliley Jr. (R-VA) - asking that they hold oversight hearings "to determine why EPA is ignoring its own collaborative process in favor of uneconomic proposals that will not come close to meeting their targets."

Susan Parker

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