New York power producers agree to limit nitrogen oxide releases

Dec 31, 1997 01:00 AM

New York power producers have reached a deal to reduce smog-causing nitrogen oxide releases and to decide among themselves how much pollution they can emit within the state's overall limit.
The agreement would result in summertime nitrogen oxide emission reductions of 44 % by 1999 and 63 % by 2003, compared with 1990 emissions levels.
Nitrogen oxide reacts with other chemical compounds on hot, sunny days in the summer to form ozone, which is a main component of smog. Ozone can cause respiratory irritation, especially among the young and the old. It can result in permanent lung damage in more extreme cases.
The state's overall emissions "budget'' for nitrogen oxide stems from a 1994 agreement New York made with other Northeastern states. That deal called for a two-stage reduction and left it up to each state to divide up emissions credits themselves.
The New York Power Pool, which includes the state's seven investor-owned electric utilities and the New York Power Authority, willget 37,054 tons of nitrogen oxide emission credits to distribute annually from 1999 through 2002.
Independent power producers in the state will get 5,220 tons annually for 1999-2002.
The Department of Environmental Conservation will hold 250 tons back to distribute to new sources, such as new or expanding industries.
Previously, the DEC had determined that nitrogen oxide-producing industries in the state should be limited to 4,291 tons of emissions from 1999-2002.
The deal involves nitrogen oxide releases in the summer, between May and October. Similar, but less-restrictive rules, are in place for emissions at other times of the year, when the ozone problem is less severe.
The agreement will now be put out publicly as draft regulations by the DEC, probably next month. That will give the public a chance to comment on the proposal before it becomes law.
According to the DEC, the pollution credits will be distributed among the utilities as follows: Consolidated Edison, 8,318 tons; NiagaraMohawk, 7,930 tons; New York State Electric and Gas, 6,292 tons; Long Island Lighting, 5,329 tons; Central Hudson, 3,600 tons; Orange and Rockland Utilities, 3,491 tons, New York Power Authority, 1,208 tons and Rochester Gas & Electric, 886 tons.
An environmental watchdog group said it was disappointed that it was not involved in the negotiations.
"Having proposed regulations come out of a closed negotiating process which excludes environmental groups is not a good way to implement what is fundamentally public health policy,'' Larry Shapiro, a counsel for the New York Public Interest Research Group, said.
The trading of pollution credits in the past, Shapiro said, "is an extremely cumbersome accounting system that only approximates the reality of pollution.''
Though New York has reduced its nitrogen oxide emissions by more than 30 % since 1990, its pollution levels continue to be a matter of concern to state officials as they seek to prod the federal government into curtailing pollution by states to the west and south.
"We've got in New York state a lot of dirty power plants,'' Shapiro said. "Mostly they are upstate and those power plants are comparable to dirty power plants in Ohio or Indiana.''

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