Louisiana DEQ’s Letter Ignores State Priorities and Concerns

From LEAN:

The Louisiana Environmental Action Network expressed disappointment at a recent letter sent by the state Department of Environmental Quality to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The LDEQ letter is an oppositional response to the EPA’s finding of endangerment for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, expressing opposition to the federal action.(1)

“EPA’s action reflects their statutory duty and the state of the science on impacts from global warming,” said LEAN Executive Director Mary Lee Orr. “Among those impacts, Louisiana is already being impacted by sea-level rise, and faces the threats of stronger hurricanes and other weather extremes – all of which have been discussed in scientific reports for over a decade.”(2)

Orr stated that contrary to LDEQ’s assertion that the public has not been involved in this process, EPA made its decision after a public comment period that received a large number of submissions.(3) In addition, action on greenhouse gases has been expected since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that they could be considered pollutants under U.S. law.

Orr noted that LDEQ took a different position in the brief it filed defending its refusal to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from the Big Cajun I power plant. At that time, DEQ stated that since regulation of greenhouse gases was being addressed by EPA, it would follow the federal agency’s lead “as the only workable approach to an issue with nationwide implications.”(4)

Former LDEQ Secretary Dr. Paul Templet, an environmental scientist retired from LSU, commented that “Asking EPA to retract their intent to regulate greenhouse gases using the Clean Air Act is irresponsible and represents a delaying tactic. Louisiana DEQ would sacrifice the long term viability of our state to short term economic gains for industry. I find it ironic that (former Secretary) Leggett uses the Air Toxics Law passed in my term at DEQ to establish Louisiana’s environmental credentials.  If I had heeded the arguments presented in his letter we would not have passed the law, and Louisiana’s air would be dirtier to this day.”

Templet also noted that Louisiana’s loss of coastal wetlands is due in part to sea-level rise caused by global warming, which is a result of greenhouse gas accumulation from societal emissions.

LEAN expressed further disappointment that LDEQ’s letter not only fails to mention that global warming is a problem for Louisiana, but suggests that the state’s only concerns are potential economic impacts of regulation on the petrochemical industry and the agency’s own anxiety about as-yet undeveloped rules that it would have to implement.(5) “If LDEQ’s statements on this issue become the official position of Louisiana,” said Orr, “then all other concerns, such as our disappearing coast, are obviously considered not worthy of mention when we speak to the nation.”

(1) U.S. EPA, “Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Finding for Greenhouse Gases Under the Clean Air Act,” December 7, 2009, http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/endangerment.html
(2) For one example, see “Confronting Climate Change in the Gulf Coast”, http://www.ucsusa.org/gulf/ gcchallengereport.html .
(3) U.S. EPA, “Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Regulation of Greenhouse Gases Under the Clean Air Act,” July 11, 2008 http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/anpr.html
(4) 19th Judicial Court, DOCKET NO. 564241 IN THE MATTER OF: LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY AIR PERMITTING DECISIONS: PERMIT NO. 2260-00007-V0; PERMIT NO. PSD-LA-660(M-1); AND PERMIT NO. 2260-00007-1V1 TO LOUISIANA GENERATING, LLC, BIG CAJUN I POWER PLANT, p. 12.
(5) LDEQ’s letter can be seen at http://www.deq.louisiana.gov/portal/

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~ by vermilionaire on January 4, 2010.

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