Air Case Now With 11th
All the briefs have been submitted in the GEC’s 11th Circuit
Appeal of the U.S. EPA’s decision not to object to the Hercules Title V air
operating permit. The Court set oral arguments for January 27, 2006, but
this date can change. A decision in the case is expected early next year.
There is some dispute between the state, the U.S. EPA and Hercules regarding
the extent of the duties required to satisfy the permitting requirements of
the Georgia air quality control rule that is the center of this appeal.
While GEC argues that the rule is a specific emission standard that requires
an independent analysis to determine compliance, the EPA has accepted the
State’s opinion that the rule is only a “general duty” rule that simply
gives authority to the state agency to protect public health, but does not
require an actual determination that the public health will be protected at
the time the permit is issued.
In reality, the State simply doesn’t want to be required to examine
pollution hot spots that exist in communities such as Brunswick. With
several major facilities in Brunswick combining to emit several thousand
tons of toxic pollutants every year, an analysis of the cumulative impact of
all these toxic pollutants on public health—particularly in light of the
seven elementary schools and hospitals close by—would almost certainly
result in additional emission limitations on these facilities.