Air Quality Permit Documents and Concerns
Allegheny County consistently fails to meet federal health-based standards for air pollution. Invenergy wants to build the Allegheny Energy Center - a large methane gas-fired power plant - in Elizabeth Township in the southeastern corner of Allegheny County. Positioned close to the county line, the proposed plant would not only increase pollution for the local community within the county, but also release pollution into environmental justice areas on the other side of the county line, outside the jurisdiction of the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD). The power plant would emit air pollutants known to be harmful to human health as well as greenhouse gases that worsen climate change.
Air Permit Legally Challenged
On April 8, 2021, the ACDH published notice of a proposed permit application for Invenergy's Allegheny Energy Center, establishing a 60-day public comment period ending on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. Environmental Integrity Project/Mountain Watershed Association, Clean Air Council, and Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future(PennFuture) submitted comments regarding the proposed Installation Permit #0959- I001 for Allegheny Energy Center LLC.
On November 4, 2021, Mountain Watershed Association (MWA), represented by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), along with Clean Air Council and PennFuture, appealed a decision by the ACHD to grant a permit for the construction Invenergy's Allegheny Energy Center.
Concerns with the Allegheny Energy Center Air Permit
There are a number of unresolved issues with the Allegheny Energy Center power plant air permit. ACHD should:
Lower the proposed limit on excess ammonia pollution resulting from controls for nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. When ammonia enters the body as a result of breathing, swallowing, or skin contact, it reacts to produce ammonium hydroxide, which is very corrosive and damages cells in the body. The ammonia limit should match similar requirements the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently included in a plan approval for the Renovo Energy Center in Clinton County. These two power plants are comparable, as they both use the same type of combustion turbine and the DEP has demonstrated that other comparable facilities can meet this ammonia requirement.
Require continuous VOC monitoring at the plant, since it is a requirement for other large facilities in an area with impaired air quality. Currently, the facility is only required to test VOC emissions once every two years. This is unacceptable, as it could allow harmful pollution to exceed permit requirements unchecked, burdening residents forced to live near the proposed plant.
Perform a cumulative impact risk assessment of air pollution from the plant and other nearby industrial facilities and operations, including oil and gas infrastructure. There are environmental justice neighborhoods close to the site that deserve to understand the cumulative health risks posed by the power plant.