DEEP holds hearing on air permit approvals

Below is a release sent by 350 CT regarding The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Feb. 28 hearing on air permit approvals.

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) will hold a hearing on air permit approvals on Tuesday, Feb. 28, at 6:30 p.m., at the Bridgeport City Hall. These draft approvals are for the proposed gas-fired combined-cycle power plant that energy company PSEG Power intends to build in Bridgeport. 350 CT, an organization of volunteers working to move Connecticut beyond fossil fuels, requested the hearing from DEEP.

While the state insists that using more natural gas, or methane, will save consumers money, the recent Synapse report (synapse-energy.com/new-englands-shrinking-need-for-natural-gas) concluded just the opposite. Furthermore, the power generated is not needed in Connecticut or New England. Energy demand in our region has been flat for more than 10 years, due to increased energy efficiencies and more renewable power coming online. Although numerous coal and oil power plants have closed in New England, energy demand has continued to decline and there is no need for new gas plants. In fact, Connecticut needs to cut its fossil fuel use immediately or risk adding to our greenhouse gas emissions, causing climate disruption.

Is the city of Bridgeport only worth $2 million? PSEG seems to think so. A deal was struck in 2015 between Bridgeport and the owner and operator of the last coal burning plant in Connecticut. The city of Bridgeport would finally see the retiring of the coal plant in 2021, and would receive up to $2 million for “environmental” projects. The negative part of the deal was that in exchange for retiring the coal plant, PSEG would then build a natural gas, or fracked methane plant. It is important to note that PSEG could potentially keep the coal plant burning and run the gas plant simultaneously from 2019-2021. As a result, Bridgeport residents would suffer increased air pollution, more asthma, and continued disproportionate disability and death, that accompany another massive power plant.

Diane Lentakis, a 350 CT steering committee member, strongly recommends that a Comprehensive Health Impact Assessment (CHIA) be conducted prior to the approval of the air permits for PSEG’s new gas-fired power plant. “This assessment is crucial because it will evaluate potential future air impacts and recommend necessary mitigations. The goal should be to preserve the health of individuals in Bridgeport!”

According to Bridgeport resident and mother of asthma afflicted children Tiffany Mellers, “we fought so hard to close the coal plant, and this deal was really a slap in the face to the people of Bridgeport. Natural gas is methane which causes global heating, although it produces slightly less particulate matter than burning coal. So we are supposed to breathe easier with methane than with coal? Our community on the coastline will be among the first and worst hit by the effects of climate disruption.”

Elaine Thompson of Bridgeport, an environmental justice activist and volunteer with Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice, reports that hardly a day goes by when she doesn’t hear from one of her many friends with breathing problems. “We all know of someone that is dealing with the breathing issues from the bad air here in Bridgeport, I just recently got a message from someone else dealing with COPD….It is time for PSEG to stop holding these meetings at times when the public can’t attend and the public has no idea when these meetings are going on. It is obvious to me that this is done for a reason.”

It is important that the largest possible number of residents turn out to speak about the impact on air quality and health of the people of Bridgeport. Please attend the hearing on Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 6:30 pm, at the Bridgeport City Hall, 45 Lyon Terrace, and join with the community seeking a healthier future for Bridgeport.

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  • Hugh Brown

    Ms. Mellers has apparently been misinformed about how gas fired power plants work. Methane is not emitted from these plants – it is the primary component of the fuel. CO2 and water vapor are the primary products when methane is burned. CO2 is produced by every man and animal throughout the world when they breathe. In addition, the particulate levels from gas fired power generation are many orders of magnitude lower than those from coal fired facilities and are actually too low to be measured.

    • Ben Martin

      I believe you have been misinformed. The methane component of the gas is not completely removed from the fuel when burned and even this does not take into account pipeline leaks, uncontrolled methane releases when the system is being maintained and proven failures in the containment systems they use. In addition the methane released is 86 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2. Finally when particulates may be reduced (and they can be measured) from coal, they are much higher than the zero particulates and pollution from renewable energy such as wind & solar which PSEG develops in other states.

    • P.H.

      Are you familiar with hydraulic fracturing, or fracking? That’s where the gas comes from, the fracking fields in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Methane is natural gas, and methane leaks in huge amounts at the fracking wells, and all along its transportation route. It is also intentionally released from various infrastructure along its route, such as at compressor and M&R stations. It was recently found in a study out of Harvard that global measurements of methane have risen dramatically in the last ten years; this is primarily caused by climate disruption itself, the disruption that results from continued reliance on fossil fuels. The plan to use and transport more methane in CT is a disaster from a climate perspective. Incidentally, the state exports energy out of state now, so this gas plant is totally unneeded.
      Mr. Martin is correct that any discussion of particulates from fossil fuels must recognize that the only true answer to this horrible problem can be found with 100% renewable energy, such as wind and solar. If people want to see lower levels of particulates in the air of Bridgeport, then the only solution is supporting the immediate transition to 100% renewable, clean energy.

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