January 30, 2003
Rod Thompson, Hearing Officer
Office of the Secretary
Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control
89 Kings Highway
Dover, Delaware 19901
RE: Public Hearing on Air Permit Application for Motiva's Pollution Control Upgrade Projects
Dear Mr. Thompson:
My name is Nicholas A. DiPasquale. I reside [ . . . ] in Dover. I am a citizen of the State of Delaware. My comments on the proposed air permit application by Motiva for the Pollution Control Upgrade Projects reflect my own personal interests in protecting the environment, public health and natural resources of the state. I represent no private interests in this matter. My comments follow:
- I request that the Hearing Officer consider as exhibits the state and federal Consent Decrees of March 20, 2001 and that these exhibits be entered into the official hearing record of this proceeding.
- I am lodging an official objection to these proceedings as being procedurally improper, since the proposed application is not in compliance with the terms of the above referenced Consent Decrees which are legally binding on both Motiva and the state. Until the parties file a petition with the Courts to modify the Consent Decrees, and the modification is put on notice for public review and comment and the Court makes a final determination on the modification request, it is premature for the department to begin processing the permit application. In doing so, the parties presume a favorable judicial determination and improperly usurp the Court's authority.
- I believe the department violated the public trust in conducting the January 16, 2003, workshop on the proposed non-regenerative Wet Gas Scrubber by advocating in favor of the Motiva proposal, thus abrogating its duty to be a neutral and objective decision maker on the proposed permit application. This advocacy sends a message to the public that their comments and concerns are essentially meaningless, thereby depriving them of the opportunity to exercise their legal rights as citizens to participate in the administrative permitting process.
- Further, the administration, the secretary and department staff have made conflicting statements concerning this proposal, indicating on the one-hand that they support the proposed change and on the other that that do not have adequate information regarding the environmental impacts of the proposed modification request. Either you support the proposal and you can defend that position or you, in fact, don't have adequate information upon which to make a determination. You can't have it both ways.
- I object to the temporal bifurcation of the permitting process that results in the separation of air permitting issues from the water discharge issues. While recognizing that these are discreet administrative processes and permitting decisions, the two issues are inextricably linked. The department cannot conduct a legitimate review of Motiva's request without giving adequate consideration to this relationship and providing a full airing of public concerns and comments. As mentioned previously, the modification to the Consent Decree provides the proper forum for this discussion and therefore should precede the permitting process.
- The regenerative WGS involves recycling of scrubber waste water. The other option, the non-regenerative WGS, results in pollution transfer from air emissions to water discharges. Ironically, EPA currently is in the process of developing a strategy for limiting cross-media pollution transfers. Perhaps they should reconsider their support for this proposal.
- Motiva's primary motivation for requesting this change is the $70 million in cost savings it will realize if the state allows the company to pollute the Delaware River instead of recycling its scrubber wastes. Motiva's request deserves no consideration given its well documented history of environmental abuses that have put workers and the public in jeopardy. This company is so arrogant that they ignored the very real issue of potential mercury discharges in their water discharge permit application after spending hours listening to the public's concerns. The company has absolutely no credibility.
- The argument by the company that the regenerative WGS technology is still unproven is simply baseless. This technology has been used in this industry for over 40 years. It is simply being adapted to a new application. There is nothing exotic about recovering sulfur from this waste stream.
- Motiva's threat of invoking the force majeuer provisions of the Consent Decree is a blatant act of intimidation and is without merit since the company has not met its burden of proof in demonstrating that the proposed non-regenerative WGS is environmentally superior to the regenerative technology it is obligated to install under the Consent Decree.
- The support by US EPA and US Department of Justice for this proposal is motivated by the Bush administration's aggressive attacks on the federal NSR program and the recently promulgated roll back of environmentally progressive, technology forcing requirements of the program. These so-called "reforms" are designed to benefit the energy and power industries at the expense of the environment and public health in Delaware and other mid-Atlantic and northeast states. Several of these states have filed suit against EPA over this rulemaking. What EPA can't accomplish through relaxed rulemaking and permitting requirements, they will achieve with give-aways in modifications for those companies that are bound Consent Decrees. It is telling that, had the recently promulgated NSR reforms been in place when the state initiated this enforcement action against Motiva, the company would not have even violated the law. Clearly, EPA's support for this proposal is suspect.
In closing, I respectfully request that the secretary reject Motiva's permit application for the non-regenerative WGS, force the company to meet its obligation to install the regenerative WGS as required by the Consent Decree, and impose stipulated penalties against the company if it fails to meet the installation deadline. The department should be direct and unambiguous in its dealings with this company. You have an obligation to protect the health and welfare of the citizens of this state from the reckless conduct of this irresponsible company.
I appreciate the opportunity to provide my comments to the department on this important issue.
Nicholas A. DiPasquale
EDITOR'S NOTE: Mr. DiPasquale is a new member of the Delaware Audubon Society's Board of Directors, and is former Secretary of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. Although his testimony was presented as a private citizen, Delaware Audubon fully supports his comments.
- Delaware Audubon's Official Statement Regarding the Motiva Application
- History of Delaware Audubon and NRDC Actions Against Motiva