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Watchdog Report: GASP Weighs in on PA’s Proposed Infrastructure SIP

GASP on April 20 submitted comments regarding Pennsylvania’s proposed “Infrastructure SIP” for the eight-hour ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) that was promulgated in 2015.

For those who might be unfamiliar, in this case “SIP” stands for “State Implementation Plan.” By way of background: Section 110 of the Clean Air Act requires the states to submit infrastructure SIPs to demonstrate that they have the legal and bureaucratic infrastructure adequate to implement, maintain, and enforce any new or revised National Ambient Air Quality Standard.

Accordingly, a proposed infrastructure SIP must include all applicable Clean Air Act requirements and demonstrate that the state has adequate personnel, funding, and legal authority to carry out those requirements. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the authority to approve or reject Pennsylvania’s Infrastructure SIP for the 8-hour ozone standard. 

Our comments discuss two respects in which Pennsylvania’s Infrastructure SIP for the 2015 eight-hour ozone standard appears to be insufficient.

  1. Pennsylvania’s vehicle inspection and maintenance program does not require emissions inspections for all categories of vehicles that it must under the Clean Air Act – the Keystone State exempts diesel-powered cars from emission inspections even though the regulations that implement the Clean Air Act require such cars to be subject to emission inspections. Moreover, Pennsylvania’s vehicle emission inspection program incorrectly exempts cars registered in an eight-county region (including Blair, Cambria, Centre, Erie, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Lycoming, and Mercer Counties) from the on-board diagnostic check required under the Clean Air Act’s regulations.
  2.  Based on statements made by the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Environmental Quality Board last year in connection with a stalled attempt to increase permitting and other fees charged to polluters by DEP’s Air Quality Program, it seems likely that the program will run out of money to do its important work sometime in the next couple years. Thus, DEP’s Air Quality Program may lack the financial resources that it needs to implement the requirements of the Clean Air Act in Pennsylvania.
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