Environment News Service (ENS)

Environment News Service (ENS)

Pennsylvania Governor Challenges EPA Solvent Exemptions

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Source: Environment News Service (ENS)

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania - The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced Friday it has filed a legal challenge to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Air Emissions Standards on halogenated solvent cleaning.

The petition for review of the rule on the hazardous air pollutant was filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.

The final rule, published May 3 in the Federal Register, exempts three industry sectors from new standards that would require emission reductions of trichloroethylene, TCE, and other degreaser solvents. The three sectors are aerospace, narrow tube manufacturers, and facilities that use continuous web-cleaning and halogenated solvent cleaning machines.

'I believe the EPA did not adequately consider public health risks when establishing new air emissions standards for TCE, nor did they take into account the reasonable, economically-feasible and expedient measures that are available to the narrow tube industry to reduce emissions,” said Governor Ed Rendell, who directed the DEP to challenge this action.

The EPA’s amendments to the air toxics standards affect the halogenated solvent cleaning industry.

The new rule caps emissions of methylene chloride, perchloroethylene and trichloroethylene, which are solvents used in cleaning machines that remove soils like grease, oil, wax, carbon deposits, flux and tar from metal, plastic, fiberglass, printed circuit boards and other surfaces.

But the EPA decided to exempt the three industry sectors from the new rules based on industry estimates of the costs associated with reducing emissions and the technical feasibility and time to comply, ruling that current emission levels for TCE and other degreasers is an acceptable health risk.

'Exempting these industries from more stringent emission standards fails to protect the well-being of our people, our communities and our economy,' said the governor.

Governor Rendell wrote a letter to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson on April 23 objecting to the agency’s reasons for the exemption.

The letter outlined how stronger emissions standards for degreasing processes are feasible and affordable as evidenced by the ongoing voluntary reductions by narrow tube manufacturing facilities in Montgomery County. Depending on industry processes, TCE emission reductions of 30 to 90 percent can be accomplished by use of carbon absorbers or material reformulation.

'Contrary to the argument that reductions in TCE emissions will place an unfair burden on the narrow tube industry, we are seeing voluntary reductions by manufacturers in Montgomery County that can be realized within a year,' said the governor. 'That calls into question the EPA’s evaluation of the facts about this industry.'

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